The 2017-18 Religious Exploration Year Runs from September 17, 2017 – June 20, 2018

The Nursery: Six Weeks to Two Years

Our paid caregivers warmly welcome infants and toddlers to our welcoming nursery. The nursery accepts children ages 6 weeks to 2.5 years. Children of all ages are also welcome in the service at all times. There is a quiet room in the loft of the Sanctuary for those families who need a little more privacy. The nursery is open from 10:15 to 12:15 on Sunday mornings.On Sundays when there is a multi-generational service offered (when all children and youth remain in the service to worship together), children up to age 4 can visit the nursery.

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Story Time: Two and Three Years

Two and three year olds will learn about our covenant of love and acceptance this year. The young UUs in this class will learn through hands-on experience with the wonderful and wide world around them; stories about our faith that teach our history and principles; and play, which is the natural expression of the young child's heart and mind. We seek to teach children that the whole of their being is accepted as they are in this class. Story Time begins at 10:15 AM on Sunday mornings. Children are welcome to enter Story Time before the service begins or to listen to the Story for All Ages in the service and then come to Story Time after being sung out.

Spirit Play: Four and Five Years

Spirit Play is the Montessori approach to Religious Education. Adapted for Unitarian Universalism by Dr. Nita Penfold, Spirit Play focuses on the child's natural spirituality and wonder about the world to help the child engage in religious life. The creators of Spirit Play see the purpose of religious education to be helping children live into their own answers to the existential questions such as “where did we come from?” “where are we going?” and “what are we doing here?”.

In each session, children will hear a story and then experience a time for art expression relating to that story or another story that was heard earlier in the year. The stories have a Unitarian Universalist focus and seek to build a UU identity through liturgical lessons pertaining to our central story, our covenant, our religious symbol the Flaming Chalice, our church history, and UU heroes. Many of our stories are about our Seven Principles, called Promises in this program, and our Six Sources. Others are about the mystery that some people call God.

Children are welcomed into our Spirit Play classroom by a Door Keeper, who readies them for the lesson. The Story Teller leads the day's lesson and helps the children engage in the wondering questions about the story. Both the Door Keeper and the Story Teller assist the children during their independent expression time.

Kindergarten and First Grade: “Signs of Our Faith”

Signs of our Faith is based on Spirit Play, the Montessori approach to Religious Education. Adapted for Unitarian Universalism by Dr. Nita Penfold, K-1 focuses on the child's natural spirituality and wonder about the world to help the child engage in religious life. The creators of Spirit Play see the purpose of religious education to be helping children live into their own answers to the existential questions such as “where did we come from?” “where are we going?” and “what are we doing here?”

In each session, children will hear a story and then experience a time for art expression relating to that story. The stories have a Unitarian Universalist focus and seek to build a UU identity through liturgical lessons pertaining to our central story, our covenant, our religious symbol the Flaming Chalice, our church history, and UU heroes. Many of our stories are about our Seven Principles, called Promises in this program, and our Six Sources. Others are about the mystery that some people call God.

Children are welcomed into our K-1 classroom by a Door Keeper, who readies them for the lesson. The Story Teller leads the day's lesson and helps the children engage in the wondering questions about the story. Both the Door Keeper and the Story Teller assist the children during their independent expression time.

Second and Third Grades “UUA Faith in Action”

We will use two UUA (Unitarian Universalist Association)  “Tapestry of Faith” curriculum during the 2017-18 RE year. With “Faithful Journeys,” the children explore how Unitarian Universalism translates into life choices and everyday actions. In each session, they hear historic or contemporary examples of Unitarian Universalist faith in action; with “Love will Guide Us,” the children learn to seek guidance in life through the lens of our Unitarian Universalist Sources, with an emphasis on love. Together we ask questions such as, "Where did we come from?" "What is our relationship to the Earth and other creatures?" "How can we respond with love, even in bad situations?" Sessions apply wisdom from our Sources to help participants answer these questions. 

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Fourth and Fifth Grades: “Harry and UU Social Justice”

This UUA Reimagined curriculum uses the Harry Potter series of books by J.K. Rowling, taps children’s natural desire to make the world better, with meaningful and relevant social action experiences for tween-age children. The curriculum includes many fun wizarding activities, but the main purpose of the curriculum is social action.  The class forms a chapter of Dumbledore’s Army and fights against seven Horcruxes during the year.  The Horcruxes are real world social action projects.  The curriculum spends about four classes on each Horcrux fight, with three classes devoted mainly to education and small projects, and one class devoted entirely to action.  The goal is to produce tangible results on seven real-world problems.

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Middle School: Sixth through Eighth Grades: “The Fifth Element: Social Justice”

This UUA Reimagined curriculum uses select episodes of The Twilight Zone which tackle a diversity of social issues as the basis for in-depth discussions of a wide variety of social justice topics. At each class, an entire episode is viewed.  After viewing, the class engages in discussion and activities, designed to encourage deep contemplation of issues.  Students are quickly and deeply engaged in the topics, and become active participants in class discussions.

Middle School Our Whole Lives (OWL) (Seventh-Eighth Grades)

We will be offering the OWL (Our Whole Lives) class to 7th-8th graders beginning Sunday, September 24th at 10:30 am (the mandatory parent orientation and sign up meeting) and classes will begin for the kids on Sunday, October 8th from 10:30-11:30 am.  Middle School Con n Vashon Island is September 29-October 1 so there will be no Middle School class that week.  Kids will not go into service as this class will run during the same time as Sunday service.  We will skip Sundays where there is a school break, multi-gen services and Chalice Chapel services.  The OWL Middle School class is 24 sessions. This class has a requested sliding scale fee of $300 to cover the expense of training teachers and purchasing the extensive materials required.  Due to the progressive nature of the class and the crucial nature of building community and trust, only 3 absences (not in a row) can be allowed.  More information provided during the Parent Orientation.  For more information about OWL:  http://www.uua.org/re/owl.

High School: Ninth through Twelfth Grades

At Westside, high school youth are active in congregational life in many ways, including their Youth Group activities, the Coming of Age program, acting as youth Chaplains, participating in committees and music groups, participating in worship, and working or volunteering in our RE program.

Coming of Age (COA) is a program that marks the transition from childhood to young adulthood. UU’s generally emphasize four areas in the COA experience: pairing youth with adult mentors; discussions and retreats that emphasize self-awareness and confidence-building; service to the church and community; and a culminating affirmation ceremony. We are offering a COA program this year for any high schoolers from grades 9-11 who have not yet had this experience. Youth and their families make a commitment to this program in the fall.

 

Youth in Grades 9 through 12 who are not participating in Coming of Age are encouraged to worship with us in the Sanctuary on Sunday mornings.

Youth also participate in retreats, weekend conferences, and leadership development opportunities throughout the year. To participate in off-site events, youth must be registered IN FULL and have special permission forms completed at the time of the event and be active in RE activities so that the DRE and Lead Youth Advisor know who they are and can recommend them to the Con advisors and staff (the DRE and Lead Youth Advisor are required to make written recommendations attesting to knowing and supporting youth participation in UUA Cons and other activities).

Youth Group: Ninth through Twelfth Grades

Discussion and experience are central to Youth Group as we explore our values and beliefs. Our program emphasizes learning, social action, worship, leadership, and community building.  Each session includes opportunities for discussion, self-expression, and development of personal faith statements and spiritual practices. We also unpack our Seven Principles and learn how this covenant applies to our own lives.  This group meets in the Youth Room from 7:00PM to 8:30PM on select Sunday evenings. 

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