Week Two: Family Connections Toolkit

Interrupting the Patterns of Daily Life

Scripture

Luke 10:38-42

Spend a few moments wondering together as a family about the story:

  • I wonder what part of the story stands out to you?
  • I wonder if there is a part of the story that is about you?
  • I wonder where God is in the story?

Practice: Family Examen

Click for complete instructions.

This time of sharing will give you many opportunities to learn from your children, no matter their ages, for they are spiritual beings with great wisdom to share. The purpose of the examen is not to critique or instruct children on their behavior. The purpose is for each person to look carefully at their day, name that for which they are most grateful and least grateful, one way they showed love and one way they did not show love or withheld showing love.

Collaborative Still Life

creative, observational, collaborative, playful, 3+ 

Materials

  • Paper
  • Pencils, pens, crayons
  • Objects for still life

Instructions

  1. Set up a still life with anything you have handy at the center of a table. Use flowers, fruit, bottles… feel free to personalize! Place one piece of paper and drawing materials for each participant.
  2. Draw what you see for 5 minutes (set a timer).
  3. Leave the drawing where it is and move one chair to the right.
  4. Now you’re sitting at a new view of the still life: set the timer for 5 minutes again and add to the drawing.
  5. Repeat until everybody has contributed to each drawing.

Exquisite Corpse

creative, collaborative, playful, ages 5+

You’ll be surprised by the results of your collaborative drawing, invented by surrealist artists perfected by kids! All you’ll need are simple drawing materials and a few friends.

Advanced play could incorporate collage, bigger paper or more folds.

Family Game: New Choice

active, creative, playful, ages 3+

New Choice is a game that helps shake up our patterns of thinking/doing, and allow ourselves spaces for unedited choices and re-envisioning “how things are done.”

Instructions

  • Begin by selecting an activity or game you play (can be as simple as walking the dog, or as complex as playing Monopoly). New Choice can be a game that gets embedded anywhere!
  • Take turns being ‘it’. When you are ‘it’ you get to “new choice” the other players at random intervals.
  • When you are “new choice-d,” it means you re-do the behavior you’ve just done, but differently. For example, if you are “new choice-d” while eating an apple, you might try changing how you are holding the apple, or the face you are making, or how you are standing.
  • For more complexity: The person who is ‘it’ can give you instructions on what to “new choice”. For example, if you’ve just walked across the room, they can say “new choice, where your feet land.” Etc. etc.
  • Some tips: Be sure to be ready to set boundaries! It’s a silly, fun game and of course when someone is ‘it’ they will try many different variations of new choices. It’s a great opportunity to talk about playfulness combined with setting boundaries. I encourage you to keep playing through these boundary-setting practices, to help model how to work through challenges and differences.

Create a Zen Garden

sensory play, calm, creative, ages 3+

Learn more

Use materials you have handy to make your own zen garden. The example linked uses sand, but you could use dirt or gravel. 

Before you make a new arrangement, take a moment to appreciate what the person before made. You could even leave it outside overnight and see if somebody else adds their own special touch (rabbit footprints, snail slime trail…).

Design Challenge

creative, reflective, playful, ages 4+ 

Imagine the world in new ways! Download the design challenge and/or offer a daily creative challenge for your kids.

Examples of a daily challenge: build a giant fort, chalk our entire walk, construct a container so a (hard-boiled) egg won’t crack when dropped from a height, design an obstacle course, invent a Lego challenge, assemble a giant puzzle, create a nature museum, build houses of cards, create a Rube Goldberg-inspired machine, build a small fairy garden, or make a movie. Check out what other kids have designed and imagined here!

Land Art Sculptures

creative, reflective, active, outdoors, ages 3+

In a favorite public outdoors area, work individually or with family members to (responsibly) collect elements and arrange them to make a natural sculpture. 

  • Imagine what other people walking by might think about the collection.
  • Imagine what other animals might think about your sculpture!

Take a photo after you make it, then return to the site in a day or two to see how it has changed since you built it. Be inspired: Andy Goldsworthy, Bowerbirds

Share Kindness

Being forced out of routines can provide an opportunity to marvel at our interdependence, consider what we value, and help one another cope. Download a Doing Good Together Kitchen Table Kindness Kit for free, using the code UCCKIND. This kit gives even the youngest family members fun, simple ways to help others right from home, while sparking important conversations about caring, empathy and community.

At the Dinner Table

reflective, engaged, all ages

Prompts to get the family talking about how they are managing and adapting during this challenging time:

  • What have you missed the most since we’ve been more isolated?
  • What are you surprised that you haven’t missed?
  • What’s one way life has gotten better since we’ve been at home more?
  • What have you enjoyed the most during this time?
  • What has changed the most? What has stayed the same?
  • What have you been most grateful for?

Journal Prompts

elementary +

For each prompt give yourself at least 1-2 minutes to write or draw in response to these prompts.

Tips: 

✐ When you get stuck come back to the prompt to start your next sentence or drawing. 

✐ Try to keep your pen moving and don’t overthink! 

✐ Feel free to speak your truth or write your fictions. 

  • Which daily routines do you get to choose; which ones are outside of your control? 
  • What patterns (in yourself, in your home, outside your home) feel most important to you right now? 
  • Pretend you are a Lego person, a bug or anything small. In your mind, walk around your house and discover where you (as Lego, as bug) can view regular objects differently. What does a sink look like to a bug? How might a Lego person join you on the couch? Describe this exploration with as much detail as possible. 

Reading Practices

Take a step out of the ordinary by reading in new places: a tent in your yard, a fort in your house, a hammock, a tree, a swing. Listen to an audio book together while you color or paint or create a sculpture with clay.

Picture Book Godly Play for Families by Kevin Brown

Getting Ready to Receive the Story:
Invite children to settle into a comfortable position.
Invite three deep, centering breaths.

Sharing the Story:
Read together a favorite children’s picture book or story. The book does not need to be overtly religious – one of the main goals of this practice is to help children discover the sacred and notice God’s presence amid the ordinary moments of life.

Wondering Together:
Invite wondering using some of the following questions & leave space for silence:

  • I wonder if there is a part of the story that stands out or shimmers to you? 
  • I wonder if you have ever been in/come close to a place like this?
  • I wonder what part of the story is the most important?
  • I wonder if we can leave out any part of the story and still have all the story we need?
  • I wonder where you are in the story?
  • I wonder if there is a part of the story that is about you?
  • I wonder where God/Christ/the Spirit/the Holy Spirit is in the story?

Blessing:

  • Parents offer words of blessing to children and help children practice offering blessings to their siblings and parents. Some suggestions:
  • “Remember you are a beloved child of God.”
  • “Know that God loves you and so do I.”
  • “Always remember that you are never alone; my love and God’s love are always with you.” 

Book Recommendations

  • Chester’s Way by Kevin Henkes
  • There is a Flower at the Tip of My Nose Smelling Me by Alice Walker
  • Flashlight by Lizi Boyd
  • Sidewalk Flowers by JonArno Lawson
  • When God was a Little Girl by David Weiss and Joan Lindeman
  • A Quiet Place by Douglas Wood and Dan Andreasen

Buy these titles online at a local bookstore! Some we recommend in the Twin Cities:

Red BalloonMagers and Quinn | Moon Palace | Black Garnet Books

© Minnesota Conference United Church of Christ | 2021