A middle school curriculum
Written with support of the Unitarian Sunday School Society
Sara Taetle Schwindt
“Worship Weaving” is a 12-session curriculum for middle schoolers, intended for those in grades 6-8 or homeschool equivalent.
The goals of “Worship Weaving” are for middle schoolers to:
Each session shares the same structure, including a worship component, a discovery time of learning about new terms or practices, and a main activity on the topic of the week. The worship includes a song, short ritual with movement such as a Sun Salutation, and chalice extinguishing that is initially led by the facilitator, and over time, shifts to being led by the participants.
During Worship Weaving, participants will experience a ritual closing. This closing will remain the same throughout the curriculum, allowing participants to develop comfort in the experience, and eventually, in leading it for their peers. The suggested ritual includes music and movement in order to help participants integrate their learning through physical as well as verbal intelligences. The group is also encouraged to synchronize their breathing through both the Sun Salutation and singing, a practice used in many traditions to help a group feel bonded and connected to the Sacred. The ritual pieces have also been selected to give participants exposure to various religious backgrounds, both to increase their cultural literacy and comfort, and to show some of the many possibilities available for a personal or group Shalom Chaverim, a traditional Jewish song, is a round included in Singing the Living Tradition. “The Hebrew words mean ‘Peace, friends, until we meet again’ and are used as a greeting or farewell. This song became popular in the Jewish colonies in Palestine after World War II.” (from Between the Lines: Sources for Singing the Living Tradition) A round allows the group more musical possibilities. At first, they may want to simply sing it as written. As they come to know the song better, they may use it as a round or add simple harmonies to deepen their worship experience.
The Sun Salutation is a well-known and loved yoga practice with many subtle variations. It is designed to provide a morning routine for stretching the whole body, aligning breath and movement, and honoring our life-giving Sun. Many online videos are available, including this simplified version:
Worship Weaving uses an inclusive, multicultural lens. Unitarian Universalism strives to build communities in which multiple points of view are welcome and seen as enriching for the group. The authors intentionally use many modalities to address the wide range of learning styles and maturity levels of this age group, and include opening games to help youth build community, and open up both socially and spiritually.
Worship Weaving was developed in response to the heavier time pressures our high schoolers are facing. It moves content that was traditionally held during Coming of Age or High School Youth Group to the middle school level. This allows us to lighten the schedule for often over-committed older youth, and builds leadership skills among middle schoolers. We are excited to move this worship-leading material into our middle school program, just as they strive to make a developmental leap towards independence.
Please enjoy your teaching experience!
Mandy Neff and Sara Taetle Schwindt