Groups and Curriculum
Nursery and Toddlers: Child Care provided by paid staff and volunteers from the congregation
Pre-School through First Grade (The Exploring Chickens Group) – UU Play
A story based program based on UU themes, with reflection time with guiding questions and coaching on cooperative play using blocks, housekeeping corner and crafts and manipulatives.
Second and Third Grade (The Compassionate Hawks Group) – Fall and Spring: Moral Tales Every day our children go forth into a complex world where they are often faced with difficult decisions and situations. Moral Tales attempts to provide children with the spiritual and ethical tools they will need to make choices and take actions reflective of their Unitarian Universalist beliefs and values.
Fourth and Fifth Grade (The Kick-Butt Unicorns Group) – Fall Love Connects Us celebrates important ways Unitarian Universalists live our faith in covenanted community. Moved by love and gathered in spirit, we embrace our responsibility toward one another and the world at large. We encourage one another’s search for truth and meaning. We strive to be active in peace-making and other efforts to improve our world. Spring Our Whole Lives helps participants make informed and responsible decisions about their sexual health and behavior. With a holistic approach, Our Whole Lives provides accurate, developmentally appropriate information about a range of topics, including relationships, gender identity, sexual orientation, sexual health, and cultural influences on sexuality. The focus of the 4th/5th grade Our Whole Lives 8 week program is changing bodies and puberty.
Crossing Paths (Sixth and Seventh Grade Group) – Fall and Spring: Crossing Paths joins the long line of visit-based UU curriculum going back 70 years. Church Across the Street was published in 1947. More recently, we’ve seen Neighboring Faiths (1997) and Building Bridges (Tapestry of Faith). Crossing Paths honors these previous curriculum and adds its own unique components, including an emphasis on theological grounding, a distinct take on religious pluralism (“Many Mountains, Many Paths”), an abundance of experiential learning and a deep commitment to family-centered activities.
Crossing Paths Schedule of Visits:
Black Christian Church – 1/13
Islam – 2/10
Hinduism – 3/17
Eighth and Ninth Grade –Service and Social Justice projects, activities and discussion about hunger, homelessness and other topics relevant to this age group, and a service trip to NYC through the Friends Youth Service Opportunties Program, YSOP March 8th and 9th, 2019. Parents and caretakers of 8th/9th graders, look for an email from 12/19 about scheduling an orientaiton for parents/caretakers and youth participants in January 2019. Details about our 2019 trip are here.
The High School Group
The High School group has some long-standing traditions–organizing a service project, designing and presenting a Sunday morning worship service as well as informal discussions.
Our Whole Lives: Lifespan Sexuality Education
Honest, accurate information about sexuality changes lives. It dismantles stereotypes and assumptions, builds self-acceptance and self-esteem, fosters healthy relationships, improves decision making, and has the potential to save lives. For these reasons and more, we are proud to offer Our Whole Lives (OWL), https://www.uua.org/re/owl a comprehensive, lifespan sexuality education curricula. This well researched curricula is written by our national association.
We plan to offer the 4th/5th grade OWL program starting in February, 2019. Tentative required orientation for parents/caretakers and 4th/th grade participants is the morning of Sunday, Feb 3.
The focus of this 8-week program is to help children in these grades to “understand the physical and emotional changes of puberty. Participants explore values, communication and decision making, as well as physical health and development.”
The facilitators for OWL in Sunday school are volunteers from our congregation who have been specially trained though a 24-hr training session, run by trainers from our national association.
Crossing Paths: our world religions and cultural competency course
In Crossing Paths, the participants learn about the religions of the world and gain cultural competency. It’s one of the highlights of our RE program and one that students remember for the rest of their lives.
What’s special about this program is learning through visiting local houses of worship. The first weeks of Sunday school, the RE volunteers work with the children so that they come to see themselves as a group of respectful and curious religious people. In the months that follow, the group learns about a particular religion one session; they visit their house of worship or host a guest the next session; and the following session they process what they have learned and experienced. They may take a couple of weeks to prepare or to process, but basically the curriculum works in units.
This program is an opportunity for the group to act out our Unitarian Universalist values of respect, tolerance and the fee and responsible search for truth and meaning.
In addition to working to understanding the wisdom of various religions, the group will discuss and engage in activities to develop their cultural competency. The goals include
- Fostering an awareness of one’s own biases and cultural assumptions
- Developing an understanding of what cultural norms are and the ability to articulate them
- Fostering self-awareness that helps participants listen without using their own values and assumptions as the norm or the ideal
- Develop the ability to carry an attitude of respect when approaching people of different cultures
Our monthly Family Chapel is part of our Sunday morning programming for children in Pre-k through 6th grade and their parents/caretakers. Family Chapel is an opportunity for children and their parents or caregivers to learn about Unitarian Universalism together; to celebrate life; and to experience ways to explore their questions together.
Parents can enjoy attending a more relaxed service designed for families. It gives adults as well as children an opportunity to reflect on something that helps their own personal development.
Family Chapel includes many elements of the regular service, including Joys and Sorrows and an Offertory. We sing hymns and other songs, accompanied on the piano by one of Albany UU’s pianists. Instead of a sermon, there might be a story or activity. There are opportunities for children to share their ideas or participate in other ways. Children are invited to bring a poem or short reading on the theme of the month to share.
How does Family Chapel work? Family Chapel starts at 10:00 in the Sanctuary. Parents and caregivers of the younger children (pre-k through 2rd grade) attend with their children instead of attending the first part of the regular service. Older children often feel a sense of ownership in their Chapel so if they can direct their own behavior, they can come on their own, if they like. All adults are welcome at Family Chapel.
What about parents and caregivers who have volunteered for other duties on Sunday morning? If that describes you, make arrangements with an adult friend to take your young child to Family Chapel with them. Or if need be, you can just bring your child to the Sanctuary and the other adults there will make sure that your child finds a place to sit with one of their friends and their parent or with one of their teachers.
What happens when Family Chapel is over? We end around 10:25. Then children go their classes. Parents are welcome to walk with their children to their room. Then parents may join the regular service. At 10:30 Leah Purcell leads a parent support group on parenting with UU values in Room B-8 until 11:15. Everyone with children at home is welcome to come.
UU’s in Action Sundays
On holiday weekends we have some multi-age groups for RE – usually Pre–K through 3rd grade and 4th – 7th grade. In these sessions, the children respond to the story in the service and learn about social justice or engage in a hands-on social justice project.