The religious education program at Prairie involves children in a wide variety of activities, meant to make learning exciting and enjoyable. Children are full participants in the program, sharing their ideas and opinions, and using their creativity. The program includes several different types of experiences:
We believe that each and every
person is important.
We believe that all people should
be treated fairly.
We believe that our churches are
places where all people are accepted and where we keep on learning together.
We believe that each person must
be free to search for what is true and right in life.
We believe that everyone should
have a vote about the things that concern them.
We believe in working for a
peaceful, fair and free world.
We believe in caring for our planet Earth.
Religious Education 2018-2019
We use curricula and engage in authentic learning experiences that cover our Unitarian Universalist prinicples and heritage, our religious sources (world religions), and encourage us to engage with social and environmental justice.
We also use curricula from Our Whole Lives (OWL), an age-appropriate human sexuality course developed by experts from both the Unitarian Universalist Association and United Church of Christ. More information about OWL can be found here: http://www.uua.org/re/owl. Check with the DRE or a member of the Religious Education Committee - or check this website - to inquire about specific yearly OWL offerings.
Classes for 2018/2019
Preschool & Nursery (LITTLES)
For our youngest learners we focus on building a trusting community. We want our children to feel safe and secure during their time at Prairie while at the same time having lots of fun! Our childcare workers strive to introduce UU values through free play and mentored problem solving in both our indoor and outdoor play spaces.
Grades K-5 (MIDDLES)
Unitarian Universalists value the ability and right of all to wonder about the mysteries of life and come to their own conclusions. This year our Sunday programming will consist of volunteer-led, interest-based workshop explorations of body, mind and spirit. Topics range widely and are chosen based on the passions and skills of those who choose to present. All topics will be tied into one of our 4 Program Pillars; Unitarian Universalist Heritage & identity, Social Justice Work, World Faith Traditions, & Social Emotional Learning.
To help inspire our instructors and our students we have redesigned our RE space downstairs to provide inspirational zones - rather than 'classrooms'. A description of each of our learning spaces is listed below. Keep an eye on website and calendar for specific workshop offerings each Sunday.
The MakerSpace: In the makerspace many different materials are available to the students. Glue, scissors, paper, paint, rubber bands, popsicle sticks, old buttons, scratched CDs, bottle caps, discarded plastic, fabric, yarn, needles, just to name a few. In this space students solve problems, develop ideas, create inventions, design solutions and build their visions according to theme-based or student-created challenges. STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art & Math) activities will provide students ample resources to collaborate, discover and share their ideas about how to positively impact the world around them.
The Theater: In the theater students will find a large open space for large motor activities. We have musical instruments, scarves and balls for juggling, yoga mats, hula hoops, costumes, puppets & and stage. Possible activities that might take place in the theater would be drama, yoga, tai chi, group games, puppet shows, poetry slams, just to name a few. Collaboration, cooperation, creativity and communication. These are the skills that will help make our world a better place. How will you be inspired by the theater?
The Kitchen: A working kitchen is a big draw for many of our students. Students will have the opportunity to learn specific kitchen skills while tying their learning into their UU identity. Whether it is baking treats to raise money for a social justice cause, or exploring the culinary delights of our six UU sources, the sky is the limit in the kitchen! Allowing our volunteers to act as coaches and mentors to our students and giving them an extra outlet to pass on their skills, wisdom and traditions to the next generation is one of the best things about this space.
The Studio: In the studio discussions will be the order of the day. Recording radio interviews, creating or listening to thought-provoking podcasts, watching or recording video, collaborating on trivia quizzes or engaging with the principles of ethics and debate - we have a lot of wonderful things planned for this year in the Studio. There is such a wealth of experience, passion and purpose in our congregation and it is truly a gift when folks choose to share with our youngest members. Facilitating positive interactions and allowing our congregants to coach students as they develop the skills necessary to disagree and state their position with reason and respect is a very exciting prospect indeed!
The Outdoor Classroom: The Hobbit House, the sandbox, the stump circle, the working sink and the weaving wall... there are so many wonderful elements and experiences to be had in our outdoor classroom. Youth want to learn real skills, they want to solve real problems and they want to interact with the world around them. Volunteers are excited to begin interacting with our student to teach basic woodshop skills - bat houses, bird feeders, what else can we build to honor our 7th principle? What projects can we undertake that will give our students a chance to practice the principles together? We've also begun plans to register our backyard as a wildlife sanctuary, so our kids can have a part in accomplishing something great for our animal neighbors.
The Library: In the library students will have access to quiet meditative activities. Books, puzzles, games and extra activities will be stored here. Fidget activities will be available to students who need to retreat for a time from the bustling activities of the other areas. The ability and space to withdraw for contemplation and reflection is the right of all living things. We honor the notion that there might be times when we come together when a student might need a quiet space and time for solitary pursuits. The library will serve as a refuge and a resource for all of us this year.
Grades 6-12 (BIGS)
Our oldest students will work within a Project Based Learning framework this year. They will begin the day with a community circle to engage with the Program Pillars (Social Justice Work, UU Identity & Heritage, Social Emotional Learning & World Faith Traditions) and then have time to participate in group projects of their own choosing.
Making a podcast?
Building Leopold Benches?
Digging a rain garden?
Putting on a theatrical production for the larger congregation?
Participating in an ethics counsel?
The sky is the limit when we let the kids decide how they want to learn and grow! A closing circle helps build community and ensures that our program remains dynamic & responsive.
Several of our Sunday services each year are intergenerational, designed to fully engage both children and adults. These services are often arranged around holidays, and can include crafts, dance, music, skits and readings. Children often participate in presenting or even leading these services, which are among our most enjoyable Sunday programs. During these services there are no regular RE classes and infant care is provided downstairs.
Introducing RE Kidmittees!
What's a Kidmittee? It's a committee of kids working together to achieve a specific goal or set of goals. Working together in community is a central component of how things get done - both at church and in the real world!
Kidmittee attendance is flexible - come when you can! We know you'll find a way to bring your unique contribution to our collective work for the good of all of us!
Special All Ages Events
Several times during the school year, Prairie hosts a social event open to all RE participants in grades K-12 and their invited guests. Keep an eye on the calendar to join us for one of these fun events!
Fall Frolic - The Fall Frolic is a great chance to come together after the long summer and kick off the new year in a fun way.
Wild Wintering - Our winter event is always a lot of fun. Past events have included sledding, snow fort making or tubing. Keep an eye out on the calendar - or register to get on our event email list so you don't miss this great event.
Spring Fling - Much like Wild Wintering, but less coats and hats! (Hopefully!) We like to come together in the spring and share a great experience as the earth begins to warm again. Hiking, biking, potlucking or checking out some of our great Madison programming - keep an eye on the website so you don't miss the fun!
Other special activities
Nifty Gifty - One Sunday in December students make craft gifts for friends and family using simple materials, assisted by some of our more artistic members.
Mystery Friends - In early spring students exchange letters for four weeks with Prairie adults. They don't know who their partner is at the start, but they usually figure it out by the time everybody guesses during the party at the end!
Director of Religious Education
Holly Tellander is Prairie's Director of Religious Education.
Holly holds a BA in Elementary Education and an MA in Multicultural & Bilingual Education. She has spent more than 15 years in the education system and is particularly passionate about empowering students to find their own voice and develop their own power to make change. This year marks her fifth year as DRE at Prairie.