Welcome to Prairie’s Religious Exploration Program! We strive to provide inclusive, progressive and responsive programming for young people ages 6 months – 18 years. Our foremost goal is to empower our children to find their own voices and develop their own power to make change. We look forward to your family being part of the Prairie community. Our classes meet during our worship service, Sundays at 10 a.m. 

Covid Update: RE programming this fall will continue to take place outdoors until further notice. We’ve made this decision based on scientific evidence and state guidance. All participants will be required to wear a mask at Prairie, and our teachers/volunteers are required to be fully vaccinated as well as masked. We are working on figuring out whether we can provide child care for infants and toddlers at this time – watch here for updates. Thank you for your patience as we continue to navigate the best protocols for facing this ongoing pandemic.

Our Programming for Children and Youth

The Religious Exploration (RE) program strives to create and maintain positive relationships by living our principles and having fun together. Prairie UU learning rests on Four Pillars:

Pillar 1: Unitarian Universalism

Our denomination’s Seven Principles are woven through all our RE activities, both as topics of discussion and as guidelines for our behavior, This is a child-friendly version of our principles:

  1. Each and every person is important.
  2. All people should be treated fairly and kindly.
  3. We accept one another and keep on learning together.
  4. Each person must be free to search for what is true and right in life.
  5. All people should have a vote about the things that concern them.
  6. We work together for a peaceful, fair, and free world.
  7. We care for our planet Earth, the home we share with all living things.

We provide opportunities for our young people to learn about and appreciate the Six Sources that inspire and inform Unitarian Universalists:

  1. The sense of wonder we all share
  2. People long ago and today whose lives and words remind us to be kind and fair
  3. The ethical and spiritual wisdom of the world’s religions
  4. Christian and Jewish teachings which tell us to love all others as we love ourselves
  5. The use of reason and the discoveries of science
  6. The harmony of nature and the sacred circle of life

Pillar 2: Social Justice

Our congregation works to promote equity and justice. For our students, we strive to offer a range of developmentally appropriate experiences that will give our students the opportunity to connect their lived experiences with those of others; to voice their concerns about justice issues that matter to them; and to do meaningful work with individuals in our congregation and local organizations that are working for change.

Pillar 3: World Faith Traditions

It is important to our congregation that our young people develop religious literacy and respect for the religions of the world. Our youngest students learn how people of different faiths celebrate the holidays of the year. As they grow, they learn more about the beliefs of the world’s important religions. Our teens have discussions with people of other faiths and visit a variety of houses of worship as they reflect on their own beliefs.

Pillar 4: Social Emotional Learning

We encourage children to understand and manage their emotions by practicing calming techniques and by taking the time to discuss emotions and conflicts honestly. We foster responsible decision-making by offering opportunities for children to choose their activities. We develop children’s ability to set and achieve goals by helping them acquire the skills they need, and by facilitating positive activities rather than directing them.

What happens on Sundays?

Preschool and early elementary students begin the morning with their families in the Meeting Room. Quiet activity bags (Busy Bags) are available for anyone who needs to fidget. Early in the service, children are invited (but not required) to come forward for the Story for All Ages. After the story, the congregation sings them out to their Religious Exploration (RE) classes, but children are always welcome to rejoin their families there if they wish.

Older children usually start in the Meeting Room with the congregation and then head downstairs with other children after the Story for all Ages, but they may stay in the Meeting Room with you throughout the service if you choose. 

We ask visiting families whose children participate in RE that day to complete a short visitor information form so that we may know of any medical or other special needs or concerns. 

Covid Update: Though adults are again meeting indoors in our meeting house, our children under 12 can’t yet be vaccinated. RE programming this fall will continue to take place outdoors until further notice. We will only cancel RE if thunderstorms or other dangerous weather is expected. Children will be having RE in Prairie’s backyard which will be equipped with screen tents for mosquito and rain protection. Older children and youth may sometimes meet elsewhere on the property or at a nearby park. 

Age Groupings

This fall children will be in age groupings: Littles (ages 6 and under), Bigs (7+) and Youth (11+). However there can be flexibility depending on individual preferences and needs.

TINIES (infants, toddlers, and preschoolers) are cared for by our childcare workers. They have weekly opportunities to practice social-emotional skills such as sharing and taking turns through games, activities and free play. Covid Update: For the time being, children who cannot yet wear masks should be cared for by a parent or other caregiver, and maintain distance from the other unvaccinated children.

LITTLES (ages 3 – 6) The Littles will be engaging in art and story projects loosely based on the Chalice Children curriculum provided by the Unitarian Universalist Association. Here is a brief description from the UUA website. “In a group setting, with loving adult guides, young children can engage in spiritual seeking, develop their openness to sharing, and experience the benefit of a supportive community.” There is a general structure for each session which includes free play, circle time, songs and games, and a closing. All of this aims to build community and lasting relationships among the children.

BIGS (ages 7 – 10) The Bigs will be doing games and sports with a focus on cooperative play, inclusion, and empathy. While enjoying games and physical activities together, we’ll find teachable moments to focus on developing skills of perseverance, self regulation, and conflict resolution – skills to help us build a strong community. 

YOUTH (11+) Part of the youth curriculum will also include interacting with the book, To This I Give My Heart: A Coming of Age Journal. We will also be focusing on building a covenant to guide how we engage with each other. Youth will be involved in decision making and the planning process for how they develop and deepen their Unitarian Universalist identities.

Intergenerational experiences

Several times a year, our young people participate with adults in intergenerational services. Our young people often contribute readings, skits, and music to our services. Youth, like other Prairie members, may do presentations on topics of interest in our services.

Human Sexuality Education

Prairie UU offers the Our Whole Lives (OWL) program to provide age-appropriate education in human sexuality for grades K-1, 5-6, and 8-9. We plan to offer OWL for K-1 in the spring of 2022, grades 5-6 in 2023, and grades 8-9 in 2024. Find more information about sexuality education at Prairie here.