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. 

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. 

Instead of going to separate classrooms (divided by age) after the Story for All
Ages, all children will be invited to come together as a community to start their day
together. I will lead the children and RE volunteers in Circle Time where we will light our
chalice, say our chalice lighting together, and have the opportunity to share something
with the whole group.

After Circle Time, each child will have the ability to choose from 2-3 different
workshops run by RE volunteers. The workshops will be 30 minute activities created to
provide opportunities for deeper introspection, relationship building, dynamic and
cooperative learning, and engagement with our UU history, principles, sources and
values through many different activity areas.

Each month we will utilize a broad theme in an effort to provide structure to the
month’s learning, increase engagement outside of class, and deepen the understanding
of and connection to new concepts.

Workshop Model

Workshop Rotation is a model of Religious Education in which the children experience the monthly theme through a variety of learning styles, by choosing a different workshop each week. 

Who leads the workshops? Workshops are led by members of the congregation who have an interest or passion for a particular subject. Ex: nature, art, cooking, gardening, creative writing, games, yoga, meditation, science… Workshops are taught by teams of at least 2 facilitators. 

What will workshops look like? 

Shorter term, more intensive volunteer opportunities. 

● This will allow us to engage a wider pool of talents in our community, who have specific gifts to share. 

● Some workshop leaders may choose to lead only one or two workshops during the year, others may take on more. 

● There will be a need for consistent long-term volunteers to help facilitate from week to week. Workshops will aim to offer activities that appeal to a variety of learning styles. 

● Unlike the program we used this past year, this new methodology is not dependent on grade leveled classrooms. The hope is that by offering a variety of workshops on most Sundays, children can better select offerings that fit their learning style. On any given week there might be an art based workshop running alongside a music program. 

Themes will be introduced in depth during the children’s Circle Time and will also be held up for families via my weekly emails. 

● Children will get to choose which workshop they would like to participate in each Sunday. Workshops may repeat or may be new from week to week within the framework of the theme. 

On what will the content of the workshops be based? The core of the workshops will be the monthly themes and said theme’s accompanying story. 

● As we get comfortable with the use of themes throughout the program, additional opportunities will emerge. We may build in additional connections to the 7 core UU principles and 6 sources of Unitarian Universalism. Having an overlying social justice lens, or community goal may also emerge. There are so many ways that we can grow into this model! 

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.