"O God! Educate these children. These children are the plants of Thine orchard, the flowers of Thy meadow, the roses of Thy garden. Let Thy rain fall upon them; let the Sun of Reality shine upon them with Thy love. Let Thy breeze refresh them in order that they may be trained, grow and develop, and appear in the utmost beauty. Thou art the Giver. Thou art the Compassionate."
After the prayer, ask the children whether any of them know a prayer by heart that they could recite for the calss. You can then help them memorize the following prayer in the way that was explained in Sections 2 & 3 of this unit.
"O God, guide me, protect me, make of me a shining lamp and a brilliant star. Thou art the Mighty and the Powerful."
Put to music HERE and HERE and HERE.
[For prayer memorization, one thing I have done is to learn the prayer in different languages (we have the privilege of having a Chinese native speaker and a Persian native speaker helping one of the classes). This was good for older kids, or kids that already know this prayer. For the younger children then, we learn the prayer as a song, with actions.]
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The video to the left is in Farsi (Persian).
E te Atua! Arahina i ahau, tiakina ahau, whakamaramatia te rama o toku manawa kia meinga ahau hei whetu tiahoaho. Ko koe te kaha rawa, me te mana. NB this translation is for the old version that goes "Illumine the lamp of my heart..."]
My First Counsel
O Son of Spirit! (x2)
My first counsel is this (x2)
Possess a pure, kindly and radiant heart
That thine may be a sovereignty
Ancient, imperishable and everlasting
[alternative version HERE]
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Our hearts are like mirrors. We should always keep them clean. Hatred, envy and negative thoughts are like dust that stops the mirror from shining. When our hearts are pure, they reflect the light of God, and we become a cause of happiness to others. TO help keep our hearts pure, let us memorize this quotation of Baha'u'llah:
"O Son of Spirit! My first counsel is this: Possess a pure, kindly and radiant heart..."
[In Maori: E TE TAMA A TE WAIRUA! Ko Tāku tohutohu tuatahi ko tēnei: Kia urutapu, kia aroha, kia hahana tō ngākau, kia riro i a koe te mana tawhito, kāore mō te turaki, kāore mō te ngaro.]
The children will find the quotation easier to memorize if they understand it well. It is recommended, therefore, that you spend some time discussing the meaning of the words and phrases with them. Here are some sentences that will assist you in doing so.
1. One day Gerard and Mary were colouring in some drawings. Gerard needed the yellow crayon, but Mary did not want to give it to him. The teacher told Mary that she should share. The teacher gave Mary good counsel.
2. Patricia has to decide whether to spend her money on cookies or on a storybook. Her parents advise her to buy the storybook. Her parents give Patricia good counsel.
1. Tinaye likes to read prayers before going to sleep. She has a small prayer book to read from. Tinaye possesses a small prayer book.
2. There was a flood and many people lost everything they possessed, but friends came to their aid and soon they had the things they needed again.
1. Cathy became angry and screamed at Susan. Susan was sad, but quickly forgave Cathy. Susan posses a pure heart.
2. Jorge likes to share his cookies with all the children, even with Gustavo, who throws stones at him. Jorge possesses a pure heart.
1. When people in need come to her house, Ming Ling always takes care of them. Ming Ling possesses a kindly heart.
2. Mr. Robertson is very old. Jimmy helps him carry his fruit harvest to the market. Jimmy possesses a kindly heart.
1. When I feel sad, my mother always cheers me up and makes me happy. My mother possesses a radiant heart.
2. Obuya became ill and has to spend all his time in bed. He says many prayers, does not become sad, and continues to show forth happiness. Obuya possesses a radiant heart. [One activity we've done for this, is having the sentences, with the key words taken out, and the children have to work out (together), what word would best fit that gap].
'Abdu'l-Baha could always tell what was in a person's heart, and He greatly loved people whose hearts were pure and radiant. There was a lady who had the honor of being the guest of 'Abdu'l-Baha at dinner. As she sat listening to His words of wisdom, she looked at a glass of water in front of her and thought, "Oh! If only 'Abdu'l-Baha would take my heart and empty it of every earthly desire and then refill it with Divine love and understanding, just as you would do with this glass of water.
This though passed through her mind quickly, and she did not say anything about it, but soon something happened that made her realize 'Abdu'l-Baha had known what she was thinking. While He was in the middle of His talk, He paused to call a servant and said a few words to him in Persian. The servant quietly came to the lady's place at the table, took her glass, emptied it, and put it back in front of her.
A little later, 'Abdu'l-Baha, while continuing to talk, picked up a pitcher of water from the table, and in a most natural way, slowly filled the lady's empty glass. No one noticed what happened, but eh lady knew that 'Abdu'l-Baha was answering her heart's desire. She was filled with joy. Now she knew that hearts were like open books to 'Abdu'l-Baha, Who read them with great love and kindliness.
[It's always nice to act this story out with props - of course not acting out 'Abdu'l-Baha, but acting out the pouring of the water, pouring out a dirty cup of water, and refilling it with clean water; could even use the water examples explained below under "extra activities". As for the theme - is it when we ask with sincerity - God can grant us that pure heart? or is when we have a pure heart, we will be of the Loved Ones of God - in a position to have our prayers answered that much more readily?]
The activity that follows the story is called "The Burning Thirst". Tie sticks to children's arms so they cannot bend their elbows [The Frontiers of Learning Video has the most beautiful example of this game - under the Congo section.], and then tell them to pretend that they are walking in a desert and are very, very thirsty. When they come upon water in cups, they have to find a way to drink it. They will discover that the only way to help each other, being careful not to get each other wet.
After the game, you can gather the children together and give them each a copy of drawing 1 to colour [It is good to print x2 images per A4 sheet if the children aren't too young]. At the conclusion of the class, two or three children can be asked to recite a quotation or prayer they know as a reward for praiseworthy behaviour, or you may say the closing prayer.
1. use 2 clear drink bottles and fill with water. Tell the children that they represent two hearts. Fill one bottle with black food colouring, sand, saw-dust etc. and explain that each substance represents a lie, hurting others, being disobedient, etc. Fill the other with red food colouring, glitter, beads, flowers etc and explain that each one of these things represents being honest, caring, helpful, friendly, prayerful etc. The children can then make their own bottles - with colourful food colouring, glitter, beads, flowers etc.
2. Cut out a heart in the middle of some card. Stick clear or red cellophane over the hole and then get the children to add radiant stickers. Write the quotation from the lesson onto it also. It can be taped to the window as a stained glass of sorts.
3. Movement: Storm of Kindness
- Explain that kids will make a “rainstorm” of kindness. Being kind is contagious (ask them what contagious means). It may start off with one small act of kindness, but soon that one act with spread to someone else and so on and so on. It will lead to other acts of kindness, and when those all get added together, they create an amazing “storm” of kindness.
- Have kids stand in a circle. Tell them to each do what the teacher does when he/she looks at them and nods. Don’t do it until the teacher looks and nods. Starting at one spot in the circle, the teachers will have them.
- Rub hands together (sounds like rain starting to drizzle)
- Snap (or slap backs of hands, alternating) (bigger drops)
- Clap out of rhythm (even bigger)
- Slap thighs (heavy rain)
- Stomp feet (very heavy rain/thunder)
- Then reverse steps, slapping thighs, then clapping, then snapping, then rubbing hands.
4. Hands-On: Play-Doh Activity
- Hand out a very small piece of play-doh to each kid.
- Explain that there’s someone who needs a bowl that will hold _____ (something that would fit in a bowl made out of the whole amount of play-doh). That’s a pretty big problem for a group of people who only each have a small amount to give.
- See if the kids can come up with a solution of putting all of their small pieces together to help this person in need.
- Explain that you don’t have to have a lot in order to be generous, and that when we work together to be generous or add our small act of generosity to other people’s, we can help solve problems.
From the Family's Virtues Guide - Kindness
What is Kindness?
Kindness is being concerned about the welfare of others. Kindness is showing you care about anyone or anything that crosses your path, knowing that everything is a part of God's creation. You can be kind to people, to animals, and to the environment. Kindness means to care for others and the earth as much as or more than you care about yourself.
Kindness is shown in small gestures that bright people's lives, times you care for an animal, daily ways you show concern for the earth. Kindness is showing love to someone who is sad or needs your help.
Why Practice Kindness?
Without kindness no one would listen when people or animals need help. Everyone would be looking out for herself. The world is lonely without kindness. When someone reaches out to another in an act of kindness, it helps them both. Everything in the world God created is connected. If we are unkind to any part of it, it affects us as well.
People's selfishness and lack of kindness to the earth has caused damage to the air, the water, the land. This has brought suffering to people and animals too. Being kind allows us to feel the connectedness we have with all other things. Being kind makes things better for every one of us.
How Do You Practice it?
You practice kindness by noticing when someone or something needs care. You have become senstive to the world around you. Use your imagination to think of things that give others happiness - your parents, your friends, your teachers, your brothers and sisters, and even people you don't know very well. Find out what habits harm or help the environment and choose kinder ways.
When tempted to be cruel, to criticize or tease, you decide not to do it (even with your own brothers and sisters!). You accept people who are different or handicapped instead of ignoring them or teasing them. When you are practising kindness, you take really good care of your pets.
What would kindness look like if...
- A new child comes into your class and she looks lonely?
- You start teasing your brother and he is getting upset?
- Some kinds you have been playing with start ridiculing a boy who has big ears?
- Your cat has gotten some burrs in her fur?
- Your mother seems tired lately.
Signs of Success
Congratulations! You are practising kindness when you...
Keep trying! You need more practice when you...
I am kind. I look for ways to help others. I show kindness to any person or animal I see. I do all I can to take care of the earth. I remember my connection to all creation.