URI Kids - Activities
Seeing Sacred Spaces
To provide an opportunity for students to explore what makes a sacred space "sacred". To have students explore the questions, "What do sacred spaces have in common both in use and architectural/decorative features? What makes sacred spaces for different religious traditions unique?" To provide an opportunity for students to be exposed to the uplifting, inspirational spiritual nature of sacred spaces. To have an opportunity to show their learning visually.
You will need one or more of the following:
-Books with pictures of sacred spaces –- interior and exterior
-Web site links to virtual field trips of sacred spaces –- interior and exterior
-Slide shows of sacred spaces – interior and exterior
-Video clips of sacred spaces in action
You will need the use of computers or one computer and a projector and internet access (optional; you can use web site pages offline if you print them out and use books, etc for visual images instead of the internet).
You will also need large chart paper or roll paper to create the group collage, space to hang it up, scissors, glue, markers, and other art supplies.
Time needed: Three days in class, two homework assignments
Day One: Provide exposure to all sorts of sacred spaces through books and/or the internet and/or slides and/or video. The first day just have kids look and talk and point out features. Have kids keep a class list of features that seem special to sacred spaces even if they don't have names for them, e.g. special windows, high ceilings, statuary, etc.
Homework for this day: Have students ask at least 3 people (probably adults) what makes a sacred space "sacred" to them? What are some of the most inspirational or spiritually uplifting spaces they have ever been in? Have kids bring their notes from these "mini-interviews" to class.
Day Two: Share results from mini-interviews about sacred spaces.
Use the Sacred Spaces link off of each of the five major religions for more specific exploration. Have kids make a chart of the five major religions listing features and purpose typical of major religion's sacred spaces.
Homework for this day: Have each student select one sacred space they especially found inspirational and either draw or paint it or provide a photograph, downloaded image or postcard of it. Have the students prepare a four or five statement reason as to why they selected the space and what about it was inspirational and sacred-feeling to them. This could be his or her own worship space or any other.
Day Three: Have kids make a list of features that seem typical of sacred spaces in general. Explore the question; "What makes a sacred space sacred? What was unique to the individual religions? What were the similarities?"
Using the visual examples kids brought, have kids explain why they chose these examples. Then have the kids create a group collage with their examples. This could have an academic focus, sorted by common details or religions or more of an artistic focus, having design principles and the overall effect being foremost in the end product. Either way the visual product will serve as a reminder about the value and importance of sacred spaces in many religious and spiritual traditions.
Homework for this day: Do a learning log entry (or assign as a discrete assignment) a one-page entry on the key questions of the lesson: "What do sacred spaces have in common both in use and purpose and architectural/decorative features? What makes sacred spaces for different religious traditions unique?" "What is it about the nature of sacred spaces that makes them inspirational, spiritual, "sacred" and important?"
Note: A field trip to several different sacred spaces from different religious traditions would greatly enhance this lesson. It would not be necessary to meet the objectives of this lesson to visit the spaces during a service since it is the space itself you are focusing on. This would make it possible, for example, in one day to tour a cathedral, a mosque and a temple.
Oral assessment: In addition to contributions throughout the discussion, the students explanation of why he/she chose a particular sacred space would help reveal whether the student was able to articulate what makes a sacred space sacred.
Creating the class collage is a good group assessment for the overall success of the lesson and will provide a visual reference for other religion lessons.
Having students write the follow-up learning log entry would provide an opportunity to assess what students got out of the lesson both as individuals and overall.