For students to connect spirituality to themselves. To share with others what is important to them. To create a sacred space within the classroom.
You will need some things to create the shrine or altar itself such as boxes, fabrics, a table, etc. Be creative! You will also need pictures of shrines from different religions or cultures to use as examples.
Use examples of shrines from different religions to develop a sense of what shrines mean to people. Ask kids to bring in religious/spiritual/inspirational artifacts/objects/icons/pictures/ short readings/poems/inspirational messages.
Stress that what they bring in should be a source of inspiration and/or a source of comfort. It could be something that helps calm them and/or perhaps helps them meditate or pray. It could be a religious object that means something to them when they see or represents a meaningful ritual from their religion. It could be the picture of a person who did something really inspiring and good –- someone who represents strong moral character. It could be a poem that has spiritual meaning to them.
Collect a variety of fabrics and a variety of cardboard boxes. Have the kids construct an "altar" out of the cardboard boxes (or wooden crates even better). Be sure it is secure. Duct tape is great for attaching boxes to each other. Have the kids use the fabrics to drape over the boxes.
You could have kids bring in the objects over a period of time. When someone brings something in, they should be allowed to place their item carefully on the altar. As more and more objects arrive, kids can rearrange to create an overall pleasing, peaceful look.
Each day, once the altar has many contributions, take a few moments to be silent in the room. During the silence some days, simply be still. Some days, you could have kids write in a special book of meditations or reflections (a journal) On other days supply art materials and paper and have them draw their impressions or thoughts of the silent time, focused on the altar. Ask kids if they want to share after each period of meditation/reflection but make it optional.
When it is time to take the shrine down and return the items, take a digital picture of the shrine. Ask kids for some of their writing. Put up a web page with the shrine and some of the writing and let the kids know where it is on the www. Remind them they can go to it when they want to bring themselves back to this silent, meaningful space. Or simply print out photos of the shrine with some of the writing and give it to the kids or simply take photos the old fashioned way and give the photos to the kids.
The writing students do in their learning logs will give you a good idea of the level of understanding and engagement a student is experiencing with this lesson.