This year our youngest RE class (children 3 years to a “young” 6 years of age) chose for its name, the “Manatees.” Four teachers work together to guide, support, and supervise the children in their religious exploration. Robin Russell is a 7-year veteran with this age group. Andrew DeVelschow has 3 years of experience in this classroom. Amy Phillips has enjoyed 2 years with these children, and Ellen Abell is back working in this classroom for the first time in many years.

The Manatees classroom is organized around the curriculum, “Spirit Play.” Through storytelling and structured free-play opportunities, Spirit Play assists children in ways appropriate for their age and developmental level to explore existential questions such as, Where did we come from? What are we doing here? How do we choose to live our lives? After an initial story/lesson demonstrating how people live out UU values and principles, children work at their own pace on activities that reflect their interests.

Spirit Play is a Unitarian Universalist adaptation of Jerome Berryman’s “Godly Play,” a curriculum that uses Montessori-based methods of hands-on exploration and questioning. Teachers went to Atlanta in early autumn to participate in a full-day Spirit Play training. See http://www.spirit-play.com if you are interested in more information about the curriculum.