Children & Youth Faith Formation
Interested in High School Youth Group? Click here
Child care for infants and toddlers (up to age 4) available in Room 112.
Children Pre-K and older start the morning with their family in the service and walk down to the classrooms together after the children’s story/message. Children in 3rd grade and under must be picked up from their classroom by their designated adult at the end of class. Older children will be released on their own. If your child attends both class times, your child must join you during coffee hour.
ALL families must complete a Faith Formation registration form to enroll children in classes and/or childcare
Moving & Growing (infant/toddler room) Toddlers: join us for stories, songs, and movement to practice pre-literacy skills and working together. Participants will be introduced to Unitarian Universalist principles and story selections will echo the Soul Matters themes used in adult faith formation. Infants will participate in listening to stories and songs while working on finding their feet. 😉
Spirit Play (Pre-K – Grade 3 at 9:15 am; Pre-K – Grade 5 at 11 am) assists children in figuring out their own answers to the existential questions: Where did we come from? What are we doing here? How do we choose to live our lives? What happens when we die? Spirit Play uses the Montessori approach for the structure of the morning. Classroom elements free the children to make meaning through wondering and art, as well as create a spiritual community of children while supporting multiple learning styles and challenges. Stories have been developed in the following categories: UU Lessons and Stories, Promises (Principles), UU Sources. Spirit Play stories will also be developed around the church themes from Soul Matters.
Harry and UU (Grade 4 – 6, 9:15 am only) A Social Action curriculum based on J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter books. Although most parents believe social action is important for children, and most children have a natural desire to make the world better, it can be difficult to find meaningful and relevant social action experiences for tween-age children. Harry and UU is based on the Harry Potter series of books by J.K. Rowling, books that immerse children in the idea that one can work to make the world better.
The Gospel According to the Simpsons (Grade 7 & 8, 9:15 am only) In the Gospel According to the Simpsons, this famous TV cartoon show is presented in light of its questioning conventional wisdom and values and also its quirky support of God, faith, and family.
Once a month, families will experience a Service for All Ages, in which all families worship together the entire hour in the auditorium. Those Sundays will be:
September 9, 2018; October 28, 2018; November 18, 2018; December 23, 2018; January 6, 2019; February 17, 2019; March 31, 2019.
Other Special Services involving children and youth:
- March 10: High School Youth Group Led Service (Children in Grades 6-8 attend service)
- May 12: Coming of Age Service (Children in Grades 4-8 attend service)
- May 19: High School Senior Recognition
Children’s Chapel – Room 114
Children’s Chapel is held once a month during the 9:15 am service. (Dates listed on calendar). Children will begin the service with families in the auditorium, and when they are sung out to their classes, all ages- Preschool-grade 8 are welcome to join Director of Faith Formation Tracy Beck for a time of worship. Children’s chapel will incorporate elements of ritual in an age appropriate way, and will be centered around the worship theme for that month. This is a time for children to experience Unitarian Universalist worship in a way relevant to them, and also a chance to get to know others of many ages.
Children’s Chapel will be held:
No Children’s Chapel May – August
This year’s themes are:
September – Vision: The practice of intentional imagination
October – Sanctuary: The practice of finding sacred space within & ensuring welcoming space for all
November – Memory: The practice of honest remembrance & honoring the shoulders on which we stand
December – Mystery: The practice of embracing life with humility and awe
January – Possibility: The practice of personal unfolding and prophetic vision
February Trust: The practice of commitment and faith in a love that won’t let us go
March – Journey: The practice of pilgrimage, courageous growth and patient change
April – Wholeness: The practice of repairing what is broken and knowing we are enough
May – Curiosity: The practice of moving from fear to open-heartedness
June – Beauty: The practice of savoring life’s gifts
Wednesday Night Kick-off is on Wednesday, September 19!
5:30 – 7:30 pm – Potluck & Social gathering at Des Moines Water Works Park, South Shelter (rain location: church)
Bring a dish to share, table service for your crew, lawn games, and energy for a new church year!
Dinnertime on Wednesdays (5:30 – 6:15 pm) brings a gathering of members and friends of all ages to First Unitarian. Enjoy a buffet-style dinner prepared by volunteer guest chefs (Free will offering; suggested amounts:
Adults – $5, Children – $3, maximum of $20 for families). All are expected to help clean up!
ALL families must complete a Faith Formation registration form to enroll in Wednesday classes and/or childcare
UU Kids, Kindergarten – Grade 3 (6:15-7:30 pm) In UU Kids, we’ll use our UU principles as starting points for exploring values, beliefs, and what it means to be a UU. What does it mean to be kind and respectful and to work toward peace and justice? How do we live our UU principles? They’ll explore some of life’s “big questions” through the lens of Unitarian Universalism’s sources. Children will have a time for stories, art and play with their church friends
Our Whole Lives (OWL) Human Sexuality Curriculum, Grades K-1 (January 9- March 13, 6:15-7:00 pm) Supports parents in educating children about birth, babies, bodies and families. Following a Parent Meeting and Parent/Child Orientation, the 8 sessions engage children with stories, songs and activities and include a weekly HomeLink – a homework project for parents and children to do together. Promotes dialogue between parent and child. Parents/ guardians are welcome to attend class with their child from January 23-March 13, but are not required. They are required to stay on site during class, however.
- Mandatory Parent Meeting: Wednesday, January 9, 2019
- Parent/Child Orientation Program: Wednesday, January 16, 2019
Kids Celebrate! Grades 3-6 (6:15-7:00 pm) Jan. 16, 23, 30 and Feb. 6 This class will teach children how to become worship leaders and co-leaders. The class will include basic elements such as lighting the chalice, story play, and story interpretation. Rev. Jennifer is looking forward to developing relationships with children and youth through working with them to develop their own skills for worship.
Soul Matters for Kids, Grades 4-6 (6:15-7:30 pm) The 4th-6th grade Soul Matters will follow the monthly theme for Soul Matters, which is also followed by our church services and the adult Soul Matters groups. Every month, UUs are asked to consider: What does it mean to be a people of Vision (September), Sanctuary (October), Memory (November), and Mystery (December). Unlike the adult Soul Matters groups, participants will NOT be expected to do any preparation before class or homework afterwards. Instead, part of the class time will be used to watch or listen to something together – a short video, a story, a poem, etc., and then discuss that piece: how it makes the students feel, what it makes them think about in regards to the monthly topic, etc. Sessions will also include some of our usual UU practices: chalice lighting, checking in, a short spiritual practice (such as meditation, listening to music, or the like), and closing. Special attention will also be paid to learning styles, so movement, etc., will also be a part of our time together.
* Our Whole Lives (OWL) Human Sexuality Curriculum, Grades 5 – 6 (September 26 – December 12, 6:15 – 7:30 pm) Our Whole Lives for grades 5/6 is an 8-session program for learning about and discussing the physical and emotional changes of puberty. Participants will read It’s Perfectly Normal by Robie H. Harris, and examine topics such as values and sexuality, communication and decision-making. Each session includes a HomeLink – a homework activity for parents and children to complete together.
- Mandatory Parent Meeting: Wednesday, September 26, 2018
- Parent/Child Orientation Program: Wednesday, October 3, 2018
* Our Whole Lives (OWL) Human Sexuality Curriculum, Grade 7 only (September – May, 6:00 – 7:30 pm) THIS CLASS IS FULL AND REGISTRATION IS CLOSED. Led by specially trained volunteers, Our Whole Lives helps participants make informed and responsible decisions about their sexual health and behavior. It equips participants with accurate, age-appropriate information in six subject areas: human development, relationships, personal skills, sexual behavior, sexual health, and society and culture. Grounded in a holistic view of sexuality, Our Whole Lives not only provides facts about anatomy and human development, but also helps participants clarify their values, build interpersonal skills, and understand the spiritual, emotional, and social aspects of sexuality.
- Mandatory Parent Meeting: Wednesday, September 12, 2018
Coming of Age, Grade 8 only (September – May, 6:00 – 7:30 pm) When we provide the time and opportunities for authentic relationships to develop, then the youth gradually experience powerful transformation – they Come of Age. With the help of their families and their church community, they learn who they are, and they decide what they stand for. This is how each youth creates their own empowering story. During Coming of Age, each youth will develop a faith statement. To create their own faith statements, the “Big Questions” are tackled each week. Such as: What do you believe about God? What happens after we die? How do you live a moral life? Why do bad things happen? Each youth is also paired up with a carefully chosen adult mentor from the congregation. Youth and mentors meet about twice a month and also complete a service project together. The year begins with a parent/youth meeting to share information about the Coming of Age year. The year concludes with a Celebration Dinner and Coming of Age Service, during which the youth plan and lead Sunday services, as well as present their own faith statements.
- Kick-off Potluck: Wednesday, September 12, 6-8 pm
- Wednesday Kick-Off for all Families: Wednesday, Sept. 19
- COA Overnight: Saturday, September 22 (at church)
- Coming of Age Classes begin: Wednesday, September 26
- Fall Retreat: October 19-21 (Camp Hantesa)
- Spring Retreat: April 19-21 (Camp Hantesa)
- COA Celebration Dinner: Saturday, May 11, 6 – 8 pm
- COA Sunday Services: May 12, 9:15 & 11 am
* First Unitarian will cap OWL classes at 12 participants with priority given to First Unitarian of DM member families. If a substantially higher number of participants is expected, the DRE will investigate the possibility of opening a second class at the same age level, or otherwise expanding the program temporarily or long-term. Click here to read the policy on OWL class size.