3rd-5th Grade‎ > ‎


Toolbox of Faith: Atonement

Materials for Council Circle

  • Tool of the Day — a level
  • Chalice, candle, and matches
  • One tea light or votive candle of a different color
  • Glass bowl, water, and polished pebbles (for all participants, plus one extra) for alternative to council candles in tray
  • Toolbox of Our Faith poster

Description of Activity

Light the chalice and Offer these words:

We are Unitarian Universalists

with minds that think,

hearts that love,

and hands that are ready to serve.

Sharing of Joys and Concerns
Invite participants to share important things in their lives. What they share may or may not be related to the session topic and discussion.
Invite participants to drop a stone into the bowl when they share. End the sharing by adding one last stone for unspoken joys and concerns.
Introduce the Tool of the Day
Hold up a level. Tell the children what it is called and that it is the Tool of the Day. Pass the level around. Invite the children to share their prior experiences seeing or using levels. See if they have observations about using the level in the meeting space � for example, what surfaces seem to be level, but are not?
Ask, "What do you think makes this a Unitarian Universalist tool?" Allow participants to share ideas. Affirm that there is no one answer. Then explain, in your own words or these:
The level represents restoring balance when we have made a mistake. This is called "atonement." Another word that is used is reconciliation. This means that two parties who were apart and in conflict have come back together.
Hold up the sheet of paper with the word "atonement." Point out the three parts of the word: "at-one-ment." Then say:
When we are out of balance, when we have made mistakes, it can feel like we are separate from everything around us. So the restoration of balance is the restoration of oneness.
One of our Unitarian Universalism Principles affirms acceptance of one another and encouragement of spiritual growth in our congregations. We all need to accept that we make mistakes and cause bad things to happen, sometimes by mistake and sometimes on purpose. One tool we can use to restore balance is atonement.
It takes courage to admit mistakes. As Unitarian Universalists, one of our sources is the words and deeds of prophetic women and men who challenge us to confront powers and structures of evil with justice, compassion, and the transforming power of love.
Invite a participant to attach the sheet of paper that says "atonement" to the Toolbox of Our Faith poster.
(copied and pasted from the opening activity)
Read the story Giant John by Arnold Lobel.  Discuss the story using the following questions.
Using the Tool of the Day as a talking stick, invite participants to reflect on the story they heard today. Guide them to discuss their feelings on the value of restoring balance, at-one-ment, by making an apology. You may use these questions:
  • In the story, Giant John didn’t ruin the castle on purpose, so why did he atone for it?
  • Can you think of times that you had to make things level?
  • What did you do?
  • How is atonement different from an apology?

(copied and pasted from the council circle specific to the week).
Read this benediction:
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds.
— Christian scripture (Romans 12)
Extinguish the Chalice.
Continue with the following activities:

Atonement games

Making Pretzels