Director of Religious Education

Roots Class (K-2nd grade) w/Marie:

Happy last summer Sunday school class!

Thanks to our volunteer for sharing The Koala Who Could book. It was the perfect thinking-about-starting-new-things-for-fall-and-school-plans, on all our minds and hearts in the community. Best wishes to all kids and teachers, your Wildflower home is here for you always. 

Seedlings Class (3rd-5th grade) w/Piaf:

This week we watched the animated short “Hair Love” and discussed what themes and messages we noticed in it. We all agreed that family love was a big part of the story and how the father kept trying to style his daughter’s hair, even when it was hard. This also led to a discussion about how this country has pressured Black people to change their natural hair as part of White Supremacy and we noted how Michelle Obama’s hairstyles have changed since leaving the White House.

Finally, we played a fun round of Bird on a Wire & got a virtual tour of one student’s foster kittens.

Wildflower Youth Group (Middle & High School) w/Solveij:
Today the Youth Group learned about how Communities of Color United is proposing that 50% of APD funds are reinvested in “R.E.A.L. Solutions.” The youth were asked what they think about the proposal after unpacking what each part of the R.E.A.L. acronym means (RISE funds for pandemic relief, Equity Office, Austin Public Health, Low-Income Housing).

The youth present were interested in supporting the proposal by writing emails or calling City Council members in support. When we meet again, they’ll have time to collaborate on a script and artwork to share with City Council!

Roots Class (k-2nd) w/Marie:

Today was more animal dancing, and in thinking about animals, I decided a snail book was in order in honor of Sarah’s joining us very soon. Hearing about her pet snails has been a continued area of deep interest on the part of the children, thank you Sarah for sharing pictures of Chippy eating from a spoon. We are curious about what snails eat that way… 🙂 and we are excited to welcome you to Wildflower. The children ask how was your trip? 

Seedlings (3rd – 5th) w/Piaf  & Wildflower Youth (Middle & High school) w/Solveij:

Today the Wildflower Youth and Seedlings groups came together for a unique presentation by local anti-racist activist and researcher Stephanie Webb. Stephanie shared data and personal experiences about racial segregation in Austin schools and how Black and Latinx communities in Austin have been impacted by dominant perceptions of “good” and “bad” schools based on things like test scores and parent involvement. We learned that police are concentrated in schools that are considered “bad,” and how schools get labeled “bad” because they are under-resourced. The youth and kids asked deep questions about how and why schools that have more students of color are considered “bad schools” and are impacted more by policing.

Roots Class w/Marie:

Hello from the Roots class! 
One of my favorite read alouds jumped off my bookshelf and into the lesson plan this week in following up to thinking together about last week’s How to Solve A Problem. Sometimes… things, like our lives under this virus, are going to be with us for a while. Every Sunday the children are so eager and great at sharing the things in their world that they are excited and hopeful about and it has been really nice this summer to hear about those parts (a tent in the backyard! Setting up a sister’s birthday celebration that still felt special!). There are ways in which we are figuring out how to make the hard parts also have some cozy. Kind of like coming to class in pajamas with a snuggly blanket on a rainy morning. In that spirit, we read What Do You do with a Kangaroo and enjoyed some pretty marvelous animal dancing. Bravo to the kitty, snake, gecko, and swan that each made an appearance. By request we will be dancing like animals again next Sunday. 
Have a wonderful week, may you too make peace with any kangaroos in your path. 

Seedlings Class w/Piaf:

After our usual check-in, we watched a Pixar short (Birds on a Wire) and discussed how the birds were or were not embodying our 7 UU Principles. Then we played a virtual game we called Birds on a Wire (the game formerly known as hangman) where we guessed each other’s words and drew birds, which was a big hit.

Wildflower Youth w/Kristen filling in for Solveij:

The youth group began the class checking in and sharing about their week: art, swimming, classes and many things virtual. Having a guest teacher, they also generously shared their routine and favorite game. They taught me how to play “mafia”, a role playing game where the children took turns being a narrator. Initially all players had to keep their eyes closed until awoken by the narrator for their role, and then closed again. The objective is to determine who is the mafia. It’s a game that plays on social psychology and also builds trust with other members. I personally found it grounding to sit and just breath with my eyes closed for some time! We ended this fun time together sharing our hope for the coming week. Be sure to join us next week as we will have a guest speaker discussing the history of racism at AISD, a topic the youth have expressed an interest in learning more about.

Roots Class (pre-k to first grade) w/Marie:
Aloha from the Roots class (that’s the greeting in Hawaiian that Corey led us in today!), 

In the spirit of fostering resiliency during trying times- and just a bit of summer adventure- today we thought together about tackling hard things the way a rock climber would climb a boulder. Rock climbers call the boulder they climb a problem. 

Ashoka Shiraishi is one of the best rock climbers in the world and still a kid, climbing since she was six years old. We watched her in action here: And then read the beautiful book she has written, How To Solve A Problem. 
This week, when we encounter a problem, may we all pause and break it down into smaller parts that we think about tackling, listening to the teaching our falls have to show us, climbing again, until we can wave “hello at the memory of how hard the problem was” and reach for one problem more. 

Seedlings Class (2nd to 4th grade) w/Piaf:
This week we learned about the life of recently deceased civil rights activist and congressperson John Lewis. After watching a video clip about his life, we looked at several of his quotes and discussed them. The kids gave ideas about what each one meant and how they could apply to the current fight against systemic racism. Finally, we played around with some virtual collaborative drawing.

Wildflower Youth Group (5th grade & Middle School) w/Solveij:
This Sunday the Wildflower Youth read and discussed an article about how people locally are trying to defund AISD police, and checked out this video about systemic racism:
We started talking about ways that change is made. We also brainstormed our gifts, from drawing and writing to martial arts and biking, and imagined how we can contribute our gifts to support activism!

Roots Class (pre-k to first grade) w/Marie:

We’re welcoming grownup helper Cory to our class today. Cory is a first grade teacher and new member at Wildflower and we’re so glad to have you. Thank you for leading the children in a fun greeting this morning- bonjour and high five! 

This morning I read the children I Can Do Hard Things by Gabi Garcia, one of the books recently gifted to our class from John Davenport. We’ll talk more next week about the concept of being mindful/ to be aware of what is happening right now- and affirmation as a statement about yourself that is supportive, helpful, or motivating to you in some way. 

Thank you Cory and John for being part of the Wildflower community that supports our Roots class.

Seedling Class (2nd – 4th grade) w/Piaf:

Today we checked in about the conversation that we had last week in regards to the Black Lives Matter movement and policing. What new questions or ideas arose for you this week? The kids had a lot to say about racism and why some people seem to not have recognized it before this moment. We also talked about how this is Reverend Brian’s last Sunday with our church and shared some of our memories of our time with him. Finally, we created a digital card to send to him via email. We found that drawing using a mouse or trackpad was quite challenging and in some cases led to remarkable humorous results. It feels so good to laugh with friends as we prepare to say goodbye to a cherished member of our congregation!

Wildflower Youth (5th & Middle School) w/Solveij:

Today the Youth Group checked in, played a game, and chose to read a presentation together as part of continuing our conversation about anti-black racism and anti-racism. The presentation was geared toward the Latinx community, and talks about Afro-Latinx folks and the history of policing in the U.S.

Roots Class (pre-k to first grade) w/Marie:

We had another cozy gathering today in the Roots class, celebrating an almost birthday and a half birthday, hearing of a pet that was a little bit lost but then found. I checked in with the group more about our conversation last week about protests and wanting to keep thinking and learning about racism, especially because we decided last week it feels so important to ask what can we do? What can kids do? What can families to? As Unitarian Universalists, Wildflower is a place where people can come together to talk about racism, learn, and take action. 

One way we learn together in our Roots class is through reading stories. Today’s story is linked here: Why do people have different colors? Here is a book to think more about that: All the Colors We Are

We found comparing our skin color to a delicious food was pretty useful- we saw golden honey skin, peach skin, MAC and cheese colored skin (with white cheese, MAC and cheese with yellow cheese would match an even different color of skin), and chocolate chip cookie skin (yours truly, because freckles). 

Seedlings Class (2nd to 4th grade) w/Piaf:

This week we began by discussing what the problem is with the phrase “All Lives Matter” as a response to “Black Lives Matter.” We looked at two comic strips that clarified the problem with this phrase and watched a short video of Alicia Garza, a founder of the Black Lives Matter movement, explaining her perspective on it. Finally, we clarified the difference between one of our UU principles (We believe all people should be treated fairly) and “All Lives Matter.” The kids were able to explain that it is crucial to stand up for Black lives specifically because this country is not protecting and cherishing these lives as we should be. Finally, we created a collaborative digital poster for the Wildflower blog.

Wildflower Youth Group (5th grade & Middle School) w/Solveij:

This week the youth shared about how they identify racially and ethnically, introduced the Wildflower covenant for Beloved Community, and learned about why Juneteenth is called freedom day and black independence day. We also played games and brainstormed some questions the youth are curious about exploring in upcoming weeks, including restorative justice, how racial and environmental justice intersect, alternatives to police, and the hisotry of racism and anti-racism.