Incorporating young children into Feast can be a challenge, especially if plans for how to do this are not made ahead of time. As with most outings or events with young children, you will likely have a more enjoyable and peaceful time if realistic expectations for behavior are set ahead of time.
Sitting still during prayers and consultation may be relatively easy for some children and a big struggle for others. Whether this is due to practice or personality, it is important for parents to know their own children and to try to help them enjoy Feast by finding ways they can engage in the various portions of the event in age-appropriate ways. Trying to see things through their children’s eyes can help parents figure out how this can be done.
To prepare for Feast, parents can offer their children meaningful activities to learn about Feast throughout the month and on the Feast day itself. Activities utilizing the creative arts can engage children’s attention and will hopefully help them understand the role and significance of Feast as well. Feeling comfortable with the rhythm of the meeting and knowing what can be expected ahead of time can help pave the way for appropriate behavior. Children will also benefit if they are given concrete ideas for how they can engage with and serve their Baha’i community during the event.
The following is an activity which you can download and adapt as you desire. It can be used during the administrative portion of Feast if your community has decided to offer a children’s program, and can also be used in the home to explain Feast to your own children and get them ready for the next one.
[box type=”download”] Download the Feast Playdough Activity.[/box]
On the sheet it says:
Directions: Before Feast, cut out the cards and put them into a container. Gather playdough and some simple tools such as plates or mats to work on, plastic knives, and rolling pins or spoons. Also get a serving tray or large piece of cardboard for the children to create a “Feast scene” on with playdough. At Feast, discuss the purpose for and spirit of Feast using the following quotation. Have children choose cards to use as prompts for playdough creations. You may like to divide the playdough between the children before the activity so everyone has enough. Put all the creations together to make a Feast scene to share with the rest of the community during the social portion of Feast.
“You have asked as to the feast in every Bahá’í month. This feast is held to foster comradeship and love, to call God to mind and supplicate Him with contrite hearts, and to encourage benevolent pursuits. That is, the friends should there dwell upon God and glorify Him, read the prayers and holy verses, and treat one another with the utmost affection and love.” (Abdu’l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha, p. 91)
If you would like to make your own playdough, we recommend this recipe.
What Feast-related activities have your children enjoyed? How do you prepare them for attending Feasts?
For more posts about the Baha’i Feast from our blog, click here.