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Holiday StressActivities for a Time of Stress

This is the time of year when we often think about peace and yet many times find ourselves stressed from holiday preparations and rounds of visitors.

Below are some activities that teachers can do with their students, and parents can do with their children, or that you can do on your own, in order to find a moment of spiritual awareness in the midst of chaos and focus on what is truly important in our lives.

These activities, loosely adapted from Nurturing the Spirituality in Children by Peggy Jenkins, are designed to take only a few minutes and to require only a few materials. They can be adapted to any age and size of group.


  • MATERIALS: You will need a balloon. If working with older children or adults you may want each person to have their own balloon.

  • IMAGERY: Imagine the balloon is a person. Each person is filled with the breath of life.

  • ACTION: Blow up your balloon. SAY: We usually see just the outside of a person, just as we see the outside of this balloon.  But like the invisible air we blew into the balloon, it is what is inside that is important. The outside is just a covering. Air gives us life and enables us to have thoughts and feelings - to exist. Everything we think and do becomes part of our insides just like the air in the balloon. Slowly let the air out of the balloon.Without air - without meaningful ingredients - the person is without substance like a limp balloon.

  • DISCUSSION QUESTIONS:  What do we want inside us? What will give us the best ingredients to make a difference in the world?

  • MEDITATION:I will remember that what is inside a person is more important than the outside covering.


  • MATERIALS: An unsliced loaf of crusty bread or for a small group a roll.

  • IMAGERY: Imagine this bread is a person.

  • ACTION: Break the bread into various size pieces. Give each person a piece. Be sure to give some only crust and others ony the inside. Ask: Although your pieces are different sizes and shapes and colors, what can you see is the same about them? Elicit that the bread is all made from the same ingredients just as people are. We are all made from skin and blood and bone and muscle no matter our size or shape or color. We can all nourish each other.

  • DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: How should we treat people who are different from us on the outside? How do we want to be treated by others?

  • MEDITATION: I am a human being just like other human beings. We all deserve respect and nourishment.


  • MATERIALS: A rubber band

  • IMAGERY: The rubber band represents a scientific principle called cause and effect. It also represents our actions

  • ACTION: Stretch out the rubber band and let it snap back several times. SAY: When I pull on the band and then let go it snaps back. My stretching and letting go is the cause or reason it snaps back - the effect. ASK: Can you give other examples of cause and effect?  i.e. yoyo, boomerang, dropping a ball. SAY: When we do something [cause it to happen] there will always be a result [effect]. If we act friendly we will make friends. If we help someone we will receive gratitude.

  • DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Can you think of things you can do that will result in good effects?

  • MEDITATION:  We have the power to choose what we do. Before we act we need to think of the effect our actions will have.

After participating in one or more of these activities, draw back and using the mediations as guide reassess the nature of the gifts you buy and the actions you take. For example:

  • Will this gift serve only as an exterior covering and be something easily discarded or does come from my heart and does it touch the inner spirit of the giftee?
  • Is this gift I am buying created by workers who are respected and nourished in the way I want to be respected and nourished? Or is it made the cheapest way possible?
  • Have I made time to visit people who are housebound, sick, or in need and helped make their day a better one?

Here are some books about extraordinary gifts to read to children of all ages:

We love hearing from you. Please share your thoughts and ideas for ways to refocus on what is important during the holidays.

Teach Peace Now
Teach Peace Now

We offer books, activities, lesson plans, and ideas that teachers, parents, and students can use to promote values, attitudes and behaviors which encourage non-violent resolution of conflict, respect for human rights, democracy, intercultural understanding and tolerance.

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