Zen Practice for Children
Programs, events and special content for the children in our community:
This year, Buddha's Birthday took place on Sunday, April 12 from 3-4:30 PM at Countryside Church, 1025 N. Smith St. in Palatine. Scroll down to read more about our annual celebration:
Children are an important part of the celebration and receive instruction in meditation and practice a short period of it. We also complete craft projects, a “Gratitude Flower,” and play a few mindfulness games. The celebration also features a display of art, poetry and essays by children depicting the Six Paramitas.
We are inviting parents to spend some time with their children talking about the paramitas and how to cultivate them (see the Ohigan article in our newsletter for more information). Encourage your children to make a picture or other artwork illustrating one of the paramitas. Pictures could illustrate generosity, patience, tolerance, inclusion, energy or effort, concentration or wisdom in any way your child chooses to portray any of these.
These beautiful pictures, poems and riddles were created by children especially for the 2015 Buddha's Birthday celebration. Scroll down to learn more about the artists and read the descriptions of their work, and click on the images to view larger versions.
Blue Lotus - Beauty and Wisdom
Jack, age 9
I am connected to all things
Maggie, age 7
Courage is important. People use courage to be kind.
Maggie, age 7
The cute but confident baby tiger can be intriguing. I picked the tiger because they are energetic and can be patient and I thought that patient and energetic are a combination.
Sophie, age 10
Olivia, age 12
Dylan, age 3 (with help from Grandma)
by Sophia, age 10
Something that keeps away wars and battles,
(Scroll down for the answer)
The whispers of happiness
The answer to the riddle above is: PEACE
Each year we hold our traditional Buddha's Birthday service with the beautiful flower house and refreshments following. If your children would like to participate next year, please contact Myoyu Roshi at s.myoyu.andersen [at] gmail.com or by phone at 608- 325-6248. It's a great opportunity to learn a little about Buddhism, meet like-minded children and have some fun!
Ripples is a new, 10-week experiential class based on the Noble Eightfold Path, designed to teach children (and adults, too!) the fundamentals of meditation and how to extend this concentration and awareness outward into all aspects of their lives and what they do, say and think about every day. Through a variety of fun, experiential lessons, children learn how their attempt to live a mindful, aware life ripples out to benefit all others. The program can be adapted to serve children of all ages.
Ripples consists of about 10 weekly lessons. Children learn kid-friendly meditation and are supported in developing a practice at home (Helpful Concentration). We explore how to apply this concentration in various activities (Helpful Mindfulness): play; sports; arts; chores; and even self-care skills. We learn a little about how our brains work – what happens when we lose our temper and what happens when we are able to stop and think before we act. We look at Helpful Effort: ways to encourage ourselves to remain mindful and how to look out for what gets us off track. Along with learning about Helpful Speech (and not helpful speech), we introduce the Talking Circle. This is an opportunity for children to learn to really listen to each other without interrupting or judgment and also a wonderful chance for each child to feel really heard. We explore our connectedness to all on the planet and how our actions affect everybody – even plants and animals (Helpful Action). We cultivate appreciation and gratitude for all that is being done for us.
Class participants choose a problem they've heard about in the community and decide on some action as a group to make a difference (Helpful Livelihood). We will also look at how our individual actions at home (remembering to turn off the lights, recycling and so on) have an impact. We also work on becoming more mindful of our own emotions. We practice some simple exercises to cultivate lovingkindness, compassion, inclusiveness and generosity (Helpful Intention). We use our awareness to see the “bigger picture” and tap into our caring and giving nature, instead of thinking just of ourselves (Helpful Wisdom). We see that this actually makes us feel good, too.
Our first-ever Ripples program has just concluded at Myoshinji. We were happy to have about 20 students from a home-schooling network in Green County, WI in the program. Plans are underway for potential programs in a few schools and community mental health organizations in Wisconsin. Ripples is not just for children. A version of the program suitable for a prison population has been developed in conjunction with GPZC member, Anneliese Shogaku Vandre, who is a mental health case manager pursuing licensure as a psychotherapist. Please contact Roshi at 608-325-6248 or email s.myoyu.andersen [at] gmail.com if you are interested in this program for your school or community group.
Summer Art Class Series (July 10-25, 2015)
In this unique six-session class series, children will have the opportunity to collaborate with artist-in-residence Annie Markovich to make a painting/collage of the reclining Buddha surrounded by animals of all kinds. The finished product will be on permanent display at Great Plains Zen Center. Children will draw and paint their favorite animal(s) with brushes and watercolor and mixed media under the guidance of Annie Markovich, an artist who has painted in Chicago, New York and Washington, D.C.
Annie enjoys working with children and believes that “children possess an innate ability to express in painting and drawing what they feel. Their art can remind the adults of the world and what it is to see with fresh eyes.”
Classes will take place 2 – 3 PM on Fridays and Saturdays:
Children of all ages are welcome.
This class will be held at Myoshinji Temple in Monroe, Wisconsin. So that we can have ample materials on hand for all participants, please
Sounding Off! Music Workshop (August 7, 2015)
Sounding Off! is a one-day, hands-on introduction to making music using technology geared for children aged 9-14. The course comprises a series of exercises designed to help students listen with greater awareness, understand the basic properties of music and ultimately make their own creative musical projects.
The course begins with an explanation of the properties of sounds, followed by a "sound scavenger hunt" in which students will record sounds indoors and outdoors at Great Plains Zen Center on handheld recording devices. After a brief lunch, students will compare different visual representations of the sounds they've found, then use the sounds as the basis for a musical project.
The instructor, Drake Andersen, is a graduate of the Manhattan School of Music and composer and performer based in New York. He currently teaches music technology at Ballet Tech, The NYC Public School for Dance. For information about Drake's work, please visit his website.
The following songs have been gathered and created by sangha members to introduce children to Zen Buddhist practice, and to the principles of compassion, kindness and environmental stewardship, which are fundamental to Zen Buddhism and Great Plains Zen Center's mission.
Recordings are coming soon!
Save Your Bottles
Save your bottles, save your bottles,
Love Your Pets
Love, love, love your pets,
If You See a Piece of Litter (Pick it up!)
If you see a piece of litter pick it up (clap clap)
Hear the Cans Go Crunch Crunch Crunch
Hear the cans go crunch crunch crunch
Hear the paper go crinkle crinkle crinkle
When You're Feeling Really Mad
When you’re feeling really mad, really mad,
Maya Had a Little Boy
Maya had a little boy, little boy, little boy
He went outside the palace door, palace door, palace door.
He saw the world was suffering, suffering, suffering.
He sat beneath the bodhi tree, bodhi tree, bodhi tree,
Bodhidharma went alone
Bodhidharma where’s your shoe?!
Bodhidharma drink your tea,
Sit, Sit, Sit Zazen
Sit, sit, sit zazen
Shakyamuni Saw a Star
Shakyamuni saw a star;