Summary: 14 activities from SRF YSS camps and classes are discussed which can be done at home. The activities include making posters, bracelets, photo frames, altar, garland, etc. Apart from spiritual development, it is a great way to keep children busy and away from gadgets.
Self Realization Fellowship and Yogoda Satsanga Society of India conduct “How to live” Summer camps for children every year and Sunday classes for children in many of the centers world wide. The camps and classes involve children in a lot of activities that inculcate spiritual qualities.
This article shares some of these activities that can be done at home. Please understand that simply making the children do these activities may not help them much. Activities should be combined with a storytelling session or at-least share the teachings of Yoganandaji related to the activity.
Activities should be combined with a storytelling session or at-least share the teachings of Yoganandaji related to the activity.
Make decorative photo frames
Children who already have some connection with Yoganandaji will love this activity.
Similar frames can be created for pictures of Krishna and Jesus.
Altar decoration can be a great devotional activity for children.
Make an Altar
You might have noticed that the altar they are trying to make looks similar to SRF YSS travel altar but they are using wood instead of card.
Like SRF YSS travel altar, cardboard or thick card may also be used instead of wood. In India, every home has wedding invitation cards, which can also be used. But no doubt, it is a challenging activity because the shape of the altar has to be proper, the thickness of the card has to be appropriate and picture sizes have to be appropriate.
How to get the pictures? Here are a few options:
1) Order them from the SRF online store or the YSS online store.
2) Get a colored xerox of photos from the books.
3) Get a colored xerox or cut out the pictures from SRF YSS magazines.
Make a Garland
Children can make a garland for Yoganandaji’s picture just like these children made it for SRF monastics.
It seems to be made with thread, straws, and a thick paper cut in shapes of heart, circle, flower, etc, with loving messages written on them.
Such Garlands can be made for masters on the altar. On each garland children can write qualities examplified by the great master on whom it is worn.
Following posters were made by SRF camp children in the camp in which the theme of the camp was ‘Courage’. The words on the posters are from the chant on ‘courage’, titled ‘None can tone me’. It is a chant that was originally composed by Swami Ram Tirtha and recomposed by Yogananda for western audiance.
This activity will actually serve its purpose if the child understands the meaning of the chant or affirmation that he is working on. It is even better if he has listened to the chant a few times.
Children can make such posters for their own rooms. Affirmations, chants, quotes, or list of different spiritual qualities (that the child is actively trying to cultivate) can go in them. A sheet of cloth or chart paper or drawing sheets can be used to draw and paint on.
Have posters in kids room
SRF puts posters even in the dining area to remind children of the spiritual qualities they should inculcate. For the same reasons, spiritual posters can be put in kids room at home. Big pictures of Masters can also be placed on the walls.
According to research in Pedagogy, discussion is one of the most effective way to teach a concept to a child.
Simply doing the activites listed on this page, is not enough. Doing discussions along with it is a must to make sure that the kid understands the lesson.
Let us say that the child is working on activities related to ‘courage’. Try to find Yogananda’s writings on ‘courage’ (index of ‘Second Coming of Christ’ or ‘God Talks with Arjuna’ is a good place to look into) and then discuss the writings.
Children love stories as we all do. Yoganandaji said, “In Mother’s presence we tasted our earliest bitter-sweet acquaintance with the scriptures. Tales from the Mahabharata and Ramayana were resourcefully summoned to meet the exigencies of discipline. Instruction and chastisement went hand in hand.”
Read more about storytelling tips by SRF YSS monastics from here.
Theme of the month
Every year a theme is set for the 7 days long SRF Summer camp.
Parents who are seriously working on spiritual development of their children can set a spiritual theme for each month and focus on development of that particular quality in their children.
Take children to pilgrimage spots (like YSS Ranchi, Lake Shrine Temple, etc). When you visit the place, tell children about Guruji and stories of that place.
If you already know a musical instrument, you can teach your kid to play a chant (bhajan) on that. If you do not know any yet, you may get a Harmonium or an electronic keyboard and learn together to play a chant using the book: Cosmic Chants made easy.
You may like to start with the ‘Aum chant’ or ‘Door of my Heart’, they being the easier ones to play.
Taj Mahal, The Gurus, and Krishna
Skill and time required: Intermediate
This picture shows three products made by students. One of them is white colored Taj Mahal, one of the eight wonders of the world located in India. The one on the right seems to be a pond with lotuses and swans with Sri Krishna’s childhood form in the middle in white color. The third and the most interesting one is of the 6 Guru’s meditating in front of the Taj Mahal.
Make Babaji’s cave
Skill and time required: High
SRF Sunday School teachers of Washington DC Center made this copy of Babaji’s cave.
Parents can make a similar one along with their children.
That’s it for this article!