This is an incredibly handy checklist to use for a visit to any sacred space – be it your local mosque, synagogue or church.
The Shah Jahan Mosque (Woking Mosque) was the first purpose-built mosque in Britain built in 1889 © M Abdullah, BuYousef.net
Visiting a sacred space
First you will need to decide whether your visit will be an introduction, the central part of the work or a culmination – the last can provide an opportunity for you to build on interest developed during the visit.
Although a church visit will have to be fitted into an increasingly tight school curriculum, if it is well structured it can make learning enjoyable and also fulfil curriculum targets across a wide range of subjects.
- decide on the aims of the visit
- visit the location, check accessibility and discuss aims with host
- prepare the pupils: find out about churches using different sources (including photographs of church interiors/exteriors, video extracts, the internet)
- identifying typical church furniture, its use and positioning.
- ask children about their expectations
- build up a sense of anticipation
- discuss appropriate behaviour.
- ask the pupils to spend a few moments using all their senses to experience the atmosphere of the building – how does it make them feel? Share and record responses
- with the aid of a compass, ask pupils which way the church is orientated. Ask them which part of the church seems to be the most important
- take photographs (check if this is allowed)/ buy postcards to remind pupils of the visit
- provide time for pupils to: identify the different parts of the church and special items of furniture; discover what the church is used for, by whom, how, when and why?; Find out how many it can seat; consider the craftspeople involved in the building and furnishing the church and all the people who have used the building
Holy Cross Church, Kings Cross Estate, London © Luis Gabriel Juarez Galeana
- carefully examine a feature or detail of the church – make a first-hand drawing or describe it in writing
- find something inside the church that makes them feel joyful or sad; that is beautiful or very old, or can only be found in a church
- ask: if they could improve the church, what would they do? If the building were to be demolished, how would they feel? If they could take one thing to preserve, what would it be?
Provide activities to enable pupils to reflect upon their visit such as opportunities to:
- describe some of its features
- make a class book, church trail, or guidebook or write reflectively
- complete a church model or diagram
- design a piece of furniture to incorporate a symbol found in the church
- present what they have learnt to an audience.
Taken from the Churches Conservation Trust’s Exploring churches resource. © The Churches Conservation Trust, (used with permission).
The Exploring churches resource is a 36-page book that provides detailed activities for RE, citizenship, English, art and design, science, maths, and design and technology.
It includes background information on conservation, a picture library, an architectural timeline, a detailed church diagram and building layouts that compare various places of worship.
Find: a sacred space near you