Group Guides, Teaching Resources

KidSpirit Online is a free teen magazine & website for kids created by and for young people to tackle life’s big questions together. Teens share online writing, poetry, artwork, volunteer opportunities and examine their spiritual development in a non-affiliated and inclusive forum.

KidSpirit group guides are teaching resources for youth workers and teachers who are interested in integrating KidSpirit into their curriculum, or helping kids develop their internet writing proficiency, and who are looking for a place to start the conversation.

If you prefer to skip directly to each issue’s table of contents, click here. Following are free downloadable pdfs for each of KidSpirit’s online and print issues with topics and questions to help you frame a discussion or assign a creative project.

 

Beauty is most often associated with our sense of sight. But as this theme’s PerSpectives contributor Frank Fitzpatrick so aptly writes, “Those qualities we aspire to most… exist in the realm of the Unseen.” In our Beauty and the Senses issue, KidSpirit contributors venture far beyond the visual to explore beauty in travel and thought, in song and the sublime. Join us for an exciting exploration!

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KidSpirit’s bold exploration of the “The Soul of Gender” reflects both the changing landscape of today’s culture and the eternal questions of our relationship to self and the other. From a look at gender roles in society, religion, and media to inner inquiry, this issue reveals the commitment of KidSpirit’s writers and artists to once again get below the surface. The issue features a PerSpectives article by Dr. Elizabeth Debold, one of the world’s foremost authorities on girls’ and women’s development and author of the bestselling Mother Daughter Revolution.

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Brave civilians. Firemen. Ai Weiwei. Ernest Shackleton. You. Which of these people is a hero? In this issue of KidSpirit, our increasingly global community of contributors examine the heroic in disparate times and places. Five-time New York Times-bestselling author Caroline Myss offers a PerSpectives piece about unsung and underappreciated heroic moments in our everyday lives.

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KidSpirit writers and artists are characteristically undaunted as they plunge into this proverbial mother of all themes. A variety of perspectives from religious, non-religious, and soul-searching teens illuminate the often intangible nature of the divine, featuring articles on Unitarianism, the interfaith movement, and the relationship between science and religion. Samir Selmanovic contributes a PerSpectives article about his Muslim-Jewish-Atheist background.

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When adults imagine teens and money, they might picture kids buying music, going to a local mall or babysitting — not grappling with the ideas explored in this issue. KidSpirit writers offer a variety of fascinating perspectives, including a feature documenting an experiment to go one week without spending money, an interview with a family that won the lottery, and a PerSpectives article by Lynne Twist, author of The Soul of Money.

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The paradox of the eternal and the temporal is at the core of this issue of KidSpirit, showcasing a panoply of views from young thinkers and artists. Features examine linear and cyclical time, the Slow Food movement, and several writers discuss time as an aspect of their daily life and personal development. Writer Jay Griffiths closes with a musing on the difference between clock time and “kairos,” or time as we experience it.

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The Editorial Board knows that kids feel strongly about education. After all, you’re in school six or more hours a day, five days a week. KidSpirit writers explore the learning process from many angles, including articles about how to infuse school with creativity, the journey of an Afghan girl who fought to receive an education, the phenomenon of the Tiger Mother, and a meditative PerSpectives article by Dr. Arthur Zajonc about mindfulness in education.

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How do we live in accordance with our deepest beliefs and aspirations? Do we develop a moral sensibility as we grow or are we born with it? In choosing the theme of ethics and morality, the KidSpirit Editorial Board invites us to delve into one of the thorniest and most worthwhile topics, honing in on questions that have long inspired both contemplation and vigorous debate. From start to finish, this issue takes us on a journey of inner exploration and asks us to consider where we stand in relation to humanity and the universe and how that informs our behavior. In his PerSpectives article, Lama Surya Das shares the wisdom of Buddhist ethics through ancient stories and practical experience.

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What is the imagination? What is the source of our creativity and how do we nourish it? From articles on how technology impacts the imagination to how we create art, these questions and others are at the hub of this issue of KidSpirit. Our features run the gamut from exploring how technology impacts the imaginative lives of kids, to sharing the inventive Odyssey of the Mind contest. Another feature carefully details the creative process in making art, sharing both insight and artwork as it unfolds. In a unique PerSpectives contribution, young adult writer Adele Griffin shares the experience of losing the train of authentic creativity.

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Humans laugh, rats laugh—did dinosaurs laugh? In this issue of KidSpirit, writers undertake the zany and often serious task of understanding how we laugh and why. From a philosophical take on laughter to a history of comics to the social complexities of laughing together, teens use a variety of lenses to view the funny bone. In her PerSpectives article, Vanda Mikoloski explores how humor can also be healing and shares a video of her stand-up comedy exclusively for KidSpirit readers.

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group guides

group guidesThis issue of KidSpirit goes to one of the deepest yearnings of our existence: peace. Most people, if asked, would say that they want peace to prevail. KidSpirit writers and poets probe that assumption from many vantage points in this potent issue. Is there a level at which conflict is energizing? In his exploration of our Big Question, Khalid Husain wonders if conflict is in fact necessary, or even desirable, for our inner development. In the poetry section we are grateful to Poems for Peace for allowing us to share a collection of their poetry from kids around the world writing about our theme. These poems, along with the others in this issue are brimming with energy and hope.In his extraordinary PerSpectives article, Marc Gopin, author, professor and world renowned peacemaker, gives us insight into the spiritual qualities that enable us to face life’s toughest challenges with equanimity.

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A big and often ambiguous topic, KidSpirit writers take multifaceted approaches to understanding how we make meaning. Features are as wide-ranging as the theme itself: One writer shares her struggle in coming to grips with her name and the deeper meaning she eventually finds in it. Another writer delves into an exploration of the role of language in our creation of meaning, and yet another writer uses the topic as the starting point for a philosophical inquiry into the search for answers to questions that are eternal, and, at least so far, unanswerable. PerSpectives writer Joshua Stanton talks about his search for meaning as a middle schooler, which he eventually finds in his relationship with his grandfather who narrowly escaped the Holocaust.

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What is Art? Why does it move us? These eternal questions are at the core of this meaty issue of KidSpirit, challenging us to consider our assumptions anew. Is music without sound Art? Is mathematics a form of Art? Is Manga an Art? “Yes!” our passionate writers argue. From our Big Question to each of our feature articles, once again KidSpirit writers go beyond the surface of this theme, finding their spirits and in the process, helping us find ours as well. In addition to exploring the process of creating art that is deliberately tied to time and place, our group guide also looks at the relationship between art and spirit. Finally, through his remarkable PerSpectives article, humanitarian photographer Eric Greitens provides a wonderful basis for discussion of the powerful connection between photographer and subject.

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What is balance and is it desirable? Can we find balance in a fast-paced world? Is it necessary? KidSpirit writers discuss stewardship of the planet, and how to be physically and psychologically healthy. Our Big Question, “From Cliff to Cliff,” is a deeply thoughtful examination of balance through the lens of a ninth grader. Feature articles include a personal essay exploring the author’s decision to become a vegetarian, a profile of an organization helping kids achieve balance in lives full of hardship and a probing look at depression in the lives of teens. Finally, our PerSpectives writer, Mariko Hirakawa, offers her unique insights on facing life’s challenges, along with an introduction to the practice of pranayama.

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Rituals and Traditions

Celebrations, festivals, rituals—the stuff of human experience everywhere. In this issue’s Big Question, a KidSpirit contributor explores whether knowing how people in other communities celebrate is just as important as knowing your own traditions. This query frames a rich discussion of identity from contributors in very different environments. Our feature writers from Calcutta, India to Asheville, North Carolina share important rituals and holidays, each offering a unique window into what resonates in their lives. Another writer assesses a book introducing teens to faiths around the world. In our PerSpectives column, Eboo Patel, founder and Executive Director of Interfaith Youth Core (IFYC), shares the people in his life who inspired him to become a powerful champion of interfaith dialogue.

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Competition and Achievement
Magazine coverAre competition and achievement related? What does it mean to be a “healthy” competitor? These are some of the difficult questions that writers tackle in feature articles about standardized testing, cheating, and whether or not competition brings out the best in us. This issue includes a special article by Amira Mortenson, daughter of Greg Mortenson, who talks about work with her father in Pakistan and Afghanistan, the subject of his bestselling book Three Cups of Tea. In PerSpectives, Peter Benson, President and CEO of Search Institute, reflects on finding and developing your inner spark in his article, “Thriving Starts on the Inside.”

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Change and Loss
Magazine coverPerhaps the experience most central to life–change, and its attendant loss–is made palpable for us all in this probing issue. Feature articles explore divorce, moving, cultural traditions surrounding mourning, and the death of a grandparent. The issue includes an excerpt from Eckhart Tolle’s The Power of Now with an introduction by a KidSpirit Editor. PerSpectives author Julie Ross, Executive Director of Parenting Horizons, asks how much we should cling to loss, and to what extent change helps us grow.

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Science and Spirit
Magazine coverThis exciting issue examines the dance of science and spirit: how it has evolved and how it continues to do so. Feature writers ask if science can explain religion, what science can tell us about the effects of meditation, whether there is a limit to what we should know, the pros and cons of genetic modification, and mysticism. The PerSpectives article by Gary Zukav, author of The Dancing Wu Li Masters and the Seat of the Soul addresses how science can help us understand our inner growth.

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Myth and Meaning
Magazine coverIn this issue we look at the power of myth in human history and in our lives today. One feature explores the history of archetypes, another delves into Aboriginal myths. Four writers tell us about their favorite mythical figure: Merlin, Odysseus, Loki and Quetzalcoatl. The PerSpectives article by Jonathan Young, PhD, founder of the Center for Story and Symbol and the Joseph Campbell Archives, discusses the role of mythic stories in self discovery and mentoring.

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Spirit and Materialism
Magazine coverOur first quarterly issue examines the apparent conflict between our materialistic culture and our deepest values. Featuring a Kids’ Guide to Advertising, a teen diary about boredom, and articles about food miles and happiness. Lama Surya Das, called the American Lama by His Holiness the Dalai Lama, and founder of the Dzogchen Meditation Centers, writes our PerSpectives piece, and tells a Tibetan Teaching story about “The Search for Happiness.”

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Roots of Spirit
Magazine coverOur premiere issue explores our connection to the earth from many points of view. Features include articles on climate change, science, Tai Chi, and an interview with a professor of food studies. In his PerSpectives article, Clifford Duncan, leader of the Northern Ute Indian tribe, shares a Ute Creation myth. A special feature by Matthew Fox, theologian and Peace Abbey Courage of Conscience Award winner addresses the “Interfaith Roots of Spirit.”

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