Sunday, November 22, 2009

Bodhisattvas: Hotei

Hotei is known to many people as the Buddha, though in our tradition we recognize Hotei as an historic monk who became known as the Laughing Buddha, and not the same historic figure known as the Buddha.

The Beckoning Cat: Based on a Japanese Folktale
Like Jizo, Hotei is associated with children, though rather than protectiveness, he is known for generosity.  Playing up that theme, I made this fun for the kids, telling them Hotei is kind of the Buddhist version of Santa Clause.

I used the book The Beckoning Cat: Based on a Japanese Folktale. In this story, a boy helps a cat, and the cat helps a boy earn money for his family while his father is sick by luring customers back to the boy's house.

Here are some images of Hotei I shared with the kids.

For a craft activity, we made bracelets with wooden beads and some colorful Hotei charms I found on Ebay (seller churchcats in case they have them again). There often are Laughing Buddha pendants or charms on Ebay, though often listed as Buddhas.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Bodhisattvas: Jizo

Little Stone BuddhaMy posts for this year of lessons will be short, as I misplaced my digital recorder that I use to help remember my lessons and those unexpected things that happen that come in handy for future lessons.

I found this book, Little Stone Buddha, a perfect lesson for Jizo Bodhisattva, as protector of the vulnerable.  I like it so much, I gave a copy to our Dharma School Library. The little stone Buddha comes to life, and protects others from harm.  He protects these two little foxes from arrows, though to the hunters it just looks like the arrows stop.  It is easy to adapt the lesson to various lessons in Buddhism.

The book ends with the little foxes sitting still as statues next to the Buddha. People left offerings for the foxes as well as the Buddha.  For a craft activity, I used that image, creating a gray scale image for the kids to color.  I prepared for the class by cutting out that image of the altar, with strips to the side that could link together, allowing it to stand up.  I intended this to be an altar of sorts, but the kids rapidly turned it into a small crown.  I also taught the kids how to draw a small Jizo, something they could include with their image.  It's simple, an upside-down U, topped with a circle for the head, dots for eyes, curved dash for mouth, optional button nose, and optional diagonal curved line down the U to indicate a robe.  The kids really liked this, some of them drawing many Jizos to go along with their Stone Buddha and Foxes.

For each Bodhisattva lesson, I searched around for images of that Bodhisattva to show as I told the kids about that Bodhisattva.  I would keep it simple, choosing one aspect of the Bodhisattva, maybe two, to emphasize and attach a lesson to. Here are some image samples I shared with the kids. 

If I were teaching the grade school girls, I would go more into all the aspects.  Tween girls often love lists and categorizations.  They would especially like knowing how each Bodhisattva is unique from the other.  For these younger ones, the moral lessons are simple: kindness, compassion, wisdom, protectiveness...all moral qualities they can understand and relate to.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Bodhisattvas: Segaki and Kanzeon

I missed this class due to my 20 year college class reunion.  I lined up someone to substitute for me, a teacher and Dharma School parent, and my as yet unofficial assistant, Chris, who is also a Dharma School parent.  I asked they teach a lesson about they would both be familiar with.

Karen used a simple line art drawing of a creature with distended belly, skinny neck, and wide mouth.  Gollum sort of comes to mind.  She had the kids fill him up with various beans, grains, and pastas.  With glue, they created Gaki pasta mosaics.

Chris also told a story about Kanzeon, the one in which her head splits into 11 pieces.

Sunday, September 27, 2009


This is my first year to teach five year olds.  After teaching grade school girls for so many years, this is an adjustment.  Besides making my lessons simpler, I know I need to bring in more activity and flexibility.

For each lesson, I plan to sing songs, do some yoga for kids, as well as have a lesson, most often using a story book.  For yoga, I drew upon this great DVD.  Promising positions to me:
  • B is for Butterfly
  • F is for Friendly Flowers
  • H is for Hot Air Balloon
  • K is for Kissing Pose
  • M is for Moo Meow
  • O is for Om
  • P is for Pedal Laughing
  • Y is for Yoga
Through the year, I end up using F is for Friendly Flowers pretty much every time.  It works well as a way to bring us together as a group, and settle down for the rest of the lesson.  H and M work out well as ways to allow the kids to release some energy as they get restless.

Songs I expect to use from our Dharma School Songbook:
I plan to use Respect Polka every time as a way to acknowledge each child in turn, and Buddha Power every time as a signal we are about to have snack.  I'm not a great singer, especially as a lead, but kids don't worry about that, so I plan to use these songs that either are regularly sung in the larger group, or are easy for me to sing and the kids to learn.

If Peace Is...The order may vary depending on the restlessness of the kids, but my usual plan is to start with F is for Flower yoga, a simple checkin, a song, a story, Buddha Power song, snack, cleanup, then a craft activity.

For this first lesson, I introduce the idea of Bodhisattvas, and I use the book If Peace Is....  I find quickly that these kids will do well with more complicated books.  They sit quietly and I have plenty of time for extra yoga positions and songs.  With the older girls, I usually kept the first lesson simple and introductory, as they were busy catching up with each other after their summer off.  In this case, I find the kids don't know their place yet, so they listen quietly and aren't very restless.  For a craft activity, I keep it simple, using this image of various people circling the world.  A Google image search, limited to line art, is a Dharma School teacher's friend.  It was a Sunday School image for Christians; I used an image editor to modify it and make it more secular, adding a mandala to the center.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Life of Buddha: Skit

Life of the Buddha

Scene 1

Narrator: Let us visit the kingdom of Kapilavastu in the foothills of the Himalayan mountains, more than 2500 years ago. While she sleeps, a white elephant with six golden tusks visits the dreams of Queen Mahamaya.

[Queen lying down asleep. White elephant approaches with lotus flower.]

Narrator: In her dream, the elephant touches her right side with a lotus flower it holds in its trunk.

[Queen wakes up startled. Elephant vanishes.]

Queen: “What can this mean? Husband!”

[King Suddodana approaches.]

Queen: “I must see a holy man! A holy man can tell me what my dream means.”

[King Suddodana leaves and comes back with the holy man.]

Queen: “O wise man, a brilliant white elephant with six sparkling tusks visited me in my dream. He held a lotus flower, and in the flower there was a jewel. He touched me with the flower, and I was so startled I woke up.”

Holy man: “This is good news, my lady. You are going to have a baby, and your prince will be a great leader. He could be a great king, or he could be a great holy man, it all depends.”

Suddodana: “It depends on WHAT.”

Holy man: “If your son becomes troubled when he sees old age, sickness, and death, he will long for answers and will take up the life of a holy man. The world will rejoice.”

Narrator: This worried King Suddodana, because he wanted his son to rule his kingdom one day. The king began to make preparations. He had palaces built with beautiful gardens. He planned for his son to be happy all the time.

[these three leave. Queen returns, pillow in belly.]

Scene 2

Narrator: It is traditional at this time in India for a woman to return to her mother’s home when she is having a baby. Queen Mahamaya is on her way there. She and her handmaidens are passing a forest with flowering trees when she stops, grabs hold of an overhanging branch, and her baby is born. Sweet tea and flower blossoms rain from the sky.

[baby buddha stands up, takes seven steps (lotuses spring from steps) points one finger down, and one finger to the sky]

Baby Buddha: “Above the heavens and below the earth, I alone am the world honored one.”

[queen and king pair up with baby, then new queen and king with baby. Leave at ‘clear away’]

Narrator: Queen Mahamaya names her prince Siddhartha, and returns to the palace. Sadly, she becomes ill, and dies a week later. King Suddodana marries her sister, and she raises the prince as if he were her own. Growing up, the prince needs nothing. The king has all the servants clear away all evidence of decay and death while the prince sleeps. Even so, Prince Siddhartha notices how animals are treated, and this makes him sad.

Scene 3

[Siddhartha enters with Channa, pulling the charioteer along.]

Siddhartha: “Father, please may I leave the gardens and go outside the walls?

Suddodana: “No, son.”

Siddhartha: “But father, Channa will make sure I’m safe. I’ll be ok, I promise! Please may I see the city?”

Suddodana: “I’m sorry, no.”

Siddhartha: “Please, father. I’m a grown man. I have a wife. She is going to have my child. I should take my place as your heir.”

Suddodana: (sighs) “Oh well. I suppose you must. You may go tomorrow, but you must stay with Channa at all times. Promise me.”

Siddhartha: “I promise.”

Narrator: The king relents because he has a plan. He quickly sends his men to the city with orders for the people to keep the old and sick people indoors. He orders all the streets cleaned, gives the people new clothes, and new plants for their gardens. No funerals are allowed. Everybody must smile and look happy for the prince. But despite all the King’s efforts, Siddhartha sees an old woman….a sick man….a dead man all wrapped in sheets….and a holy man so calm and peaceful.

[Siddhartha and Channa see old woman crooked with walking stick, sick man lying down, dead man with sheets, holy man in robes. They leave. New scene:]

Siddhartha: “Channa, I must leave my home. I must find the answer to all this suffering.”

Channa: “Your father will never allow it.”

Siddhartha: “I know. I can’t bear to say goodbye to my beautiful wife and our new baby. I will leave at night, and you will help me.”

Narrator: “Channa takes the prince out of the city. The prince gives Channa his royal clothes and jewels and walks away. His horse and Channa are both crying. Siddhartha chops off his hair, and puts on the discarded tattered yellow robe of a hunter.

Scene 4

[Gautama sits down as the narrator speaks.]

Narrator: Siddhartha Gautama looks for a holy man to be his teacher. None can teach him how to end suffering. He meets five monks who show him the practices of eating very little and causing himself pain. They say THIS is the way to Truth. Gautama practices this way until he almost dies, he is so thin.

[a girl comes along and leaves a bowl at Gautama’s feet. Gautama picks up the bowl, eats, puts the bowl down. Sits. Then gets up and stretches and smiles.]

Gautama: “Ahhh! I feel so much better! My mind is clear. The pleasures of the palace did not help me to understand the Truth, nor was it right to starve myself. Through a Middle Way I can find the Truth. I am sure of it.”

[(bodhi tree moved in place) Gautama splashes himself in the ‘river’ and goes to sit under the bodhi tree.]

Gautama: “I will not leave this seat until I have found the Truth.”

[while narrator speaks, Mara enters, glaring. Demons enter, rush at Gautama, try to scare him. Try to make him giggle. Demons leave. (thunder, snake umbrella rises over) Beautiful dancers return, dance in front of him.

Narrator: Seeing that Gautama could actually overcome his ignorance and desire, Mara, the Great Distractor, joins Gautama under his tree. He calls up his demons, who rush at Gautama, try to scare him. The demons try all kinds of things to move Gautama from his seat. Siddhartha Gautama does not move. The demons throw rocks at him. The rocks turn into flowers. The demons give up. Mara calls up thunder and lightning…………..Siddhartha does not move, and the King of the Cobras shelters Siddhartha under his hood. Mara calls up beautiful dancers. Gautama does not move.

Mara: Who do you think you are?! You don’t have what it takes!

[Gautama calmly reaches down with one hand and touches the earth.]

Earth: I am your witness. You have what it takes.

[Mara gives up, and leaves. Gautama sits. A small light appears …Crack of the wooden blocks.]

Buddha: That’s it! That’s it! All…. illuminated!

Scene 5

[The Buddha gets up, stands and looks at audience, gesture with hands as narrator says ‘teaches many years’. Lies down on side when narrator says ‘right up to his death’. Ananda approaches, wipes his forehead.]

Narrator: Thus, Siddhartha Gautama becomes the Buddha, the Awakened One, at the age of 35. He teaches many years, giving us many profound lessons, such as the 4 Noble Truths, that is that, One, we all experience suffering, Two, the cause of suffering is attachment, three, we can end suffering by ending attachment, and four, we can end attachment by following the Eightfold Path. He teaches right up to his death at the age of 80. Ananda takes care of him at his deathbed.

[many followers gather around, wringing hands, crying, pulling hair.]

Ananda: Please don’t die. If you die, who will be our teacher? We need you. Who will show us the way to enlightenment?

Buddha: Do not be sad when I die, my friends. Everything that has a beginning has an ending. The world goes on. Didn’t I teach you that you must find your own way to the Truth?

Ananda: Yes.

Buddha: I have taught all I could. I held nothing back. You have everything you need. The Dharma is your light and your refuge in this world. Remember, you must be your own light.

Props: pillow, elephant tusks, 7 lotus flowers, bower/branch, walking stick, sheets, bodhi tree (umbrella), large cobra snake head

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Life of Buddha: Review

For a review, we went over the lessons covered, and the girls put together booklets with foam covers they could decorate.

I got the pictures from this website: Life of the Buddha in Pictures.

Here is the document for the booklet of Buddha's Life.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Life of Buddha: The 4 Noble Truths

 I gave the girls an opportunity to learn another kind of walking meditation, outdoors.
I told them you want to pay attention to your body and how it touches the ground, how your breath moves with your body. How fast you go is up to you, but, you don't want to lose track of that concentration. If it helps you can try one of these ideas.
  • Visualize this: with every step you take you're sending roots down into the ground, roots that sprout. Behind you, lotus blossoms sprout. Think of lotus blossoms sprouting from your footsteps.
  • Think of your favorite animal. Think of how that animal is trying to be very quiet and not seen by other animals. It pays attention to  its body and knows exactly what its body is doing. You can pretend to be that animal.
  • Simply concentrate and pay attention to your breath and to how your body feels as you move and your feet touch the ground.
You're better off starting out slowly. If you feel like you can speed up and keep concentrating, you can do that. You don't have to follow each other; you can branch off and you can turn around. Bells ring to start and to end.
They liked that the meditation was fun, that they could turn around, go any way. I explained that this was a good meditation for getting used to keeping that concentration while moving, even while doing tasks. A neat thing about it is that you can do it in if you feel that need for that calm feeling of meditation, you can do this kind of meditative focus.

Earlier I'd requested we sing our song, "The Four Noble Truths," and now I reminded them of it, and told them that this is something that all Buddhists share, that we study the Four Noble Truths as the Buddha taught us. For that reason I chose this to represent the teaching part of the Buddha's life. I had them help me remember the Four Noble Truths from their knowledge of the song.
  1.  Everybody suffers just like you.
  2. We suffer because we grasp and crave.
  3. We can end the suffering by ending the craving.
  4. We can end the craving with The Eightfold Path. 
I reminded them of the Three Poisons: Greed; Hatred; and Delusion. These are what form the craving or attachment.

I went over the Eightfold Path with them, they helped. Right Understanding or View is seeing things as they really are. Right Intention is having a commitment with a positive emotion toward that commitment. Right Speech: don't lie; don't be mean with your words; don't gossip. Right Action (pretty straightforward). Right Livelihood. One volunteered "don't kill." So I asked, if someone is a butcher, is that Right Livelihood? In some Buddhist traditions, it would not be. However, in other traditions, if they do their job with care for the animals, so the animals don't suffer needlessly, it could be Right Livelihood. Right Effort: taking care; being thoughtful; doing your best. Right Mindfulness: paying attention. Right Concentration: as we discovered with the walking meditation, it's possible to bring that concentration to other parts of our life.

While they colored their copies of the Four Noble Truths with an image of an 8-spoked Dharma Wheel, I shared some very short stories that demonstrated this. These were made into stickers. I used the pop-up book Fishing for the Moon and other Zen Stories by Lulu Hansen. These are the things I drew out of the stories:

Fishing for the moon 
1. Mistaken about the moon in the well. “something terrible” they want it to be right.
2. Excitement clouds their thinking. They’re attached to it being right.
3. Understand clearly to end this attachment.
4. Right Understanding. Right Effort -> they did have this

Parable of the Strawberry 
1. Man in fear for his life.
2. Panic, clinging to life; attached to a future
3. Be present in this moment to let go of the wish for a particular future.
4. Right Mindfulness, Right Understanding

Girl on Muddy Road 
1. Monk annoyed, angry over breaking of the rules.
2. Attached to the rules, pushes away any distractions, afraid he’ll stray from his intention.
3. Concern about the spiritual effort of others blinds him to his own. Following rules doesn’t mean effort is correct. Thinks pushing distractions away makes you strong
4. Right Understanding, Right Effort, Right Mindfulness, Right Action

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Nehan Instruction and Meditation

We have a little time before the ceremony to give instruction.

As I've noted elsewhere, I've found it helps with ceremonies to give some guided instruction during meditation. Then they have time for a quick check-in, which I use as a way for them to think about their roles in the ceremony. In this case, I gave instruction first, and I borrowed a technique from another tradition, Worship Sharing of the Friends. I explained it was kind of like combining their check-in with meditation.

I shared the story of the woman and the mustard seed to introduce death and loss.

  The Buddha met a woman who had lost her baby son. She was devastated. She had heard the Buddha could perform miracles. So she went to the Buddha, and she was holding her son, and she said, "Buddha, can you bring my son back?"
  The Buddha could see she was very distressed, and there wasn't much he could say, so he said, "I want you to go to every household in this area. If you can find a household that has never experienced loss, bring me a mustard seed from that household."
  So that woman did that. She went to every household and found out the losses that people had experienced. Doing that, she realized that she was not alone, that everybody experiences loss.  She was able to start letting go of her baby that she had lost.
  Finally she came back to the Buddha. He said, "Do you have a mustard seed for me?" And she told him, "No, I don't. But I'm ready now to let go of my son."

That is what our ceremony is about today, I said. There are people that come into our lives, and they go away, they die. Here is an explanation of the Nehan Ceremony. Then, the worship sharing medition...I explained that we don't sit so formally like we do with our regular meditation. We face each other, but don't want to be too distracting to others. If we feel like we have something we wish to share, we do that.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Life of Buddha: Death

There were quite a few people in the class, some new, so I took some extra time with meditation instruction:
  I want everybody to do their absolute best to be very quiet. No talking, and no body language talking. By that I mean no silent talking to your friend. We're going to do some meditation that's all about focusing on your own breath and your own body. Like the Buddha under the Bodhi tree, we're gonna allow those distractions to float on by. ...even with the drums going on next door, we're just gonna let that float on by.
 I began the lesson speaking of the ceremony Nehan, which we would celebrate at the next Dharma School.  We remember those who have died in our lives, whether people or pets.

I shared various pictures of the gathering that happened when the Buddha died. The Buddha was about 35 when he experienced enlightenment, but he died when he was around 80 years old. He knew he was going to die, and accepted a tainted bowl of food despite knowing that. His cousin Ananda nursed him, and wished to save him. He was always the one who remembered what the Buddha said. Ananda begged, "If you leave us, who will be our teacher? Who will show us the way to Nirvana and Enlightenment that conquers all suffering?"

Everybody gathered round, they didn't want the Buddha to die. They were wailing and suffering. The Buddha smiled. He gave the most important talk of his life. He said, "Don't be sad, my friends. Remember, all things that have a beginning must have an end. And haven't I taught you that the only way to Nirvana lies in you. You must find if for yourself." He said, "Be a light unto yourself. You'll find your own wisdom in yourself, and you can pass that on to others, just as I have to you."

For checkin I had asked the girls to share one thing of the truth in their life...something of their own wisdom. I reminded them of the song, "This Little Light of Mine." I asked, "What is your light? What is something in your life that is your light that you can offer, your wisdom? It could be a word, like joy, or peace, or happiness. You could surprise me. What is your light? What is your truth?" I got such answers as caring, animal lover, kindness, generosity, music, creativity.  I told them this was why, to remind them of their own wisdom that they already have, and that they can pass on to others.

The Buddha taught us a way to uncover that truth and that wisdom. When Buddha reminded Ananda of that, Ananda nodded. Buddha said, "Keep the light that glows within you burning, for it alone will lead you to truth." Keep the light that shines within you, like the song.

This is how we get the Dharma of Buddhism, like one light passing to another, from teacher to student.

For a craft, I had little heart-shaped tins (favor tins) with a lid with window to see inside. They could paint with paint pens or use sharpies. They could choose 3 polished decor stones to put inside, for use in meditation.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Life of Buddha: Under the Bodhi Tree

There are always different numbers of girls who come to Dharma School. I have to plan to be able to handle a lot, or a few, girls in the class. When a few, we can spend more time in discussion. When many, I can only hope that something of the lesson sinks in. I may never know what the thing is that will light them up. On this day had a full room, as well as a guest who is working on putting together his center's Dharma School program.

For this lesson I had a special craft I know they love: shrinky dinks. Unfortunately I spent enough time finding the art and preparing it that I ran out of the time I like to spend on reflecting on the lesson itself. I read through my materials, but as far as class went, I was winging it. Fortunately, I've been doing this awhile.

There were several new girls in class, as we allow new attendees at the beginning of the school year, and in January when we return from a December break. I realized I needed to spend a little time with review of how the hour is spent.

Because the Buddha is said to have walked around the Bodhi Tree in meditation after he experienced enlightenment, I taught them walking meditation. We do a very slow walking meditation. I showed them how to hold their hands, gave them some guidance on focusing their attention inwards, and on their breath, and began. I walked them through their first couple of steps. Take a breath in and lift your foot, let your breath out and put your foot down. You might take another breath before you move again, and that's ok. Find your own rhythm as you lift your foot.....and put it down. I believe I injected something about doing this silently because I needed to. Some of the girls are quite comfortable in class, and that means they're busy catching up and connecting with each other.

Because we had so many girls in such a small room, we slowed to a standstill, so I decided we would not spend more than those couple of minutes on meditation. I had asked a new girl to light the incense, and a new girl to snuff it. (With so many girls I didn't have the time to figure out who had already done what task. To be fair, I've been keeping a list.)

I spent a little time explaining check-in, that we go around and say our names, and say something about ourselves. Sometimes it might have to do with the lesson, and sometimes it could be something we want to share with the others. This day, it needed to be one thing about ourselves, and we needed it short. I had a lot of "I don't know what to say." Perhaps when I have such a number of mixed new and returning, and many, students, I need to remember to be more directive with that check-in topic. They are always assured they don't have to say something if they don't want to.

Funny thing is, one girl thought to ask what the craft was that day. I said it was something special, and she would simply have to wait.

I read from Demi's Buddha about Buddha's enlightenment, first asking if anybody remembered the last lesson. The Buddha had learned he couldn't figure this out if he starved himself, and he couldn't if he had too much wealth. That this discovery was called the Middle Way, and that the metaphor often used is a lute, or a stringed instrument. And that because their life in modern times in the United States was very different from the Buddha's, that their Middle Way would look different than the Buddha's, and it was up to them to figure out their own Middle Way. Sounds like a lot, but some remembered these things.

So, from Demi:
One morning Siddhartha accepted a bowl of rich milk and rice from a village girl. With his energy renewed, he was determined to find the Truth of life over death, the end of suffering for himself and for all people. He bathed in the Nairanjana River and then walked to a large bodhi tree, a spot where many Buddhas had been enlightened. Along the way, a cowherd offered Siddhartha eight handfuls of grass to sit upon. He spread the grass beneath him under the tree. 
  Siddhartha vowed, "Even if my blood dries up an my skin and bones waste away, I will not leave this seat until I have found the Truth; life over death; the end of suffering for myself and for all mankind!"

I commented, some people say evil, you might say distractions or things that keep you from experiencing enlightenment....
  Mara, the Evil One, heard this vow and called upon his army of demons to defeat Siddhartha's enlightenment. Mara planted doubts and fears in Siddhartha's mind. He conjured whirlwinds, darkness, rain, and lightning. The earth cracked before Siddhartha; trees crashed around him. But the purity of his mind dispelled Mara's power. Mara hurled a shower of meteors; they changed into heavenly flowers around the tree. The evil One could not move Siddhartha. 
  "The seat of virtue is mine!" Mara thundered. "Who can say it is yours, Siddhartha?"
  Then the earth shook and thundered its reply, "I, Earth, can say that the seat of virtue belongs to Siddhartha, for I have witnessed his goodness in this life and in all his former lives!"

The Buddha touched the earth when he said this. About this point I was wishing I'd had more time to do this reflection, and I riffed on the main point of this lesson, the Earth as Witness. I said this is a good thing to remember, say, if you're feeling a lot of distractions, if you feel your thoughts or your emotions are all over the place, is to get in touch with the ground, and actually touch the ground. In this modern world, we might say we 'need to get grounded.' It can be helpful if you do actually get closer to the ground, to the earth, to feel more centered and focussed. So you may often see Buddha statues in this position, with one hand touching the ground, and they call this the Earth Witness Buddha.

I showed them images and pulled out a few phrases from the other book I was using, The Prince Who Ran Away. I knew they would like the image of the king of the cobras sheltering the Buddha when Mara sent the rains.

Using more images I'd found on the web, again I riffed. Have you ever had such a feeling that inside you it rained flowers and the earth trembles and the birds are singing? One girl was nodding vigorously. This is what they are trying to convey with these images....

So, the craft. I gave them the choice of coloring in a preprinted Earth Witness Buddha...and they had a choice of several...or drawing a picture that had to do with the lesson. One girl asked, "Can I draw..." and I said I would prefer if she chose something from the lesson. I also began by saying they could only have one, just one shrinky dink. It was a good thing I had a guest. I gave him the task of punching a hole in their completed shrinky dink, so they could hang it by a thread if they wished. My co-teacher helped them with their drawing and any other needs, including snack. I did the heating with the mega-blow-dryer.

You can get full-sized sheets of shrinky dink plastic at a store like Michael's that can be sent through a copier. Some can go through a bubble-jet printer. You create the document for the art you wish to use, print it on paper, and using a copier, hand-feed the plastic for the copy. You need to test which side gets the print, then feed so that the frosted or rough side goes through oriented to that side. I had colored pencils for those printed pieces, and I had colored Sharpies for the opaque white or beige artwork if the girls so chose. There was an even mix. When it comes to art, I find it is good to have that choice, so they can feel good about what they create, whatever their skill level.

Here is the document I used for their printed shrinky dink plastic pictures of the Buddha touching the earth.