What is a Wesak? (Key Stage 1)
Use pictures of Wesak celebrations, for example from BBC Religion, to introduce the festival. Explain how it is celebrated and ask students to describe the events of a special day they have experienced.
To compare the similarities and differences between the two, students could make two timelines of events, one for their special day and one for Wesak.
Remembering the Buddha (Key Stage 3)
Get a range of quotations and discuss why the Buddha is still remembered today. Ask the pupils to list, based on the quotations, the qualities the Buddha had that made his life story endure.
Using a map, show where the Buddha lived and travelled, and locate other religious figures of that time and where they lived. Read through information on the life of the Buddha with the students, and then discuss the questions:
- What do the stories tell us about the beliefs of the people who wrote them?
- What type of source are the stories - historical, myth or parable?
Why did Buddha leave home (Key Stage 3)
Following study of the Buddha's life, ask students to consider what he might have seen around him which convinced him to leave his comfortable life.
The Story of the Buddha worksheet may help with this activity.
Read and discuss a number of current news stories involving suffering around the world. Students could mark these on a map. They could then investigate what Buddhist groups are doing, both locally and around the world, to alleviate suffering. Images and short write-ups of these stories could be added to the map.
The Buddha's teachings (Key Stage 3)
Teach pupils about the Buddhist scriptures, focusing on the Four Noble Truths and the Noble Eightfold Path. Ask pupils to write down the information, giving a practical example for each part of the Noble Eightfold Path.
The Eightfold Path worksheet may help with this activity.
The Buddha's teachings in modern times (key Stage 3)
Give students examples of situations where moral dilemmas might occur, such as telling the truth about a mistake, keeping money given in error or being offered drinks at a party. Ask students to work in groups of 4 - 5 to list dilemmas they have encountered in their own lives.
Ask them to list 2 - 3 alternative ways of approaching each dilemma. Then ask them to use the 5 Precepts and the Eightfold Path to decide how a Buddhist would approach each issue. This can lead into a class discussion about how helpful the Buddha's teachings are in the modern world.
The Dilemmas discussion frame may help with this activity.
Meditation (Key Stage 3)
Ask pupils to write an article of not more than 250 words on meditation for a Buddhist children's magazine. Give them a selection of information on meditation. Pupils work first in pairs to highlight key points and then arrange these in a brief list. Pairs then double up into fours and plan the article (200-250 words). The group plans should include:
- idea/text for a strong opening sentence
- reminder of agreed key points
- idea/text outline for an effective ending
The Meditation article planning sheet may help with this activity.After checking with the teacher each member of the group should work on a fuller draft of the article.