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Children use prayer stones after terror attack

School children from the Isles of Scilly created a circle of prayer stones on Old Town beach in response to last month's terror attack at two mosques in New Zealand.

The shootings in Christchurch coincided with Key Stage 2's learning about the importance of prayer to Muslims, which included designing their own prayer mats and using compasses to position them from Scilly to Mecca.

They had also been reading Elizabeth Laird's book Welcome to Nowhere, about a 12-year-old boy from Bosra and his family's journey through the Syrian conflict as refugees.

Inspired by the Beach Vigils held in New Zealand, Year 6 gathered their wishes and reflections as they placed stones around the peace greeting shared by Muslims. By the end of the school day the huge Equinox tide had carried their prayers from Scilly out into the rest of the world.

Teacher Rachel Thornton said: "Collectively the children felt the impact of, and connection with, what was happening so very far away in New Zealand. Then came the question: 'What can we do?

"The Prayer Stones activity grew from this - it was not something I had planned for in the lesson sequence, but rather a great example of the children exploring their Essential Question (Does Prayer make a difference?') in response to world events - leading their own learning!"

She said that bringing stones to a circle on the beach was "a powerful symbolic experience" for the children, allowing them to make connections from their relatively remote island home and "feel their positive, restorative contribution to something so much bigger".

Five Islands Academy's Mission Statement for Religion and Worldviews emphasises the importance of 'exploring the nature of religion and belief; the uniqueness and the common ground held by different religions, religious and non-religious worldviews and the contribution made by this rich diversity to the world in which we live'.

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