22 February 2011

"Legs criss-cross"

There aren't many Godly Play blogs that I'm aware of. Today I went browsing, following links from GP blogs and skimming through more general blogs about Montessori education (which is the roots of Godly Play, after all). I've found a bunch of inspiration, and come up with three resolutions for our next class.

One difficulty right now is how to communicate my expectations for the classroom. I don't want to over-do it by giving so many rules that I cannot enforce them all, or by nit-picking. For example, one child in my classroom likes to pick up the sides of the sitting mat, facilitating a rocking motion from side to side. Other children quickly pick up the idea, and movement and silliness increase until they're not in a good frame of mind for listening to a lesson.  

Chi Chang Wu (licensed)
I tried emphasizing the "getting ready" position as including having the hands on the knees or legs, but it was not a great success. Today I came across the idea of having a getting ready song. The writer of My Montessori Journey wrote, I have a little song that we sing to remind ourselves of what is expected at group time.  We sing it to the tune "Frere Jacque" and it goes like this: "Legs criss-cross, Legs criss-cross, Hands in your lap, Hands in your lap..." What a great idea! This is definitely on my agenda for our next class. 

I also came across this advice (from Creative Jewish Mom): Build your child’s understanding of life by taking the extra 20 seconds to explain a rule. I realize I haven't explained anything about standing up for communion and blessings; I just told them to do it. So that's something I need to do better next time.

And finally, I've had one more brainstorm - this one entirely my own, but motivated by reading about breaking activities down into smaller steps. I have tried a couple of times to give each child an opportunity to pray by handing a cross around a circle (an idea from this video  - jump to timer count 15:11 (Young Children and Worship))... 

Bouguereau (public domain)
But although I have tried to stress that it's perfectly okay to pray aloud, to pray silently, or even not to pray at all but just to hand the cross to the next person... it's clear that not everyone is comfortable with this yet. It finally struck me that maybe we need to go back a step and just practice nicely passing the cross around in a circle. Maybe I'll try that next time too... or maybe I'll decide that "Legs criss-cross" and showing reverence by standing are enough for one session! 


  1. I've read that you have 3 to 10 year olds in your group. How do the 10-year-olds do? Do they listen attentively? Is GP still interesting to them? I seem to have more behavioural problems when there are older boys and then 3-4 year olds.

  2. For the past couple of weeks we've had one almost-3-year-old, one 4-year-old, one 5-year-old, and one 13-year-old! I've told the 13-year-old that it's his choice whether to come to us or attend adult services. He is a joy to have in our class - I think he enjoys being seen by the little ones as practically an adult.

    (He's not the only one in the circle who isn't a pre-schooler, because I always have a second responsible adult in the room, who sits in the circle and does work during response time, just like the other members.)

  3. This is a great post. I think it is in Berryman's book that he talks about the importance of taking the time to focus the circle before moving on to anything else?

    We use carpet squares (obtained for free at a carpet store - before I had these I used 6 inch squares of felt) and that made a huge difference as we got started. The children enjoy choosing their square and having that defined boundry, which is helpful with little ones. We actually meet at the door, light the candle and then process into the room which simulates the adult service which they have just come from, but it also gives me time to state "find a seat on a square and get in your ready position" - explaining that if we have new children. I also always start the story with a reminder that we are going to hear God's good words and that we need to be quiet and in our ready position so we can all share the story.

    The first few weeks (a couple years ago now) we had 5 or 6 two year olds and it was a bit wild, but now we have 9 two to five year olds and while it varies slightly week to week, overall they are amazing. Hang in there - it sounds like you are doing an amazing job.

    It is always good to hear what others are doing. Thanks for blogging!

    Oh, and I love your advent cards, the shape of the wreath and candles are so artistic.

  4. Thank you, Watkins! I have to credit Johanna with the wreaths and candles. :)

    Your procession idea sounds like just the right sort of adaptation of Godly Play to local circumstances. And yes, Berryman says the very first step is "Building the Circle".


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