30 March 2011

Messy Church - an analogy

Proposed analogy:
Godly Play is the Mr Rogers to Messy Church's Sesame Street.

Yeah, ok, so I haven't watched children's television in America since about 1973. But I'm kind pleased with the analogy. So much so that I was tempted just to end the post here...
but I don't want to pit these two programs against each other.

Before I say anything else, I have to admit that I know even less about Messy Church than I do about recent developments in children's television. But it seems to me that comparing MC and GP is like comparing apples and oranges, because they start from very different premises. Crucially, Messy Church isn't a way of getting people to come to church on SundayWhereas one of my goals in using Godly Play is to prepare people to join traditional worship services. (Jerome Berryman would say that goal of GP is to teach the "Christian language system".)

I think this difference in goals and emphases explains one of the most obvious differences between MC and GP: MC places a huge emphasis on fun, while GP has a lot of emphasis on getting ready (calming down). The detractors say that MC is raising up children who expect church leaders to entertain them, and that GP is all about making children "sit down and shut up". I hope the detractors are wrong on both counts.

Although I'm interested in exploring their differences a bit more, and although I do have a lot of unease about certain aspects of MC, I hope that GP and MC don't have to be seen as rivals or opposing camps, just like I'm sure lots of folks my age grew up watching both Sesame Street and Mr Rogers. One summary said that Messy Church has five main characteristics:

  • creative
  • hospitable
  • all-age
  • Christ-centred
  • worshipping

Although GP's worship tradition is more liturgical than MC's, I'd say these five characteristics are also true of good GP, which shows how much GP and MC have in common. 

photo source: Toughpigs
Let's acknowledge that we share the same goal of welcoming people (especially children) into a faith community.

27 March 2011

Faces of Easter control card

We have no Godly Play this week, because on the last Sunday of each month we have an all-ages worship service. But thanks to stf, here's a photo from last week:

In the foreground you can see the control card I made for the Faces of Easter (Lenten) materials. This lesson takes us through various important episodes in Jesus' earthly life, from birth to resurrection. [I'm trying out the plaque designs by Juliana Heidenreich. For now, I have used the free sample cards - the German GP copyright notice is printed right on each picture. In the longer run, once I know which pictures I like best, I want to pay for them properly (or ... commission my own drawings?!?).]

Something that had really struck me back in Advent was how easy the Advent plaques were to arrange. If you get them mixed up, it's easy to put them in order again, because the first one shows only one candle, the second two candles, and so forth. The hardest part is remembering to put them back in the basket "backwards" (the first goes in last, so that it is on top for the next time).

But with the Faces of Easter, a person cannot put them in order without remembering which story each picture relates to, and knowing the order in which these episodes happened in Jesus' life. So I made a control card, which I hope will work a little like a puzzle. You can see at least a portion of each card, and should therefore be able to figure out which plaque needs to be on top of which.

I wonder how it works with store-bought Faces of Easter cards. Is it easy to put them back in order?

24 March 2011

setting up the room



Every time we do Godly Play, I set up the room like this. It is not a chore! I usually find that setting up the room helps me to prepare for the session. And sometimes I have help - one week a child who had arrived early positioned the Holy Family for me. I always have help with putting the furniture away and collecting the materials to be taken home again. 

(For a more detailed description of what is in our room, see the chart in this post and/or explanations of our different "shelves" in this post.)

22 March 2011

an extravagance of glitter glue

We're getting through a lot of glitter glue at Junior Church. Peter Privett advises that when stocking art materials, Check that there's material for both boys and girls. There's no hard and fast rule but girls tend to opt for drawing etc. - boys for activities that require manipulation. Too much glitter might send the wrong message. ("Designing and Building a Godly Play Classroom") Well, more than once in our classroom all the boys have chosen to work with glitter glue and all the girls have worked with clay. I'm pleased that our children do not feel trapped by gender stereotypes! 

But the thing that glitter glue has really got me thinking about is generosity and extravagance. I often say that one thing I love about Godly Play is its lavishness. We have all the time we need. I believe in the goal of providing beautiful and good quality materials, the goal that both story materials and art materials should be attractive, perhaps even the best your group can afford. So I'm surprised and unnerved by how anxious I get about our glitter glue expenditure. We seem to be getting through a LOT of glitter glue at Junior Church. 

I thought I understood the ideal of letting children explore for themselves what works and what doesn't work. But when one child started piling glitter-blob upon glitter-blob, and announced, I'm making a castle, I broke down. I said firmly that glitter glue wouldn't work for constructing upwards. If you want to make a castle, you need to use play-dough. If you want to use glitter paint, you need to make a painting. 

I keep re-playing that scene in my mind. I am struggling to find a good balance between freedom and limits, between instructing and letting the child explore. Perhaps I also need to remind myself that sometimes it's appropriate to break open a whole bottle of nard(Mark 14:3, John 12:3)

20 March 2011

Faces of Easter (Lent 2)

Today's lesson was about two episodes in the life of Jesus. After I'd showed pictures of them and talked about them, each member of the circle had the opportunity to choose anything in the room that would help us tell more about these parts of the story. It was also okay not to choose anything.

This is what we created together:

I say we, although I was one of the ones who chose not to add anything... except a song. While the materials were still out like this, I invited the circle to sing, Amen, Amen, Amen, Amen, Amen, and once they'd got the hang of the chorus I sang the first two verses, which are about exactly the scenes we were looking at:

18 March 2011

guest post: flying solo

Written by see-through faith on 13 March

flying solo ....

well not quite as I had a helper over at junior church today, but as the lady who usually leads jr church and who has introduced Godly play there wasn't there I was the leader this week. Her shoes are hard ones to fill, let me tell you, but I - and the kids - had a lot of fun and met with God in great and sometimes unexpected ways!

For those of you who aren't familiar with Godly play, the idea - from my perspective at least- is to make it possible for kids to experience and learn about God in different ways in a setting that is their church - i.e. not the grown ups' place. Ideally you'd have a special room set aside for just that purpose. But we don't live in ideal worlds, and so I love the way Storyteller has gone about creating that special sacred space where it also ok - very ok - to play in the journey to discovering God.

Every Sunday she spends a lot of time hauling stuff in (and out) to prepare the space for junior church. I didn't have time (or energy) to do that - so we ran with a sort of skeleton junior church this week. The boundaries were there as usual and the mats were there and the funny thing was that we started before I knew it because the little kids each found a mat, sat down and waited and suddently it was a go :)

There were two parts that carried most impact for me

Firstly there was the careful changing of the liturgical colours from green to purple (for we are now in Lent). That meant handling the holy family (nativity) figures and explaing simply who each one was. The 'liturgy' we use goes something like this
Here is the Christ child. See how he's holding out his arms to give you a hug. He was born. He grew up. He became a man. And he died on a cross. That's sad. But that's also wonderful in an Easter kind of way. Because now the Risen Christ can extend his arms and hug every one.
The kids really listened attentively to this part -and we looked at the liturgical colours - white (with gold) and red and green - and of course purple. That fitted in well with what they'd done last week which was learn about telling the time in church (i.e. the church year)

Usually they'd then have a lesson. I'm not up to that so I read a story about the miraculous catch of fish with lots of actions and times to reflect. I wonder how they felt. I wonder how many fish they caught. I wonder what Jesus meant by fishers of men. etc.

Then there was the response time.

Again the skeleton set up this week meant they had a choice, but not an awful lot. There was no parable box for example, or the baptism set, and horror of horrors no clay (playdough) or glitter glue. No fuss -simpler choices this week.

This was the second event that impacted me most

The youngest wanted a story - not the fish story again, but the one about the nativity. (a link to what I'd said about the holy family perhaps?) And then she wanted to 'do' the story of the good shepherd herself. She carefully got the things out and set it up and sort of did it herself with me close by. It was fun and lovely ... only then disaster struck. "Where's the bread and wine?" oops! You see I hadn't found those figures when unpacking the boxes (though I found them later) so we improvised (made a loaf out of card and a jug out of shiny paper) and she carefully took the Good shepherd the five sheep and priest at the altar along with all the people. So moving!


We finished with the feast (which I at least once called snack by mistake!) and then I read another story, this time about the good shepherd a different version with 100 sheep but one which put the parable into context. They liked it a lot

As usual we finished with communion and a blessing when the priest (finally) arrived. I couldnt' remember the song we usually sing so we sang thank you for this fine day. And it was a fine day and so blessed!

But I'm very glad storyteller will be back next Sunday, so I can go back to being a participant able to respond to the message in my own way and an adult who is privileged to be present at junior church and whose responsiblities are a) turning up in good time b) toilet /washing hands duties and c) preparing the snack feast (which the parents take turns in providing)!

on a different topic... (2)

 Thank you 
to everyone who prayed for me while I was away on the Bishops' Advisory Panel (or BAP). I visited family first, which was nice and low-key - a pretty good way to relax a little before the grueling 48 hours of the BAP. 

For some English speakers, a bap is a bread roll (USAID photo)

We started off with a Personal Inventory - like an interview, but written, and with very, very tight time restrictions. The goal was to get our first reaction answers - to give us no time to think about any of the questions. I found it rather horrific to be under such time pressure! 

Then each of us had to make a presentation which we had prepared in advance, of no more than five minutes in length, to initiate and lead a discussion on our presentation topic, and finally to summarize the discussion in two minutes. I'm comfortable speaking in public, but found the two-minute summary pretty tricky. It's not something I've really ever done before, and I was a little disappointed in how I did. 

Each of us also had three fifty-minute interviews (individually, with a different interviewer for each interview). 

All of these tasks were related, very explicitly, to the church's nine selection criteria. Our fourth task was that we were given a fictional (but plausible) scenario at the start of the seminar, and were required by the end of the seminar to hand in a 500-word letter responding to the situation. It was called a Pastoral Exercise, and yes, was pretty clearly designed to examine our pastoral skills. 

We also had several worship services, and of course meals and coffee breaks together. In theory, we were not under scrutiny during the services, but were observed during meal times. (We were asked to make sure we sat with different people, especially the various interviewers, at different meals.) 

I confess I skipped our own said Evensong in order to attend sung Evensong at Ely Cathedral. It turned out that I missed out on a sermon/address which everyone else said was very comforting and inspirational, but I was very glad to have gotten away from our retreat center for a little bit, to sit in the vast space of a cathedral and listen to beautiful, prayerful music (Sumsion's Magnificat & Nunc Dimittis in G). 

Ely Cathedral in background (licensed image 2007 by Gwendraith) 
I should hear within a fortnight (two weeks) whether or not I have been approved to train for ministry in the Church of England (Diocese in Europe). 

[Update here.]

on stimulating creativity and curiosity

I think this Slate article provides support for Montessori-style education (at least for preschoolers): Why Preschool Shouldn't Be Like School. The article summarizes two studies which will soon be published in the journal, Cognition. They show that when a teacher tells a child how something works, the child assumes that the teacher has told them everything they need to know about it. 

Direct instruction really can limit young children's learning. 

But if a teacher models exploration and wondering, then the child is more likely to explore on their own and even "to draw unexpected conclusions".  

It's more important than ever to give children's remarkable, spontaneous learning abilities free rein. That means a rich, stable, and safe world, with affectionate and supportive grown-ups, and lots of opportunities for exploration and play

[hat-tip to K, who put a link to this article on her Facebook page]

16 March 2011

the Response Time

[written on 8 March; scheduled for automatic posting on 16 March]

Part of the pattern of a Godly Play session is that after a lesson or story is presented, there is usually some time for wondering about it together, out loud or silently or both. And then there's time (We have all the time we need) for each member of the circle to respond to the lesson in whatever way they feel is right for them that day.
  • by touching and working with the story materials
  • by writing a poem or a prayer
  • by sitting quietly
  • by working with art materials
There's also the possibility that they may want to return to an earlier lesson or an earlier unfinished art project. A person might notice that something needs doing - sharpening pencils or cleaning the art trolley. Ideally the focus is on the process rather than the product. It's a time to just be with God, working on whatever is important for you to be doing. 

We have several very young children in our group, and I'm not at all certain that they really see a connection between the lesson and their artwork yet. I hope that will come. I trust that they nonetheless feel that they are in Godly space while they explore ways of flattening plasticine or enjoy the bright colors of glitter glue or learn how to squirt a spray bottle of cleaning fluid. 

Here's what our art materials looked like for the first month:

Since then, I've been scouring the flea markets looking for small upright baskets, suitable for displaying pencils and crayons in an even more appealing way. I was also really pleased to find little plastic trays for rolling out plasticine on and a (new but inexpensive) child-sized rolling pin.

Another great flea market find was a folding magazine rack for only two euro. It meant I could get the drawing paper, cardboard sheets, and the "work in progress" folder out of those paper shopping bags.  I think it makes the paper look much more appealing; it's easier to see the range of choice available. The only down-side is that individual sheets of paper materials can slide out through the bottom and onto the floor. But I explained that that happens sometimes and not to worry. The fact that the rack folds up means it's easy to transport back and forth every week. I love it!

13 March 2011

help, encouragement, and support

[written on 8 March; scheduled for automatic posting on 13 March]

Today, Lord willing, my usual helper, see-through faith, will have taken over as leader. Last week stf was away, and a kind school teacher joined the circle to be the second responsible adult in the room. This week a gentle and godly mother will be the second responsible adult. 

This seems like a good time to thank all these people, as well as Vandriver, our pastor, and the parents of our children, for all their support. 

I especially want to thank stf, who is a never-ending source of encouragement. We debrief together every week, talking through what went well and what didn't, never in a harsh way but just seeking to acknowledge where there is room for improvement. She models appropriate behavior and creative choices during the response time - daring to work with story materials when most of the children choose art work. I notice the children glancing over from time to time, interested to see what stf is up to. 

This week stf plans to tell a brief version of the story of the Holy Family and to change the cloth on the focal shelf from green to purple. Then she will read a Bible storybook to the children, implicitly reminding them of the basket of storybooks in our classroom, available to anyone during Response Time, and introducing them to the Gospel story of the miraculous catch of fish (Luke 5:1-11).

10 March 2011

on a different topic...

I'll be off-line for a week, starting today. I've prepared a couple of blog entries to post automatically over the coming days, but I won't be able to moderate comments. Please go ahead and write comments anyway - just be aware that they won't appear for days!

The main reason I'll be away is to attend a Bishops' Advisory Panel for the Church of England. Over the course of three days I'll be interviewed by trained, godly men and women appointed to the task of selecting candidates for ministry. They'll make a recommendation to the bishop about whether or not I should train for the priesthood in the Anglican Church. If the bishop's final conclusion is yes, then I hope to start studying on a part-time basis next fall.

Please pray for me, that I would present myself accurately to these people.

Please pray for them, that they would discern the will of God.

And please pray for the other candidates who will also be attending this panel.

Thank you! 

[Update: My experience of the BAP is described here and the outcome shown here.]

07 March 2011

art responses this week

This week I had hoped to snap some photographs of hands in action during the Response Time, but there was just too much going on and I never had a moment to even remember that I'd brought a camera with me. So I didn't get any photographs of our new rolling pin (for the clay/plasticine) or of the child who was the first (ever) to start working on a cut-and-paste collage. But I did snap a few pictures of the glitter glue paintings as they were drying after class. 

So far I have permission to display two of the three photographs I took. The mother of the artist who said no thinks that the child might reconsider after seeing the blog. But I told the child that sometimes church stuff feels kind of personal and private and that's okay. So possibly a third photo will appear here in a day or two. But if not, then be happy that the child has felt comfortable saying no

Notice the purple carefully placed in the corners

If you know this lesson you'll understand the inclusion of the gold cord

telling time by colors

Sunday’s lesson was The Circle of the Church Year, also sometimes called The Church Clock, or How the Church Tells Time. In many GP classrooms it is told early in September, but my children hadn’t heard it before, and I thought it would be a good lesson to pave the way for Lent. There’s loads in this lesson, including the three great festivals of the church, the truth that we need time to get ready to come close to a mystery, and a memorable name for the many Grreat Grreen Grrowing Sundays.

This is the only set of materials (so far) that I’ve bought ready-made from a Godly Play supplier. I bought them during the European Godly Play Conference from the German producerDifferent producers’ sets vary slightly (but importantly) in how many blocks of each color there are:

Jerome W. Berryman says, As you order the material or prepare this lesson, please adjust as needed to match the colors actually used in your church. Unfortunately, I didn’t have access to the Finnish-language version of this lesson to see how they present typical Finnish Lutheran practice. Instead I spent a lot of time poring over the appendix in the Finnish hymnal, trying to reconcile that with the fact that our Anglican priests’ practice is different both from Berryman’s and from the Lutherans’. And I needed a presentation that would be simple enough for the small children, without being incorrect enough to disturb the thirteen-year-old or my adult helper. (Not to mention a difficulty which nobody seems to address – that there are 52 blocks, but one of them is supposed to represent Christmas Day, which only rarely falls on a Sunday!) 

Here’s what I ended up doing: I followed Berryman in not referring explicitly to Epiphany. I said that Christmas, like Easter, cannot be contained in a single day, and used a single extra white block to represent that (without explicitly saying how long that white time lasted), while contrasting it with the many weeks of Eastertide. During this section I also tried to remember to use the blocks to represent weeks rather than Sundays.

my practice photo (roughly the final layout)
Do you know that Godly Play lessons and stories are always told by heart? I thought I had done pretty well on this one… until I realized that I'd completely skipped over and left out the part explaining what Pentecost is all about. Oops! But it was probably good to shorten it a bit, even if it was by accident. One of the children (at least one!) was getting antsy toward the end. On the other hand, though, two different children asked to work with these materials during our response time (the first time since moving to our new room that any children have chosen to work with the story materials). 

It was a pity to miss out on the Apostles glowing with the power of the Holy Spirit, but I think they got the message that For every beginning there is an ending, and for every ending there is a beginning.

06 March 2011

spot the differences

Here is what our focal shelf looked like a month ago:

Here's what it looked like today:

One difference is that for the February picture I remembered to kneel down so that the photo was taken from a child's perspective, whereas the March photo is my perspective. 

Several things have found their way into new or different baskets, but that's not important. What I really want you to notice is the new materials that have been added. The Good Shepherd and World Communion materials were new last time (two weeks ago). Do you see what was new today? Do you know what it is? I plan to tell you this week!

04 March 2011

seeing the fruits

David has just blogged about a Godly Play day that he did for adults in Spain (David Pritchard: Godly Play in Tres Cantos (Madrid), the original Spanish post is here). He includes a lot of nice feedback that he got, but what really excites me is that he also writes, we were blessed to have one church leader amongst us who had been brought up on this method in the States. He was able to share briefly how he felt about Godly Play as a child. You know, when they asked us at the European Godly Play Conference what suggestions we had for next time, that was exactly what I said: I'd like to meet some adults who grew up with Godly Play. I'd like the chance to talk to some "graduates" of the program! 

That's a long way off for me personally, but what did happen for me this week was during a visit with a friend here whose child comes to our Junior Church. The children were playing with Lego Duplo blocks. At one point, this child came across to the couch, where the mother and I were sitting, and showed me something like this:

--What a nice tower! (I said, and then tried to un-do my assumptions.) Or is it a tower? What is it?

(Yeah I know, I shouldn't have even asked that question, but rather stuck with something descriptive like This looks very tall. I'm a slow learner! Fortunately, the child didn't mind.)

--It's to pray with. It's for Junior Church.

--(cautiously, nervous that she would actually want to use it at church) You know, I think I'd prefer to use our holding cross at Junior Church. Because the other children might not understand, and think this was just a toy.

--It's Legos!

--Yes, that's why the other children might think it was just to play with.

--It's to pray with. You can use it now. And then give it to Mama. No grabbing!

(Be assured, dear reader, that I did not grab. I think No grabbing must be an important rule in their household right now.) Instead, I took the stick, and bowed my head and silently thanked God for this family and lifted them up in prayer. Then I handed it across to the mother, who also bowed her head for a moment.

Maybe you remember that I've posted twice (here and here) about my concerns over our prayer time. This was such an encouragement that for one child at least, it seems to be making a positive impact.

02 March 2011

Boxing Day

[This is the last in a series of posts about our first Godly Play sessions, last December, in my own house.]

Christmas Day last year fell on a Saturday, and our pastor chose to have a service on Christmas Day rather than on Boxing Day. So on the fourth Sunday of Advent, I had asked Vandriver to make an announcement at church inviting folks to join us at our house on the following Sunday, Boxing Day, where we had Junior Church for all ages.

By this time, the child owner of our alternative nativity set had been given additional figures, including a shepherd, two sheep, and three wise men. 

photo from my friend, stf
It was interesting to watch the interaction of adults (who felt obliged to keep their children in line) and children (who knew the rules and customs of Junior Church). The children started right away to replace my nativity set with theirs.
The parents said, No no. Leave it alone. 
I said, The children are right - that is how we begin.
I made my own blunder, however, when one child pulled out another wooden toy. I acknowledged what it was, but said, too quickly and dismissively, but that doesn't belong here. The child was very upset, and later the mother explained that they had created a little story at home about why that extra toy was in Bethlehem. I still don't think I'd have wanted that toy on the focal shelf, but I do have to learn to be more willing to interrupt myself to listen properly to what the children have to say. 

I presented the Advent IV lesson, with the addition of a feature from the "Children's Liturgy for Christmas Eve", which was to ask everyone to sing the first verse of an appropriately themed Christmas carol while I fetched the figures and lit each candle. In this lesson, I "revealed" what the children had already discovered for themselves, that the fifth section of the underlay is white instead of purple. I had no time to ask what was missing (as recommended in the script), before one child scrambled right down off the parent's lap to fetch the Christ candle for me! 

We went straight from the lesson into something in between a Godly Play feast and a post-church coffee time, where again there was a mismatch between adults' and children's expectations - one child carefully opened napkins into Godly Play "tables" on the floor in front of each person, which didn't work at all since most of the adults were sitting on chairs! 

I was also a little sorry to find out later that although I announced that people should feel free to ask to sing more carols or to work with materials during the coffee time, one adult told me later that is was too hard to do so. One child happily got some plasticine out, but the adult felt compelled to sit and sip a hot drink and chat with the other adults. I suppose one contributing factor is that my living room is so small - there was not really enough room to create an individual space to work in. 

My biggest regret about the evening (despite the lack of space!) was in not extending the invitation further. We got a phone call from one couple who had missed the announcement about there not being church, asking why nobody was at the church building. They didn't feel up to coming to our house at that point, but just went home again, disappointed. But for those of us who did come together, it was a warm and festive evening.

photo by stf :)

01 March 2011

Advent - the fifth candle

[I've travelled back in time, to tell about our first Godly Play sessions, last December, in my own house.]

During free time at the end of our third session (the fourth week of Advent), the second child started off  sitting on the couch with me, listening to Bible storybooks read aloud as we had done the previous week, but then chose to work with our Lent materials ("Jesus the King" from YCW). Since it had been months since we'd used them, I sat with the child to reiterate the basic plot - placing cloaks and leaves on the road to make it ready for Jesus going to Jerusalem. Hosanna. Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.

There's a nice parallel between the Advent materials and Lent materials, in that both include an underlay which has to be rolled up when the story is put away. This child is the youngest of the three, and kept scrunching the material with tight fists - it was hard work for me to let the child do it!

Much later, I remembered that in my own training the teacher had looked mischievously at us while flicking the roll of underlay with a single finger. Aha! She was being playful, but I suspect also demonstrating that rolling and unrolling could be done with a delicate touch.

Meanwhile, the first child unrolled the Advent underlay, and placed all the plaques on it (including the fifth, white, Christmas plaque, which I had not introduced yet). This week, the child also got all the candles out, and carefully examined each candle to make sure that they were put out in the correct order. Then, just as Berryman predicts, The children will probably discover quickly that the white card needs a candle, too. The child called over to me that we needed another candle. I said, Hmmm. I wonder where in this room we could find a white candle? The child walked over to the Christ candle and, eyebrows raised, checked with me whether this could be the right answer. That's right. The Christ candle! and the child carried it across to place it on the Christmas space. 

Advent - a third child

[I've travelled back in time, to tell about our first Godly Play sessions, last December, in my own house.]

By the fourth Sunday in Advent (our third session in my house), I was confident enough to invite another young child from church to join us for Junior Church at my house while the adults had grown-up church elsewhere. There was never any feeling that I had missed church - this was church for me those Sundays.

Once again, we began by carefully replacing my nativity set with the one belonging to one of the children. During the lesson it was easy to change the words of the story from the original, See how the Christ Child is holding out his arms to give you a hug into something more appropriate for these figures: See how the Christ Child is smiling at you. And I suddenly realized that just as I had used the angel to remember the shepherds' experience, so I could use the star to represent the journey of the Magi.

Haba nativity set
I had a certain amount of control as the leader, but not complete control. Towards the end of the lesson I said, Let's enjoy the light, fully prepared to sit for a minute in silence, watching the candles. Snuff them out! Snuff them out! was the immediate, excited cry from one of the children. Oh well! I guess that's the give and take of community.*

Again, all of us wound up "playing with clay" (plasticine) during the response time, but once Junior Church was over and we were waiting for the parents to come back, one child chose to work with the Advent materials and, as in the previous week, was quietly insistent that I want to work alone. The third child, who had opted to go back to the clay, also ended up working alone.

But unexpectedly (to me), this child was unhappy to be alone. At the time I interpreted it as a personality thing (introvert vs extrovert), and maybe that was part of it, but I've now read that it might also be a developmental thing. If I understood right, children under 4-5 are more likely to play individually or in parallel (together but separately), whereas over the age of 4-5 they want to have playmates. Anyway, my response was, When the others are done with what they're doing, you can invite them to come play with you. And that seemed satisfactory.

*Maybe I should add / explain that in Godly Play the "changing of the light" (snuffing out the candles) is a big deal. The children are encouraged to pay special attention to that part, so it's no wonder the Snuff them out child was looking forward to that part of the lesson.