04 April 2011

Faces of Easter (Lent 4)

Lots of folks visiting the blog lately have come via Google searches for "Faces of Easter". So I thought I'd write a longer post about our use of these materials this week. We had the next two stories from the Faces of Easter material yesterday - Jesus' baptism and the Temptation in the wilderness. It's a bit of a pity that our schedule has worked out so that we have two stories each week. It's been a lot for our youngest children (ages 3-5) to take in.

In the book, Berryman says that these lessons were designed for older children, but that they have been used with children as young as two years old (vol. 4, p. 53). Still, I think the fact that they were written for older children really shows. There is little action, apart from showing the picture to everyone. In the baptism story there is a small gesture to show Jesus going down into the water and coming up again, and I was supposed to draw an outline of a dove with my finger (but I was really unsure how to do so, especially in a way that would really make it clear to my listeners what I was doing). * Update: I've now realized that there is a dove in some versions of that picture.

(American materials for these lessons)
There is not a single gesture in the temptation story script... but I added one. Each time Jesus says, No, I held up my hand in a "stop" gesture (mirroring what is already on the picture). The comment in the book is that the very different kind of "wondering" done with these stories - inviting children to make connections by bringing other materials to set beside the Faces of Easter - is especially important because it provides movement and action to these stories.

Berryman does say that for very young children, the stories might be shortened (and that summaries of earlier stories should definitely be kept short). (On the other hand he also acknowledges that sometimes, as with our situation, it may be necessary to tell two or even three stories on a single Sunday.) Some are easier to abridge than others. I had left a few phrases and sentences out of the story of the boy Jesus in the temple last time, but I didn't really feel there was anything I could leave out of this week's temptation story. In discussing it with Vandriver, I've decided that next week I might try inviting the children to bring items to the circle twice, once after each story. It'll give them a chance to stretch and move in between the two narratives. And next time's stories are less connected to one another than the pairs we've had so far.

This week three children chose not to bring anything to the circle. One was a new visitor and had no idea what materials were available in the room. One wanted to bring something, but couldn't decide what - I think in part she was disoriented by the fact that we were in an unfamiliar room (and that our "shelves" were tables a bit too high for her height). But our visiting adult, also completely new to Godly Play, made a lovely connection with our baptism materials. Then I asked the children if it would be okay if I brought something (Yes!)... and I opened up the parable box and brought out one of the dangerous places from Psalm 23 to put beside the temptation picture.

To see the picture of what we created for the first two stories in this lesson, jump to this post
To read a little more about my materials, read this.

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