11 December 2011

topical response work

The children in my Godly Play classroom are aged 2-6. They almost always choose to work with the art materials during Response Time, rather than story materials, and it's extremely rare that the artwork they do is [or rather, seems to me to be] related to the day's lesson, any lesson we've done, or anything to do with their spiritual lives at all!

In fact, it was striking when two new children joined us in the autumn, children who had been to Sunday School elsewhere. For the first several weeks, the older one drew pictures of Jesus on the cross, and the younger one often copied this. It seemed likely to me that the elder child was trying to do what s/he assumed would be expected. Otherwise, though, apart from rainbows when we do Noah's ark, I don't think any of the artwork has had anything to do with our lessons.

Most of the time I manage not to be bothered by this. I know that every week these children pay attention to a lesson, break bread together, and receive personal blessings from our pastor. They are given the opportunity to thank God corporately in song and individually in naming something that they're particularly thankful for that week. And so it's enough that in the Response Time they know that they'll be trusted enough to be left alone for a while if they want to be, while knowing that we will be happy to look at their work with them if they ask us to. It's enough that they are in a worshipful environment with adults who care about them.

That's enough.

But I was thrilled today when a four-year-old showed me this winding trail of glitter glue and explained, It's the road to Bethlehem.

EDIT: Just minutes after posting this, I was led to this Washington Post article about play, which reminded me that the more we limit the children's choice about what they do, the less it's play. And after all, the name of this curriculum is Godly Play.
h/t UMC Ministry with Children


  1. It's these moments, the little things, that make what we do so worthwhile!

  2. I can so relate - and I benefitted from the reminder that it is called Godly PLAY after all.

  3. Aah, now I feel really bad for telling you that we might need to cut down using glitter glue. Keep it. I mean it. We'll find other ways to save if need be :).

  4. Our group consists of all ages and I think this helps response time directly relate to the story. The adults know this is expected of them and that energy flows through out the room. Even though the children are not given specific direction. I realize this may not truly be the children's response but rather a copying of the adults. Either way it seems less then ideal. It is also very rare to see an adult work with the materials. I must find a way to get them past this! Baby steps.

  5. I know I'm years late, but just now finding this. Thank you so much for finding the time to record your experience and thoughts. I recently started a similar program, "Young Children and Worship," and have been wondering if I need to direct the children more during response time so it has something to do with church. I feel much better now that I've been letting it go.

    1. I'm so glad you visited this blog, Heather Lynn, and commented. I have used a couple of stories and elements from "Young Children and Worship", too.


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