28 June 2011
The child who concentrates is immensely happy.
Maria Montessori, The Absorbent Mind, pp. 221, 273
23 June 2011
And it's fun for me to see how acclimated everyone has become. The children spotted new story materials immediately...
... and our pastor had taken on board how keenly the children were following changes of liturgical colors, and so showed off her red stole for them.
See-through faith organized a party/picnic last week, which she reports on in her blog entry, feasting Godly Play style. And I look forward to hearing about what parents and children (and other church members?) do in the coming holiday weeks.
21 June 2011
--Rebecca Nye, Children's Spirituality: What it is and why it matters, p.8
17 June 2011
I just want to sit and play with my socks.
It took me longer than it probably should have to say, OK!
16 June 2011
This routine is clearly important. On Palm Sunday I was worried about time and so skipped the "What are you thankful for" part, intending just to sing "this fine day" and our names. One child interrupted the song in mid-flow to remind me, "You didn't ask what we're thankful for!" At our all-ages session on Easter Sunday we went ahead and sang through the names of every person present, just as we would in Junior Church. Although it took a long time, people seemed to find it welcoming and worthwhile. When we had another all-ages session on Ascension Day, this song went even more smoothly, and I felt we were really rejoicing and worshipping as we sang it.
And yet, when I say that we sing, the honest truth is that at Junior Church it's usually only STF and I that sing. The children either listen, rock back and forth on their mats, or bounce around. Sometimes the bouncing around leaves me really uncertain as to whether they're actually listening or even enjoying the song at all. Nor do they sing along with the "Go now in Peace" song (by Natalie Sleeth) that we use to close the session, although gradually some have started following a few of the hand motions that we use (we don't sign the song as some YCW folk do, but we have a simple gesture for each line).
Last Sunday, as we gathered for the feast, I explained that many people consider Pentecost to be the birthday of the Church. We served out little pieces of cake, each with a birthday candle in it, and (once I had delivered a stern warning about the potential dangers of candles), I went around the circle lighting everyone's candle and singing "Happy Birthday". We had time to sing it all the way through twice, and then we blew out our candles together. What a hit!
I think every child sang along.
13 June 2011
Here's a beautiful and fun set of pictures from the Anglican Chaplaincy's child-friendly Pentecost Eucharist yesterday. These were taken by the talented and super-friendly Sarah.
(This is not "our" service, although we are affiliated with these folk. We had Junior Church yesterday, while Vandriver preached at big church.)
12 June 2011
|Giotto di Bondone (1266-1337)|
Today, I've dressed for my Junior Church children, wearing an outfit I would never consider wearing to grown-up church. One of our main-stay topics of small talk in Junior Church is what people are wearing. I see you have your rainbow skirt on today! --*I*ve got stripey socks on! --Oh, look. Three people have white on today. --These are my *church* shoes. We've had something of a heat-wave this week, so I'm wearing a red sleeveless top, and a black skort. I'm expecting the skort to be a great topic of conversation with the children, even if I feel it would be too short for big church. (I won't be at big church at all, since the children are dropped off with us before big church begins, and they meet their parents afterwards at coffee.) To be honest, I fear that it's a pretty unflattering outfit, but I think the children will be glad that I'm wearing red for Pentecost, and get a kick out of it.
1 Peter 5:5b
08 June 2011
But the upside was that it was a very personal lesson, about our congregation.
It's a long lesson, and there are no figures to move around, no sand to smooth out (I didn't even have the recommended green underlay). I really pushed my children to the limits of their attention span. But just as they'd begin to flag, there'd be another photograph featuring one of their parents or something else that would catch their attention again (or I'd sing another one of the responses, for example). Almost as soon as I'd finished, one child had a question. I don't think that's happened before in our classroom.
Before collecting the material, I had held up the table, the wine and the bread from the World Communion lesson to introduce the topic. And then, although I left out a lot of Berryman's phrasings, I did keep his idea of setting the scene with two episodes (much abridged) from the life of Christ - the beginning and end of his ministry: his reading Isaiah's prophecy in the synagogue of his hometown and his Last Supper with his friends. The first illustrates the first half of our service, the Liturgy of the Word, and the second illustrates the Liturgy of the Sacrament. On those cards, I used illustrations I had found on-line. This is what one artist thinks that might have looked like. Our children had not heard the first story before, but had heard the second, and I think enjoyed that feeling of "Oh, yes. I remember this!".
All throughout this lesson I felt that we saw connections and moved back and forth between the unfamiliar and the familiar. The Old Testament reading might be one of our Sacred Stories, like the story of the Ark and the Great Flood, or it might be the words of a prophet. Our choir usually sings the Psalm - look who's singing here in this picture. --It's Pappa!
These were children aged four and five, who don't read yet, and they followed this Enrichment Lesson all the way through. They took it in, asked intelligent questions at the end, and seemed to enjoy it. I was so proud of them, and pleased for our congregation as a whole.
My desire was to create cards which would serve the dual purpose of presenting the Circle of the Holy Eucharist lesson in our classroom and be available for use by our children during adult services when necessary. I loved the idea of featuring photos of our priests and congregation (as done by Christ the King: see yesterday's post). So for over a month now, Vandriver has been snapping photos during our services for me.
Of course, when it came time to make the cards, I discovered that Vandriver had taken many beautiful shots of communion, but only two photos of the congregation singing a hymn, neither of which was ideal. What I needed, though, was only one card for communion, and four or five for hymns! But with some judicious cropping, sorting through photos taken at previous events, even hunting through the Chaplaincy's photographs on Facebook, plus a few "cheats" (such as using the face of someone reading a lesson to illustrate singing instead), I was able to come up with a complete "deck" of cards.
|photo by seethroughfaith|
I used Powerpoint for the cards. For Sunday I just printed Powerpoint "handouts" on good-quality paper. I was in such a rush that they weren't even trimmed symmetrically. Today I'm going to drop off the revised file at the church printing office, and I hope they'll make us nice large (A5?) prints to be laminated for use in church, and slightly smaller ones for use in the classroom. Apart from the size, the cards will be identical.
All cards feature photographs of members of our congregation and/or the priests who serve us. Almost all were taken in the chapel where our adult services are held. A few have smaller photographs of Godly Play materials to emphasize connections - above you see the material for the Trinity on the Creed card, and stones in the desert (a prayer technique we have used) on the Prayers card. The New Testament card shows the German Godly Play picture of Paul writing an epistle (although my children have not had that lesson yet).
Some cards include some of the words that the congregation speaks together: Thanks be to God or Hear our prayer. Some include a question that parents might ask their children, such as What does the priest do while we sing? on the Offertory Hymn card. A very few cards include more text, such as the words we use to close the intercessions on the Prayers card. And a very few include a suggestion, such as You might like to make the sign of the cross, or hold out your hands to "receive" the blessing on the Blessing and Dismissal card.
Within the deck there is at least one photograph of vestments in each liturgical color, which is one of the things we looked at once I had finished presenting. This fit in perfectly for us with the reminder that this week is the last in Eastertide and that we would have a new color next week. I'll tell you a little more about our lesson in my next post.
07 June 2011
I've never seen anyone else's cards for this lesson, apart from having once come across a webpage for Christ the King Lutheran Church in Houston, Texas, who have cards "based on the Godly Play lesson ... for young children to follow the sequence of liturgical actions," which I thought was a lovely idea!
|(source - scroll down to find this)|
06 June 2011
I don't yet own Volumes 6 or 7 of the Godly Play scripts, containing Enrichment Lessons "for older children". (Most of Volume 8 hasn't even been published yet.) The materials for these enrichment lessons should sit underneath the Core Lessons in the classroom, and should be presented once children have really absorbed the Core Lessons. Since my circle is mostly children aged five and under, and since I'd never been introduced to the Enrichment Lessons by a GP trainer, I started off with the assumption that I would just ignore those for now.
|"Teresa of Calcutta carrying Pepo, a friendly child with Down's Syndrome" by Aguijarro (by permission)|
But Berryman also emphasizes that Godly Play is not a complete children's program (this is repeated in the introduction to every volume of The Complete Guide to Godly Play). Ideally children are also participating in Vacation Bible School, listening to children's sermons at church, reading Children's Bibles at home, and talking to their parents and godparents. So of course stories of individuals in the Bible will have come up in those contexts.
04 June 2011
Two days ago I told my godchild the story of Samuel. We weren't in our Godly Play classroom, we weren't in church, we were sitting outside in a quiet moment in between playing at my house.
This was not the Godly Play, Volume 6 -version of the story. That version covers the whole of Samuel's life and more, beginning with the ark being carried to Shiloh and ending with Samuel's death. The Godly Play materials include three coats, each one larger than the previous, marking the passage of time as Hanna visits him each year with a new coat as he grows up. But that version of the story gives relatively little emphasis to the episode in which Samuel hears God's voice in the night and mistakes it for Eli:
...Samuel thought it must be Eli calling, so he went to him. But Eli did not call him, and he told Samuel to go lie down. This happened three times, until Eli realized that God must be calling Samuel...
|John Singleton Copley (public domain image)|
In contrast, what I told my godchild was only this episode. I started off weak... (This wasn't a rehearsed story, and I almost got entangled in why it was that Samuel lived at the temple).
But soon I found my stride, and I told just the story of the boy Samuel lying in his bed at night, and hearing, Samuel! And then him going to Eli and asking, What? And Eli saying, What what? I didn't say anything. And Samuel going back to bed.
What a great story it is! I confess to hamming it up a bit. The second time Samuel went to Eli, the godchild was giggling. By the third time, Samuel was fed up: WHAT do you WANT!? --I didn't say anything! cried poor Eli, for the third time. I was loud, I was animated, I was making eye-contact with my "audience". And my godchild was laughing with delight.
02 June 2011
|(photo by stf, cropped by me)|
01 June 2011
|(the picture source is a page with instructions for making your own)|
|photo by Hanna-Maarit (used by permission)|