30 January 2012

different understanding

Do not think that because the child cannot understand in the same way that we adults understand that it is useless to allow him to participate in our religious practices.
(Maria Montessori)

27 January 2012

Remarks about scribbles

Sheila has just posted links to two very interesting guides to children's art development. While I see my own role exclusively as a Godly Play storyteller and facilitator (NOT as an art teacher), I nonetheless found several points of interest there.

Here's great advice along the lines of the kind of feedback we try to give in Godly Play anyway:
As the [under-3-year-old] child starts naming his or her scribbles, listen to the child’s comments and use the meanings offered by the child as a source for dialogue. ...If the child says, “I’m running,” ask questions like “Do you like to run on the playground?” or “Where are you running?” Encouraging the child to verbalize his or her thoughts, feelings and experiences independently shows the child that you value what he or she has done. This sort of thoughtful praise will help children to be enthusiastic and imaginative in their future art encounters. (Craig Roland)
And this is a reassurance for those who might be disappointed not to be giving pre-set crafts to our preschoolers:
At four or five, the child begins to tell stories or work out problems with her drawings, changing basic forms as needed to express meaning. Often once the problem is expressed, the child feels better able to cope with it. (Susan K. Donley, citing Betty Edwards)
For these quotes in context, and much more, click through to Explore and Express: Art & Child Development: Two Great Resources.

11 January 2012

Name this child

One girl who started attending Junior Church this past autumn has speculated several times that the baby doll under the focal shelf probably represents the Baby Jesus. I neither contradicted nor confirmed this, but usually tried to respond with something like, It could be. 

So when I started reviewing the baptism lesson last week, it struck me that this girl might propose Jesus as a name for the baby. (As the storyteller gets ready to demonstrate what would happen at a baptism, the script calls for us to suddenly interrupt ourselves as if - oh, I almost forgot. What are we going to name this child? And the first suggestion offered is supposed to be accepted immediately.)

But I thought, "There's no way I'm going to feel comfortable saying, Jesus, I baptize you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. I was glad that I had thought about this in advance, because yep - when I asked about the name of the baby this girl was in first with, Jesus. 

I replied smoothly, Yes, that's a good name. And in America when somebody is named Jesus we usually pronounce it "Jesús" [pronouncing it like the Spanish name]. She started to object that that sounded more Finnish than like American English (which is somewhat true), but I was already continuing with the lesson. Perhaps it wasn't completely fair, and not completely in the spirit of Berryman's advice to accept the first name proposed, but it was a solution which didn't exactly reject her suggestion and yet kept me happy, too.

Next week, if all goes as planned, the children will hear a story-book version of Jesus's own baptism.

Baptême de Jésus (Tissot) (Brooklyn Museum)

07 January 2012

a small milestone

Today the 20th person signed up to officially "follow" this blog. I'm so thankful for everyone who reads this blog, and especially for those who leave their mark by becoming an official follower, by commenting, by linking back to me, or just by getting in touch to mention that they've had a look.

I value your comments and feedback. But whether or not you get in touch, whether you sign up with your real name or a pseudonym - thank you to everyone who's dropped by, and thereby contributed to the number of "hits" that Blogger tells me this site has had. (Except the spammers - please don't bother linking back to me anymore. But you, too, are welcome to read my posts!)

Thank you!!

How can we Remember?

Our pastor contacted me early this week to say that on Sunday, when she comes as usual to administer communion and blessings, she would also like to do with the children what she will have done with the adults during the service - that is, to offer everyone the chance to dip their fingers into blessed water and bring it to their foreheads as a memorial of their baptism.

And so, although I had initially been planning to do the Epiphany lesson this week, I've changed my plans and will be doing the Baptism lesson. And there's one reason in particular that I'm glad about that.

Last year, one mother reported back to me that her child had come home somewhat concerned about being unable to remember the child's own baptism. The baptism lesson tells us to Remember the day of your baptism! This child was apparently distressed not to be able to do that in a literal sense.

Tomorrow, our pastor will tell the children that this touching of blessed water to their foreheads is one way to Remember your baptism.

You might also like to revisit these past blog entries, which mention:

05 January 2012

"She rode and she walked"

Before we leave Christmastide for Epiphany, I wanted to post a few photos from our Response Time after the Christmas lesson. They're blurry, but I love so much what they captured that I wanted to share them anyway.

It is hard to ride on a donkey when you are about to have a baby. When she couldn't ride another step, Mary got down and walked.

She rode and she walked (Jerome W. Berryman, "Advent II")  

It was only after I'd snapped these pics of Mary riding and walking and riding and walking that "seethroughfaith" pointed out to me that all the figures had been turned to face Bethlehem. The shepherd is even leading the sheep!

Let's go with the prophets, the Holy Family, the shepherds, the angels, the Magi and all the rest to make the journey (Jerome W. Berryman, "Advent I")

02 January 2012

5 children, 5 candles

The children know that only the adults in our room use matches. And our normal practice is that at the end of a lesson using candles, it is the storyteller who changes the light by snuffing out the candles. But at the end of the Christmas lesson on Sunday, I noticed that we had five lights to be changed and five children present:

all photographs taken by seethroughfaith & cropped by me

01 January 2012

materials - familiar and unfamiliar

Today three sets of story materials got used during Response Time - that's a record for us! Some children who had never worked with the church clock before wanted to have a look. But my explanations were too long-winded and they quickly lost interest!

photo by seethroughfaith (cropped by me)

One of the children chose to work with the Advent and Christmas materials instead. The other set off to draw. Meanwhile another child noticed seethroughfaith getting out the desert bag, and asked if she could look on and/or work together with her on the Great Family story. [This is the rule with story materials - you must always ask permission because the person might want to work alone.] They realized they couldn't remember certain details anymore, and turned to the Jesus Storybook Bible to remind themselves a bit.

I believe that in most GP classrooms, the expectation is that if you haven't worked with materials before, you should sit and listen to the lesson as presented by the storyteller (who will be happy to present it to you during the Response Time). I have not been as explicit or strict as that, but have always said that you should ask me or any of the children who already know the story to tell you about it or help you with it. The problem is that children don't feel that they know most stories well enough yet to present them to a peer.  Even "stf" felt more comfortable looking up some of the Abraham and Sarah story when working with another person. But on the other hand, children weren't ready to sit and listen to another whole lesson (about the Church Clock) right after having listened to today's Christmas lesson. 

I'd be interested to know what others of you do about children who show interest in unfamiliar materials.