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. 


  1. With a classroom of kids it would also be unrealistic to expect all to wait so the story could be told "properly"

    In the Great Family story I couldn't remember the details - and got the rivers all wrong etc - but the point that they travelled not knowing where -and at times prayed and they made shrines - well together we could do that

    and then we explored the story of Sarah laughing and the name of the baby Isaac meaning just that

    What I liked about the Bible we used was that it said that Sarah laughed twice - once a crying laugh of disbelief and the second time with joy. I'd have liked to explore that a bit more.

    (One of the troubles with the rule about sharing is that a) it's hard for the kids to ask and b) it's quite hard as an adult to say "actually I'd rather work alone" ... had I chosen the latter I think I'd still have got out the Bible to check the facts of the story - but as it was I think we had fun together today and Godly play IS about having FUN WITH GOD so I think He laughed with us too ... getting the facts right isn't the main thing, it's about letting God in as we struggle with the stories (and materials) and I was encouraged by the girls' rendition of the story of Advent and Christmastide.

    Wish I could be there next week :(

  2. PS I think - given the context- that it might have been enough to explore the clock by looking at the colours and working out what they meant. (That said I loved your explanation of Pentecost as being 'hot' :) ... yeah I was evesdropping while gathering the stuff for the desert bag

    btw the best thing about the desert bag is simply letting the sand run through my hand .... and making those swirling shapes. Today I found one pebble hidden in the sand. That gave me pause for thought. What was God saying in that.

    Had H. not come over I might have played with the sand for longer ... but it was all good :)

  3. Greetings from Iowa, USA.

    When they reach for story materials they haven't been exposed to, my response is usually, "This can be your work, but it isn't the day for me to tell you its story. I wonder what story you would tell with this work?" OR "I wonder how this work can help you tell a story that you already know?" OR "I wonder what THIS piece is saying to you?"

    For something like the Circle of the Church Year ("church clock"), I would say, "You may do this work. The purple is the getting ready time. The white is the feast. The green is the growing time. The red is the Holy Spirit feast. Another day we can talk more about it."

    And then walk away, and let them play.


  4. Thank you, Lisa! "then walk away, and let them play." So much of Godly Play is about letting go and letting the Spirit work with the children, isn't it? As "stf" said, "fun with God". Very helpful comments from both of you.


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