29 February 2012

Lenten link-up update

We're a week into Lent, and a week into the Lenten link-up that I am co-hosting with Sheila. She's now made us a "button", which you can see on the top of my right-hand side-bar. I am thrilled with the response! We've had twelve posts linked up to us already, from eight different blogs as well as Sheila's, most of which were unknown to me before we started. It's better than I could have hoped. It's been interesting and inspiring to read about the varied ways in which families with children are observing Lent.

I was also very interested to find reference in one of the blog posts about using Godly Play in community, at L'Arche. This post from Featherglen explains that they're using the Faces of Easter materials. From the moment I started my Godly Play training I've felt (as many others have as well) that this was not something for children only. It's been a surprise and a blessing to find myself working with children nonetheless. But I always have my eyes open for those who can tell me about their experiences of using Godly Play in other situations, too.

L'Arche de Noé (image source)

Featherglen commented,
We were quite a big group - more than 25 people, so I didn't have a formal time of wondering. But there was plenty of out loud wondering during the story - that's the gift of adults with learning disabilities - no polite restraint - but rather plenty of (often) playful participation.
This was actually not in the post itself but in the comments, as a reply to me! Thank you, Featherglen, for engaging with my question straightaway and for sharing your experiences. And thank you, too, to everyone who has linked up with us.

There's still plenty of time - we're running this for the whole of Lent. So to repeat, we'd like to link up with anyone Preparing for Easter with:
  • art projects,
  • nature projects,
  • Montessori methods, &/or
  • story-based religious education
Just click on the link at the bottom of this post (the blue, Add your link button) to create a link from our party to your blog post. You should then be prompted to give the URL of the specific post you want to include (not the URL for your blog's front page), the title of your entry, and your email address. Then please add links within your own post to me and to Sheila. 

28 February 2012

making do - desert sand

Seethroughfaith asked yesterday about the photo I'd used in a recent post:

learning Sacred Stories (Godly Play training)
This was a photo I took during my Godly Play training course. I wanted a photo of the desert bag, which for my purposes was a lot more manageable than a desert box:

exploring materials during the training course

That reminded me that I've wanted to start a series of posts here about Making Do. There's a certain tension in Godly Play between the ideal of a room full of beautiful materials dedicated for children's spiritual use and the practical realities of limited budgets, limited space, and limited time. Sometimes we have to make do.

When it came time for me to get and fill a desert bag, it was winter - not the right season for collecting sand at the seaside. (Besides which, it's best to have very dry sand for your classroom.) The smallest quantity we could get at the local hardware store was FAR too much. (Also I have since learned that there can be health concerns about children playing with industrial-grade sand.) But I found a solution:

my desert bag
I bought several kilos of cream of wheat! Cream of wheat is farina, or ground wheat, which can be cooked into a breakfast porridge. It's lovely - light-colored, and a beautiful texture to work with. And best of all, do you know what the Finnish for "cream of wheat" is?


The Gathering of the Manna (15th c. image source)

22 February 2012

Lenten link party

What are you doing with children for Lent this year?

How do you prepare for Easter in your family?

Will you be telling the Faces of Easter story, 
about the One who was (and is) Easter?

Sheila, from Explore and Express, and I are co-hosting a Lenten Link Party, and we would love you to be a part of it! Now if you already know all about link parties, skip to the next paragraph, but since this is all very new to me I figure it might be new to some of you as well. The idea is this: if you write a blog post that fits our theme (or if you've written one in the past), we will link to it with a little thumbnail image here (and on Sheila's blog, too). In exchange, we ask you to add a link back to both of our blogs. It's all in aid of sharing ideas, discovering new blogs, and finding new readers. 

We'd like to use this theme of Preparing for Easter to link up those who work with:
  • art projects,
  • nature projects,
  • Montessori methods, &/or
  • story-based religious education

All during Lent (from Feb 22 through Apr 7), you can click on the link at the bottom of this post (the blue, Add your link button) to create a link from our party to your blog post. You should then be prompted to give the URL of the specific post you want to include (not the URL for your blog's front page), the title of your entry, and your email address. Then please do add links within your own post to me and to Sheila. Every Wednesday, Sheila and I will each post a party update. Welcome aboard!

21 February 2012

another two-minute video lesson

If you enjoyed the two-minute explanation video for Advent by Busted Halo, you might like to know that they've done another for Lent:

18 February 2012

enter the story and hear the song

The God of Israel and the claim that God makes [upon Jews and Christians alike] can be known only by taking seriously the full reality of the imaginative language through which that God is presented in the biblical text. Narrative and poetry are the central forms of this testimony about God. Even the nonstory elements of the Old Testament characteristically assume the framework and knowledge of Israel's story about encounter and relationship with God. We are invited, indeed required, to enter the story and to hear the song and to respond according to the shape of the story. In that encounter with Israel's imaginative language we find perspectives on the claims and witnesses of our own experiences as persons and communities. 

Birch, Brueggemann, Fretheim & Petersen
A Theological Introduction to the Old Testament
2nd ed. 2005, Abingdon Press (Nashville)
condensed by Storyteller from page 8

12 February 2012


On a day like today I miss see-through-faith, who is living in England this year. She used to be my regular Godly Play companion, as close to a "proper" door-person as I've ever had, and we would debrief together for a short time at the end of each session. Usually we'd also meet sometime during the following week and talk things out some more.

I feel that I wasn't as fully present in the story as I ought to have been today. I was telling the story, but not really experiencing the story as I told it.

Today's lesson was "the Great Family", which was too long last year. So this year I warned the circle in advance, and asked if they could cope with a long story. But even so, I suppose I was nervous and distracted. Suddenly I was telling about the birth of Isaac before God had even promised him to Abram! I apologized and gently took Isaac away again (but kept him in view, beside the edge of the desert bag), while I told about Abram and Sarai wanting a baby, and God's promise.

photo from last year (by see-through faith)
Even then, though, I forgot to tell about their names changing! *shakes head* Fortunately, that came up during our talk at the end because today's helper asked about the meanings of Abraham and Sarah. (I didn't find a meaning for Sarah in our classroom Bible, but I did read out that Abram had meant "exalted father" while Abraham meant "father of many".)

So, I'm disappointed with myself. 

Happily, amongst any disappointments of a session I can always find something that has gone well. This week, the children seemed to work very well once they were dismissed to Response Time. One had to overcome great disappointment at not being able to join in with the work of another, but eventually decided to draw, and worked very independently. Another came up with the idea of turning the Advent basket upside-down as a pedestal for the Risen Christ to overlook the whole spread of Advent materials.

A nice reminder that the "success" of a session is less dependent upon the Storyteller than upon our God. 

11 February 2012

"I wonder about that, too"

Upper Room Ministries published an article about 

Sharing Lent and Easter with Your Children

Here's an excerpt:
How in the world do we explain to our children that Jesus was dead and in the grave for three days, then lived? Younger children may not ask the questions of “how” and “why” expecting detailed answers from adults. Older children do want to know how and why. Can you explain the resurrection? Probably not. It is a mystery and a wonder—and a statement of faith.
Saying “I believe” does not always mean understanding fully and event or happening. In talking about this with children, it may be helpful to say, “I wonder about that, too.” You may want to share other things that happen in the world that you do not fully understand. Invite your child then to reflect on times when they might not have factually understood an event but felt it to be real.
What really caught my attention was the response, I wonder about that, too. What a useful Godly Play phrase, not just for Good Friday and Easter but all year round.

Library of Congress photo

[You might also be interested in my post from last year, Telling Children about the Crucifixion]

10 February 2012

setting up a Godly Play room - link

It's nice to see, on Pinterest, that one of my photos is being used to link back to a post by the Spiritual Child Network on Setting up a Godly Play room. They got in touch a while back and asked for my permission to use the photo, which I was very happy to give (but also happy that they asked first). All the photos there are beautiful, but it's a real boost to see that at least some folks, in linking to it, have used mine.

I hope the SCN pages are an inspiration to others working to set up Godly Play rooms in what they might perceive as "less than ideal" environments!

06 February 2012

in the chapel

This past Sunday our usual Junior Church space was in use as a polling station for Finland's presidential election. So we met in a chapel instead, within the same building as our adult congregation was meeting (in another chapel).

Thank you, children, for making no complaints at all about the lack of story materials or the reduced choice of art materials (a small amount of plasticine - without tools or trays so it could only be manipulated within one's hands; colored pencils, crayons, and two sizes of paper).

It was not a great surprise, since Junior Church had met there two weeks earlier (during the first stage of the presidential election). On that Sunday two mothers had led the children in a tour of the chapels. They and the children had together pondered the artwork hung over this altar. My understanding is that this chapel is, at least partly, designated as a Children's Chapel, which makes me disappointed that this piece of art is hung far too high for children to see properly.

apologies for the reflections!

The children were able to make out the heads of several animals peering out of the door, and concluded that it was a depiction of Noah's ark. One mother asked, "Well then what is that small white thing at the bottom?"

"A candle," was the verdict.

The mother later reported this to me, adding proudly, "I didn't tell them ..."

"... what you had assumed the picture was about," I finished for her, grinning. "Good for you!"

Candlemas - links

(Apologies if you just got an unfinished post about Anna & Simeon. I'll be finishing that up soon and posting it properly, I hope. Boy do I wish Blogger would ask, "Are you really ready to publish?" before going ahead.)

Sheila and Browniesmoke have asked about my Candlemas lesson and materials. This is perhaps the impetus I need to start a small series of posts about "making do".

But there's so much I'd like to say about Candlemas, too, that I'm going to try to split it up into two or more posts. I'll edit the links here as I publish the relevant posts.

  • Candlemas 
    • last year's post, including much of the (very short) "script" I wrote for the lesson itself
  • the One who was, and is, the Light
    • first Candlemas post for 2012 (very short)
  • Anna & Simeon ("making do", part 1)
    • more info about the Anna & Simeon figures, specifically

the conclusion of our congregation's Candlemas procession

05 February 2012

the one who was, and is, the light

In the story we remember on Candlemas, 
it says that many, many years before Jesus himself told people, "I am the light," 
a man named Simeon said that Jesus would be a light to the People of God 
and to everyone else, too. 

And so even though this is a green week in the church calendar,

today the color is white.