Monday, October 31, 2011

The Ark and the Tent

Hi Godly Play Teachers!
Welcome to the Ark and the Tent, the Godly Play story scheduled for this Sunday, November 6.

Children always get so excited about this story. They love the little pieces belonging to the tent, I think partly because each piece comes with a tradition. We all know how kids LOVE traditions--knowing the proper way to do things and the reasons behind why we do them. Bringing a sacrifice for the altar, washing at the laver before entering the tent, burning incense, placing 12 pieces of bread on the table, lighting the all has meaning, centered upon being ready to meet God.

There are different approaches to this lesson that teachers can take. Of course we can all go through a study of each of the steps of getting ready and the tools mentioned above to help them get ready.  Many churches still use several of these today. Are there any that we use? Are there new ones not included with the tent?

We can also think about how we get ready to do different things in our lives--to go places that are important to us, for example.  How do we get ready to hear our Godly Play stories? Why is that important? How do we get ready to be with God? What do we do? How exactly do the routines we do help us get ready? Can we practice getting ready to be with God when we're at home too? How would we do that?

One thing that the Godly Play script doesn't highlight which you may want to include is the idea that all the people of God were invited to give something of their own to creating the tent of meeting--not just jewelry or fabric or wood, but their own craftsmanship. It was created by the people of God, for God.

Ideas for Activity Time
This story is practically BURSTING with ideas for little hands--and big ones too!

I can easily see the activity time for this story beginning this Sunday, but continuing at least one other Sunday. Next week is the Ark and the Temple, so the work could easily continue with the next story too.

Here are some that I came up with to add to your own. (And please, do feel free to write a comment to share your own ideas!)

Children might like to make their own collection of getting ready pieces like a menorah, an incense holder, a laver, an ark. They could make tiny pieces with clay or boxes or pieces of wood or whatever materials we have.
Or they could spend more time on making individual pieces. Here are some websites with great ideas and directions:
How to make a potato menorah:
How to make a menorah from clay:

Of course our children will come up with more creative ideas than we can!

Some things to ask them:
How could we make a laver?

What do we have in our classroom which might make a good altar?
A table for the 12 slices of bread?
An ark of the covenant? How about decorating a box with gold wrapping paper for the ark?
What about the poles that carry it?
 (Wouldn't it be fun to light some incense and see what it smells like?)

If we're going to make all those pieces, why not make a tent of meeting in which to put them?
A table turned on its side could give us the framework.

There are a few tablecloths folded up in the fourth grade cabinets to serve as the tent fabric.

What if we brought blankets from home? We could even have a four layer tent, much like the tent is described in the Bible.

Once the tent is made, we could put all the pieces we created inside it. How would we separate the Holy of Holies?
There's so much to think about. I can't wait to see what your classes create! If you take photos, please share them with me. I'd love to add them to the parent newsletter!

Have fun, y'all!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

The Ten Best Ways

Hi Godly Play Teachers!
Welcome to The Ten Best Ways, the Godly Play story scheduled at our church for this coming Sunday, Oct 30.

I love that Godly Play refers to the Ten Commandments as The Ten Best Ways and places them in a heart shaped box. This helps us remember that our God is not a supreme dictator who exists just for the chance to squash us when we don't adhere to his rules, but is instead a God who loves us enough to want to give us boundaries, so that we can fully enjoy the life God meant for us.

In preparation for teaching the lesson, it's good to look back at the session that precedes it: the Exodus. God has led his people out of slavery, away from the Pharaoh and the soldiers chasing after them, through the sea, into freedom. Now they can live where they want, do what they want, be who they want. As the story script says, "Now that the people are free...where will they go now? What is the best way?"

Thank goodness (and thank God!) that God provided divine guidance, motivated completely by love.

Some general ideas about what your class could explore in the Expression time:

1. The younger classes (first grade and younger) might choose to keep things simple by focusing on the first heart in the box: Love God, Love People, God Loves You. Or, depending on the children, you could go deeper and study all the commandments. You probably have an idea of what the children can handle best.

2. Study each of the commandments by reproducing them in some way.

3. Explore the idea of Moses being the only one with the courage to climb up into the fire and smoke to meet God. Children will find it interesting that God wanted to protect Moses from his powerful presence, so God put him in a crevice in the rock and put his hand over him until he had passed by, allowing Moses to see his back. I love the line, "When we see God's back, we can follow God all of our days."

4. The older children may benefit by exploring the conflict that comes when we find ourselves stuck between two commandments, like when Grandma gives you a present that you don't like and asks you what you think of it. How do we love others and still stay true to the truth?

We should also address more close to the heart conflicts, like divorce. Many of our children are experiencing divorce and will be listening especially to the Best Way of honoring marriage. We need to be sure to include in our session a focus on grace and forgiveness. Sometimes people try their very best to honor the Ten Best ways, and it just doesn't work out. God always offers love and forgiveness to all. His love never stops, no matter what.

Ideas for Expression Time:

* Give the children big construction paper hearts divided into the sections Love God, Love People, and God Loves You. "I wonder how you could illustrate each section?"  Children could choose whether to draw or cut pictures from a magazine or paint with watercolors. Or children could work together on one huge heart of butcher paper, contributing illustrations for each section. (This idea is especially for the younger children.)

* I wonder if we could make a Mount Sinai? (With a cleft for Moses to hide in!) Could we make Moses out of a clothespin? How would we make the Ten Best Ways?" The youngest children might need ideas from which to choose.

*Could we make a huge set of Ten Best Ways together for our classroom? As tall as a child?  Could we illustrate each commandment? Which one would you like to work on?

*I wonder what materials we might use to make individual sets of Best Way hearts, so that you can take it home with you. (You might want to see what kind of interesting materials you can find at a craft store. Save your receipts and I'll reimburse you.)

*I wonder if you can make up hand motions to illustrate each individual Best Way? Could you split them up among children and videotape each one, making a video the whole class can enjoy? (If somebody does this I'd love to share it with parents!)

*I wonder which is your favorite commandment? Would you like to concentrate just on that one, making a 2 dimensional or 3 dimensional representation of it? (a drawing or collage or making a scene out of play clay, etc?)

Obviously, we wouldn't want to present ALL of these options to the class, as that might be too overwhelming. But it's a list I hope will help you...and get you started thinking of your own ideas.

Speaking of other ideas, I'd LOVE to hear yours in the comments section if you want to share!
Love, Becky