Monday, November 26, 2012

The First Sunday of Advent

Hi Godly Play Teachers!
Welcome to the celebration of the First Sunday of Advent, this Sunday, December 2.

What an exciting time of year!
This Sunday we focus on getting ready to enter the mystery of Christmas. It's perfect timing then for us to focus on the prophets' telling that something big was about to happen in Bethlehem. The people didn't know exactly what or when, but they were told to get ready, to watch and wait.

Our Godly Play lesson begins with a discussion of the color change at church to purple, the color of kings. It's a great time to talk about what kind of king the people expected and how God surprised them all.

One thing to note: the Godly Play Advent lessons don't come with wondering questions at the end. I think it's so helpful to have some discussion questions to let the children process their thoughts on the lessons so I've included some of my own questions for this Sunday at the bottom of this blog post. I've put copies of these for the storyteller and the person writing the responses in each of your classrooms.

Making a Gift for God

When it comes time to help the children decide what work they want to do--what kind of gift to God they want to make in appreciation for the story, there are several paths they can take, each exploring different themes to the lesson.
Some of the themes include:
1. The theme of Advent--getting ready.
2. The theme of who prophets are and what did they do and say.
3. The idea of Jesus being a light to the world. (Since we light candles each week in Advent)

Here are some "Gift to God" ideas to add to your own:

For exploring Advent...

1. Make an advent wreath together, or have each child make his own. You could do this three dimensionally, with quick drying clay and candles (why not collect greenery to add to it? or pinecones, etc) or two dimensionally, out of construction paper. (If you'd like more direction, look here.)

 2. Make an advent chain. Have the children cut out 25 strips of paper each and (using tape or staples) make them into a chain. They could even put a task to do on each ("sing Away in the Manger," or "read the Christmas story" or "draw an angel," etc.) and each day in December the child would take off one link in the chain. This is a great way to illustrate waiting and getting ready for Christmas.

For exploring the Prophets...

1. Let the children look up some of the verses in which the prophets predict Jesus' birth or a leader coming out of Bethlehem.
Verses include:
"But you, Bethlehem in Ephrathah, small as you are to be among Judah's clans, out of you shall come forth a governor for Israel, one whose roots are far back in the past, in days gone by." -Micah 5:2

King Herod called a meeting of the chief priests and lawyers of the Jewish people, and asked them: "Where is the Messiah to be born?" "At Bethlehem in Judaea", they replied; and they referred him to the prophecy which reads: "Bethlehem in the land of Judah, you are far from least in the eyes of the rulers of Judah; for out of you shall come a leader to be the shepherd of my people Israel." Matthew 2:1-6 - NEB

"Surely the Messiah is not to come from Galilee? Does not scripture say that the Messiah is to be of the family of David, from David's village of Bethlehem?" John 7:41,42 - NEB

Isaiah 7:14. "Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign, Behold a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call His name Immanuel."

2. The children might want to make a model like the one we use of Bethlehem. They could use their own ideas of what Bethlehem might have looked like, or they could use books to research it.

3. Another option would be for the kids to divide a paper in half (or a mural on butcher paper.)  It could be titled something like, "A King Is Coming..." On one side they could draw or list what people expected the king to look like, and on the other side they could draw a manger scene with Baby Jesus.

For exploring Jesus as the Light of the Word,  the children could make candle cookies like this one here.

Susan D'Amato had our fourth graders do this one year and they loved it.
The directions are here. (

Here are the wondering questions I've come up with for this week's lesson. Enjoy!

1. I wonder about getting ready. I wonder what your family does to get ready to celebrate Christmas.
2.   2.  I wonder if there are special things you might do at your house to remember what Christmas is really all about.
3.   3. The prophets told the people of God that a new king was coming. I wonder what you think they expected. What kind of king do you think they thought he would be?
4.   4. I wonder what you think about why God sent Jesus as a baby. 
5.   5. In our time together today, we talked about how prophets know the most important things and show the  way. I wonder if you remember any prophets from our Sunday school lessons and what it's like to be a prophet.
6.   6.  I wonder how God feels about God’s prophets.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The Story of Daniel

Hi Godly Play Teachers!
Welcome to The Story of Daniel, the Godly Play story scheduled for this Sunday, November 25. You can find the script in the pink Volume 6, The Complete Guide to Godly Play, 15 Enrichment Presentations for Fall book on p.116-125.

Daniel's life story provides children with so many themes to discover, each of them so important, including:
*the importance of living a life faithful to God
*the assurance that God will be close to God's people forever
*if we ask for it, God will give us the courage needed to follow God when it goes against what the world values
*we can question God about the things we don't understand
*God can sustain us in times of despair and give us hope.

As the children work during their response time, we can give them chances (by asking questions) to talk about these themes. It's so important that the children don't just walk away from Sunday school with a lion or a fiery furnace, but their own ideas of how the story applies to them.

Idea Sparkers For Our Give A Gift to God Time

1. Reproduce the story in some way.
Of course the BEST ideas for art response time come from the child herself, but here are some ideas to get our kids thinking. Hopefully they won't follow anyone's set of instructions verbatim, but will make something all their own.
There are plenty of directions out there for making artistic representations of Daniel in the Lion's Den.
1. Here's one of my favorites, a den of lions and a Daniel, all out of paper cups.
2. There's a cute lion out of noodles, here, and other lion ideas here.
3. There's a whole host of Daniel craft ideas here.
4. There's a paper plate lion here.
5. Children could also make the fiery furnace scene. I found 3 good sites for this, here, here, and here.

2. You could also focus on God's gift of courage- like the kind Daniel had- by making a bracelet celebrating courage like the ones here.

3. You could celebrate Daniel's life by making a mural with all the scenes from the story.

4. Our Godly Play Daniel story leaves out the story I remember from my childhood: the part at the beginning, when Daniel was first taken captive to Babylon and asks permission to eat food other than that on the king's table. You might want to present the story as scripted, and then ask the children if they know the part left out. The children could find it in the Bible (Daniel chapter 1) and figure out how to make it part of the Godly Play story. How would they tell that part of the story? What figure or drawing could they add to the story basket? What does this part of the story have to do with them (and not just about what kinds of food they eat!)

5. For FBC Sunday School teachers, don't forget that another option is to decorate the white gift bags that we're making for our senior friends for their Christmas fellowship. I'll have the bags and stickers in your rooms. Thank you!

I hope these ideas help!
Love, Becky

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Jonah, The Backward Prophet

Hi Godly Play Teachers!
Welcome to Jonah, The Backward Prophet, the Godly Play story scheduled for this Sunday, November 18. You can find the script in the orange Volume 2, The Complete Guide to Godly Play book on p.107-113.

Like last week's story of Elijah, this story also fits within the larger story of the Exile and the Return. I'm sure that the children will find it a favorite story that shows how God constantly reaches out to people-and even to his prophet- no matter if they seem to do everything the wrong way. God is always calling us to God, trying to save us from ourselves and from sin that hurts us. 

As in our last story of Elijah, it is important that we focus on God's saving nature rather than focusing on God as the One who sends storms. With the hurricanes and tsunamis and earthquakes in the news, hurting people all over the world, we certainly don't want children to get the idea that God is the author and sender of such pain and suffering. (As in the story of Elijah, God was not in the wind, God was not in the earthquake- God was in the still small voice...)

We'll plan to use the wondering questions the book provides, plus one more question about how Jonah and Elijah were alike and different.  I'll have those ready for you in your Sunday school rooms.

Idea Sparkers for our Make a Gift for God Time:
1. Recreate the story in some way.
    a. Could your children make parts of the story? Someone make a boat, another a whale, another the plant, the waves, another Jonah. Put them all together and take a photo, please!

    b. Each child could make a depiction of Jonah in the whale, like the one shown here. I'd just recommend that you encourage each child to invent his/her own way of making this, rather than having them all done the same way. The children will think of all sorts of creative ways to do it. You could even take them into the resource room and show them lots of options. They could make the whale out of a milk jug, as shown here. (Scroll down) Or out of paper plates, as shown here. Or out of a paper bag as shown here

    c. Celebrate the story with a snack. Like:
        1. Goldfish crackers (I'll have some if you want them)
        2. Make a snack boat. Put blue frosting on a graham cracker to represent the sea. Cut an apple into wedges for a boat to stick on the sea. Make a cheese sail and attach to the boat with a toothpick. Have any ideas for Jonah? Not sure about that.
       3. Blue jello with gummy fish.

   d. Make whales with individual egg carton sections.

2. Watch the Veggie Tale video about Jonah and the Big Fish. The media center has it. It's long, but you could watch parts of it. Just call Rod and reserve it, with a tv and dvd player.
3. Watch the video of the child telling the Jonah story below. (Here)

4. Let the children retell the Jonah story with the Godly Play materials and video them. (My camera can take video if you want to use it.) 

5. I'll have several Jonah books from the media center in the Children's Activity Room. Feel free to take them to your classroom. Just return them please, when you're done. 

I hope these ideas help!
Love, Becky


Monday, November 5, 2012

The Story of the Prophet Elijah

Hi Godly Play Teachers!
Welcome to The Story of the Prophet Elijah, the Godly Play story scheduled for this Sunday, November 11. You can find the script in the pink Enrichment Presentations for Fall book on p.86-93.

This story fits
within last week's story of the Exile and the Return. It might be helpful to remind the children of the setting of this story. You might want to recap the story of Solomon building the temple and bridge that lesson to the Exile lesson and today's lesson by saying something like this:

After many years of faithfully following God, Solomon began to try to please others by worshiping other gods. He wasn't the only one who sinned against God this way. Many of the people of God began to do the same thing.  They hid from God and pretended that God wasn't there. They sometimes even worshiped other gods, like Solomon did.

After King Solomon had died, his kingdom was divided into parts. These parts were ruled by kings. Sometimes the kings and the people did bad things, and God sent them prophets to tell them what God wanted them to know. 

The story script of Elijah picks up at this point.

The wondering questions that we'll use at the end include:

1. I wonder what part of this story you liked best?
2. I wonder what part of this story is the most important?
3. I wonder what part of this story was about you- or what part was especially meant for you to hear?
4. I wonder if we ever worship other gods without meaning to-- if we ever act like things or people are more important than God.
5. I wonder what this story teaches us about what God is like?

Feel free to add other questions that the children or you want to pose. I'd love to share them and the children's responses with the parents. Thank you for taking time to write down what they say.

Idea Sparkers for Our Give A Gift to God Time

1. Celebrate the story by reproducing the story items in some way:
  a. Make an altar. There are small stones in the art resource room.

b. Draw Elijah's altar and Baal's altar
 c. Make a raven. Find directions here for a raven out of paper plates (scroll to the Giving Raven) and out of paper bags. Scroll down further to see a raven cookie. (You could even use an oreo and a candy corn beak.--Just remember with any cooking we have to be nut free.) You could also make a raven with the children's handprints, as shown here.
Or make a raven with origami, as shown here.
d. Make altar cookies by melting butterscotch chips and mixing in chow mein noodles, dropping them by tablespoons on wax paper. Add "fire" with red icing or sprinkles or chopped up fruit roll ups.
e. Make bread like the widow made for Elijah. You could use crescent rolls and let children shape them as they like, then bake them in the parlor kitchen.

2. Break the story into scenes and let each child or a pair of children illustrate each scene- or make something that represents each scene. (Playdough or quick dry clay could be used as well.)

a. Elijah speaks to Ahab about the temple of Baal
b. Elijah lives beside a brook and is fed by the ravens
c. Elijah and the widow who makes bread for him
d. Elijah and the two altars--and the rain
e. Elijah hiding at Mt. Horab
f. Elijah and the chariot of fire
At closing, have each share what they have created and what it means.
Our first graders' Elijah banner
3. Explore how God speaks to us- not in wind or an earthquake, but in a still small voice. Children could make a collage or drawing of what they think that means. How does God speak to us?

4. Explore what it takes to be a prophet. Make a job description. Or work as a class to draw a big picture of Elijah, labeling what about him made him such a great prophet of God. (A brave heart for God's love, a mouth that could be fed by ravens, strong legs for all the walking- and escaping the angry people!, strong arms for making an altar and digging a trench around it, ears to hear God's small voice, a body and mind willing and able to serve God- and to join God in heaven, via a chariot of fire!

I hope these ideas are useful. And personally, I hope someone chooses to paint Elijah in a chariot of fire. I'd just love to see what the children imagine that would look like!

Love, Becky