Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Jesus Gives the Sermon on the Mount

Hi Godly Play Teachers!
Welcome to a brand new lesson, Jesus Gives the Sermon on the Mount, the story from Matthew 5-7.
(The child's view)
How do I love this story? Let me count the ways...
I love this story because the sermon covers so much territory--and because Jesus's words are so poetic and full of images which children can understand. I also like it because he clearly illustrates how different his ideas were. (His message on the ten commandments, for example, that obeying the commandments was not enough...that we're called to do more than they ask.) And I like that teachers can focus in the expression time on whichever part of the sermon that interests individual children. 

Do your kids want to work on learning/illustrating the Lord's Prayer? Why not?  Are there children in your class that are captured by Jesus's message about worrying? They can focus on that. Older children might be very intrigued by the upside down nature of the Beatitudes. Why not go to the Bible and really go through these together?

Ideas to Get the Children Started for the Give a Gift to God Time
*Our creative time works best when the child feels ownership over his own work--that it comes from the child's ideas and is merely inspired by the ideas we share to get them started.

Here are some ideas from which they can springboard. I'm sure you can add even better ones. Please feel free to share in the comments.

 1. The children could make their own Godly Play set of the sermon, either by drawing it out or making three dimensional pieces from clay or paper or other materials--the door, the bird, the pack, the commandments, etc. Encourage the children to retell what they remember from the sermon.

2. The class could divide up the sermon and each child (or pair of children) could illustrate one part. This would make a great bulletin board for our hallway or a nice mural for the room. 

3. The kids could each pick their favorite part of the sermon and reproduce it in some way. 
Some of the fifth graders made a mural for the beatitudes.
Look at the birds of the air, they don't sow or reap or stow away in barns...

4. The children could play charades, each acting out a part of the sermon. The other children would have to guess what part they were playing.

5. You could help the children focus on the Beatitudes, assigning the beatitudes out to the kids to illustrate. (Matthew 5:3-12)

6. If you focus on the lamp, you could find photos of lamps in magazines to make a collage. Children could copy the scripture about being the light of the world (Matthew 5:14-16) at the bottom and write a sentence about what that means to them.

7. Children could focus on the commandments and Jesus's words to do more than they ask. Children could illustrate this.

8. What does it mean to be generous? (Matthew 5:38-42) Children could illustrate this with drawings or acting it out.

9. Children could focus on the Lord's prayer by copying it and practicing saying it. (Matthew 6: 9-13) Asking the children to illustrate each line of the prayer would ensure that they understand it. For younger children, teachers could photocopy the prayer in a large font, cut out the individual lines, and have the children arrange them in the right order and illustrate each one. If you wanted to do this in a grand scale, you could ask each child to illustrate one line, and then hang this in your classroom--the words and their illustrations.

10. Children could also illustrate someone praying like Jesus taught them to pray, in a quiet room, away from others. They could draw their own bedrooms, showing where they pray.

11. Why not have the children make a bird collage and copy the verse about birds and worrying? (Matthew 6:25-27)

12. The golden rule is something the children surely know. It's good that children see where it comes from. Why not write it out (Matt 7:12) and then illustrate it in some way?

13. The class could draw a mural of each child sitting at Jesus's feet as he taught from the hillside.

There's so much richness here. Enjoy!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Jesus Visits Martha and Mary

Hi Godly Play Teachers!
Welcome to a brand new lesson, Jesus Visits Martha and Mary, the story from Luke 10:38-42.

I love this story because it does such a good job of raising questions about hospitality- hospitality that we try to practice  and the unique, radical hospitality of God.

Truth be told, I think I also love this scripture because I can really relate to Martha's predicament. What kind of hospitality is important in our own lives? To what extent is it important? I find it interesting-and comforting- that Jesus doesn't disapprove of Martha's focused cleaning and cooking and all her caring for her guests. His response to her frustration of finding herself doing all the work ("Lord, make my sister help me!") is to turn the focus to his own brand of hospitality to Mary.

As I know you know, children will need help understanding what the word hospitality means. Does God ask us to show hospitality to others? What about God's form of hospitality to us?

Of course, one of the big questions this story raises is just who gets to receive God's hospitality. You'll want to remind the children that in Jesus's time, rabbis did not allow women to sit at their feet and study the Torah, to listen and ask questions. Yet Jesus encourages it. Who would Jesus welcome to sit at his feet today, to act as a disciple? Are there people that some might choose to exclude? Children are so good at helping us broaden our circle!

Ideas to Get the Children Started for the Give a Gift to God Time
*Our creative time works best when the child feels ownership over his own work--that it comes from her ideas and is merely inspired by the ideas we share to get them started.

Here are some ideas from which they can springboard. I'm sure you can add even better ones. Please feel free to share in the comments.

1. Focus on Retelling the Story
*Each child could recreate a set of the Godly Play materials for themselves either 2 dimensionally, through drawing the pieces and cutting them out, or 3 dimensionally, with clay (bucket, plates, etc), clothespins (Jesus and the sisters) and other materials-a twig broom, etc.
* Make a mural of the story on butcher paper.
*Act out the story, either set in Bible times, or set in modern day. Let the children perform it for each other or another class. Children could play the roles of Jesus, Mary and Martha, and other children (who might be more shy) could be among of the 72 guests.

2. Focus on the theme of Who Would Jesus Want to Sit at His Feet?
I can imagine this being successful as an individual project (either a drawing or a collage from magazine pictures) or a class project, with each child picking what kind of person she would like to draw. Would Jesus want the poor, the rich? Different races? The old? The young? Families? Singles? Prisoners? Sick people? Well people? Lonely people? Happy? They could even draw themselves! In fact, I love that idea!

If you tell me by Thursday noon, I can get a big sheet of butcher paper ready for a class to work on it together. (They could draw directly on the paper or on small sheets and then glue each person's work to the larger paper.) If you decide to do this, I'd love to hang it on one of our larger bulletin boards!

3. The children could work on their hospitality skills. Some could prepare some kind of food as Martha did. Some could sweep and clean. Others could be Mary, listening to a teacher read a story. Afterwards, the group could talk about how it felt to play each role. Then the children could take a look at Matthew 4:4 "Jesus answered, 'It is written: 'Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.'"  This verse comes from Jesus's desert experience (his quoting from Deuteronomy,) but it applies to this story as well. The children could write the verse in their own words and illustrate it with the Mary & Martha scene.

 4. We had a Love Luncheon with Senior Adults scheduled for the following Sunday, so our fourth graders practiced hospitality during Sunday school by preparing decorations for the luncheon.

5. Our second graders drew pictures of what each of us would do to entertain Jesus if he came to our house.

Any other ideas? Please share!
Love, Becky

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Jesus Heals a Paralyzed Man

Hi Godly Play Teachers!
Welcome to a brand new lesson, Jesus Heals a Paralyzed Man, the story from Luke 5:17-26.

It was really fun to think about how to tell this story, how to create the house so that the friends could deliver their paralyzed friend to Jesus's feet. It was also a pleasure to think about the lesson itself: what happened that day and what we can learn from it about faith, the power of Jesus, (and his ability to heal both wounds of the spirit and physical wounds) and what it means to be a Christian friend.

As you can see from the scripts I mailed you, I've written the story in two versions: one for the younger children, which focuses on the healing itself and on friendship, and one for older children, which also includes the discussion after the healing between Jesus and the religious scholars. There is an added wondering question for the older children concerning this discussion as well.

As you tell the story, you will find enough Lincoln logs in your basket to build the house as shown below. I'm hoping to have enough donated so that you can be creative and build it how you like, but just in case you have to go with the blocks I've got, I'm sharing a pictorial guide to building it here.

If you like, as you build the house you could remind the children of last week's story about Jesus calling Levi (Matthew),  that some of the most important work Jesus did was done while visiting people in their homes, listening to them, talking with them, teaching them, bringing them peace, and often healing them in different ways.

Once the house is built, you can begin the story.

The popsicle stick roof makes it easy to remove "tiles" so that the paralyzed man can be lowered. You may want to take off all of the tiles and part of a side wall so that everyone can see what is going on inside the house.  Or just demonstrate the lowering, and then tell the rest of the story on the green underlay.

If you're teaching the older children, as you talk about Jesus's discussion with the religious scholars, you will want to stress that people may have thought that sin was connected to illness in Bible times, but that this is untrue. Children sometimes mistakenly pick up only parts of a sentence, and the idea that illness has anything to do with sin is definitely one we don't want them to get!

We can celebrate that there were actually two miracles shown by the story: that of healing the paralyzed man and that God empowered Jesus to heal the heart of the man, forgiving him of his sin. None of it would have happened if it hadn't been for the man's friends, who loved him enough to do whatever it took to get him to Jesus.

Gift - To - God Ideas
The story is probably enough to inspire the children to express it through their very own artistic gift to God, but just in case they need a little springboard, here are some ideas I hope will be helpful.

1. Let the children act/play out the story:
*on the rug with the teaching materials (in a group of 2 or 3)

(Encourage them to retell the story to each other, not just build the house.) I hope to have enough extra Lincoln logs to add to those in the story basket. We'll see.

*Pick characters and act it out. Bring a blanket and let them try to lift one person in the blanket (over the carpet, and not very high,:) )

2. Make parts of the story.
The house made from clay. Note the stairs beside it.
* Make a mat with fabric and popsicle sticks and a man and his friends and Jesus from clothespins. Bring shoeboxes and let the kids make a whole set, with the house too. Can they make a set of stairs leading up to the roof? (See an example of something sort of like this here.

*Weave a mat as shown here. When the kids can use it at home as a placemat, it will remind of the story. All it takes is construction paper.

3. Make a collage about what it means to be a (Christian) friend. Cut out pictures from magazines that show people being friends to each other or draw pictures that show friendship in action. This could also be a great mural that the whole class works on together.

4. Make a Man-on-a-Mat snack.  Frost graham crackers with icing, and arrange stick pretzels and marshmallows to form the body of the person on the mat. (Or you could use gingerbread men.)

5. We might not be able to heal others, but cards with pictures and friendly messages can help aid the healing. Offer kids the option of making get well cards for church members or shut ins.

I hope you enjoy the story. Don't forget to borrow my camera if you like, and take photos!

Thank you for all you do!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Jesus Calls His Disciples

Hi Godly Play Teachers!
Welcome to a brand new lesson, Jesus Calls the Disciples, which focuses on two of the Jesus stories Godly Play doesn't cover: the calling of the fishermen, Peter, Andrew, James and John, and the calling of Levi (also called Matthew.)

(Child's View)
I was really thrilled to create this lesson and look forward to seeing how the kids receive it. I'm sure that they'll have interesting ways to process it, interpret it, and teach us about it. They always do!

You should have received the lesson's script in an email I sent to you. If not, please shoot me a note or call and I'll send you a copy in the mail or email. I'll also have extra copies in the basket with the lesson. It will be in your classroom ready for you to pick up if you like on Wednesday.

I love these two stories for many reasons. First, I think it's so valuable for the children to begin to explore what exactly a disciple is and that Jesus calls us all to come along with him and help him do his work. The fisherman miracle is so powerful, and it introduces the beautiful idea that Jesus calls ordinary people to bring in others to join the faith journey. (By the way, it's also a great time to talk about why Christians use the fish symbol, if you want.) The Levi story helps us remember that we are all broken, that nobody is good enough to be called by God, yet God still calls each of us.

To inspire the kids--and for extra fun-- I'll have two extra things in your classroom that you can use (or not use) as you like: a fishing net and a basket of goldfish crackers. Have fun!

I have the wondering questions included with the script. I'll have copies in your classroom also.

Ideas for the Create a Gift for God Time

Recreate the Story 
Children could retell the story in many ways:
1. Two Dimensionally:
     Besides drawing or painting story scenes, a class could work on creating a scene for each of the stories together. I can imagine a big boat on butcher paper and the kids making lots of fish, the fishermen, a net, Jesus, etc.  You could also create the banquet scene: Levi, Jesus, his friends, and tables heavily laden with food (from magazine collage pictures or drawn.)

2. Three Dimensionally: Make items from the story (a boat, a banquet table with clay or
felt, boats (paper folding) or felt, lake, money bag, 
Here's a site with a plan to make 3D boats:

Make Artwork Focused On Being a Disciple

1. You could suggest the children head their paper: Disciples Do Jesus' Work. Then they could draw or watercolor or do a collage showing how we do Jesus's work: helping others, visiting the sick, feeding the hungry, being a peacemaker, sharing what we have, etc.

2. You could focus on the fishermen and Levi's decision to be a disciple, drawing a before and after of what each person's life might have looked like. (Before: Peter mending nets, fishing in a boat, selling his fish. After: following Jesus, watching him teach the crowd, helping him go from town to town, telling others about how his life has been changed by Jesus.

Spend Time Learning/Researching the other DisciplesChildren may want to search for the names of the other disciples and draw all twelve, labeling them with their names. (Find this in Luke 6: 12-16)  If you like, assign each child a disciple and have the children draw a face, labeling it with the name they were given. They could include their own face and name with the 12 for a great classroom decoration.

Want to help the children learn the disciples' names? There's a song at the website here. Could they rewrite it into a rap song? (I know they could!)

Enjoy, everyone!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Epiphany Sunday

Hi Godly Play Teachers!
Welcome to the celebration of Epiphany Sunday, January 8! I hope your 2012 is off to a wonderful start. 

Remember that I've planned to take a few minutes of your class time (thank you!) by extending our opening time in the game room to 9:30 so that we can all enjoy a little King's Cake and have our own celebration of Epiphany together. I hope you'll join us and have some yourself. I'm going to try my hand at making the French version, minus the almond creme (since we're nut free on our hallway.) I'm sure it won't be near as good as the ones we had in France, but I'll do my best. Just for fun, here's a photo of my boys in a near catatonic state after enjoying yet another French king's cake, a galette des rois. 

And Sarah found the feve!

We ate way too many of those during our four years in France!

(It's me again, back after our Epiphany Party to post some pictures you might enjoy...)
First we talked about Epiphany. I shared how the French enjoy it.
All ready to serve!
Lined up and hungry!

Who has the feve?
Hmm. Will I like it?

The ping pong table is perfect for dining!

Our kings and queen.

Okay, back to Sunday school plans...

Here in the Children's Department, we can choose to share either of two lessons this week: You can give the lesson on Epiphany, p.64 of the Winter (purple) book, or you can share the lesson on the Circle of the Church Year, p.23 of the Fall (orange) book. It's up to you! I'm offering the choice since we skipped the Circle of the Church Year lesson this fall and since we just taught about the visit of the Magi a few weeks ago. Either choice is good since it's always nice to re-teach the Godly Play calendar and since you can go into much more depth about the meaning of the gifts and the meaning of the Epiphany celebration itself.

Okey doke, so here are your choices and a few hints I hope will be helpful.

The Lesson on Epiphany
Although we have had a Sunday already to focus on the visit of  the Magi, this is a great time to talk in more depth--and to help children understand what Epiphany really celebrates. As you teach the lesson as is written in the book, I hope you'll have time to light the frankincense and myrrh, discuss the significance and meaning of each one, and let the children compare the scents. They won't forget this! If you have any experience with being at a worship service when incense was used, I hope you'll share it. Also, you might like to add that we still have a star of sorts on our own journey to discover who Jesus is: the scriptures in the Bible which share the words he said and the things he did.

As you know, on Epiphany, we celebrate that Jesus was born not just for the Jewish people but for the Gentiles as well (such as the Magi.) The children may need help realizing what a big deal this is.  Epiphany also commemorates the dedication of Jesus in the temple with Simeon. (Luke 2:21-38) This is not in the Godly Play script, so the children may not know this story. What a great time to share it! Especially since most of them have been dedicated in our church or have seen a baby dedication.  You could follow the script with a retelling of this story.

Since there are so many different ways you could go in this lesson, I'm not going to give you wondering questions. If you use the Epiphany lesson, I hope you'll come up with your own questions to get the children thinking and deepen their thought process. I'd love it if a teacher could write down any comments the children make during this wondering time that I could share with their parents. I'll put a sheet of paper in your class folder for this.

Hints for the Create-a-gift-for-God time:
1. Did you use any of the art ideas for the last lesson (last blog post)? If not, you could use offer any of those ideas.  Children particularly enjoy making the crowns--and they will have seen crowns in action in the game room, since they're part of the French King's cake custom.

2. You could also have the children recreate Jesus's dedication in the temple, either by drawing or painting it with watercolors. A child could make a baby Jesus 3 dimensionally with clay or clothespins and other children could make the parents and the temple.

The Lesson on the Circle of the Church Year

With all the talk about starting a brand new year, this is a perfect time to offer the lesson on the church's very own special calendar. This is one of my favorite lessons of the year. The calendar makes so much sense that I think we should teach it to adults as well!

The lesson comes with wondering questions. I'll include them in your class folder as well.

Hints for the Create-a-gift-for-God time:

For younger children:
Younger children are already learning about calendars and enjoy displaying what they know. Why not go ahead and print on a paper for each child, "Thank You God, for a New Year!" Then they could write out the month names and draw things beside each month that they are thankful for...Like a birthday cake on their birthday month. Snow by January. A Valentines heart by February. Kites by March (or basketball, for March Madness!) 

If a younger child wants to make his own calendar, why not? It doesn't have to be a calendar like we could make. Younger children often like writing their numbers. It would be fun to have different calendars on hand to talk about different ways we keep record of time. I can see lots of inroads for discussion on the church's calendar with this.

For older children:
The children could make their own rendition of the Godly Play Calendar with a paper plate, a color copy (that I can provide if you tell me by Thursday), a brad, and a fun foam arrow. Susan D. came up with this, I believe, and it works great!

I hope this is helpful! Have fun, y'all!
Love, Becky