Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Jesus Gives the Sermon on the Mountain

Hi Godly Play Teachers!
Welcome to Jesus Gives the Sermon on the Mount, the story from Matthew 5-7.
(The child's view)
How do I love this scripture as a story for children? Let me count the ways...
I love this story because the sermon covers so much territory--and because Jesus' 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' 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?

If you haven't received the story script in your email, let me know. 

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' 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) Or make a bird for the new tree we have in our Large Group Meeting Room? That would be great! You could cut simple birds out of different colored paper (decorated however the kids like) and hang them with string, like these from Family Fun:

The children could write the Bible verse on the back, Look at the birds. They don’t plant, harvest, or save food in barns, but your heavenly Father feeds them. Matthew 6:26. Or they could write the verse in their own wording.
Or use the simple template shared here to make the birds.

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 22, 2013

Hi Godly Play Teachers!
Welcome to the 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!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Jesus Calls His Disciples

Hi Godly Play Teachers!
Welcome to Jesus Calls the Disciples, a story focusing on 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 last year and look forward to seeing how the kids receive it this week. 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! 
Love, Becky

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Baby Jesus Is Dedicated to God

Hi Godly Play Teachers!
Welcome to lesson Baby Jesus Is Dedicated to God, a lesson I've written to help the children discover the story of Jesus' dedication in the Temple, as well as explore the way they were dedicated to God at our church when they were babies. The Bible story comes from Luke 2:21-39.
If you teach Godly Play at a different church, this lesson might work for you too. You just may need to adjust the second part of the lesson to fit your church's traditions. 

The story basket contains: a swaddled Baby Jesus, a pair of doves, 2 figures for Simeon and Anna, a rose, a bell, a New Testament, a copy of our dedication blessing, a hand mirror, and the felt underlay.

Here's the story script, with instructions to the storyteller in red:

At Christmas we celebrated the good news that God sent Baby Jesus into the world.

Place Baby Jesus on the underlay.

 Joseph and Mary celebrated too when Jesus was born, and forty days later it was time to celebrate again. Back in Jesus’ time, forty days after a mom and dad had their first boy baby, they took him to the big temple in Jerusalem and dedicated him to God. Jesus was Mary and Joseph’s first boy, and they wanted to dedicate him to God too. So off to the Temple they went, Mary and Joseph and little Baby Jesus.

Just like all the other families, they took with them a pair of doves or young pigeons to give to God as a gift.

Place pair of birds on the underlay.

They didn’t know that something special was going to happen that day, something that had never  happened with other families.

There was a good man living in Jerusalem who loved God very much. His name was Simeon, and he was sure that one day God would send someone to change everything and save the people of Israel. This man’s name was Simeon.  God had promised Simeon that he would not die until he had seen the Messiah, the special person God would send.

Place Simeon, a figure of a person, on the underlay.

God told Simeon to go to the temple that day. When Mary and Joseph brought Jesus in, Simeon took Baby Jesus in his arms and knew that this was the Messiah, the special person God had sent to change everything. As he held Baby Jesus, he thanked God for him and prayed something like, “God you’ve done it! Now that I’ve seen him with my own eyes I can be at peace.”

Mary and Joseph were amazed at what Simeon said. They hardly knew what to think!

Then Simeon said to Mary that Jesus would save Israel. He also told her some strange, sad things. He said that many people would speak out against Jesus. He told her that what would happen in Jesus’ life would break her heart.

There was another person in the temple who noticed Jesus too. Her name was Anna, and she was a very old prophet, 84 years old.

Place Anna, a figure of a person, on the underlay.

Anna loved God so much that she never left the Temple. She was so close to God and God was so close to her that she knew what was important.  She saw Simeon holding Jesus and she knew how special Jesus was. She gave thanks to God and then told everyone that Jesus was the one who would change everything.

What an amazing day at the temple!

Jesus was dedicated to God. Now he did the important work of growing into a little boy and then a young man.

Did you know that people still go to church to dedicate babies to God? Different churches do it differently.

If you were a baby at First Baptist, we did some special things to celebrate when you were born.

On the Sunday after a baby is born, we put a rose on the baptistery and tell the church about the baby in worship.

Place a rose on the underlay.

We also set a special time with each family and ring the bells to celebrate the baby’s birth.

Place a bell on the underlay.

We have a special time in worship where the babies are dedicated to God. The families bring the babies in, we introduce each baby to the whole church, and we give them a little Bible with their name on it.

Place a Bible on the underlay.

Then everyone in the church reads a promise to God, to help take care of the baby and teach her or him about God.

(Read the promise together if you want. You could have the children read the parents’ part if you like)

Then we ask God to bless the babies.

Place the blessing on the underlay and then begin to read the blessing:

            You were created by God in God’s image

Put a mirror on the underlay. Read the rest of the blessing, stopping to explain what it means when needed.

You are a child of God. Because you belong among us we promise to nurture you in the hope that one day, you will affirm the Christian faith for yourself and grown to be a partner with God, participating in the care and continuance of God’s good creation. Amen. May God bless you all.

Wondering Questions:
I wonder if you were dedicated here at First Baptist or at another church.
I wonder what is your favorite part of the dedication of babies at our church.
I wonder what is your favorite part of the story of Jesus’ dedication to God in the Temple.
I wonder what Mary and Joseph thought when Simeon said that their baby Jesus was the person who would save Israel.
 I wonder what they thought Jesus might do.
I wonder what Mary thought when Simeon told her that what happened to her son would break her heart.
I wonder what Anna thought when she first saw Jesus.
I wonder what part of this story is about you.
I wonder what this story is teaching you about God and what God is like.

For teachers of older children (4th and 5th grades):

I thought about including in the lesson for the older children (4th and 5th grades) a clarification about the timing of all the events- the presentation in the Temple, then the visit of the Magi, then the escape to Egypt, then the return to Nazareth, but since I included the part about baby dedication at FBC, it would make the circle time a little long. Still, feel welcome to add that if you want to. It is something the kids (and adults!) get confused by, since we present the Magi in with the Christmas story.

Ideas for Creating a Gift for God Time (Art Response):

There are many ways the children could go to respond to this story, either focusing on Jesus' dedication or there own. Both are important. Children love getting to choose which way they want to respond and what particularly they want to do.

Ideas to respond to the story of the dedication of Jesus:
1.  Make puppets of Simeon and Anna out of socks or paper bags or tongue depressors and paper. There are general directions for making all sorts of puppets here. You could also make ones for Mary and Joseph and Baby Jesus.
2. Act out the Bible story. (Be sure to video!) I'll have a baby doll or two on hand in the activity room for anyone to borrow.
3. Make a pair of doves, as shown in various ways here.
4. Make a collage of gifts we can give to God
5. Simeon and Anna became close to God through constant prayer. One symbol of prayer is the pretzel (which represents arms crossed in prayer, as people did long ago.) Make a pretzel necklace, as shown here. (Scroll down to p.11)
6. Make a temple out of blocks (First grade has blocks in the Rubbermaid containers near their story circle.
7. Draw the scene in the temple of Baby Jesus in Simeon's arms, or Mary and Joseph with Anna.

Ideas to respond to the story of the dedication of babies at our church:
1. Have the children draw themselves as babies with their parents, and then draw themselves now with their families. 
2. The children can make a self portrait and title it with a line from the blessing: "I am (child's name), a child of God" or "God made me!"
3. Help the children think about how our church takes care of them. They could make a collage or drawing of the ways we do it: holding them, feeding them, reading to them in the nursery, teaching them about God and Jesus, reading Bible stories to them, teaching them songs in choir, teaching them about missions and sharing God's love, etc.
4. What does it mean to be a partner with God, taking care of God's creation? Children could make a collage or mural about that, cutting out pictures or drawing ways we take care of God's creation: taking care of the earth, taking care of each other, etc.
5. Make a class collage of pictures of babies for your classroom. Have the children come up with a title having to do with dedicating our children to God. Discuss what that means.
6. Make a bell, as shown here or here,  or a rose as shown here or here.

I hope these ideas help! Feel free to comment and share your own ideas!
Love, Becky

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

The First Sunday of 2013

Hi Godly Play Teachers!
Welcome to the first Sunday School lesson for 2013. I hope your new year is off to a wonderful start!
This week you can choose to share one of three lessons: You can give the lesson on Epiphany, p.64 of the Winter (purple) book, you can share the lesson on the Circle of the Church Year, p.23 of the Fall (orange) book, or you can share the lesson on the Bible, p.114-118 of the Fall (orange) book. It's up to you. I'm offering the choice since we  just taught about the visit of the Magi a few weeks ago. Any choice is good since it's always nice to re-teach the Godly Play calendar and the Bible 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!

The Lesson on the Bible
For the Create a Gift for God time, check out the blog pages on Learning to Use the Bible, here. You could have the children write out the names of the lessons from the fall and add them to the boards, if you have the boards in your classroom. Or the children could outfit your classroom set of Bibles with tabs, as shown in the blog page.  Or you could do Bible drills with scripture from all parts of the Bible. Or you could give the children time to create some piece of art on the Bible.

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