Monday, February 25, 2013

Faces of Easter III: Remembering Christ's Baptism and Blessing

Hi Godly Play Teachers!
Welcome to Faces of Easter III: Remembering Christ's Baptism and Blessing, our lesson for March 3.

As we get ready for Easter this week, we remember and celebrate Christ's baptism and blessing from God. How good it is to remember that Jesus chose to be baptized before he started his work, to mark the beginning of his adult journey toward the cross by getting in line with us, teaching us what to do. It reminds us how meaningful it is to begin our own discipleship by leaning into the darkness of the water, letting God cleanse us, allowing our old selves to die and be buried, and then get up, dry off, and start life marked and blessed officially as God's own.

There are so many ways we can go with this lesson. We must focus on the story itself, of course, but we can also give thought to examining the concept of the trinity, recognizing that this moment in Jesus' life is a beautiful interaction of the father, son, and the holy spirit.

At the end of the storytelling time you could  ask the children to gather items to put by the baptism tile, or you could use wondering questions to help them process the story. Here are the ones I'll have in your rooms:

1. I wonder what your favorite part of this story is.

2. I wonder what you already know about John the Baptist.

3. I wonder how John the Baptist might have felt when Jesus asked him to baptize him.

4. I wonder why Jesus wanted to be baptized, even though he was God's son?

5. I wonder what people thought when they saw the holy spirit come down toward Jesus. I wonder what they thought when they heard God's voice say, "This is my beloved son, with whom I am well pleased."

6. I wonder how it might feel to be baptized.

7. God and the holy spirit gave Jesus a blessing. I wonder what a blessing is. I wonder if you've ever been given a blessing and how that felt. I wonder if you've ever given anyone else a blessing.

Here are some ideas that might serve as springboards for the children's own creations:

Retelling the story:
1.  Have a small Jesus figure, a small John figure, and a pool (a large bowl of water) and let the children take turns at one table retelling the story and acting it out with the figures. We have a huge amount of clothespins that make great people figures.

2.  Let the children make their own Jesus and John figures (clothespins again?) and their own pool (plastic bowls or recycled containers like Cool Whip size-there may be some in the resource room. If not, you could even use a Solo cup, cut shorter.)

3. I remember a teacher from my own childhood having us clean dirty pennies with water and vinegar, talking about how our sins are washed away in baptism. I'm not sure how I feel about this.  If I did that today I would want to add that even after our baptism is done, we still have to ask God daily to forgive us of the mistakes we make.

4. Make a snack to celebrate this special event in Jesus' life.
You could make edible bugs to dip in honey as done here, or make trinity muffins as described here.

An edible locust! (See the antennae?)
5. Make more ornaments for your Jesus tree.
A. You could always make doves, as shown here or here (I know it's an owl, but you could make it into a dove,)  or here (I love that one.) Or pick up some feathers at the craft store and let the kids think themselves how to make it from the feathers and other materials you have on hand.

B. Another ornament idea is to make a Chrismon-type ornament that celebrates his baptism in particular as shown here (scroll down and see the scallop one.) Or why not use real scallop shells from a craft store and make your own like the one in the link. The kids could hot glue a ribbon to it and figure out how to represent the three drops of water shown in the chrismon--or not! They could put a dove with the shell, or make it however they like!

C. There's a pretty one out of felt here. Kids could copy it or even better, design their own!

Examining the Concept of the Trinity.
1. Since we're almost at St. Patrick's Day, it might be a good time to look at the 3 leaved shamrock as a symbol of the trinity. Here's an ornament the kids could make out of fun foam here. And there are plenty of other ideas here. Be sure to scroll down to see all the examples.

And don't forget to take photos! My camera is in the drawer of the table by the door to the Activity Room. :)

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Faces of Easter II: Jesus Is Lost and Found

Hi Godly Play Teachers!
Welcome to Faces of Easter II: Jesus Is Lost and Found, our lesson for February 24.
This week we remember and celebrate the phase of Jesus' life when he was a boy by telling the story from Luke 2: 39-52. In this story, Jesus is found in the temple after the Passover festival.
What a great opportunity for children to think about Jesus as a boy, a child near their own age. I'm sure that if they really start doing some heavy duty thinking about this, a zillion questions may spring up. It's great for all of us to witness this and ask questions of our own!

At the end of the story, you can choose whether to ask children to find an item in the classroom that helps tell about this part of Jesus' life or you can ask wondering questions.

Here are some wondering questions you might ask:
1. I wonder what your favorite part of this story is.
2. I wonder what the Jewish teachers thought about Jesus, as he listened to them and asked questions.
3. I wonder how Mary and Joseph felt when they realized that they didn't know where Jesus was.
4. I wonder what Mary and Joseph felt when they found Jesus.
5. I wonder what Mary and Joseph thought when he said, "Didn't you know that I had to be in my father's house?" 
6. I wonder what the temple leaders thought when they heard Jesus say that.
7. I wonder what questions Mary had about all of this after they were back home again.

Gift to God Time
There are several ways you and the children can choose to go during your response time. You can focus on the story itself, you can help children think about the role of church in their own lives, or you could focus on the idea of God helping us grow during childhood. I'm sure you can think of other ways to respond to this story. Here are a few ideas you might find helpful for the children to use as a springboard:

For a focus on the story itself:
Flickr photo by Lawrie Cate, creative commons
1. Make a scroll of scripture, like the ones Jesus might have studied.
Each child could make their own, or the children could work together to make a big one for the class, with each child writing a verse on it.
To make a scroll, take a sheet of white paper the size of your own choosing and let the children write or copy a verse or several verses. (Luke 2:52 would be especially appropriate for this week.) Then crinkle up the paper, straighten it, and repeat several times to make it look old. If they want, kids can tear the paper around the top and bottom edge (not the sides, where they'll attach the dowel sticks.) Then curl the sides around dowel sticks and glue to dowels. Paint the scroll with tea and let it dry.
A fifth grader makes a scroll.

2. Children could draw Jesus in the temple, or draw the temple background and cut a Jesus figure out of paper so that you can move him around the temple. Kids could also cut out Mary and Joseph figures so that they can "enter" the temple and play out the story. Or you could turn a shoebox into a temple scene with clay or clothespin Jesus, Mary, and Joseph figures, in addition to temple leader figures. Or you could have the children just make the figures and let them retell the story using the Godly Play temple we have in our rooms.
Mary comes with a question mark because she's wondering where Jesus is.

3. Act out the story. Have props available (or make them!) Be sure to take photos!

For a focus on the role of church in the children's own lives:
1. Have the children draw or paint or cut out photos for a collage on what their favorite thing is to do at church. Maybe have one side of the drawing of all the things we do at church, and then on the other side their absolute favorite thing.

2. Have the children make a church/temple out of a shoebox or popsickle sticks or lego or clay. Kids could go look at the bulletin board in the children's hallway and see what the temple looked like first. 

3. Make a stained glass window from torn tissue paper and construction paper, as shown here.

For a focus on the idea of God helping us grow:
1. Have the children trace each other's bodies on butcher paper and color them in with markers or paint. You could hang your classroom of students on the wall and have the children come up with a title about how God helps us grow.

2. As you talk about growing, each child could plant grass seeds or flower seeds in a small pot--or if you really want to get creative with the Easter theme, in an (Easter) egg shell, as shown here.

3. Jesus grew by learning and working hard. How do the children do this? They could draw the things they do as they grow to learn and work hard. Or they could make coupon cards for their parents, good for cleaning their room or dusting the furniture or sweeping, etc.

Hope these ideas help!
Thanks you all!

Monday, February 11, 2013

The Faces of Easter I

Hi Godly Play Teachers!
Welcome to Faces of Easter I: Remembering the Birth and Presentation of Christ in the Temple, our lesson for February 17.
If your Godly Play story baskets are all displayed in your classroom where the children can see them, I'd encourage you to follow the part of the script in which you invite the children to gather one by one anything in the room that reminds them of this part of Jesus's life, put it around the story tile, and share their thoughts about its connection with the story. As you know, the children can be so creative in this and make connections that we might not even think of.

If your materials are not where the children have easy access to them, here are some wondering questions you can ask, in lieu of having the children gather materials that support today's lesson. 
  *   I wonder what your favorite part of today’s story is. 
  *   I wonder what Joseph and Mary did for Jesus when he was a baby to help him grow?
3.    *   I wonder how God helped Jesus grow?
4.    *   I wonder what hopes Mary and Joseph had for Jesus and who he would grow up to be?
5.    *   I wonder what hopes God had for who Jesus would grow up to be?
6.    *  I wonder who else might have helped Jesus grow to be the person God made him to be?
7.    *   I wonder if any of the shepherds, angels, Magi, or inn keeper knew what happened in Jesus’s life.   I wonder what they might’ve thought about it.

As for the Give a Gift to God Time, here are some thoughts...

If your class is decorating a Jesus tree, there are several ideas for ornaments:
Jesus in the manger
(Like this one here  on the left from

The kids could make Jesus from a clothespin and make a manger out of twigs and leaves from a walk outside.

Or make ornaments of baby Jesus and the pigeons out of felt as seen here. So precious! Or how about these felt doves here?

Or they could make the animals in the stable, the shepherds, angels, holy family, or the Magi.

Wyline had a great idea of making ornaments by having the children cut out egg shapes out of construction paper and decorating one side like an Easter egg and illustrating the other side with elements from that Sunday's lesson.

As much as you can, let the children come up with how they want to illustrate the story. They're so much more invested in their work when the whole thing is their idea.

If your class is working on completing the cross map of Lenten lessons, as shown here, this would be the time to make an illustration for the square of Jesus's birth. Children could illustrate this with whatever materials they want--watercolors, markers, collage, colored pencils, etc.

Another idea would be to create three dimensional scenes in your classroom for each week's lesson. For this week you could bring a baby doll to represent Jesus and have the children figure out how to make a manger to lay him in, maybe make pigeons out of clay for the presentation in the temple. Find material in the resource room for the kids to make a blanket with which to swaddle him. I bet the children can think of other elements for the scene. You could arrange these scenes around the room, making your own version of the stations of the cross!

I hope this helps!
Thank you for all you do!

Monday, February 4, 2013

The Mystery of Easter

Hi Godly Play Teachers!
Welcome to The Mystery of Easter, our lesson for February 10.

This lesson gives us a wonderful way to help the children remember that Easter "turns everything inside out and upside down" and that as we enter Lent and study each Sunday who Jesus grew to be, we should be on the lookout for God to show us unexpected things. The Mystery of Easter reminds us that Easter, as our faith's biggest celebration, is full of God's mystery and joyful surprise.

Though it doesn't focus on a particular Bible story, I think it's worth giving this lesson a whole Sunday morning because it both signals to the children that Lent is beginning and reminds the kids what Lent is all about. When we announce Lent and usher it in, we allow the children to realize what an important time it is--and hopefully they'll wonder what they can do to make it special to them.

A great way to begin this lesson is by changing the color of the felt underlay underneath the holy family to purple, since this is the First Sunday of Lent. This also segues well into the lesson script, "Now is the time for the color purple..."

Ideas for the Make A Gift For God Time
We have ideas just for this Sunday's response time and also ideas that can last through Lent.
Projects to Last Through Lent
I love the idea of individual or class projects that can be added to and worked on over the entire Lent period, allowing kids to go back to them each week as they like, in addition to any other projects they want to do on  a certain Sunday.

Here are two ideas for the whole season of Lent that I hope you might consider:
1. A Cross, with blocks to illustrate each week's lesson about Jesus

You could do this many different ways.

What I did here is to take the biggest construction paper we have ( 12" x 18", I think) and made a pattern of a cross, which looks uneven because the copier cut the top off. Sorry! Then I sectioned it off into blocks. The kids could make their illustrations on squares of white paper the same size of the squares and glue them on, or they could draw directly on the cross. I would suggest they use the white paper, so they don't have the urge to throw the whole thing away if they make a mistake or are unhappy with one block.

The words are just to show you where you might put the different lessons. The children could choose to write captions or not.

It would be really cool if the crosses could be in purple, and then on Easter they could make one illustration on a matching white cross and glue it to the other side. Then it would remind them of this particular lesson.

2. A Jesus Tree.
You might have heard of a Jesse tree, like this one here, sort of like our Chrismon tree which we use to celebrate advent.
For Lent, why not make a Jesus Tree, with ornaments representing our lessons as we get closer to Easter?
I've purchased trees from Improvements, which y'all can use, if you like. I'll put them in your rooms. You may want to have your class figure out how to cover the star with something Easter-y.

See Rebecca's blog, to see her ornaments, below. They're great!
I can buy you some tags to make some like these with if you let me know ASAP!

Look here and here for finished ornaments sold on etsy. The children could easily make their own versions of these! You can see some ornaments made out of felt here and here and here.
If children need help thinking of what to make for their ornaments, here are some suggestions:

Feb 10, The Mystery of Easter: A cross

Feb 17, Jesus' Birth and Growth and Presentation in Temple: Doves, Manger, Holy Family, shepherds, angels, kings, donkey, etc

Feb 24, Jesus Lost and Found: scrolls, Temple, Mary and Joseph

March 3, Baptism and Blessing: doves, Jesus himself in the water, John the Baptist

March 10, Desert Experience: Bread, stones, an angel, mountains

March 17,Jesus as a healer and parable maker: person being healed, Jesus's hands, anything from the parables-bread, shepherd, mustard seed, the Good Samaritan, pearl, seed packets

March 24, Jesus Offers Bread and the Cup: chalice, bread, palms, table

March 31, Easter: Children could make a cross out of white construction paper and make it beautiful with illustrations or cut out pictures of flowers from magazines and glue it to the back of their cross. If they wanted to make ornaments for the Jesus tree, they could make crosses, or the stone from the tomb, or Easter Eggs. (Come to think of it, this would be a great time to do the Romanian eggs--or any kind!)

Projects Just for This Sunday

Children could make crosses.
Here are a few kinds:
1. Mosaic Cross. Cut a cross from fun foam and then cut bits of fun foam of other colors to glue on the cross to create a mosaic effect.
2. Suncatcher crosses: we have 30 or so in the resource room. And paint too.
3. Stained Glass Cross:
Using a pattern, have the kids cut two identical cross shapes from waxed paper. Then use a plastic knife and scrape old crayons into shavings of various colors. Spread the crayons on one of the wax paper crosses.  Then place the second waxed paper cross on top. Have an adult use a warm iron to press the two pieces of waxed paper together. Attach a hanger and hang in the sun!
4. Make a "Magic Cross" as shown here.

Hope this helps you. Enjoy!