Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Paul's Discovery

Hi Godly Play Teachers! Welcome to our lesson for June 2, the story of Paul's Discovery.

Before we dive into a series of Jesus' parables this summer, we have one more Sunday to continue our previous timeline: Jesus has been crucified, then resurrected. Jesus spent 40 days appearing to his disciples and letting them begin to know him in a new way until finally that time was over. He ascended into heaven. The Holy Spirit arrived and we celebrated it first with Pentecost Sunday, then, last week, Trinity Sunday. Now we continue the story with Paul's amazing transformation and work. It's a wonderful example of the power of the Holy Spirit to change us in profound ways!

What a rich story of Saul/Paul, from birth to death! You'll find the script in the yellow (Spring) book    p.126-135. The wondering questions are listed at the end.

Idea Sparkers for our Gift to God Time:
(And Check out other ideas at this pinterest site!)
 1. Paul's life is so exciting. It would be fun to divide up the group and have the children act out scenes. Even our youngest kids could do it! (I'll have a video camera with me. I'd love to give you the camera to video it!...I have a thirteen year old boy who would love to edit the separate scenes into a movie to watch next week, complete with music!)

Scenes they may choose to act out:
1. Making tents with his father (bring a sheet from home and drape it over a table or rope) Pretend to hammer down stakes.
2. Waving goodbye to his family and traveling to Jerusalem (bring a suitcase)
3. Worshiping in the temple (Gather candlesticks, make a big scroll to read)
4. Saul trying to catch people who followed Jesus to bring them back for punishment.
5. Saul's experience on the road to Damascus. (Maybe bring a lamp for a great light. )
    Act out being led to Damascus and staying in the house, where the scales fall from his eyes.
6. Saul's telling the good news of his transformation at the synagogue and then how Jesus' followers hid him when people grew angry.
7.Paul's escape over the city wall in a basket. (A laundry basket and rope would be perfect for this!)
8. Paul's traveling and writing letters.
9. Paul kept as a prisoner in his own house.

2. Let the children work in pairs or alone to illustrate their favorite scene from the story. Have an "art show" at the end to look at everyone's work and put the works in chronological order.

3. Examine the scrolls to see which books of the Bible do we think Paul wrote. Children could make bookmarks for their Bibles illustrated with scenes from Paul's life.

Enjoy, everyone!
Love, Becky

Monday, May 20, 2013

The Trinity

Hi Godly Play Teachers! Welcome to our lesson for Trinity Sunday!

Today we celebrate the trinity, which is perfect timing, considering we just welcomed the arrival of the Holy Spirit last Sunday.
For this Sunday, first through third grade classes use Lesson 6: Holy Baptism from the Winter (purple) book, p. 70-76. Normally fourth and fifth grade classes use the same lesson, or if they're feeling brave, they can use Lesson 15: The Holy Trinity from the Spring (yellow) book, p. 136-142. It's an amazing lesson, but challenging. I've presented it before and it wore me out-but it was so worth it. Look it over and see what I mean. The children make connections between the creation story (the Father), the Faces of Easter series (the Son,) and the Journey of Paul (the Holy Spirit.) The kids really can handle the lesson and will amaze you, but drink your coffee first! 

This year our fourth and fifth graders are taking three weeks away from our Godly Play lessons, doing a three part series of We Are Baptists, studying three tenets of the Baptist faith: the priesthood of the believers, soul freedom, and the independent church.

A few notes for the lesson on Holy Baptism and the Trinity:
The lesson is on baptism, but is perfect for Trinity Sunday since a major component of the lesson is the Trinity. At the beginning of the script, it refers to "the Creator, the Redeemer, the Sustainer." Do use those words, but add in an explanation of what they mean. Redeemer and Sustainer will be new words to most children.

I would suggest that you modify the part of the script on baptism, fitting it to the way we do baptism in our church. Each of you should have in your classroom a bowl in which to pour the water, a pitcher, and a person (doll) to be baptized. I would encourage you to talk about the baptismal statement that baptismal candidates write (and a person special to them reads) expressing why they want to be baptized and what baptism means to them. I'll have a copy of a baptismal statement that one of our children recently wrote in your rooms to share. (With permission, of course!) You might also talk about Discipleship Class, which our 4th and 5th graders can take in the fall and spring to learn more about baptism and being a disciple of Christ, before they are candidates for baptism.

The children would certainly enjoy the candle lighting part of the lesson. I hope you'll feel brave enough. You might use tea candles (I'll make sure there are plenty in your rooms.) For safety's sake, you might have them sit on the carpet for this lesson and put the tea candle on the carpet in front of them, asking them to keep their hands in their laps at all times, assuring them that they will each have a chance to "change their own light."  I'll make sure you have a candle snuffer in your room-so the children won't blow out the candle, spattering wax on the carpet. If you choose to do this part of the lesson, I'm confident they will always remember it!

Here are some wondering questions for this lesson:
1. I wonder what was your favorite part of this lesson.
2. Today we heard more about the Trinity. We poured the water and talked about the water of creation. I wonder if God the Father is still creating today.
3. We also lit the big candle and talked about Jesus, the light of the world. I wonder how Jesus is a light. I wonder why we call him that.
4. We also remembered the Holy Spirit with the dove and the perfume. I wonder why we use perfume and a dove to remind us of the Holy Spirit.
5. I wonder what being baptized might feel like.
6. I wonder what baptism means to you.

Idea Sparkers for your Gift to God time:

Focus on the Trinity
1. Your class could make a larger mural illustrating the three parts of the trinity, showing them intersecting like the circles of felt we used in the lesson. You could add illustrations to each circle. For God the Father, the children could draw creation in action, or their favorite old testament stories. For God the Son, the children could add drawings of their favorite Jesus stories, and for the Holy Spirit, the children could draw ways the Holy Spirit helps us--knowing right from wrong, giving us strength in times of trouble, helping us tell others about God, helping us understand the Bible, etc.
Each child could do this individually, but it could be more fun doing it together.

2. You could make simple trinity decorations, like this one from a blog with lots of great ideas, here.
Photo and craft by http://catholicicing.com/2010/09/catholic-trinity-craft-for-preschoolers/
It's simple, but the kids would enjoy making it. (Yey! A chance to use the glue gun!)

3. You could talk about how the shamrock or 3 leafed clover is often used to explain the trinity- one plant, with a leaf for each of the three parts. Then go clover hunting around the church. The children could pick a clover, bring it back, draw it big sized, and label each leaf with part of the trinity.
The fourth graders made something like this during our Easter lessons.

Focus on Baptism
1.Children could make a watercolor of baptism. Either the baptism of Jesus or their own baptism.
2. If you do the individual candles part of this lesson, children make a candle holder with clay or baby food jars as shown here.
Enjoy, y'all!
Love, Becky

Monday, May 13, 2013

Knowing Jesus in a New Way 7: Known by the Holy Spirit

Hi Godly Play Teachers!
Welcome to Knowing Jesus in a New Way 7: Known by the Holy Spirit, our lesson for May 19.
This week we get to share with the children the story of the coming of the Holy Spirit on the first Pentecost as told in Acts 2:1-21

What a perfect time to not only share the story of the events of Acts 2:1-21, but to lead the children DURING the Godly Play lesson into an exploration of what the Holy Spirit is, what it did for the disciples and what it does for us today. A good time in the script to insert this is after you relay what Peter said, quoting Joel.

Here's the part of the script as I would amend it:
(original script)
Peter stepped into this chaos with a confidence                 
and calm that the disciples had never seen before.
"These people are not drunk, like you think.  After
all, it is only morning. What has happened is what              
the prophet Joel wrote about. He said that God will
pour out God's spirit on us so that our sons and 
daughters will prophesy, the young will see visions,
and the old will dream dreams. 

(section you might add to help children get the concept of the Holy Spirit)
The pouring out of God's spirit was God's gift of the 
Holy Spirit. But was the Holy Spirit? Jesus had talked 
about the Holy Spirit and when he did, he called it the
Comforter. He had told the disciples that it would come        
after He left them. And now it was here! But what would 
it do? Jesus had talked about that too and we can find it in the         
book of John. Jesus had said that the Holy Spirit ...
1. helps people see what they've done wrong and points
them to God
2. helps people do what is right
3. helps us understand the Bible
4. prays for us-the Bible says that He prays to God when
we sometimes don't know how or what to pray. Helps us
through our hard times
5. helps us find out what our special gifts are so we can use 
them to help others

The Holy Spirit had come! It had happened!

(the original script picks back up here)
Many passed on by to keep their great traditions and live        
good lives. Others listened and became baptized.....                     

(Continue with rest of the script.)

You can see that I've included questions about the Holy Spirit in my wondering questions.
Wondering Questions
1. I wonder what is your favorite part of this story.
2. I wonder what the disciples thought was happening when the mighty wind filled the house and bits of fire began to dance around each person.
3. We know now that the mighty wind signaled that something special was happening, the arrival of the holy spirit. I wonder how it felt to have God's spirit poured out on you.
4. I wonder what you would have thought if you were on the streets when the disciples ran out, overjoyed, telling everyone what happened in different languages.
5. Before Pentecost the disciples felt the love from Jesus. At Pentecost the holy spirit helped the disciples feel the love inside them.  I wonder how the love helped the disciples do their work.
6. I wonder how the holy spirit can help you.
7. When we celebrate Pentecost, we call it the day the church was born-it's birthday.  I wonder why that might be.

I really hope that if you're in a room where the children have access to Godly Play materials, that after the story is shared, you'll try letting the children select something to bring to the circle that helps tell the story.  Those connections can be so meaningful.

 Idea Sparkers for Our Gift to God Time

1. Flame hats or headbands
In some Christian churches church officials wear flame shaped hats to remind us of the flames seen over Christ's followers on the day of the first Pentecost.
Why not show a picture of such a hat and let the kids design how they want to do their own. It doesn't have to look like that one. Have fun foam or cardboard or fabric on hand- and long strips of large construction paper for the band part.

2. Flame portrait
As followers of Christ, let each child draw themselves as a disciple, with flames at the top of their heads. These flames could be added with tissue paper or paint or whatever they choose.

Creative commons Photo by flickr's cheerytomato
  3. Make pinwheels or kites or windsocks to remind us of the mighty wind that filled the house. 
There are great instructions for making a pinwheel here. If the kids want to make a kite, you can find instructions for making a real working one here, or just cut a kite shape out of paper and kids can decorate it as they want, hopefully with the story of Pentecost in mind.
Or make a Pentecost windsock, as shown here.

4. Doves
Since the symbol of the holy spirit is the dove, why not make flame colored doves (yellow, orange, red) and hang them from the ceiling to remind us of Pentecost. There are directions for doves here. Or make an origami one as shown in the video below.
Creative commons licensed photo by upsidedownapril
5. Birthday Cake-Since we celebrate the birthday of the church as we remember Pentecost, you could bring plain cupcakes to Sunday school and allow time for the kids to frost them and decorate them. If you're feeling brave, you could have each child light a candle for their cupcake and remember the gift of the spirit, which looked like flames above each follower's head.

Enjoy! And take photos, please! :)
Love, Becky

Monday, May 6, 2013

Knowing Jesus in a New Way 6: Known in Waiting

Hi Godly Play Teachers!
Welcome to Knowing Jesus in a New Way 6: Known in Waiting, our lesson for May 12.
This week we get to share with the children the story of Jesus' ascension as told in Luke 24:50-53 and chapter 1 of Acts.

What a wonderful opportunity to again talk about the disciples' experience with having  Jesus right beside them, and then having to learn to live with him in a completely different way. The children  have not witnessed this event of course, but most know what it feels like to be left or abandoned-even temporarily-by someone they love- or to feel afraid of what that might be like. For modern Christians whom have never had the joy of having Jesus physically with us, it takes some thinking to imagine what that must have been like, and then to have it taken away.

In addition to discussing the story itself, this Sunday is a good time to talk about the idea that feelings are not always the truth of what is really happening. When bad things happen we may feel abandoned by God, but that is not the truth. God never abandons. So what do we do when we have these feelings and fears? What did the disciples do? They did what Jesus told them to do.They waited and prayed and obeyed Jesus' commands until they would be with Jesus again in heaven. As in the sermon last Sunday, they did the ordinary things of living as they waited on God. They chose a replacement for Judas. They went on with life, holding onto each other and to prayer. 

I really hope that if you're in a room where the children have access to Godly Play materials, that after the story is shared, you'll try letting the children select something to bring to the circle that helps tell the story.  Those connections can be so meaningful.

Here are the wondering questions for Sunday.
1. I wonder what is your favorite part of today's story.
2. I wonder what you think it looked like when Jesus "withdrew" into a cloud and they couldn't see him anymore.
3. I wonder if you've ever been left behind. I wonder how that feels.
4. I wonder how the disciples felt when the 2 men in white appeared, asked them why they were looking into the sky and then answered that it was indeed Jesus and that he was no longer there.
5. Before Jesus disappeared he told the disciples that they would be baptized in the Holy Spirit. I wonder what they thought would happen. I wonder what they thought the Holy Spirit was. I wonder what you think the Holy Spirit is.
6. When Jesus vanished, I wonder if he was really gone. I wonder how he was still with the disciples.
7. I wonder where you are in this story. I wonder what part of this story is about you?

Idea Sparkers for Our Gift to God Time
1.Today would be a great time for children to put all the Eastertide stories together in one project. They could do this as a class with a mural, with pairs of children working on a single story of this series, or they could put it together in a little booklet like the one below.
 For the example I made here I took 12" x18" pieces of construction paper from the paper closet, cut each of them into 3 long strips of 4"x 18" and folded each accordion-style into 6 sections.

I went ahead and labeled each section with the story title: Known at the empty tomb, Known on a walk and at the inn, Known by his scars, Known at Breakfast, Known at the Great Commission, and Known on the hillside. You could also add where each scripture is found in the Bible. Then children can illustrate each block.

2. Another idea is to celebrate the ascension story on its own by making your own Ascending Jesus, as shown in this kit from Oriental Trading.
You don't need a kit to make this- just a solo cup and string and paper. It would be much more meaningful for the children to make it their own way, drawing their own Jesus and constructing it as they want, like the children here have done.


Other ideas? You could show the children images that artists have created showing the ascension and ask them to do their own watercolors or drawings of how they think it might have happened. It's a mystery, so it would be interesting to see how they picture it.

Thank you all! Enjoy!