Sunday, December 29, 2013

The Circle of the Church Year

Hi Godly Play Teachers!
Welcome to the Circle of the Church Year, our Godly Play lesson for this Sunday, January 5.
What 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:
1. 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!)  This is a perfect time to reinforce the special times that the church celebrates on their own calendars- and what time of the year in which they occur.

2. 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.

3. Here's another idea that would be great for younger children- and let's them practice their knowledge of what color goes with what season, etc.  Take a look at it!

4. Why not play with the colors of the church calendar (purple, green, red, white). Here's a pinterest site with lots of ideas especially great for younger children, but enjoyable for older as well! (It will make you happy just to look, I promise!) The bead necklace version of the calendar is great!

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, and it works great!

Monday, December 16, 2013

The Fourth Sunday of Advent

Hi Godly Play Teachers!
Welcome to the celebration of the Fourth Sunday of Advent, this Sunday, December 22.

This Sunday we introduce the fourth advent card, focusing on the visit of the Magi to the Christ child.
There are several themes you may wish to explore during the time in the circle or during the create-a-gift-for-God time. These include:
1. The idea that not only did the poor, uneducated shepherds go to see the baby, but so did the Magi -- men so wise that people thought they were magic.

2. The idea of God providing a wild star for the Magi to follow.

3. The significance of the three gifts for Jesus. (Since we won't be giving the Epiphany lesson this year, you may want to go ahead and share the details normally shared in the Epiphany lesson, studying gold (for a king,) frankincense (used for worship,) and myrrh (burned at funerals.) What is the significance of these three gifts in Jesus' life?

4. The interaction between the Magi and King Herod.

Ideas to Inspire Children for their Gifts to God
There are several areas of focus for their gift-to-God making:
The Wild Star
 1. Make a three dimensional star, as is shown here or here (directions included)
 2. Make a star out of Popsicle sticks shown here. The children could cover it with sparkly sequins. (There are some in the resource room.)

The Kings
 3. Make crown ornaments for the tree, as are shown here.  (Directions included.)
 4. Make present ornaments by wrapping boxes in wrapping paper, as you talk about the wise men's gifts.
The Entire Nativity Scene
Recreate the manger scene in its entirety as a group project. Help the children choose which figure each one can make and take a photo of them all together.
There are lots of ways you can do this...
1. With crushed candy. (Ray, how did the 2nd graders in your class do this? Did you use the directions here?

2. With Little Debbie gingerbread men and icing and sprinkles, etc.

3. With clay--either quick dry or modelling clay.

4. With Dixie cups and big wooden beads or polystyrene balls, as is shown here.

5. Paint or use markers on butcher paper, assigning each child a figure to contribute. Or have watercolors available for children to paint their own nativity scene.

Wondering Questions:
1. I wonder what your favorite part of the story is so far.
2. I wonder what the wise men thought when they saw the wild star that didn't behave as any other star they'd ever known. I wonder what questions they asked themselves about it.
3. The gifts the wise men brought were unusual for a baby. I wonder what Mary and Joseph thought about the gifts. I wonder what questions they asked themselves about the gifts.
4. I wonder what the wise men said to each other as they followed the star.
5. I wonder what King Herod thought to himself when he heard about the baby from the Magi.
6. I wonder what message God is giving you about yourself through this story.

Thanks, y'all! And Merry Christmas to you!
Love, Becky

Monday, December 9, 2013

The Third Sunday of Advent

Hi Godly Play Teachers!
Welcome to the celebration of the Third Sunday of Advent, this Sunday, December 15.

This Sunday we introduce the third advent card, focusing on the angels' visit to the shepherds and the angels' song of Good News.

There are several themes you may wish to explore during the time in the circle or during the create-a-gift-for-God time. These include:

1.The shepherds were the first people, besides Mary and Joseph and family, to be told of the Good News. What does it mean about God that they were the ones told first?
2. The angels' message itself: Don't be afraid. We bring tidings of great joy: Peace on earth and good will to everyone. A child is born. Go see the child who will change everything. How would he change everything?
3. The shepherds' response to the angels' message. They chose to do what the angels said. Don't you wonder what they were thinking?

Ideas to Inspire Children for their Gifts to God
Flickr photo by Big 3 News
1. Make a mural of a host of angels. There is butcher paper, either black or white that I can get for you. The children could paint the mural if you're feeling adventurous, (the kids would LOVE it) or use markers or watercolors. How many angels could we fit on the mural? I wonder if all the angels looked the same or if they were different.

The mural could include a hillside with shepherds and sheep, or just be focused on the angels.

Flickr photo by rusty.grass
2. We could make ornaments of angels or lambs or shepherds.
The angels could be made from clothespins and felt or tissue paper, (see last week's lesson.) The shepherds could be done in a similar way, with felt or tissue paper for clothes. Use sharpies to make the faces and yarn or whatever the kids want for the hair.

Or, if you don't want to use clothespins, check out these sites for more ideas (keeping in mind that the more choices you give the children in directing and making their work, the more invested and excited they'll be about it):

3. Angel ornament ideas

4. Lamb ornament ideas

5. Lamb ideas
Make a paper plate lamb, like this one!

5. Could you make an entire nativity scene from clothespin people? Or cut out from paper?

What about a mural of the scene? How about a (child) life size one to hang in your Sunday school room or on a bulletin board?

I love it best when children come up with their own original ideas. Here a young lady thought about how we're all on our own road to Bethlehem and decided to make her own 3D map. 
 If you look from left to right you see an angel, some mountains, the great star and the moon, as well as an arrow in the road, pointing to a "G" which stands for God.

Flickr photo by ihateyourstinkinguts
6. You could also focus on the song the angels sang and make some music of your own. Make musical instruments and sing Christmas carols and play the instruments. Make sure somebody videotapes this! :)
Here's a site that tells how to make 9 different instruments:
Here's another site with a few other ideas on instruments:

I hope this helps! 

Oops, almost forgot the wondering questions!
Here are some questions to help the children process and internalize the story:

1. I wonder what your favorite part of the story was today.

2. I wonder why you think God chose the shepherds to hear the good news first.
3. I wonder how the shepherds felt when the angels appeared and sang.
4. I wonder what the shepherds thought about as they made their way to see Baby Jesus?
5. I wonder where you are in today's story? I wonder what message God has for you?

Monday, December 2, 2013

The Second Sunday of Advent

Hi Godly Play Teachers!
Welcome to the celebration of the Second Sunday of Advent, this Sunday, Dec 9.

This Sunday we move to the second card in the Advent Godly Play series, focusing on Mary and Joseph's journey (don't forget the donkey!) to Bethlehem.

There are several themes to explore during the time in the circle or during the create-a-gift-for-God time, if you so wish. These include:

1. Mary as the chosen mother of Jesus. Why did God choose her? What does it mean to be in favor with God?

2. Mary's reaction to Gabriel's news. The older children might enjoy really studying her reaction found in Luke, Chapter 1. You could even listen to The Magnificat.

3. The idea that God gives us courage and help to do what we need to do if we ask for it.

4. The idea of being part of God's work in the world. How can each person do that? Can we look for ways to do God's work? Be open to responding to God's nudges?

5. Nothing is impossible for God. (What a great memory verse! Luke 1:37.)

So how do we help the children explore the story and these themes? Here are some ideas for the Create-a-Gift-for-God-Time to add to your own.

Recreating the Story as a Gift to God
Children would enjoy exploring the story and recreating it in some way, both the visit of Gabriel to Mary and Mary and Joseph's journey to Bethlehem.
1. Put up several big easels and let the children paint the angel's visit or the journey. (I bet older kids would like this too. They seldom get to paint on big easels anymore.  You could even look at some famous artwork of Mary and baby Jesus.
2. Use watercolors at the tables to paint either scene.
3. Make "life-size angels!" (Who knows how big angels are!)  Use big pieces of butcher paper and have kids lie down and trace each other, sort of like making snow angels. Decorate with markers or paint or fabric.

4. Make an angel from a paper plate. Let the children choose as much as possible how they want to decorate. (Prescribed crafts limit their investment / idea of owning their own work, so the more choices, the better.) You can find instructions for a paper plate angel here.

Or make angels from beads, like our first graders did last year.

5. Recreate the story by acting it out. We have costumes for the younger children. Let me know ASAP if you want to use them and I can make sure they're available. There's a great video made by a group of children posted here. You could use that for inspiration if you like. The kids would enjoy watching it. If you decide to do this, I hope you can video it! Maybe a parent could help.

6. Make ornaments for Gabriel, Mary, Joseph, and the Donkey!
There are tons of ornaments out there for angels. Here's a pic of one that one of my kids made out of a clothespin and felt.

I bet the children could figure out how to make ornaments for the other characters out of clothespins and fabric or tissue paper.

I hope the ideas help!

Here are the Wondering Questions I've written for this Sunday. I look forward to hearing the children's responses!
1. I wonder what your favorite part of the story is so far.
2. I wonder how Mary felt when Gabriel appeared before her and when she heard the news.
I wonder how she felt on the journey to Bethlehem and how Joseph felt. And the donkey too!
3. I wonder what we can learn from Mary and Joseph and the decisions they made from this story. What do they teach us about God?
4. I wonder where you are in this story. What part of this story is about you or for you?
5. I wonder if you and I might be part of this story in a way, on our own way to Bethlehem.