I love both Godly Play and Catechesis of the Good Shepherd, two Montessori-based religious education programs for children. I also love the creative use of Godly Play at home.
Creative Godly Play at Home
I have a number of posts about Godly Play, including posts about using Godly Play at home. Parents are finding creative and inexpensive ways to use Godly Play concepts to make the Bible a living part of their daily home environment. I like to think of this as creative Godly Play at home. Emily at Watkins Every Flavor Beans describes this well in Godly Play: Part 1:
“When I talk about godly play in the home I’m not talking about using the curriculums that are available. I am introducing the idea that we should have a way for children to play with the Biblical story and Christian practice on a daily basis. Our godly play table … is played with often for several days and then will sit un-played with for awhile, just like other toys in the house. But, the Bible, children’s Bibles, prayer book, electric candles (which we light in prayer), Biblical figures and props are all there when Jonah wants to play (by which, I mean ‘use his imagination to seek understanding’ – that is my definition of play).
“Often Jonah’s cars and other toys join in the adventures of the biblical figures. I am reminded that the biblical story is not fragile, and that, by bringing in other toys, he is understanding the story in new ways and making applications of biblical truths outside the Biblical story – that is so exciting! At times I listen to his play and see what he is understanding spiritually, what he is wrestling with, and sometimes what he is misunderstanding. I rarely address these issues while he is playing alone, but will engage him in conversation or a retelling of a story later to help clarify if I think it is needed.”
Help in Getting Started
- I encourage you to take Godly Play training if you have the opportunity (it’s wonderful!): Godly Play Isn’t Just for Children. But if you don’t have the opportunity to take the training or make the traditional materials, you can still add Creative Godly Play to your home quite easily.
- Some ideas and resources: Fitting Montessori-Based Religious Education into Your Home
- While Creative Godly Play at Home activities don’t always follow the standard Godly Play scripts and may include Bible stories outside the traditional Godly Play curriculum, they still include hands-on materials and storytelling to help make the Bible stories come alive for young children. Emily at Watkins Every Flavor Beans has resources for getting started in Godly Play: Part 2
- Church of the Holy Spirit has Godly Play information and scripts.
- I highly recommend reading as much about Godly Play as possible. The following books have scripts for fall Godly play presentations:
- The Complete Guide to Godly Play: An Imaginative Method for Presenting Scripture Stories to Children (Volume 2) by Jerome W. Berryman
- Young Children and Worship by Sonja Stewart and Jerome Berryman
- Be sure to watch this video and notice the slow, deliberate movements the storyteller uses when presenting a Bible story.
- Use wondering questions. In Godly Play, an important part of the storyteller’s role is leading a “wondering” period in response to the story. The main wondering questions are:
I wonder what part of this story you like best?
I wonder what part is the most important?
I wonder where you are in this story or what part of the story is about you?
I wonder if there is any part of the story we could leave out and still have all the story we need?
Old Testament Creative Godly Play Ideas that Work Well for Home Use
Old Testament stories are typically presented in the autumn in a Godly Play curriculum, so I’ll include some ideas for Old Testament lessons I’ve found online.
Creation from School in a Pink House
Creation Cards from We Don’t Need No Education
Creation from Watkins Every Flavor Beans
Creation from The Adventures of Bear
Adam and Eve from Our Country Road
Adam and Eve from The Adventures of Bear
Noah’s Ark from The Adventures of Bear (photo at top of post)
Noah’s Ark from A Bohemian Education
Tower of Babel from Our Country Road
The Great Family from Building Godly Play
Abram and Sarai – The Great Family from The Adventures of Bear
Isaac and Rebekah from Our Country Road
Baby Moses (and the Tower of Babel) from A Bohemian Education
The Ten Best Ways to Live and Expedition in the Desert: The 10 Best Ways to Live from Explore and Express. Sheila from Explore and Express has also used Godly Play in creative ways with other groups of children.
The Tabernacle (Exodus 25-27) from Building Godly Play
Daniel and the Lion’s Den from A Bohemian Education
Jonah from A Bohemian Education
Judy Jowers has ideas for many Bible stories at Flickr.
In addition to allowing your child to work independently with the Godly Play materials once they’ve been presented, you could also provide hands-on activities or crafts as follow-up responses to the story.
Have you used some form of creative Godly Play at home?