I’ve written a number of posts about two beautiful religious education programs that are Montessori based: Catechesis of the Good Shepherd (CGS) and Godly Play. I truly believe they can make religion come alive for children.
I also wrote about How to Add Godly Play to Your Homeschool. Even so, I think it can be intimidating to think of preparing a Montessori-based religious education program at home when you consider how expensive the materials can be and how beautiful many of the wooden materials are. While I love the beauty of well-crafted wooden materials, they often just aren’t practical for a homeschool unless you have access to a helpful woodworker.
Interestingly, as I was searching for creative ways to prepare CGS and Godly Play materials, I found this post published today at Wonderful in an Easter Kind of Way – The Materials Aren’t the Key. I love this quote:
When Jerome Berryman began his teaching, he used shelving made from boards and cinder blocks, and only one presentation material: figures for the parable of the Good Shepherd, cut from construction paper and placed in a shoe box he had spray-painted gold.
And I love this quote from the article “Store not your treasure here below”:
One of my Godly Play trainers told us that the best presentation she’d ever seen was done with clothes pegs and pine cones!
My Family’s Montessori-Based Religious Education at Home
When my children were little, I started an atrium and was the catechist in a Catechesis of the Good Shepherd program in an Episcopal church. There, we had beautiful wooden materials. I also used some CGS lessons and ideas at home with my children.
But our home “atrium” was much different from the one at church. Our home “atrium” consisted of one shelving unit in our homeschool classroom with prayer materials, a candle snuffer polishing activity, and a number of materials that were simply purchased (often on sale) at our local religious supply store (photo at top of post). The figures were plastic, which wasn’t ideal, but they still gave my children a hands-on religious-education experience.
In CGS, the scripture is read as part of the lesson, whereas Godly Play uses storytelling without the actual scripture reading. Often, I would read the Bible scripture while my son or daughter moved the figures, or my son read the scripture while my daughter moved the figures. We were able to use this for a number of Bible stories that weren’t actually part of the CGS curriculum but that worked well with our current unit study.
Ideas from Other Bloggers and Sites
A number of bloggers give wonderful inspiration with creative ideas for using Montessori-based religious education at home. Often, wool felt is used instead of wood, or Bible figures are created inexpensively with other materials such as wooden peg dolls. Wooden peg dolls are a great option for many of the figures.
Here are some posts I think are especially helpful in providing ideas that work well at home:
Godly Play information and scripts from Church of the Holy Spirit
Adapting Godly Play for the Inclusive Classroom (pdf with helpful ideas) from Stranmillis University College
Godly Play materials posts from Wonderful in an Easter Kind of Way
Godly Play posts from All Play on Sunday
Godly Play posts from Our Country Road
Godly Play sets on Flickr by judy_jowers
School: Opportunities for Reflection and Prayer from Spiritual Child Network
The Atrium Environment from Thoughts from the Sheepfold
Catholic Montessori Album/Manual Update from Montessori Candy
Catechesis of the Good Shepherd at home from Training Happy Hearts.
Have you created any materials for Montessori-based religious education at home?