There was once someone who did such amazing things and said such wonderful things that people followed him. As they followed him, they heard him speaking about a kingdom. The kingdom was not like the one they were in. It was not like one that anyone had ever visited. It was not like any kingdom anyone had even heard about. So they had to ask him, ‘What is the kingdom of heaven like?’
One day when they asked him that, he said, ‘The kingdom of heaven is like when a sower, someone who scatters seeds, goes out and scatters seeds along the path….’ (The Complete Guide to Godly Play, Volume 3, p. 105)
When to Present the Parable of the Sower
The Parable of the Sower is most often presented before Lent in churches with Godly Play programs. In my Catechesis of the Good Shepherd training, I was told that there was no liturgical time for the Parable of the Sower, and I’ve often heard of Catechesis of the Good Shepherd programs presenting the Parable of the Sower during Lent.
If you have a homeschool, you might even want to present the Parable of the Sower as part of a gardening unit. Do what works best for your own family. While I always recommend taking Godly Play training both for your own knowledge and spiritual formation (see GodlyPlay Isn’t Just for Children), your child can benefit from a Montessori-based approach to religious education without your having the best training or materials. (See How to Add Godly Play to Your Homeschool.)
Godly Play Scripts and Materials
The current Godly Play parable scripts are in The Complete Guide to Godly Play: An Imaginative Method for Presenting Scripture Stories to Children (Volume 3: 20 Presentations for Winter) by Jerome W. Berryman. Young Children and Worship by Sonja M. Stewart and Jerome W. Berryman contains both scripts (although not the latest versions) and patterns for making the materials. Many homeschoolers find Young Children and Worship the simplest for home use, although all the Godly Play books are helpful.
Many of the materials for church-school use are wooden. For home use, wool felt often works well. If you use the patterns in Young Children and Worship, you can also color and mount the materials on poster board or even just color and laminate the materials.
Presenting the Parable of the Sower
There are variations among Godly Play storytellers as they put the stories in their own words, but the following YouTube video gives an idea of how you can present the Parable of the Sower.
The video shows the important role of the wondering questions. In Teaching Godly Play: How to Mentor the Spiritual Development of Children, Jerome Berryman talks about the importance of parables and the wondering questions:
Only those who have the ears to hear will hear. This is why it is important for children to encounter parables during childhood so they can develop the ability to hear with their own ears what Jesus was communicating when he spoke in parables.
The fundamental wondering questions for the parables are variations on: ‘I wonder what this could really be?’ It implies that there is more to what is real than ordinarily meets the eye. (p. 47)
Training Happy Hearts has a Godly Play inspired lesson on The Parable of the Sower with many related activities.
The Wonder Circle has suggestions for questions and activities to go with the Parable of the Sower.
I’d love to hear of your experiences using Godly Play in your home or church school!