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. You don’t need to duplicate a complete Godly Play program and materials a church might have. Today, I want to share inspiration on how to get started along with Old Testament Godly Play lessons for fall.
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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 Wondering through the Year describes this well in Godly Play: Part 1: What Is Godly Play?
“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
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?
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 Wondering through the Year has resources for getting started in Godly Play: Part 2: Resources for Getting Started at Home. She has more helpful ideas in Godly Play: Part 2: Creating the Space.
I highly recommend reading as much about Godly Play as possible. The following book has scripts for fall Godly Play presentations:
The Complete Guide to Godly Play (Volume 2), Revised and Expanded by Jerome W. Berryman (2nd edition, June 15, 2017). You can read about the curriculum updates and revisions (and download a page with more information about the updates) here. Note: “The Holy Family” is now a Core story told at the beginning of the year in Christian churches and families. There’s a YouTube video of “The Holy Family” Godly Play that’s very helpful. I love the new “Holy Bible” presentation and weekly practice in the revised volume 2. Here’s a Google preview of the book.
Old Testament Creative Godly Play Ideas
Old Testament stories are typically presented in the autumn in a Godly Play curriculum, so I’m including some ideas for Old Testament lessons I’ve found online. 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.
Some of the presentations shared here are from churches with beautiful materials you won’t have at home. You can still get great ideas from their presentations and often follow-up activities. For example, BeckyRamsey.com shares lessons from their church and often has wonderful extensions to the actual Godly Play lesson.
Many of the Old Testament lessons require a limited number of materials as long as you have some sort of DIY sand table or sensory bin. (This DIY sensory table is inexpensive and sturdy … perfect for a sand table to be used for Old Testament lessons. A plain sensory bin with sand would be great as well.) Even an outdoor sandbox would work. Or you could make your own desert bag. You can also find some great ideas for creating your own DIY Godly Play materials from Megan Cottrell at Christian Montessori Network
The patterns in Young Children and Worship by Sonja Stewart and Jerome Berryman are very helpful. But Godly Play has evolved since Young Children and Worship was written. It’s best to follow the Old Testament presentations as they’re given in volume 2 of The Complete Guide to Godly Play.
Variations of the Old Testament Lessons from The Complete Guide to Godly Play (Volume 2), Revised and Expanded
Old Testament Stories with Godly Play from Polly’s Perspective
Creation from School in a Pink House
Creation Cards from We Don’t Need No Education
Creation from Wondering Through the Year
Creation from Nurturing Learning
The Creation from BeckyRamsey.com
Creation Activities and Resources from All Play on Sunday
Creative Reflection (reflection after presenting Godly Play Volume 2: Lesson) from Wondering through the Year
Creation – Godly Play, but with Figures not Cards from Wondering through the Year
You’ll find a lot of extension activities in the “Exploring Creation with Hands-on Learning for Kids Series” at Christian Montessori Network.
The Flood and Ark
Noah’s Ark from Nurturing Learning
The Flood and the Ark from BeckyRamsey.com
Also, see the Noah’s Ark shoebox craft from Vanessa at Christian Montessori Network.
The Great Family
Godly Play – The Great Family from Explore and Express
Abram and Sarai – The Great Family from Nurturing Learning
The Great Family from BeckyRamsey.com
The Great Family from Wonderful in an Easter Kind of Way
The Story of the Exodus from BeckyRamsey.com
The 10 Best Ways
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 Ten Best Ways to Live from BeckyRamsey.com
Ark and Tent (Tabernacle)
The Ark and the Tent from BeckyRamsey.com
The Ark and the Tent from North Scottsdale United Methodist Church
The Ark and the Tent from TeachBeyond
The Ark and Temple
The Ark and the Temple from BeckyRamsey.com
Exile and Return
The Exile and the Return from BeckyRamsey.com
I haven’t seen someone use the actual lesson as told in The Complete Guide to Godly Play (Volume 2), Revised and Expanded. I’ll add more as new lessons become available.
The Prophet Jonah
Jonah, the Backward Prophet from BeckyRamsey.com
Jonah and the Whale from Mama’s Happy Hive
Jonah from A Bohemian Education (blog no longer available)
Creative Godly Play at Home Additional Old Testament Lessons
Some of these are from The Complete Guide to Godly Play, Volume 6: 15 Enrichment Presentations for Fall: Key Figures Among the People of God by Jerome W. Berryman. Others are creative home versions of Old Testament Bible stories.
The Falling Apart – The Story of Adam and Eve from BeckyRamsey.com
Adam and Eve from Our Country Road
Adam and Eve from Nurturing Learning
Tower of Babel from Our Country Road
Godly Play – Tower of Babel from Nurturing Learning
Isaac and Rebekah from Our Country Road
Rebekah at the Well from Vanessa at Christian Montessori Network
The Story of Jacob from BeckyRamsey.com
Godly Play – Joseph from Wondering through the Year
Joseph at Home from Wondering through the Year
The Story of Joseph from BeckyRamsey.com
Baby Moses from Adventures in Mommydom
The Story of Moses – The Beginning from BeckyRamsey.com
Moses stories from All Play on Sunday
12 Spies Go Into Canaan from Adventures in Mommydom
Joshua and the Promised Land from Explore and Express
The Story of Ruth from BeckyRamsey.com
The Story of Samuel from BeckyRamsey.com
The Story of David from BeckyRamsey.com
The Psalms from BeckyRamsey.com
The Story of Daniel from BeckyRamsey.com
Daniel in the Lion’s Den by Vanessa at Christian Montessori Network
The Story of the Prophet Elijah from BeckyRamsey.com
The Prophet Jeremiah from BeckyRamsey.com
Judy Jowers has ideas for many Bible stories at Flickr.
I have a post with lots of help in learning how to teach Godly Play through free Old Testament video lessons.
Have you used some form of Godly Play?
Learn more about my eBook Montessori at Home or School: How to. Teach Grace and Courtesy!
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