Monday, April 20, 2015

Knowing Jesus in a New Way 3: Known in Doubt

Hi Godly Play Teachers!
Welcome to Knowing Jesus in a New Way 3: Known in Doubt, our lesson for April 26.
Are you as captured as I am by the expression of Thomas on the story tile for this week? He looks so worn and ashamed of his doubt, wanting to believe, yet in such need of seeing the wounds for himself.

I love the way the story script tells the story from Luke 24:36-43 and John 20:19-29. It describes the mood of the group of disciples gathered-with the doors shut, afraid for their lives. And then suddenly from within the group someone says, "Peace be with you," and they realize it is Jesus.

They think he's a ghost but then he eats a piece of fish. He wishes them peace again and he's gone. Thomas comes to the group and hears the story of what happened but can't believe. I like that the script does not find fault with this. "And why wouldn't he doubt? Their minds were stretching, stretching to be big enough to know Jesus in this new way."

Then, eight days later, the disciples are again in a locked room and Jesus appears, this time with Thomas present. Thomas doesn't have to ask. Jesus approaches him and shows him the scars, inviting him, "Touch me." Of course he falls on his knees. When Jesus says, "Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe," goosebumps rise on my arm. Yours too?

I bet children will identify with Thomas, particularly the older ones. They've been told so many things and have been disappointed to find they were duped. Proof makes belief so much easier. Older children might like to talk about belief and doubt. We shouldn't be afraid to share our own experiences and hear theirs.
For younger children, this is a great story to have in their back pocket, so that when times of doubt and questions do arise when they're older, they remember one who loved Jesus and whom Jesus loved who experienced the same feelings.

So, how do we help the children process the story?
If you are in a classroom where all the materials are near available to the children (if you aren't, I'd love to help change that--there's money for shelves for your circle) I hope you'll consider going along with the Godly Play script and letting the children gather items that help tell the story. It will be interesting to see the connections they make.

Here are our wondering questions for the lesson:

1. I wonder what is your favorite part of the story.
2. I wonder what the disciples thought when Jesus appeared to them in the locked room.
3. I wonder why Thomas needed to touch Jesus' wounds.
4. I wonder what Thomas thought when Jesus appeared and came up to Thomas and said, "Touch me."
5. I wonder if  you've ever had doubts about anything. I wonder how that feels.
6. I wonder what we can do when we have doubts about believing.


Some Thoughts on Our Gift to God Time:
How can we help the children to re-live this story? Here are a few ideas:

1. Retelling the story through art or drama
a) Kids could act out the story in your classroom. Make it dramatic. Shut the doors. Do the acting out in candlelight. Each child could play a part. The camera in the drawer in the hallway can videotape, if you want to do that.

b) Kids could draw the scenes of the story. The first appearance of Jesus. His eating of a piece of fish. Thomas's skepticism of the story. Then Jesus' appearance to Thomas and his touching Jesus. This could be done with markers or paint or three dimensionally with clay. It could be a class project on a mural or done individually.
c) There is also a craft ideas for responding to this story with art here .





2. Digging into the theme of the story of believing without seeing.
a) Children could make a banner for the classroom or a bulletin board that says, "Blessed are those that do not see, but still believe. John 20:29"-or whatever verse or message they pick that they feel tells the story. What illustrations would they want to decorate it with? I'm sure they'd have ideas.

b) Kids could make an illustrated list of ways to handle their doubt. What do they do when they doubt? Read the Bible? Talk to their parents? Talk with their teachers? Pray? Think hard about it? Or they could illustrate the statement: I can ask God for help with my doubt.

c)Children could discuss what faith really is and illustrate "What faith in Jesus means to me." or make an "I Believe" door hanger or sign and decorate it however they like-with stickers or sequins or markers. We have some foam stickers in the game room on the craft table if you want to use them.

Enjoy! And thank you!

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Knowing Jesus in a New Way 2: Known in the Breaking of the Bread

Hi Godly Play Teachers!
Welcome to Knowing Jesus in a New Way 2: Known in the Breaking of the Bread, our lesson for April 19.
What a remarkable story from Luke 24:13-35. Two followers of Jesus (Cleopas and another unnamed) are walking from Jerusalem to Emmaus, talking about what had just happened to Jesus, and they meet a stranger on the road who asks them what they are discussing. The stranger is Jesus, but they don't recognize him. The two are speechless until Cleopas says, "Are you the only person who doesn't know?" Jesus then asks him to explain, and Cleopas says that they are talking about Jesus of Nazareth, "He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him;  but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel." Then he adds that some women went to the tomb and couldn't find his body and came back with stories of seeing angels who told them that he was alive.
Then the stranger calls them foolish and slow and says, "Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things before entering his glory?" He explains what was said by Moses and the prophets about Jesus in all the scriptures. 
As they near the village, the men ask the stranger (Jesus) to stay with them. As they settle down to eat together, Jesus takes the bread, says the blessing, breaks the bread and hands it to them, and suddenly they recognize who he is. At that moment, Jesus disappears from their sight. They say to each other, "Wasn't it like a fire burning in us when he talked to us on the road and explained the scriptures to us?" 
Of course they rush back to Jerusalem to tell the 11 disciples. 
How moving! The children are sure to be amazed with this scripture. 
Be sure to check out how the Godly Play script shares these verses. It's beautiful.
So, how do we help the children process the story?
If you are in a classroom where all the materials are near available to the children (if you aren't, I'd love to help change that--there's money for shelves for your circle) I hope you'll consider going along with the Godly Play script and letting the children gather items that help tell the story. It will be interesting to see the connections they make.

Here are some wondering questions for this lesson:
1. I wonder what your favorite part of today's story is.
2. I wonder what the most important part of today's story is.
3. I wonder what God is trying to teach us with this story.
4. The stranger talked to them about how the Jewish people had been trapped in so many ways and that prophets said a little child would lead the people out of being trapped. I wonder how Jesus helped the people from being trapped. 

Some Thoughts on Our Gift to God Time:
How can we help the children to re-live this story? Here are a few ideas:

This one is my favorite:
1. Why not literally walk through the story with the children? If the weather is good, I think it would be great to take a walk around the church, and as you walk, ask the children what the men must have said to each other, being so confused and scared and disappointed with what had happened. Help them imagine encountering a stranger. (You could even have one of the teachers play that role!)  You don't have to talk about the story the entire walk, but physically walking and talking about it to some degree helps the children imagine it and remember it.
When you return to the classroom, why not have bread and juice waiting and sit down and share what it must have been like to recognize Jesus in the breaking of the bread--and then have him vanish! I bet if the children walk through this experience, they won't forget it!
2. Act out the story in the classroom. Take photos!



3. Illustrate the segments of the different parts of the story: 
a)the two men walking, scared and confused,
b)the encounter with the stranger
c)what the stranger said, that a little child would come to lead the people and that someone would suffer and die so that we could really be alive
d) the meal at the inn
e) Jesus vanishing
f) the two followers rushing back to tell the disciples
4. Need other ideas? There's a whole bunch here.

Other ideas? Please share!
Thank you for all you do!
Love, Becky

Monday, April 6, 2015

Knowing Jesus in a New Way 1: Known in Absence

Hi Godly Play Teachers!
Welcome to Knowing Jesus in a New Way 1: Known in Absence, our lesson for April 12.
This week's story always gives me goosebumps-especially the moment when Jesus calls Mary's name and she recognizes him. It's hard to think of a story that would be more full of suspense and fear and joy, and the script for this Godly Play lesson does such a great job of sharing all of that with the children. I'm so glad that we don't have to cram all of the after-Easter stories into Easter Sunday! It's a luxury to be able to enjoy them and study them over several weeks.

The script is shared in the book that comes in the basket with your story tiles. This series is told much like the Easter series, with each lesson shared in a weekly tile, presented in sequence. The book suggests that after the story is shared, that you give the children time to find something among your Godly Play materials that helps further tell/illustrate the story. I hope that if you have the materials out in your room that you'll do that. I'll also include wondering questions for you for each week.

Here are the wondering questions for this week. Thank you so much for taking time to jot down responses so that we can share them with the parents.They have shared that they find it meaningful and enjoy feeling connected to what happens in class.

Wondering Questions:
1. I wonder what your favorite part of today's story is.
2. I wonder what the most important part of today's story is.
3. I wonder if there are any parts of the story we could take away and still have everything we need.
4. I wonder if there are ways we can learn about Jesus even though  he's not here with us. I wonder what those ways might be.
5. I wonder what God is trying to teach us with this story about loving Jesus even when we're not with him.


Gift to God Response Time Ideas:
There are a couple different ways children can respond to the story: either by (1)retelling it through art with the ideas below, or (2) by exploring ways in which they can know Jesus in his physical absence.


(1) Retelling the story of the empty tomb through art.
 
Children may want to brainstorm how they might represent the empty tomb story with their own ideas. Could they make a cave with clay, and add some strips of linen to the inside, with a large stone rolled away? Could they build the tomb with Lego or Lincoln Logs (feel free to help yourselves to the materials in the game room.) Or make it out of paper plates?




Could they make the people in the story: the three Marys, Peter and John, Jesus as the gardener?  Could they act out the story for the class using the materials they made? If they choose to do this, please do take photos!

Or maybe they'd like to paint the story or draw it. You could also make the cave as shown here or here  
or here. 


Or if you're in the mood to cook, why make Resurrection Rolls? They turn out sort of like popovers-hollow in the middle like a cave. The recipe is here. You can use the oven in the parlor or make them ahead at home.





2) Exploring ways in which they can know Jesus in his physical absence
Hopefully the children will share ideas during the wondering questions of how they can know Jesus even though he's not physically with us. They could work together to illustrate a mural / list of these ways, including reading the Bible stories about Jesus, (ask the children to look through the Gospels and pick out their favorite ones and illustrate those,) listening to teachers and preaching about Jesus, praying, looking at artwork that artists have done about Jesus and his life, studying the Jewish faith that Jesus came from, learning about Jesus from the ways other Christians treat people. (This is a tricky one, isn't it?)
 I'm sure the children will think of even more ideas of ways to learn about Jesus.

Children could also explore how they "see" Jesus in other people. How can we act to make sure people see Jesus in us? This could be a great subject for a mural or class project.

I hope these ideas help!
Love, Becky

Monday, March 30, 2015

Faces of Easter VII: Celebrating the Risen Christ

Hi Godly Play Teachers! Happy Easter, in advance!
Welcome to Faces of Easter VII: Celebrating the Risen Christ, our lesson for Easter Sunday, April 5.
What a beautiful and important lesson we have this Sunday: the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus! I love how Godly Play presents this lesson, reminding children that the crucifixion side of the story cannot be pulled apart from the resurrection part, and that which looks like an ending is actually a beautiful beginning.

There are wondering questions at the end of the lesson with the script. I'll have those in your room as well.

Don't forget to allow time for your children to celebrate the resurrection by visiting the cross on the courtyard outside the sanctuary, where each child will have an opportunity to add a flower or two to the cross. Maybe the younger children can go at the beginning of Sunday school, and y'all can stagger your visits so everyone has time to enjoy the cross. If you like, you could even take the kids to the labyrinth, with instructions for them to pray their own Easter prayer as they walk it. If the kids have plenty of direction as to what they're supposed to do (and if the weather is good) it might be a meaningful part of the morning!

We will
have snacks in the game room before Sunday school, but you might want to share a special Easter snack with your kids (Hot cross buns or something Easter-y.) Just give me a clean receipt and I can make sure you're reimbursed. Easter is definitely something that deserves a party!

The children may have their own ideas about how they'd like to explore the story and celebrate it through art. It would be wonderful if they wanted to work together as a class to make a gift to God. Maybe a mural of the stone rolled away, or of the two sides of this week's story tile?

Here are some other ideas to add to your own:
Check out the stained glass cross example and directions here.

Make a plastic canvas cross here.

See a Resurrection cracked egg here.

All ages, from the youngest to the oldest would enjoy making a butterfly from a coffee filter as shown here. Discussion of how a caterpillar becomes a butterfly is a great lead in to talk about the transformation of Jesus. If you choose to do this and the kids have a chance to talk about what is alike/ different about the transformations, I'd love to hear the kids' comments. Jot them down if you have a chance.

Thanks y'all!
Much love, Becky

Monday, March 23, 2015

Faces of Easter VI: Remembering Jesus At the Last Supper

Hi Godly Play Teachers!
Welcome to Faces of Easter VI: Remembering Jesus At the Last Supper, our lesson for March 29. You can also choose to do the same basic lesson but told in a different way, The Synagogue and the Upper Room (Lesson 11 in the yellow book.) Or you can combine the two lessons as you like. I bet the children would really enjoy seeing how the synagogue and the upper room physically unite together to become the church!

Faces of Easter VI
:
What a whirlwind of a story this week's lesson is! So much happens, and all of it so very important: Jesus riding into Jerusalem on a borrowed donkey, greeted with palms waving, Jesus teaching in the temple and sharing the parable of the widow's offering, the temple guards' plan to take him on Thursday, the last supper in the upper room, Jesus praying in the Garden of Gethsemane, Judas' kiss of betrayal and Jesus' arrest. What an honor, to be able to share this with the children and help them process it.

This Sunday at our church our first - fifth grade choirs will be singing in worship, so our time with most of our kids will be shorter than normal, so I know you'll want to get straight to the story. This is a perfect week to let the children respond to the story by gathering things from the Godly Play materials in the room that they feel help tell the story. I hope you'll be able to jot these down for me, along with their thinking on this, so that I can share it with the parents. I'll also have the following wondering questions for you in case that works better for your class, or if you have time to do both:

Wondering Questions:
1. I wonder what part of the story is your favorite.

2. I wonder what part of the story is the most important.

3.In the parable Jesus taught in the temple about the old woman's offering, I wonder who really gave the most, the old woman or the rich man.

4. When Jesus had the supper with the disciples and broke the bread and shared the wine, I wonder what they thought it meant.

5. I wonder how the disciples felt when the guards took Jesus away.

6. The Bible says that the disciples ran away. I wonder what thoughts were going through their minds.

7. I wonder what thoughts were going through the mind of Jesus.


Give A Gift To God Time
We'll have some non-choir children who'll have time to respond to the story creatively, so here are some ideas to add to your own:
1. Retell the story in sections. The story can be divided into scenes, with children working on different ones in pairs or individually. These can be hung together in your classroom if you like. Scenes would include the entrance of Jesus into Jerusalem, Jesus teaching in the temple, an illustration of the parable of the widow's offering, the Last Supper, Jesus praying in the garden, Jesus' arrest.
2. Act out the last supper.

2. Make more ornaments for your Jesus (Easter) tree. Children could make donkeys or palm branches, representations of the widow's offering, bread or chalices of wine, praying hands or a praying Jesus, or bags of money, representing the 30 pieces of silver Judas was paid to betray Jesus.

3. Palm art. Here are directions for palm crosses for older children. You can use green ribbon too.

4. See more ideas of Palm Sunday crafts here.

Enjoy! I hope you have a very meaningful Sunday!

Monday, March 16, 2015

Faces of Easter V: Remembering Jesus Healing and Sharing Parables

Hi Godly Play Teachers!
Welcome to Faces of Easter V: Remembering Jesus Healing and Sharing Parables, our lesson for March 22.
As we get ready for Easter this week, we remember the work Jesus did as he traveled around, healing people and sharing parables. It's a great chance to make clear to our children that being with people of all kinds, loving them, healing them of their physical and emotional wounds, and sharing truth through stories was the work that God sent Jesus to do--and still sends Jesus to do today. I look forward to hearing from the children ways that they can be like Jesus: how they can show their love for others, heal people who are hurting, and share God's truth with others.

You may want to share more detail in this week's lesson than what is written in the script. Because we are retelling all the parts of the Jesus story, sharing every tile that we've shared so far during Lent, the writer keeps the script very brief. As for me, I'd rather give very short summaries of the tiles shared in the previous weeks and spend a bigger chunk of time in the circle sharing the healing story and an example of a parable.

I've fleshed out the script for this purpose with a more detailed telling of Jesus healing the blind man and Jesus telling the Parable of the Friend at Night and will send you my version by email this week. Feel free to use it if you like.

If you haven't yet given each child an opportunity at the end of the circle time to gather something from the Godly Play materials that is related to this week's story and to share the relation that he/she sees, this week is the perfect opportunity to try it. Even if you also use the wondering questions, it could be an interesting and valuable part of the lesson. If you do, try to have an adult jot down their thoughts and ideas so that we can share them in the newsletter.

Since there are no wondering questions listed with the script, I'll have the ones below ready in your rooms. Thanks so much for taking time to document their responses. Having a peek into their thoughts and ideas is such a gift to the parents--and to the rest of us!


Wondering Questions:
1. I wonder what was your favorite part of today's story.
2. In the healing part of our story, wonder how the blind man felt and what he thought when Jesus first took him by the hand.
3. Jesus put his spit on the man's eyes, and the man could see, but not well. Then Jesus put his hands on his eyes again and his sight was perfect. I wonder why it took Jesus two times. 
I wonder what this might teach us about helping people.
4. We can't heal people's eyes by touching them, but I wonder how we can help people with their hurt bodies and hurt feelings.
5. We shared the story Jesus told called the Parable of the Friend at Night. In that story, I wonder who the friend is who has gone to bed. 
I wonder who you are in the story. 
I wonder what Jesus wanted us to know about praying.
6. We talked about the fact that Jesus' work was to come close to people, especially the people no one else wanted to come close to. If Jesus came to do this today, I wonder what kind of people Jesus would want to spend time with.


Gift to God Time
There are many different directions the children can go in responding to this week's time together. They could focus on retelling the healing story or the parable or both. Or they could extend this lesson by focusing on how we as Christians can participate in the healing of others and in telling truth and sharing God's message.
Retelling today's story:
1. Children could make 2 dimensional or 3 dimensional representations of the healing story or the parable story through drawing or painting it, making a mural, creating the scene in a diorama, making clay figures to act out the story, etc.

2. Children could work in a group or individually collecting healing stories of Jesus or
parables Jesus told. How long a list could they make? Could you work together, giving groups of kids different gospels to scan, making a list on a piece of butcher paper? Maybe they could illustrate the list with a simple drawing beside each title. The Bibles in our Sunday school rooms have headings of each parable and healing story, making them easy to find. Do all the gospels tell the same stories? This would be good to investigate.

3. Children could be given the option of examining other parable stories in the parable boxes and retelling them to a partner. They might have to look these up in the Bible to make sure they remember the stories. We'd just need to be sure that they're careful to keep all the materials together and separate from each other.

4. The children could even make a mini-booklet of parables, with one on each page and a simple illustration.

5. Children could make ornaments for our Jesus tree from the different healing and parable stories. How about a set of eyes for this week? Or a door from the parable? Or items from other parables and healing stories. There are some interesting ones here.

How we can help heal others:
6. Children could make cards to help heal those who are sick or lonely. I'd be glad to pass these on to the ministers when they visit. When we've done this before we've had a great response. Cards really do make a difference!

Do you have other ideas to share? Please describe them in the comments!

Monday, March 9, 2015

Faces of Easter IV: Remembering Christ's Desert Experience

Hi Godly Play Teachers! Welcome to Faces of Easter IV: Remembering Christ's Desert Experience, our lesson for March 15.

As we get ready for Easter this week, we remember Jesus' temptation in the wilderness, described in Matthew 4: 1-11. It's good to remember that this event happened right after Jesus' baptism, before he could begin his work. Or maybe being tempted--and letting us see that even he was tempted--was part of his work!

As we all know (and have lived!) children have plenty of experience with temptation. Thankfully they have this sacred story to refer to, both now and as they get older. Temptation never goes away in life so it's a great lesson for all of us.

Since there are no wondering questions listed with the script, I'll have these ready in your rooms. Thanks so much for taking time to document their responses. Having a peek into their thoughts and ideas is such a gift to the parents--and to the rest of us!

Wondering Questions:
1. I wonder what is your favorite part of today's story.
2.   I wonder what the most important part of the story is.
3.   I wonder what God can teach us from this story.
4.   I wonder where you are in the story- what part of the story is about you.
5. I wonder why Jesus needed to go through all of these temptations before he started working with people.

Now, some ideas to add to your own to serve as springboards for the children's response time:
Focus on retelling the story itself:
1. Children could draw the three separate scenes. They could do this individually, on a large paper, folded in thirds. Or they could do this as a class, on a large mural on butcher paper. They could make captions, explaining each scene.

 Like this, from www.childrensbiblelessons.blogspot.com
I'd probably change the title to "How Jesus Was Tempted" because I think when we refer to the Devil, children imagine evil in a little red suit, rather than evil thoughts that might crop up in their own minds.

2. They could show the desert scene with sand art, using glue and colored sand, as shown at http://smarteasyandfun.blogspot.com/2012/06/sand-art.html



3. They could pick one scene to draw (or all three) and paint the drawing with watercolors. 

Focus on the idea of temptation and how God can help us deal with it.
4. On one side of a drawing or collage of magazine pictures, children could illustrate the different temptations they face at school or at home or at church or sports. (Cheating, disobeying parents, being hurtful to others, eating things that aren't good for them, etc).  On the other side they could show how they resist temptation by asking God for help. Or they could put on that side a verse of scripture or "What would Jesus do?"  Some scripture that might be appropriate might include:

James 1:12 Blessed is anyone who endures temptation. Such a one has stood the test and will receive the crown of life that the Lord* has promised to those who love him.

Psalm 62:8 Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before him.

Proverbs 3:5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart,and do not rely on your own insight. 

Isaiah 12:2 Surely God is my salvation; I will trust, and will not be afraid, for the Lord God * is my strength and my might; he has become my salvation.

5. Children could make a What Would Jesus Do bracelet (or a love bracelet) with letter beads and twine, tying knots between each bead to make them stay in place.



6. Children could make ornaments for the Jesus/Easter tree in their Sunday school room. For today's lesson, this might include hot gluing stones to thread to hang, or ornaments of scripture from this lesson.


7. Children could make a banner from felt or fun foam on What Would Jesus Do?

I hope this helps! Thank you for all you do!