Monday, December 15, 2014

The Fourth Sunday of Advent

Hi Godly Play Teachers!
Welcome to the celebration of the Fourth Sunday of Advent, this Sunday, December 21.



This Sunday we introduce the fourth advent card, focusing on the visit of the Magi to the Christ child.
There are several themes you may wish to explore during the time in the circle or during the create-a-gift-for-God time. These include:
1. The idea that not only did the poor, uneducated shepherds go to see the baby, but so did the Magi -- men so wise that people thought they were magic.

2. The idea of God providing a wild star for the Magi to follow.

3. The significance of the three gifts for Jesus. (Since we won't be giving the Epiphany lesson this year, you may want to go ahead and share the details normally shared in the Epiphany lesson, studying gold (for a king,) frankincense (used for worship,) and myrrh (burned at funerals.) What is the significance of these three gifts in Jesus' life?

4. The interaction between the Magi and King Herod.

Ideas to Inspire Children for their Gifts to God
There are several areas of focus for their gift-to-God making:
The Wild Star
 1. Make a three dimensional star, as is shown here or here (directions included)
 2. Make a star out of Popsicle sticks shown here. The children could cover it with sparkly sequins. (There are some on our art cart.)


The Kings
 3. Make crown ornaments for the tree, as are shown here.  (Directions included.)
 4. Make present ornaments by wrapping boxes in wrapping paper, as you talk about the wise men's gifts.
The Entire Nativity Scene
Recreate the manger scene in its entirety as a group project. Help the children choose which figure each one can make and take a photo of them all together.
There are lots of ways you can do this...
1. With crushed candy, as with the directions here.

2. With Little Debbie gingerbread men and icing and sprinkles, etc.

3. With clay--either quick dry or modelling clay.

4. With Dixie cups and big wooden beads or polystyrene balls, as is shown here.

5. Paint or use markers on butcher paper, assigning each child a figure to contribute. Or have watercolors available for children to paint their own nativity scene.

Wondering Questions:
1. I wonder what is your favorite part of the story.
2. I wonder what the wise men thought when they saw the wild star that didn't behave as any other star they'd ever known. I wonder what questions they asked themselves about it.
3. The gifts the wise men brought were unusual for a baby. I wonder what Mary and Joseph thought about the gifts. I wonder what questions they asked themselves about the gifts.
4. I wonder what the wise men said to each other as they followed the star.
5. I wonder what King Herod thought to himself when he heard about the baby from the Magi.
6. I wonder what message God is giving you about yourself through this story.

Thanks, y'all! And Merry Christmas to you!
Love, Becky

Monday, December 8, 2014

The Third Sunday of Advent

Hi Godly Play Teachers!
Welcome to the celebration of the Third Sunday of Advent, this Sunday, December 14.

This Sunday we introduce the third advent card, focusing on the angels' visit to the shepherds and the angels' song of Good News.

There are several themes you may wish to explore during the time in the circle or during the create-a-gift-for-God time. These include:

1.The shepherds were the first people, besides Mary and Joseph and family, to be told of the Good News. What does it mean about God that they were the ones told first?
2. The angels' message itself: Don't be afraid. We bring tidings of great joy: Peace on earth and good will to everyone. A child is born. Go see the child who will change everything. How would he change everything?
3. The shepherds' response to the angels' message. They chose to do what the angels said. Don't you wonder what they were thinking?

Ideas to Inspire Children for their Gifts to God
Flickr photo by Big 3 News
1. Make a mural of a host of angels. There is butcher available. The children could paint the mural if you're feeling adventurous, (the kids would LOVE it) or use markers or watercolors. How many angels could we fit on the mural? I wonder if all the angels looked the same or if they were different.

The mural could include a hillside with shepherds and sheep, or just be focused on the angels.

Flickr photo by rusty.grass
2. We could make ornaments of angels or lambs or shepherds.
The angels could be made from clothespins and felt or tissue paper, (see last week's lesson.) The shepherds could be done in a similar way, with felt or tissue paper for clothes. Use sharpies to make the faces and yarn or whatever the kids want for the hair.

Or, if you don't want to use clothespins, check out these sites for more ideas (keeping in mind that the more choices you give the children in directing and making their work, the more invested and excited they'll be about it):

3. Angel ornament ideas
http://www.marthastewart.com/how-to/silvery-angel-tree-toppers-and-ornaments

 4. Lamb ornament ideas
http://crafts.kaboose.com/cotton-ball-lamb.html
http://crafts.kaboose.com/fluffy-lamb-ornament.html
http://crafts.kaboose.com/pom-pom-sheep.html

5. Could you make an entire nativity scene from clothespin people? Or cut out from paper?

What about a mural of the scene? How about a (child) life size one to hang in your Sunday school room or on a bulletin board?

It's wonderful when children come up with their own original ideas. Here a young lady thought about how we're all on our own road to Bethlehem and decided to make her own 3D map. 
 If you look from left to right you see an angel, some mountains, the great star and the moon, as well as an arrow in the road, pointing to a "G" which stands for God.

Flickr photo by ihateyourstinkinguts
6. You could also focus on the song the angels sang and make some music of your own. Make musical instruments and sing Christmas carols and play the instruments. Make sure somebody videotapes this! :)
Here's a site that tells how to make 9 different instruments:
http://www.familycorner.com/family/kids/crafts/9_musical_instruments.shtml
Here's another site with a few other ideas on instruments:
http://www.enchantedlearning.com/crafts/music/

I hope this helps! 

Oops, almost forgot the wondering questions!
Here are some questions to help the children process and internalize the story:
1. I wonder what your favorite part of the story was today.
2. I wonder why you think God chose the shepherds to hear the good news first.

3. I wonder how the shepherds felt when the angels appeared and sang.

4. I wonder what the shepherds thought about as they made their way to see Baby Jesus?

5. I wonder where you are in today's story? I wonder what message God has for you?

*All photos used courtesy of the Creative Commons agreement  Thank you, photographers!

Thanks!
Becky

Monday, December 1, 2014

The Second Sunday of Advent

Hi Godly Play Teachers!
Welcome to the celebration of the Second Sunday of Advent, this Sunday, Dec 7.


This Sunday we move to the second card in the Advent Godly Play series, focusing on Mary and Joseph's journey (don't forget the donkey!) to Bethlehem.

There are several themes to explore during the time in the circle or during the create-a-gift-for-God time, if you so wish. These include:

1. Mary as the chosen mother of Jesus. Why did God choose her? What does it mean to be in favor with God?

2. Mary's reaction to Gabriel's news. The older children might enjoy really studying her reaction found in Luke, Chapter 1. You could even listen to The Magnificat.

3. The idea that God gives us courage and help to do what we need to do if we ask for it.

4. The idea of being part of God's work in the world. How can each person do that? Can we look for ways to do God's work? Be open to responding to God's nudges?

5. Nothing is impossible for God. (What a great memory verse! Luke 1:37.)

So how do we help the children explore the story and these themes? Here are some ideas for the Create-a-Gift-for-God-Time to add to your own.

Recreating the Story as a Gift to God
Children would enjoy exploring the story and recreating it in some way, both the visit of Gabriel to Mary and Mary and Joseph's journey to Bethlehem.
1. Put up several big easels and let the children paint the angel's visit or the journey. (I bet older kids would like this too. They seldom get to paint on big easels anymore.  You could even look at some famous artwork of Mary and baby Jesus.
2. Use watercolors at the tables to paint either scene.
3. Make "life-size angels!" (Who knows how big angels are!)  Use big pieces of butcher paper and have kids lie down and trace each other, sort of like making snow angels. Decorate with markers or paint or fabric.





















4. Make an angel from a paper plate. Let the children choose as much as possible how they want to decorate. (Prescribed crafts limit their investment / idea of owning their own work, so the more choices, the better.) You can find instructions for a paper plate angel here.

Or make angels from beads, like our first graders did a couple years ago.



5. Recreate the story by acting it out. We have costumes for the younger children. Let me know ASAP if you want to use them and I can make sure they're available. There's a great video made by a group of children posted here. You could use that for inspiration if you like. The kids would enjoy watching it. If you decide to do this, I hope you can video it! Maybe a parent could help.

6. Make ornaments for Gabriel, Mary, Joseph, and the Donkey!
There are tons of ornaments out there for angels. Here's a pic of one that one of my kids made out of a clothespin and felt.

I bet the children could figure out how to make ornaments for the other characters out of clothespins and fabric or tissue paper.

I hope the ideas help!

Here are the Wondering Questions I've written for this Sunday. I look forward to hearing the children's responses!
1. I wonder what your favorite part of the story is so far.
2. I wonder how Mary felt when Gabriel appeared before her and when she heard the news.
I wonder how she felt on the journey to Bethlehem and how Joseph felt. And the donkey too!
3. I wonder what we can learn from Mary and Joseph and the decisions they made from this story. What do they teach us about God?
4. I wonder where you are in this story. What part of this story is about you or for you?
5. I wonder if you and I might be part of this story in a way, on our own way to Bethlehe
m.

Monday, November 24, 2014

The First Sunday of Advent

Hi Godly Play Teachers!
Welcome to the celebration of the First Sunday of Advent, this Sunday, November 30.



What an exciting time of year!
This Sunday we focus on getting ready to enter the mystery of Christmas. It's perfect timing then for us to focus on the prophets' telling that something big was about to happen in Bethlehem. The people didn't know exactly what or when, but they were told to get ready, to watch and wait.

Our Godly Play lesson begins with a discussion of the color change at church to purple, the color of kings. It's a great time to talk about what kind of king the people expected and how God surprised them all.

One thing to note: the Godly Play Advent lessons don't come with wondering questions at the end. I think it's so helpful to have some discussion questions to let the children process their thoughts on the lessons so I've included some of my own questions for this Sunday at the bottom of this blog post. I've put copies of these for the storyteller and the person writing the responses in each of your classrooms.


Making a Gift for God

When it comes time to help the children decide what work they want to do--what kind of gift to God they want to make in appreciation for the story, there are several paths they can take, each exploring different themes to the lesson.
Some of the themes include:
1. The theme of Advent--getting ready.
2. The theme of who prophets are and what did they do and say.
3. The idea of Jesus being a light to the world. (Since we light candles each week in Advent)

Here are some "Gift to God" ideas to add to your own:
Matt has asked us again this year to decorate white gift bags for the senior adults for a Christmas gift. They love getting their gift bags decorated by our children. You can have the children use colorful markers to draw symbols of Christmas on the bags, manger scenes, whatever they like.  Thanks for helping with this project!

Something For All of Us to Do: Gift Bags for Senior Adults

Thanks for helping us get all these bags decorated. The senior adults are going to love them!

For exploring Advent...

1. Make an advent wreath together, or have each child make his own.
There are plenty of candles that we used last year in the Art Resource Room.

Paper advent wreaths are a great idea too. I love this one, from second grade a couple of years ago. Each child contributed a leaf or two or a candle.



2. Make an advent chain. Have the children cut out 25 strips of paper each and (using tape or staples) make them into a chain. They could even put a task to do on each ("sing Away in the Manger," or "read the Christmas story" or "draw an angel," etc.) and each day in December the child would take off one link in the chain. This is a great way to illustrate waiting and getting ready for Christmas.
See lots of advent chain ideas here.


For exploring the Prophets...

1. Let the children look up some of the verses in which the prophets predict Jesus' birth or a leader coming out of Bethlehem.
Verses include:
"But you, Bethlehem in Ephrathah, small as you are to be among Judah's clans, out of you shall come forth a governor for Israel, one whose roots are far back in the past, in days gone by." -Micah 5:2

King Herod called a meeting of the chief priests and lawyers of the Jewish people, and asked them: "Where is the Messiah to be born?" "At Bethlehem in Judaea", they replied; and they referred him to the prophecy which reads: "Bethlehem in the land of Judah, you are far from least in the eyes of the rulers of Judah; for out of you shall come a leader to be the shepherd of my people Israel." Matthew 2:1-6 - NEB

"Surely the Messiah is not to come from Galilee? Does not scripture say that the Messiah is to be of the family of David, from David's village of Bethlehem?" John 7:41,42 - NEB

Isaiah 7:14. "Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign, Behold a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call His name Immanuel."

2. The children might want to make a model like the one we use of Bethlehem. They could use their own ideas of what Bethlehem might have looked like, or they could use books to research it.

3. Another option would be for the kids to divide a paper in half (or a mural on butcher paper.)  It could be titled something like, "A King Is Coming..." On one side they could draw or list what people expected the king to look like, and on the other side they could draw a manger scene with Baby Jesus.


For exploring Jesus as the Light of the World,  the children could make candle cookies like this one here.

Susan D'Amato had our fourth graders do this one year and they loved it.
The directions are here. (http://familyfun.go.com/recipes/a-light-dessert-800789/)

Here are the wondering questions I've come up with for this week's lesson. Enjoy!


1. I wonder about getting ready. I wonder what your family does to get ready to celebrate Christmas.

      2.  I wonder if there are special things you might do at your house to remember what Christmas is really all about.

  3. The prophets told the people of God that a new king was coming. I wonder what you think they expected. What kind of king do you think they thought he would be?

  4. I wonder what you think about why God sent Jesus as a baby. 

5    5. In our time together today, we talked about how prophets know the most important things and show the  way. I wonder if you remember any prophets from our Sunday school lessons and what it's like to be a prophet.

6    6.  I wonder how God feels about God’s prophets.

Monday, November 17, 2014

The Story of Daniel

Hi Godly Play Teachers!
Welcome to The Story of Daniel, the Godly Play story scheduled for this Sunday, November 23. You can find the script in the pink Volume 6, The Complete Guide to Godly Play, 15 Enrichment Presentations for Fall book on p.116-125.



Daniel's life story provides children with so many themes to discover, each of them so important, including:
*the importance of living a life faithful to God
*the assurance that God will be close to God's people forever
*if we ask for it, God will give us the courage needed to follow God when it goes against what the world values
*we can question God about the things we don't understand
*God can sustain us in times of despair and give us hope.

As the children work during their response time, we can give them chances (by asking questions) to talk about these themes. It's so important that the children don't just walk away from Sunday school with a lion or a fiery furnace, but their own ideas of how the story applies to them.

Idea Sparkers For Our Give A Gift to God Time

1. Reproduce the story in some way.
Of course the BEST ideas for art response time come from the child herself, but here are some ideas to get our kids thinking. Hopefully they won't follow anyone's set of instructions verbatim, but will make something all their own.
There are plenty of directions out there for making artistic representations of Daniel in the Lion's Den.
a. Here's one of my favorites, a den of lions and a Daniel, all out of paper cups.

Our Lion pillow from the Daniel story at Camp
b. There's a cute lion out of noodles, here, and other lion ideas here.
c. There's a whole host of Daniel craft ideas here.
d. There's a paper plate lion here.

e. Children could also make the fiery furnace scene. I found 3 good sites for this, here, here, and here.
Campers in the fiery furnace they made
f. Here are directions for a fleece lion pillow. We made these at Camp Prism this past summer and many of our 4th and 5th graders know how to make them. They're fun! We have plenty of fleece fabric and googly eyes. 



2. You could also focus on God's gift of courage- like the kind Daniel had- by making a bracelet celebrating courage like the ones here.

3. You could celebrate Daniel's life by making a mural with all the scenes from the story.

4. Our Godly Play Daniel story leaves out the story I remember from my childhood: the part at the beginning, when Daniel was first taken captive to Babylon and asks permission to eat food other than that on the king's table. You might want to present the story as scripted, and then ask the children if they know the part left out. The children could find it in the Bible (Daniel chapter 1) and figure out how to make it part of the Godly Play story. How would they tell that part of the story? What figure or drawing could they add to the story basket? What does this part of the story have to do with them (and not just about what kinds of food they eat!)

5. For FBC Sunday School teachers, don't forget that another option is to decorate the white gift bags that we're making for our senior friends for their Christmas fellowship. I'll have the bags in your rooms. Thank you!

I hope these ideas help!
Love, Becky

Monday, November 10, 2014

The Exile and the Return

Hi Godly Play Teachers!
Welcome to the Exile and Return, the Godly Play story scheduled for this Sunday, November 16.


Last week we shared the story of the ark and the temple, and talked about meeting God in a special place and honoring him with certain routines that both honored God and helped remind the worshipers of the sacredness of being close to God. 

At the end of the lesson, we read Solomon's prayer of dedication of the Temple, where he prays, "But God, will you really live here with us on earth? The whole sky and the highest heaven cannot contain you. Certainly this Temple that I built cannot contain you either..." This week, we think about this again as we learn about what happened when God's people were taken away from Jerusalem and its temple, which they had believed to be God's home.

Some themes to explore:
* Where do we find God? What if we suddenly have no temple or tabernacle or special routines or things to honor God? Can we still meet God?

*What do we do when we're very afraid, when bad things happen to us? What do we pray for? What does God want us to do?

*What does it mean to be homesick? What were God's people homesick for during the story? Were they homesick for God?

*What changes have you been through that have been hard or scary for you? What did you do? Who gave you help? What should we remember when those times come?

*What does it mean to be faithful? How is it different to be faithful in hard times versus in easy times?

Idea Sparkers for Children's Make a Gift for God Time



Reproduce the story.
1. Children could make their own physical elements of the Godly Play story, with blue yarn for the rivers. (Or maybe they can think of another way to represent them.) Pieces of wood for the cities. Can they make a chain out of pipe cleaners or strips of paper? (While they do this, teachers can talk about what the chain means--what it means to be in exile.) What could they use to make the people of God?





2. Children could draw or paint with watercolors a scene from the story: the destruction of the temple, the sad journey away from Jerusalem, the happy rebuilding of the temple.

3. Older children could use markers to trace the path of God's people on a photocopied map. Could they make a map of their own? One for the class?

4. Children could use colored sand to make a desert scene.

Explore themes from the story.
1. Children could take a large sheet of paper, divide it down the center into 2 parts, label the left side Times We Are Sad Or Scared, and the other side What We Can Do. Then the children can draw or paint pictures to illustrate both sides.

2. Children could draw or paint or do a collage on the subject of Where and When I Meet God Today. Is it in nature? In church? At home reading the Bible? Being with friends? This would be a great addition for our new bulletin board. This could also be done as a class project on butcher paper (like a mural.)

3. What does it mean to be faithful?
Children could make a collage or drawing or mural showing what it means to be faithful to God. Does it mean coming to church and worshiping together? Bringing an offering? Praying? Trusting? What else?

4. Children could draw or write about a time they were homesick. What helped them get through it? What would God want us to do when we feel homesick?

Some great verses to get children thinking:

“We sat down and cried by the rivers of Babylon when
we remembered Zion. How can we sing the song of the
Lord in a strange land?”
(Psalm 137:1, 4)


“Praise the Lord, all nations! Praise Him all people! For
His loving-kindness toward us is great. And the truth of
the Lord lasts forever. Praise the Lord.”
(Psalm 117)

Monday, November 3, 2014

The Ark and the Temple

Hi Godly Play Teachers!
Welcome to the Ark and the Temple, the Godly Play story scheduled for this Sunday, November 9.


For a girl who could spend days moving furniture and little people around a dollhouse, I simply love this lesson! I also love it because it explores the idea of God's abiding presence and helps us question exactly where God is. Where can we meet God? If it is in a church or temple, how do we keep that space sacred? If God truly meets us everywhere, anywhere, then what does that say about the sacredness of the space we occupy in our everyday lives?

This story works wonderfully as a continuation of the story from several weeks ago, The Ark and the Tent. Before, the people took the tent with them as they traveled, and learned that God goes with them wherever they go. Now, the people have settled and learn that God is not only present during times of transition but in ordinary times of daily life.

Another interesting theme to address is the idea of the usefulness of things in the worship of God. When the ark and the commandments were taken during battle and they didn't physically have them in the tent, were they really lost? When King David returned them, dancing into Jerusalem, what was he really celebrating?

Another very important theme to cover is that there is no physical place that can contain God. I'll have Solomon's temple dedication prayer typed up and in your room by Wednesday night this week. If you'd like to make it into a scroll to read during the lesson, as the script suggests, feel free. I believe we have some dowel sticks in the resource room. Balling up the paper and staining it with tea makes it look older and makes for a more dramatic presentation, if you like.

One other thing I didn't mention last week was the idea of making/offering sacrifices. Do we still offer sacrifices to God today? What kinds of sacrifices would God love? What kinds are important and why?

Some art response ideas to add to your own...

Pieces of the temple
A few of the classes began last week making special parts of the temple/tent. You could continue that this week, and you could even set up the items in a temple of your own making.  Kids could make an ark, the ten commandments, a table with 12 pieces of bread, a menorah, a laver, and an altar. (See all the ideas and photos here.)

*Cindy has incense in the fifth grade room for your kids to experience if you'd like to. 
 
Make the temple
Could your class make a temple together? Reenact the temple dedication? Or make a big enough one to place your menorah, incense burner, table of bread, and ark of the covenant inside? Does it have a laver (bowl to wash hands) or an altar for the offering of sacrifices?

Or check out the temple on the poster in the Activity Room.

Could each child make her/his own temple?
Maybe out of lego...
 
 Or packing material?

Thanks, Hands On Bible Teacher!
Or matzo?

Thanks, fruitfulvinewife!
Or Popsickle sticks?
Thanks, Sojourn Kids!


Make a scroll with Solomon's Prayer
Depending on the age of the children, you could have them copy the prayer (or use a pre-printed version), ball it up and then smooth it out, dye it with tea, and attach dowel sticks.

Research and draw/paint a priest in Solomon's temple
I've got a good book that illustrates the kinds of garments priests of that time wore. Some children might enjoy discovering that and reproducing it in some way.

Have fun with the lesson, y'all! And please take photos if you want. I'll have a camera in the desk in the hall to borrow.
Thank you for all you do!
Love, Becky