Monday, June 29, 2015

The Parable of the Sower

Hi Godly Play Teachers,
Welcome to our lesson for July 5, the Parable of the Sower.

 Jesus told this parable to answer the question, "What is the kingdom of heaven (God's kingdom) like?" The wondering questions this week are really important, because they can help the children understand the meaning of the parable. I hope you'll let the children struggle with each question. Sometimes it's very tempting to give them your answer, but a little mind struggling will allow them to find an answer that they can own-instead of one they don't really get, but feel you want them to believe. Even if they go down a wayward road, (if so we can always ask more questions to try to help them find their way) we will have "planted the seed" (how appropriate!) which they may discover later.

As you ask the wondering questions, if children have trouble, try to help them put themselves in the place of the sower. (Particularly helpful for questions 3,6,7,8,13,14)

So the important wondering questions we'll use this week are:
1. I wonder if the person had a name.
2. I wonder who the person could really be?
3. I wonder if the person was happy when the birds came and ate the seeds.
4. I wonder if the birds were happy then they saw the sower.
5. I wonder who the birds really are.
6. I wonder what the person was doing when the little seeds could not get their roots in among the stones.
7. I wonder what the person was doing when the little seeds were choked by the thorns.
8. I wonder what the person was doing when the little seeds were growing in the good earth.
9. I wonder what the harvest could really be?
10. I wonder what the sower used for seed?
11. I wonder what the sower sold?
12. I wonder what the sower kept for food?
13. I wonder if the sower was surprised at the harvest?
14. I wonder what part surprised the sower most?

Idea Sparkers for our Create a Gift for God time:

This would be a perfect time to actually sow some seeds. You could use Styrofoam cups or small terra cotta pots which the kids could decorate, then fill with soil in which to plant a seed. You could also have them write a verse on a Popsicle stick to put in the soil near the seeds they sow. They could choose a verse from the Bible story (a good way to have them look up the story themselves) or use Psalm 119:16b  “I Shall not forget your Word.”

3. Children could also reproduce the parts of the parable box-the sower, the birds, the pots, the rocky ground, the thorns, the plants.

4. Children could illustrate the parable with watercolors or markers or colored pencils.

Enjoy!

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

The Parable of the Great Pearl

Hi Godly Play Teachers, Welcome to our lesson for June 28, the Parable of the Great Pearl.


In a world like ours, which places such importance on having things, it's a great story to help us explore the greatest treasure one could possess: God's kingdom and a relationship with God. What does it mean to sell all that we have to obtain this treasure? I bet the kids can help us figure this out.

The wondering questions are in the book. They include:
1. I wonder if the person was happy with the great pearl.
2. I wonder what the merchant is going to do now.
3. I wonder why the seller was willing to give up something so precious.
4. I wonder if the seller has a name.
5. I wonder if the merchant has a name.
6. I wonder what the great pearl could really be?
7. I wonder what could be so precious that a person would exchange everything for it?
8. I wonder if you have ever come close to the great pearl.
9. I wonder where this whole place could really be.

Thank you for having an adult take time to jot down the children's responses to these questions.

Idea Sparkers for Our Give a Gift to God Time:

1. Make a "pearl" necklace. Hobby shops (Michaels, Hobby Lobby) has fake pearls that you can string. Each student could make themselves a necklace using one pearl and yarn, along with whatever other work they choose to do today.

2. What does the kingdom of God look like? What makes it such a priceless treasure?
Children could draw a mural together or individual pictures. What could they show people doing in the kingdom of God? Is nature in the kingdom of God? How are people treating nature and each other?

3. Children could make their own parable set, so they can retell this parable.

4. Make/buy a "pearl" snack to share. I'm still thinking on how to do this. Maybe like a Mexican wedding cookie but with no nuts? (Remember that we're nut free on the hallway due to allergies.) Something that looks like a pearl...any ideas?

Thanks, y'all!
Becky

Monday, June 1, 2015

The Parable of the Good Samaritan- for June 21

Hi Godly Play Teachers! Welcome to our lesson for June 21, the Parable of the Good Samaritan.

What a wonderful story about what it means to be a neighbor, and our responsibilities as followers of The Way to help those around us. You might want to include time in your morning to go visit the Good Samaritan statue near the remembrance garden.

Here are some wondering questions. I'd love to share the children's responses in our weekly newsletter. Thank you for writing down their responses.

Wondering Questions:
1. I wonder who is the neighbor to the person who was hurt, had everything taken from him, and was left by the side of the road half dead?
2. I wonder what would happen if the person finding the injured traveler were a child?
3. I wonder what it means to be a neighbor.
4. I wonder if you've ever had anyone be a neighbor to you like this Samaritan was to the hurt man.
5. I wonder if you've ever been the one who was the Good Samaritan?

 Idea Sparkers for our Gift to God Time
Here are some ideas for the parable itself:
1. Children make get well cards as a way to help others, like the Good Samaritan in the story
2. Children act out the story. (My camera will be in its usual place and takes pretty good video. Please use it!)
3. Children could make a collage or drawing on who is our neighbor.
4. Children could make a collage or drawing on How I Can Be a Good Samaritan.
5. You could also go with the What Would Jesus Do theme. Make a bracelet with WWJD, or a mural of the story, or act out scenes of different conflicts and ask the question, "What would Jesus do?"
6. If you've visited the Good Samaritan statue, why not ask the children if they'd like to try to make their own with play dough or quick dry clay?


Enjoy!

The Parable of the Good Shepherd- for June 14

Hi Godly Play Teachers! Welcome to our lesson for June 14, the Parable of The Good Shepherd.


What a beautiful story that so perfectly depicts Jesus--the one who would (and did) lay down his life for his sheep! The parable is full of so much meaning, so many layers that the children can explore. I'm sure they'll be ready to talk about their own times when they've "found the good grass" as well as times where they've felt that they (or others they know) have been through places of danger. It's a great time to share our own such experiences and how our faith in God helped us make it through. Most every child has a story to share about being lost and found. I'm hoping you'll enjoy lots of discussion with this lesson!
There are wondering questions within the story script for this lesson. I'll have them in the classrooms for you to write in their responses.

Idea Sparkers for our Create a Gift for God time:
It seems to me there are two ways to go here. The children can either reproduce the parable in some way, or they can explore their own experiences with what the parable talks about: being lost and found, their own faith in the Good Shepherd, their own times of good grass and cool water or times of danger and faith.

Ideas for reproducing the parable:

1. Let the children make their own miniature parable boxes with this week's parable inside. If you want to buy small boxes, just purchase them, give me a receipt and I'll reimburse you. We have green felt in the resource room. The kids could use fun foam for the pen and the water and the dangerous places, and could make the sheep however they want, with clothespins and cotton balls or their own ideas. Some links for sheep are here and here.
They could draw and cut out a wolf and the shepherd.

2. They could make their own sheep and shepherd puppets at the links above. (in #1)

Ideas for exploring the parable in terms of their own experiences:
1. The children could make a class mural/picture of how it feels to be lost (on one side) and found (on the other side). The title could be something like The Good Shepherd Takes Care of the Sheep or something like that.
2. They could illustrate My Good Shepherd Calls My Name, drawing the Good Shepherd and themselves.
3. This would be a perfect time to study and illustrate the 23rd Psalm!

Enjoy!
Love, Becky

Paul's Discovery

Hi Godly Play Teachers! Welcome to our lesson for June 7, the story of Paul's Discovery.



Before we dive into a series of Jesus' parables this summer, we have one more Sunday to continue our previous timeline: Jesus has been crucified, then resurrected. Jesus spent 40 days appearing to his disciples and letting them begin to know him in a new way until finally that time was over. He ascended into heaven. The Holy Spirit arrived and we celebrated it first with Pentecost Sunday, then, last week, Trinity Sunday. Now we continue the story with Paul's amazing transformation and work. It's a wonderful example of the power of the Holy Spirit to change us in profound ways!

What a rich story of Saul/Paul, from birth to death! You'll find the script in the yellow (Spring) book    p.126-135. The wondering questions are listed at the end.

Idea Sparkers for our Gift to God Time:
(And Check out other ideas at this pinterest site!)
 1. Paul's life is so exciting. It would be fun to divide up the group and have the children act out scenes. Even our youngest kids could do it!

Scenes they may choose to act out:
1. Making tents with his father (bring a sheet from home and drape it over a table or rope) Pretend to hammer down stakes.
2. Waving goodbye to his family and traveling to Jerusalem (bring a suitcase)
3. Worshiping in the temple (Gather candlesticks, make a big scroll to read)
4. Saul trying to catch people who followed Jesus to bring them back for punishment.
5. Saul's experience on the road to Damascus. (Maybe bring a lamp for a great light. )
    Act out being led to Damascus and staying in the house, where the scales fall from his eyes.
6. Saul's telling the good news of his transformation at the synagogue and then how Jesus' followers hid him when people grew angry.
7.Paul's escape over the city wall in a basket. (A laundry basket and rope would be perfect for this!)
8. Paul's traveling and writing letters.
9. Paul kept as a prisoner in his own house.

2. Let the children work in pairs or alone to illustrate their favorite scene from the story. Have an "art show" at the end to look at everyone's work and put the works in chronological order.

3. Examine the scrolls to see which books of the Bible do we think Paul wrote. Children could make bookmarks for their Bibles illustrated with scenes from Paul's life.

Enjoy, everyone!
Love, Becky

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Celebrating the Trinity

Hi Godly Play Teachers! Welcome to our lesson for Trinity Sunday!



Today we celebrate the trinity, which is perfect timing, considering we just welcomed the arrival of the Holy Spirit last Sunday.

For this Sunday, use Lesson 6: Holy Baptism from the Winter (purple) book, p. 70-76.
The lesson is on baptism, but is perfect for Trinity Sunday since a major component of the lesson is the Trinity. At the beginning of the script, it refers to "the Creator, the Redeemer, the Sustainer." Do use those words, but add in an explanation of what they mean. Redeemer and Sustainer will be new words to most children.

I would suggest that you modify the part of the script on baptism, fitting it to the way we do baptism in our church. Each of you should have in your classroom a bowl in which to pour the water, a pitcher, and a person (doll) to be baptized. I would encourage you to talk about the baptismal statement that baptismal candidates write (and a person special to them reads) expressing why they want to be baptized and what baptism means to them. I'll have a copy of a baptismal statement that one of our children recently wrote in your rooms to share. (With permission, of course!) You might also talk about Discipleship Class, which our 4th and 5th graders can take in the fall and spring to learn more about baptism and being a disciple of Christ, before they are candidates for baptism.

The children would certainly enjoy the candle lighting part of the lesson. I hope you'll feel brave enough. You might use tea candles (I'll make sure there are plenty in your rooms.) For safety's sake, you might have them sit on the carpet for this lesson and put the tea candle on the carpet in front of them, asking them to keep their hands in their laps at all times, assuring them that they will each have a chance to "change their own light."  I'll make sure you have a candle snuffer in your room-so the children won't blow out the candle, spattering wax on the carpet. If you choose to do this part of the lesson, I'm confident they will always remember it!

Here are some wondering questions for this lesson:
1. I wonder what was your favorite part of this lesson.
2. Today we heard more about the Trinity. We poured the water and talked about the water of creation. I wonder if God the Father is still creating today.
3. We also lit the big candle and talked about Jesus, the light of the world. I wonder how Jesus is a light. I wonder why we call him that.
4. We also remembered the Holy Spirit with the dove and the perfume. I wonder why we use perfume and a dove to remind us of the Holy Spirit.
5. I wonder what baptism means to you.

Idea Sparkers for your Gift to God time:

Focus on the Trinity
1. Your class could make a larger mural illustrating the three parts of the trinity, showing them intersecting like the circles of felt we used in the lesson. You could add illustrations to each circle. For God the Father, the children could draw creation in action, or their favorite old testament stories. For God the Son, the children could add drawings of their favorite Jesus stories, and for the Holy Spirit, the children could draw ways the Holy Spirit helps us--knowing right from wrong, giving us strength in times of trouble, helping us tell others about God, helping us understand the Bible, etc.
Each child could do this individually, but it could be more fun doing it together.

2. You could make simple trinity decorations, like this one from a blog with lots of great ideas, here.
Photo and craft by http://catholicicing.com/2010/09/catholic-trinity-craft-for-preschoolers/
It's simple, but the kids would enjoy making it. (Yey! A chance to use the glue gun!)

You can also glue on some symbols. This idea comes from this site.

3. You could talk about how the shamrock or 3 leafed clover is often used to explain the trinity- one plant, with a leaf for each of the three parts. Then go clover hunting around the church. The children could pick a clover, bring it back, draw it big sized, and label each leaf with part of the trinity.

LOVE these shamrocks made out of paper - there's a tutorial on how to make them - so easy!! - -Paper Strip Shamrocks ~ Sugar Bee Crafts
Found here
The fourth graders made something like this during our Easter lessons.
Beaded Shamrocks are a fun St. Patrick's Day craft that works on math and fine motor skills!
Found here.

Look to Him and be Radiant: I Believe Mobile- Focus on the Trinity
Found here.

Naaman - Lesson 6, There is only one God - The kids LOVED this craft. I also added some dark blue crepe paper inside of the cup that Naaman "dipped" in to.
Found here.

Focus on Baptism
1.Children could make a watercolor of baptism. Either the baptism of Jesus or their own baptism.
2. If you do the individual candles part of this lesson, children make a candle holder with clay or baby food jars as shown here.

Enjoy, y'all!
Love, Becky

Monday, May 18, 2015

Knowing Jesus in a New Way 7: Known by the Holy Spirit

Hi Godly Play Teachers!
Welcome to Knowing Jesus in a New Way 7: Known by the Holy Spirit, our lesson for May 24.
This week we get to share with the children the story of the coming of the Holy Spirit on the first Pentecost as told in Acts 2:1-21

What a perfect time to not only share the story of the events of Acts 2:1-21, but to lead the children DURING the Godly Play lesson into an exploration of what the Holy Spirit is, what it did for the disciples and what it does for us today. A good time in the script to insert this is after you relay what Peter said, quoting Joel.

Here's the part of the script as I would amend it:
(original script)
Peter stepped into this chaos with a confidence                 
and calm that the disciples had never seen before.
"These people are not drunk, like you think.  After
all, it is only morning. What has happened is what              
the prophet Joel wrote about. He said that God will
pour out God's spirit on us so that our sons and 
daughters will prophesy, the young will see visions,
and the old will dream dreams. 

(section you might add to help children get the concept of the Holy Spirit)
The pouring out of God's spirit was God's gift of the 
Holy Spirit. But was the Holy Spirit? Jesus had talked 
about the Holy Spirit and when he did, he called it the
Comforter. He had told the disciples that it would come        
after He left them. And now it was here! But what would 
it do? Jesus had talked about that too and we can find it in the         
book of John. Jesus had said that the Holy Spirit ...
1. helps people see what they've done wrong and points
them to God
2. helps people do what is right
3. helps us understand the Bible
4. prays for us-the Bible says that He prays to God when
we sometimes don't know how or what to pray. Helps us
through our hard times
5. helps us find out what our special gifts are so we can use 
them to help others

The Holy Spirit had come! It had happened!

(the original script picks back up here)
Many passed on by to keep their great traditions and live        
good lives. Others listened and became baptized.....                     

(Continue with rest of the script.)

You can see that I've included questions about the Holy Spirit in my wondering questions.
Wondering Questions
1. I wonder what is your favorite part of this story.
2. We know now that the mighty wind signaled that something special was happening, the arrival of the holy spirit. I wonder how it felt to have God's spirit poured out on you.
3. Before Pentecost the disciples felt the love from Jesus. At Pentecost the holy spirit helped the disciples feel the love inside them.  I wonder how the love helped the disciples do their work.
4. I wonder how the holy spirit can help you.

I really hope that if you're in a room where the children have access to Godly Play materials, that after the story is shared, you'll try letting the children select something to bring to the circle that helps tell the story.  Those connections can be so meaningful.

 Idea Sparkers for Our Gift to God Time

1. Flame hats or headbands
In some Christian churches church officials wear flame shaped hats to remind us of the flames seen over Christ's followers on the day of the first Pentecost.
Why not show a picture of such a hat and let the kids design how they want to do their own. It doesn't have to look like that one. Have fun foam or cardboard or fabric on hand- and long strips of large construction paper for the band part.

2. Flame portrait
As followers of Christ, let each child draw themselves as a disciple, with flames at the top of their heads. These flames could be added with tissue paper or paint or whatever they choose.

Creative commons Photo by flickr's cheerytomato
  3. Make pinwheels or kites or windsocks to remind us of the mighty wind that filled the house. 
There are great instructions for making a pinwheel here. If the kids want to make a kite, you can find instructions for making a real working one here, or just cut a kite shape out of paper and kids can decorate it as they want, hopefully with the story of Pentecost in mind.
Or make a Pentecost windsock, as shown here.

4. Doves
Since the symbol of the holy spirit is the dove, why not make flame colored doves (yellow, orange, red) and hang them from the ceiling to remind us of Pentecost. There are directions for doves here. Or make an origami one as shown in the video below.
Creative commons licensed photo by upsidedownapril
5. Birthday Cake-Since we celebrate the birthday of the church as we remember Pentecost, you could bring plain cupcakes to Sunday school and allow time for the kids to frost them and decorate them. If you're feeling brave, you could have each child light a candle for their cupcake and remember the gift of the spirit, which looked like flames above each follower's head.

Enjoy! And take photos, please! :)