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

Monday, October 27, 2014

The Psalms


Hi Godly Play Teachers!


Welcome to The Psalms, the Godly Play story scheduled for this Sunday, Nov 2,based on the book of Psalms. I've emailed you the story script, which includes the first part of the David story from last week, found in the pink Enrichment Presentations for Fall, p.81. If you are not a Sunday school teacher at FBC Greenville and would like a copy of the Psalms story script, just email me and I'd be happy to send it to you.

In the script, we use the first part of the David story and then explore the idea that the Psalms writers went to God with all kinds of different emotions. We discuss how we can pray to God when we feel afraid, happy, angry, peaceful, sad or worried, and joyful, or when we feel sorry for what we've done. With each different emotion, we share a Psalm (or 2 or 3) that the Psalm writers experienced and shared with God.

To share the Psalms, we're going to use a beautiful book, Psalms for Young Children, written by Marie-Helene Delval and illustrated by Arno. In this book, Ms. Delval has adapted the psalms for children in a way that is so easy to read and to relate to. I've purchased one for each class (except for 3rd grade, which already had a copy.) You'll find it in your story basket, which I left near your Bible bookcase. I put it there to remind you (and me) that you'll need the Bible Bookcase as you tell the story. (You'll take the Psalms book out and place it on the underlay in part of the story.
By the way, the Psalms in this book are shared in order (by number.) They're so short that I think you'll find it hard to stop reading them!

To help the children follow along with the different emotions we'll be discussing I've made emotion cards for each class.

Older children might enjoy comparing the Psalms as written in the Bible with Marie Helene Delval's adaptations. They might like making their own adaptations as well. You might want to choose one Psalm to focus on, like #23 or 139.

The wondering questions are included in the story script.

Ideas for Your Give a Gift to God time:

1. Writing our own Psalms--Have children pick an emotion that they sometimes feel and write God a prayer or song that they might pray or sing while feeling that way.

2. Write a psalm showing how you feel today. Draw a picture to go with it.
Or read a psalm to a friend that shows how you feel.

3. Illustrate a Psalm. Choose a psalm and illustrate it, like Arno did in Psalms for Young Children. (Any Psalm would be good. If you want, you could choose the psalm for the children, like #23 or 139.)
4. Write a psalm together as a class, and then let the children illustrate it individually or together.
5. Work out a tune that fits a psalm that you like. Or write your own to sing.
6. Make instruments to play while singing a psalm. You can find directions to make a simple tambourine here, and a lyre here.
I hope you enjoy the lesson! :)
Love, Becky

Monday, October 20, 2014

The Story of David


Hi Godly Play Teachers!
Welcome to the story of King David, the Godly Play story scheduled for this Sunday, October 26, based on 1 Samuel 16-31, 2 Samuel and 1Kings 1-2. You can find the script for the story in the pink Enrichment Presentations for Fall book, p.78-85.



This week's story is another one (like Ruth and Samuel) that fits nicely after the story of the ark and the tent. And it follows right into the next story on our schedule: the Psalms, (to be followed by the Ark and the Temple.)

Some of the story's themes which you might want to help the children think about:
1. We can come to God with all sorts of feelings (as in the Psalms---we'll explore this one more next week)
2.God can help us be brave enough to do what is right and needed.
3. Friendship is a gift from God.
4. God uses people, even with their faults.
5. God forgives our mistakes when we ask for forgiveness.


Ideas for the Make a Gift for God Time:
Children choose how to respond to the story and get started!
Some children drew symbols of David's life on stones. You can see another made an ark of the covenant.
1. Children could reproduce the elements of the story in some way.
* Make a harp
*Make a crown for King David
*Make an ark of the covenant
*Make a parable box for the parable that Nathan told David (there is plenty of felt in the resource room)
*Make a drawing of Jerusalem- or a watercolor.

2. Children could paint symbols of David's life (shepherd's crook, bottle of incense, two friends, crown, ark, etc) on small stones. There are stones in the resource room.

3. Children can celebrate David's childhood by making David with the sheep. Go to the site here, for plenty of options for crafting sheep. (Scroll down to "sheep")

4. Children could sculpt a David and Goliath out of play clay.

5. The class could work on a mural of David's life with one long piece of butcher paper- assigning parts of his life to individual children to illustrate.

6.  Children could focus on the friendship between Jonathan and David and explore what kind of friendship God celebrates.

I hope these ideas help!
Love, Becky

Monday, October 13, 2014

The Story of Samuel

Hi Godly Play Teachers!
Welcome to the story of Samuel, the Godly Play story scheduled for this Sunday, October 19, based on 1 Samuel 1-28:3. You can find the script for the story in the pink Enrichment Presentations for Fall book, p.72-77.


This week's story is another one (like Ruth) that fits nicely after the story of the ark and the tent. And it follows right into the next story on our schedule: the story of David.

The story of Samuel is also very interesting to children for a couple reasons: they relate to the idea of a child growing physically and in relationship with God and they think about how God communicates- and probably wish that God would call their names in an audible voice.
Themes you might want to help the children think about:
1.God answers prayer
2. You can serve God even as a child.
3.God plans to take care of you (if you want a memory verse, you could use Jeremiah 29:11)
4.God asks us to stand up for what is right, as Samuel did.
5.Obedience (Samuel obeyed God even though he was not happy about what the
people wanted-a king)

Ideas for the Make a Gift for God time:
Remember that one of the strongest parts of Godly Play is the child's ability to choose how he responds to the story. We want to give the child as many chances to have say so in what she does as possible.


1. Reproduce the story in some way- make pieces, such as the ark, a Baby Samuel, robes of different sizes, (showing how Samuel grew during his service in the temple), a sleeping mat, a crown









2. Children could make a life size drawing of themselves and caption it: I can serve God right now! This could be done by having another child trace around their body on butcher paper. They could draw clothes on their body or use fabric from the resource room. Maybe they could hold something in the drawing that gives a hint to how they can serve God right now.
 3. A collage or drawing of how children can serve God right now. Children could make these individually and then put them together as a class project. (Ways include how they treat others, through prayer, in worship at church, helping others...)
4. Children could think about how they might like to serve God in the future. How does a doctor or teacher or engineer or scientist serve God? They could explore this in a drawing or make a model with play clay.
5. Children could act out the story of Samuel hearing God's call and going to Eli--and the rest of the story as well. (Be sure to video!)
6. Hannah makes Samuel a new robe each year and brings it to him in the temple. Children could make a "robe" from a paper grocery bag as we often do with Joseph, as shown here. (Scroll down and see the girl modeling hers!)

I hope this helps! :)
Love, Becky