Monday, February 23, 2015

Faces of Easter II: Jesus is Lost and Found

Hi Godly Play Teachers!
Welcome to Faces of Easter II: Jesus Is Lost and Found, our lesson for March 1.
This week we remember and celebrate the phase of Jesus' life when he was a boy by telling the story from Luke 2: 39-52. In this story, Jesus is found in the temple after the Passover festival.
What a great opportunity for children to think about Jesus as a boy, a child near their own age. I'm sure that if they really start doing some heavy duty thinking about this, a zillion questions may spring up. It's great for all of us to witness this and ask questions of our own!
At the end of the story, you can choose whether to ask children to find an item in the classroom that helps tell about this part of Jesus' life or you can ask wondering questions.

Here are some wondering questions you might ask:
1. I wonder what your favorite part of this story is.
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 what questions Mary had about all of this after they were back home again.


Gift to God Time
There are several ways you and the children can choose to go during your response time. You can focus on the story itself, you can help children think about the role of church in their own lives, or you could focus on the idea of God helping us grow during childhood. I'm sure you can think of other ways to respond to this story. Here are a few ideas you might find helpful for the children to use as a springboard:


For a focus on the story itself:
Flickr photo by Lawrie Cate, creative commons
1. Make a scroll of scripture, like the ones Jesus might have studied.
Each child could make their own, or the children could work together to make a big one for the class, with each child writing a verse on it.
To make a scroll, take a sheet of white paper the size of your own choosing and let the children write or copy a verse or several verses. (Luke 2:52 would be especially appropriate for this week.) Then crinkle up the paper, straighten it, and repeat several times to make it look old. If they want, kids can tear the paper around the top and bottom edge (not the sides, where they'll attach the dowel sticks.) Then curl the sides around dowel sticks and glue to dowels. Paint the scroll with tea and let it dry.
A fifth grader makes a scroll.
2. Children could draw Jesus in the temple, or draw the temple background and cut a Jesus figure out of paper so that you can move him around the temple. Kids could also cut out Mary and Joseph figures so that they can "enter" the temple and play out the story. Or you could turn a shoebox into a temple scene with clay or clothespin Jesus, Mary, and Joseph figures, in addition to temple leader figures. Or you could have the children just make the figures and let them retell the story using the Godly Play temple we have in our rooms.


Mary comes with a question mark because she's wondering where Jesus is.


Children could draw the story on Easter eggs for the Easter tree.
3. Act out the story. Have props available (or make them!) Be sure to take photos!
For a focus on the role of church in the children's own lives:
1. Have the children draw or paint or cut out photos for a collage on what their favorite thing is to do at church. Maybe have one side of the drawing of all the things we do at church, and then on the other side their absolute favorite thing.

2. Have the children make a church/temple out of a shoebox or popsickle sticks or lego or clay. Kids could go look at the poster in the Children's Activity Room and see what the temple looked like first. 
3. Make a stained glass window from torn tissue paper and construction paper, as shown here.
For a focus on the idea of God helping us grow:
1. Have the children trace each other's bodies on butcher paper and color them in with markers or paint. You could hang your classroom of students on the wall and have the children come up with a title about how God helps us grow.
2. As you talk about growing, each child could plant grass seeds or flower seeds in a small pot--or if you really want to get creative with the Easter theme, in an (Easter) egg shell, as shown here.
3. Jesus grew by learning and working hard. How do the children do this? They could draw the things they do as they grow to learn and work hard. Or they could make coupon cards for their parents, good for cleaning their room or dusting the furniture or sweeping, etc.

Hope these ideas help!
Thanks you all!
Becky

Monday, February 16, 2015

Faces of Easter I: Remembering the Birth and Presentation of Christ in the Temple

Hi Godly Play Teachers!
Welcome to Faces of Easter I: Remembering the Birth and Presentation of Christ in the Temple, our lesson for February 22.
If the Faces of Easter lessons are new to you, you'll find that in Godly Play we use the season of Lent to remember Jesus's life, step by step. In our first lesson of this series, we explore the story of Jesus's birth. As you retell it in light of the Lenten season, why not also share the story of his presentation in the temple from Luke 2: 22-38? We don't always share this part of the story and this would be a great time to do so.
 
If your Godly Play story baskets are all displayed in your classroom where the children can see them, I'd encourage you to include the part of the script in which you invite the children to gather one by one anything in the room that reminds them of this part of Jesus's life, put it around the story tile, and share their thoughts about its connection with the story. As you know, the children can be so creative in this and make connections that we might not even think of.

If your materials are not where the children have easy access to them, here are some wondering questions you can ask, in lieu of having the children gather materials that support today's lesson. 
 

1.   I wonder what your favorite part of today’s story is. 

2.    I wonder what Joseph and Mary did for Jesus when he was a baby to help him grow?
3.   I wonder what hopes Mary and Joseph had for Jesus and who he would grow up to be?
4.   I wonder what hopes God had for who Jesus would grow up to be?
5.   I wonder who else might have helped Jesus grow to be the person God made him to be?

As for the Give a Gift to God Time, here are some thoughts...
 
 





If your class is decorating a Jesus tree, (the trees should be in your room) there are several ideas for ornaments:
Jesus in the manger
(Like this one here  on the left from catholicsupply.com)


The kids could make Jesus from a clothespin and make a manger out of twigs and leaves from a walk outside.










Or make ornaments of baby Jesus and the pigeons out of felt as seen here. So precious! Or how about these felt doves here?
Or they could make the animals in the stable, the shepherds, angels, holy family, or the Magi.
Wyline had a great idea of making ornaments by having the children cut out egg shapes out of construction paper and decorating one side like an Easter egg and illustrating the other side with elements from that Sunday's lesson.
As much as you can, let the children come up with how they want to illustrate the story. They're so much more invested in their work when the whole thing is their idea.
If your class is working on completing the cross map of Lenten lessons, as shown here, this would be the time to make an illustration for the square of Jesus's birth. Children could illustrate this with whatever materials they want--watercolors, markers, collage, colored pencils, etc.
Another idea would be to create three dimensional scenes in your classroom for each week's lesson. For this week you could bring a baby doll to represent Jesus and have the children figure out how to make a manger to lay him in, maybe make pigeons out of clay for the presentation in the temple. Find material in the resource room for the kids to make a blanket with which to swaddle him. I bet the children can think of other elements for the scene. You could arrange these scenes around the room, making your own version of the stations of the cross!
I hope this helps!
Thank you for all you do!
Love, Becky

Monday, February 9, 2015

The Mystery of Easter

Hi Godly Play Teachers!
Welcome to The Mystery of Easter, our lesson for February 15.


This lesson gives us a wonderful way to help the children remember that Easter "turns everything inside out and upside down" and that as we enter Lent and study each Sunday who Jesus grew to be, we should be on the lookout for God to show us unexpected things. The Mystery of Easter reminds us that Easter, as our faith's biggest celebration, is full of God's mystery and joyful surprise.

Though it doesn't focus on a particular Bible story, I think it's worth giving this lesson a whole Sunday morning because it both signals to the children that Lent is beginning and reminds the kids what Lent is all about. When we announce Lent and usher it in, we allow the children to realize what an important time it is--and hopefully they'll wonder what they can do to make it special to them.

A great way to begin this lesson is by changing the color of the felt underlay underneath the holy family to purple, since this is the First Sunday of Lent. This also segues well into the lesson script, "Now is the time for the color purple..."


Ideas for the Make A Gift For God Time
We have ideas just for this Sunday's response time and also ideas that can last through Lent.
 
Projects to Last Through Lent
I love the idea of individual or class projects that can be added to and worked on over the entire Lent period, allowing kids to go back to them each week as they like, in addition to any other projects they want to do on  a certain Sunday.

Here are two ideas for the whole season of Lent that you might consider:
1. A Cross, with blocks to illustrate each week's lesson about Jesus

You could do this many different ways.

What I did here is to take the biggest construction paper we have ( 12" x 18", I think) and made a pattern of a cross, which looks uneven because the copier cut the top off. Sorry! Then I sectioned it off into blocks. The kids could make their illustrations on squares of white paper the same size of the squares and glue them on, or they could draw directly on the cross. I would suggest they use the white paper, so they don't have the urge to throw the whole thing away if they make a mistake or are unhappy with one block.

The words are just to show you where you might put the different lessons. The children could choose to write captions or not.

It would be really cool if the crosses could be in purple, and then on Easter they could make one illustration on a matching white cross and glue it to the other side. Then it would remind them of this particular lesson.

2. A Jesus Tree.
You might have heard of a Jesse tree, like this one here, sort of like our Chrismon tree which we use to celebrate advent.
For Lent, we can use a Jesus Tree, with ornaments representing our lessons as we get closer to Easter.
Our trees should be in your rooms. You may want to have your class figure out how to cover the star with something Easter-y.


See Rebecca's blog, to see her ornaments, below. They're great!

I can buy you some tags to make some like these with if you let me know ASAP!

Look here and here for finished ornaments sold on etsy. The children could easily make their own versions of these! You can see some ornaments made out of felt here and here and here.
If children need help thinking of what to make for their ornaments, here are some suggestions:

Feb 15, The Mystery of Easter: A cross


Feb 22, Jesus' Birth and Growth and Presentation in Temple: Doves, Manger, Holy Family, shepherds, angels, kings, donkey, etc

March1, Jesus Lost and Found: scrolls, Temple, Mary and Joseph

March 8, Baptism and Blessing: doves, Jesus himself in the water, John the Baptist

March 15, Desert Experience: Bread, stones, an angel, mountains

March 22, Jesus as a healer and parable maker: person being healed, Jesus's hands, anything from the parables-bread, shepherd, mustard seed, the Good Samaritan, pearl, seed packets

March 29, Jesus Offers Bread and the Cup: chalice, bread, palms, table

April 5, Easter: Children could make a cross out of white construction paper and make it beautiful with illustrations or cut out pictures of flowers from magazines and glue it to the back of their cross. If they wanted to make ornaments for the Jesus tree, they could make crosses, or the stone from the tomb, or Easter Eggs. (Come to think of it, this would be a great time to do the Romanian eggs--or any kind!)


Projects Just for This Sunday

Children could make crosses.
Here are a few kinds:
1. Mosaic Cross. Cut a cross from fun foam and then cut bits of fun foam of other colors to glue on the cross to create a mosaic effect.
2. Suncatcher crosses: we may have some in the resource room. And paint too.
3. Stained Glass Cross:
Using a pattern, have the kids cut two identical cross shapes from waxed paper. Then use a plastic knife and scrape old crayons into shavings of various colors. Spread the crayons on one of the wax paper crosses.  Then place the second waxed paper cross on top. Have an adult use a warm iron to press the two pieces of waxed paper together. Attach a hanger and hang in the sun!
4. Make a "Magic Cross" as shown here.

Hope this helps you. Enjoy!

Monday, February 2, 2015

The Sermon on the Mountain

Hi Godly Play Teachers!
Welcome to Jesus Gives the Sermon on the Mountain, the story for February 8 from Matthew 5-7.
(The child's view)
How do I love this scripture as a story for children? Let me count the ways...
I love this story because the sermon covers so much territory--and because Jesus' words are so poetic and full of images which children can understand. I also like it because he clearly illustrates how different his ideas were. (His message on the ten commandments, for example, that obeying the commandments was not enough...that we're called to do more than they ask.) And I like that teachers can focus in the expression time on whichever part of the sermon that interests individual children. 

Do your kids want to work on learning/illustrating the Lord's Prayer? Why not?  Are there children in your class that are captured by Jesus' message about worrying? They can focus on that. Older children might be very intrigued by the upside down nature of the Beatitudes. Why not go to the Bible and really go through these together?

If you haven't received the story script in your email, let me know. 
Ideas to Get the Children Started for the Give a Gift to God Time
*Our creative time works best when the child feels ownership over his own work--that it comes from the child's ideas and is merely inspired by the ideas we share to get them started.
Here are some ideas from which they can springboard. I'm sure you can add even better ones. Please feel free to share in the comments.

 1. The children could make their own Godly Play set of the sermon, either by drawing it out or making three dimensional pieces from clay or paper or other materials--the door, the bird, the pack, the commandments, etc. Encourage the children to retell what they remember from the sermon.


2. The class could divide up the sermon and each child (or pair of children) could illustrate one part. This would make a great bulletin board for our hallway or a nice mural for the room. 

3. The kids could each pick their favorite part of the sermon and reproduce it in some way. 
Some of the fifth graders made a mural for the beatitudes.
Look at the birds of the air, they don't sow or reap or stow away in barns...
4. The children could play charades, each acting out a part of the sermon. The other children would have to guess what part they were playing.

5. You could help the children focus on the Beatitudes, assigning the beatitudes out to the kids to illustrate. (Matthew 5:3-12)

6. If you focus on the lamp, you could find photos of lamps in magazines to make a collage. Children could copy the scripture about being the light of the world (Matthew 5:14-16) at the bottom and write a sentence about what that means to them.

7. Children could focus on the commandments and Jesus' words to do more than they ask. Children could illustrate this.

8. What does it mean to be generous? (Matthew 5:38-42) Children could illustrate this with drawings or acting it out.

9. Children could focus on the Lord's prayer by copying it and practicing saying it. (Matthew 6: 9-13) Asking the children to illustrate each line of the prayer would ensure that they understand it. For younger children, teachers could photocopy the prayer in a large font, cut out the individual lines, and have the children arrange them in the right order and illustrate each one. If you wanted to do this in a grand scale, you could ask each child to illustrate one line, and then hang this in your classroom--the words and their illustrations.

10. Children could also illustrate someone praying like Jesus taught them to pray, in a quiet room, away from others. They could draw their own bedrooms, showing where they pray.

11. Why not have the children make a bird collage and copy the verse about birds and worrying? (Matthew 6:25-27) Or make a bird for the tree we have in our hallway? That would be great! You could cut simple birds out of different colored paper (decorated however the kids like) and hang them with string, like these from Family Fun:

The children could write the Bible verse on the back, Look at the birds. They don’t plant, harvest, or save food in barns, but your heavenly Father feeds them. Matthew 6:26. Or they could write the verse in their own wording.
Or use the simple template shared here to make the birds.

12. The golden rule is something the children surely know. It's good that children see where it comes from. Why not write it out (Matt 7:12) and then illustrate it in some way?

13. The class could draw a mural of each child sitting at Jesus's feet as he taught from the hillside.

There's so much richness here. Enjoy!

Monday, January 26, 2015

The Parable of the Loving Father

Hi Godly Play Teachers!
Welcome to The Parable of the Loving Father, the story Jesus tells in Luke 15, 11-32. We'll share this lesson this Sunday, February 1.
I've always called this parable the Parable of the Prodigal Son, but I like that many others call it by this name, changing the focus from the sins of the son to the amazing forgiveness, grace, and love of the father.

What an important lesson to teach our children, that nothing can separate us from the love of God. (Romans 8:38-39!) The world is full of hurting people who need to hear this, don't you think? Who hasn't made mistakes and felt out of the circle-- and who hasn't also felt a tinge of resentment when someone not playing by the rules gets a free ride? (Or maybe that's just me! :) )  Awareness of God's grace is so important to our kids. It's a perfect discussion topic for this week.

If you're one of our Sunday school teachers at FBC Greenville, you will receive an email with the script included. Let me know if you didn't get it or have trouble opening it and I'll see if I can fix the problem. (If you're at another church and would like to use the script, send me an email and I'm happy to send it to you.)

The parable is in a gold box (after all, it's a parable!) in your Sunday school rooms, ready for you.

Now, how can we help the children deepen their exploration and understanding of the story through their art time? What ideas can serve as springboards for their own creativity in making a gift for God?

Why not make your art time a celebration of God's love and amazing grace?
Here are a few ideas to get you started:


1. Have a celebration feast, just like the father threw for the son, celebrating God's special kind of love. The kids could decorate cookies--or here's something corny... eat pigs in blankets--reminding them of the pigs the son took care of. You could eat at the end and spend the first few minutes making it really special, letting the children make have decorations for the table. Candles on the table would be nice. And as you prepare, you could help the children remember what the feast is all about: honoring God, who loves us and welcomes us back to him, no matter what we do, no matter if we misbehave or if we stick so closely to the rules that we miss the whole point of love all together.
I'm glad to reimburse you for any supplies you need to buy. Just bring me a receipt (with only Sunday school purchases on it) and I'll make sure you're repaid quickly.

The fourth graders make a special table cloth full of love messages.

The feast is ready!

2. Put a small mirror in a craft store frame which each of the children can decorate, writing on it with Sharpies something like God loves me exactly like I am. Children could decorate the frame however they like, by gluing on sequins or foam shapes, by using glitter glue or whatever supplies you have on hand. 
We have a few of these frames in the resource room. If you give me a call before 2:45 on Thursday, I can let you know how many we have and put them in your room for you.


3. Children could make cards for Meals on Wheels and for our folks in the hospital or in nursing homes. I'd be glad to see that they get to those who need them.
Valentines made by our first graders.

4. Older children might be interested in taking a look at the much loved hymn Amazing Grace. They could illustrate it --or record themselves singing it. Let me know before Sunday if you need a recorder.

5. Some children might enjoy acting out the parable. I'd love to tape this if you do it. Let me know ahead of time if you plan to suggest this and I'll lend you a camera to tape it.

6. I bet the children could be really creative if you ask them to make a valentine for God, however they want, however big or small, whether 2 dimensional or 3 dimensional (clay maybe?)

If your kids make something you think should definitely be shared with the parents in the newsletter, would you drop me an email or call? I try to check your rooms during the week, armed with my camera, but I don't want to miss anything!

Thanks, y'all! I appreciate you!
Becky

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Jesus Visits Mary and Martha

Hi Godly Play Teachers!
Welcome to the lesson for January 25, Jesus Visits Martha and Mary, the story from Luke 10:38-42.

I love this story because it does such a good job of raising questions about hospitality- hospitality that we try to practice  and the unique, radical hospitality of God.

Truth be told, I think I also love this scripture because I can really relate to Martha's predicament. What kind of hospitality is important in our own lives? To what extent is it important? I find it interesting-and comforting- that Jesus doesn't disapprove of Martha's focused cleaning and cooking and all her caring for her guests. His response to her frustration of finding herself doing all the work ("Lord, make my sister help me!") is to turn the focus to his own brand of hospitality to Mary.

As I know you know, children will need help understanding what the word hospitality means. Does God ask us to show hospitality to others? What about God's form of hospitality to us?

Of course, one of the big questions this story raises is just who gets to receive God's hospitality. You'll want to remind the children that in Jesus's time, rabbis did not allow women to sit at their feet and study the Torah, to listen and ask questions. Yet Jesus encourages it. Who would Jesus welcome to sit at his feet today, to act as a disciple? Are there people that some might choose to exclude? Children are so good at helping us broaden our circle!

Ideas to Get the Children Started for the Give a Gift to God Time
*Our creative time works best when the child feels ownership over his own work--that it comes from her ideas and is merely inspired by the ideas we share to get them started.

Here are some ideas from which they can springboard. I'm sure you can add even better ones. Please feel free to share in the comments.

1. Focus on Retelling the Story
*Each child could recreate a set of the Godly Play materials for themselves either 2 dimensionally, through drawing the pieces and cutting them out, or 3 dimensionally, with clay (bucket, plates, etc), clothespins (Jesus and the sisters) and other materials-a twig broom, etc.
* Make a mural of the story on butcher paper.
*Act out the story, either set in Bible times, or set in modern day. Let the children perform it for each other or another class. Children could play the roles of Jesus, Mary and Martha, and other children (who might be more shy) could be among of the 72 guests.

2. Focus on the theme of Who Would Jesus Want to Sit at His Feet?
I can imagine this being successful as an individual project (either a drawing or a collage from magazine pictures) or a class project, with each child picking what kind of person she would like to draw. Would Jesus want the poor, the rich? Different races? The old? The young? Families? Singles? Prisoners? Sick people? Well people? Lonely people? Happy? They could even draw themselves! In fact, I love that idea!

There is butcher paper in the Children's Activity Room ready for a class to work on it together. (They could draw directly on the paper or on small sheets and then glue each person's work to the larger paper.)

3. The children could work on their hospitality skills. Some could prepare some kind of food as Martha did. Some could sweep and clean. Others could be Mary, listening to a teacher read a story. Afterwards, the group could talk about how it felt to play each role. Then the children could take a look at Matthew 4:4 "Jesus answered, 'It is written: 'Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.'"  This verse comes from Jesus's desert experience (his quoting from Deuteronomy,) but it applies to this story as well. The children could write the verse in their own words and illustrate it with the Mary & Martha scene.

4. We have a Love Luncheon with Senior Adults scheduled for Feb. 8, so one way our children could practice hospitality is to make decorations for the lunch!










5. Our second graders drew pictures of what each of us would do to entertain Jesus if he came to our house.


 Hope this helps you!
Love, Becky

Monday, January 12, 2015

Jesus Heals a Paralyzed Man

Hi Godly Play Teachers!
Welcome to Jesus Heals a Paralyzed Man, our story for Jan. 18, based on Luke 5:17-26.



It was really fun to think about how to tell this story, how to create the house so that the friends could deliver their paralyzed friend to Jesus's feet. It was also a pleasure to think about the lesson itself: what happened that day and what we can learn from it about faith, the power of Jesus, (and his ability to heal both wounds of the spirit and physical wounds) and what it means to be a Christian friend.

As you can see from the scripts, I've written the story in two versions: one for the younger children, which focuses on the healing itself and on friendship, and one for older children, which also includes the discussion after the healing between Jesus and the religious scholars. There is an added wondering question for the older children concerning this discussion as well.  (If you attend another church and would like the scripts, I'm happy to share. Just email me a request at becky(dot)ramsey(at)firstbaptistgreenville(dot)com. If you don't hear back from me, please email me again.)


As you tell the story, you will find enough Lincoln logs in your basket to build the house as shown below. I'm hoping to have enough donated so that you can be creative and build it how you like, but just in case you have to go with the blocks I've got, I'm sharing a pictorial guide to building it here.

If you like, as you build the house you could remind the children of last week's story about Jesus calling Levi (Matthew),  that some of the most important work Jesus did was done while visiting people in their homes, listening to them, talking with them, teaching them, bringing them peace, and often healing them in different ways.

Once the house is built, you can begin the story.
The popsicle stick roof makes it easy to remove "tiles" so that the paralyzed man can be lowered. You may want to take off all of the tiles and part of a side wall so that everyone can see what is going on inside the house.  Or just demonstrate the lowering, and then tell the rest of the story on the green underlay.


If you're teaching the older children, as you talk about Jesus's discussion with the religious scholars, you will want to stress that people may have thought that sin was connected to illness in Bible times, but that this is untrue. Children sometimes mistakenly pick up only parts of a sentence, and the idea that illness has anything to do with sin is definitely one we don't want them to get!

We can celebrate that there were actually two miracles shown by the story: that of healing the paralyzed man and that God empowered Jesus to heal the heart of the man, forgiving him of his sin. None of it would have happened if it hadn't been for the man's friends, who loved him enough to do whatever it took to get him to Jesus.


Gift - To - God Ideas
The story is probably enough to inspire the children to express it through their very own artistic gift to God, but just in case they need a little springboard, here are some ideas I hope will be helpful.

1. Let the children act/play out the story:
*on the rug with the teaching materials (in a group of 2 or 3)


(Encourage them to retell the story to each other, not just build the house.) I hope to have enough extra Lincoln logs to add to those in the story basket. We'll see.

*Pick characters and act it out. Bring a blanket and let them try to lift one person in the blanket (over the carpet, and not very high,:) )


2. Make parts of the story.
The house made from clay. Note the stairs beside it.
* Make a mat with fabric and Popsicle sticks and a man and his friends and Jesus from clothespins. Bring shoeboxes and let the kids make a whole set, with the house too. Can they make a set of stairs leading up to the roof? (See an example of something sort of like this here.


*Weave a mat as shown here. When the kids can use it at home as a placemat, it will remind of the story. All it takes is construction paper.

3. Make a collage about what it means to be a(Christian) friend. Cut out pictures from magazines that show people being friends to each other or draw pictures that show friendship in action. This could also be a great mural that the whole class works on together.


4. Make a Man-on-a-Mat snack.  Frost graham crackers with icing, and arrange stick pretzels and marshmallows to form the body of the person on the mat. (Or you could use gingerbread men.)

5. We might not be able to heal others, but cards with pictures and friendly messages can help aid the healing. Offer kids the option of making get well cards for church members or shut ins.

I hope you enjoy the story. Don't forget to borrow my camera if you like, and take photos!


Thanks for all you do!
Love, Becky