What are we here for?
We meet here to talk about Godly Play, to share what it’s all about and to discuss how to do it better.
The weekly blog posts are designed to help Sunday school teachers prepare for their Godly Play lessons, and the individual pages (see the tabs at the top of this page) share information about how we do Godly Play at First Baptist Church, Greenville, SC.
We’d love to hear from teachers everywhere, not just the ones at our church! We hope you’ll join our circle and share your ideas!
What Godly Play is Not
Godly Play is quite different from the traditional model in which the teacher tells the children what they need to know. Godly Play is not about things that are that simple. It is not just about learning lessons or keeping children entertained. It is about locating each lesson in the whole system of Christian language and involving the creative process to discover the depths of meaning in them.
What is Godly Play?
According to the Godly Play Foundation, Godly Play is a creative and imaginative approach to Christian nurture.
Godly Play is about understanding how each of the stories of God’s people connects with the child’s own experience and relationship with God.
Godly Play respects the innate spirituality of children and encourages curiosity and imagination in experiencing the mystery and joy of God.
Read more about Godly Play here.
How do we do Godly Play at First Baptist Greenville?
Christians of many different denominations use Godly Play and probably do it differently, even within the same denomination. In this blog, I describe Godly Play by sharing the way our church does it. That doesn’t mean that it’s the best way or the prescribed way, or the only way, of course, but it’s the way that suits us best.
Welcome to the celebration of the First Sunday of Advent, this Sunday, December 1.
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’ message 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- Art Response Idea Starters for the Children
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 for God” ideas to add to your own:
Something For All of Us to Do: Gift Bags for Senior Adults
Frank Smith 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!
For exploring Advent…
1. Make an advent wreath together, or have each child make his own. Here are some we’ve made in the past.
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.
“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 Word, 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/)
For more art response ideas, see my Pinterest page, here.
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. 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 might be like to be a prophet.
Happy First Sunday of Advent!