Becky Ramsey | Author & Children’s Minister
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.
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.
The story of Ruth follows the story of the Tabernacle, in which great emphasis was put on being one of the chosen people of God. It’s wonderful that we now can share the story of Ruth, not one of the chosen People of God, but a Moabite, yet she was clearly valued and loved by God. She married one of God’s People, Boaz, and eventually became the great grandmother of King David (and an ancestor of Jesus!) The story gives us a wonderful opportunity to remind children that God values “other-ness,” that all are included in and welcomed into God’s love and care.
Idea sparkers for the Give a Gift to God time:
There are several ways children and teachers can go with this.
1. Focus on the story itself.
a) Let the children act out the story.
b) Draw the scenes of the story or make a three dimensional representation of the story.
“Fill 2 roasting pans or cookie sheets with 2 lbs. of cornmeal and a cup of rice and place it in the center of the blanket. Set the paper cup to the side. Explain to the children that they will be gleaning grain just as Ruth did for Naomi. Divide the kids into two groups. Have each group stand around their pan. Ask them to work together to fill the cups with rice, one grain at a time. Tell the children not to put any of the rice into their mouths since it is uncooked. For a fun challenge, set a timer for three minutes. Ask the children to see if they can fill the “bushel” before the timer goes off. But remind them to be careful – if someone knocks over the cup they’ll have to start all over again.”
d) Let the children explore wheat. Give each child a single spear (I bought some from Hobby Lobby in the dried flower section) and let them try to separate the grains. Let me know by Tuesday if you’d like me to buy some wheat for your class.
e) Weave wheat into an ornament/hanging as described here.
2. Focus on friendship between Ruth and Naomi.
You can concentrate on the theme that friendship and the loyalty that goes with it is a gift from God. a) Children might make friendship bracelets, like those shown here. Or for younger children, make simple strings of beads made into bracelets. We have tons of material for these in the art storage room! Or make a necklace for a friend, as shown here.
b) Children could make a mural together of what it means to be a friend- what friends do for each other. Each child could work individually or in pairs- and put the works together as a mural or for a bulletin board in your classroom.
c) Make a Friendship wreath for your classroom, as shown here.
d) Examine the song, “Blessed Be the Tie That Binds” and let the children illustrate it.
3. Focus on God welcoming all people.
a) How are we welcoming to others who might be different? Children could make a collage for “God Loves Everyone”
b) Make a God’s Love Note for a friend- like the ones shown here.
For more ideas, see my Pinterest Page on the Ruth, here.