Friday, April 29, 2011

Easter Club Week 5/Oster AG Week 5

Our final week of Easter Club took place right before the begin of Holy Week and our school's two week Spring Break.  I was sad that this time with such an amazing group of children had come to an end, but at the same time so pleased with what we had experienced and accomplished in our time together.  Die letzte Woche der Oster AG fand kurz vorm Beginn der Karwoche und Osterferien statt. Ich war einerseits traurig, dass diese gemeinsame Zeit mit so einer Gruppe von tollen Kindern langsam zum Ende ging, aber andererseits höchst zufrieden damit, was wir zusammen erlebt und erreicht haben. 

Our final story, "The Emmaus Disciples", was one that I adapted from the German text of Norbert Thelan's Adventsstündchen, Osterstündchen. Although it is not a Godly Play or YCW story, it is one that I tell in Godly Play "style". This story takes place after the resurrection and recounts Jesus' appearance to two of his friends that, in their grief, do not recognize him.  Unsere letzte Geschichte war "Die Emmaus Jünger", die ich von Norbert Thelans Adventsstündchen, Osterstündchen adaptiert habe. Obwohl sie weder eine Godly Play noch YCW Geschichte ist, erzähle ich sie im Godly Play "Stil". Diese Geschichte spielt nach der Auferstehung und geht um zwei Freunde von Jesu, denen Jesus auf dem Weg nach Emmaus begegnet, die aber ihn in ihrem Trauer gar nicht erkennen. 

During the Wondering Phase, I asked the children about times when they were very sad.   Interestingly enough, several of the children talked about grandparents that had passed away.  I was pleased that our group was a safe place for them to talk about such a sensitive topic.  I also asked them why they thought the disciples didn't recognize Jesus at first. At least two of the children felt that the two friends were just too sad to be able to see clearly. Im Ergründungsespräch habe ich die Kinder gefragt, ob und wann sie einmal richtig traurig waren. Interessanteweise erzählten ein paar Kindern von der Beerdigung ihrer Großeltern. Ich war dankbar, dass diese Kinder unseren Kreis als geschütze Rahmen empfunden haben um ihre Gedanken darüber zum Ausdrück bringen zu können.  Danach fragte ich die Gruppe noch, warum es sein könnte, dass die zwei Freunde Jesus gar nicht wahrgenommen haben. Mindesten zwei von den Kindern äußerten, dass die Jünger einfach zu tief in Trauer waren um ihn wahrnehmen zu können.

"The Emmaus Disciples"
"Die Emmaus Jünger"

What would an Easter Club be without an egg hunt?  After a brief discussion about what eggs and bunnies have to do with Easter, my colleague hid the eggs and we set off to find them.  Since it was raining heavily on that day and not everyone had appropriate rain gear, we hunted them in the gym.  But, thankfully, that didn't seem to make a huge difference to the kids. Was wäre eine Oster AG ohne Ostereisuche? Nachdem wir darüber gesprochen haben, was Hasen und Ostereier mit der Ostertradition zu tun haben, hat mein Kollege die Ostereier für die Kinder versteckt.  Da es an dem Tag so doll geregnet hat, mussten wir die Eier in der Sporthalle suchen. Aber zum Glück hat es den Kindern gar nicht gestört und sie hatten trotzdem sehr viel Spass daran. 

Egg hunt in the gym. Ostereisuche im Sporthalle.
Twelve of the eggs were not ordinary eggs. Each of these 12 had an object inside that symbolized one aspect of the events leading up to the crucifixion and the resurrection of Christ.  After the egg hunt, we sat in a circle, opened them one by one, and talked about what the objects meant.  Zwölf Eier waren besondere Ostereier.  Jedes von den 12 hatte einen Gegenstand drin, der etwas von der biblischen Ostergeschichte erzählte. Nach der Ostereisuche sassen wir zusammen in einem Kreis, machten die Eier auf, und besprachen die Bedeutungen von den Gegenständen.

Symbols of the Easter story in the plastic eggs.
Die symbolischen Gegenstände in den Plastikeier.

My English-speaking readers will recognize these as "Resurrection Eggs". While my resurrection eggs are store-bought, one could easily make them.  My mother-in-law sent these to me some years ago (Thanks, Janice!) and they have been a hit with kids since.  If I were going to make my own, I would definitely use these ideas from Catholic Icing. Meine Englisch sprechenden Leser werden diese Eier als "Resurrection Eggs" verstehen. Meine kamen von einem Laden und wurden von meiner Schwiegermutter geschenkt (Danke, Janice!), aber man könnte sie leicht selber basteln.  Um die eigenen Resurrection Eggs zu basteln, empfehle ich diese Anleitung von Catholic Icing. Die Ideen von diesem Blog gefallen mir viel mehr als das, was man im Laden findet. 

And, of course, there were chocolate bunnies to add to the sweetness of our memories together! Und, natürlich, gab es Schokohasen um unsere gemeinsame Erfahrung zu versüßen. : )

I will genuinely miss being able to meet weekly with this group of kids.  They are very special children who both listened and expressed their thoughts well. The level of trust was that we reached in such a short time was beautiful.  I am also thankful to my colleague for all of his hard work and help with the children.  Ich werde das wöchentliche Treffen mit dieser Gruppe sehr vermissen. Diese Kinder waren aufmerksam und begeistert und haben besonders gut ihre Gedanken durch Kunst, Spiel und Gespräch ausgedrückt. Ich bin auch meinem Kollegen sehr dankbar für seine Mühe und Hilfe mit dem Projekt. 

That's all for now! Tschüss!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Let's Go Outside!

We spent Holy Week and Easter in Southwest Georgia where I grew up.  My goal during this week was to get my kids outdoors as much as possible to enjoy the best things about this part of the world.  This area has some amazing natural beauty and it's worth fighting the heat and gnats to get out and revel in it!

Picking fresh, sun-ripened strawberries!

The fruits of our labor

Fishing with Granddad!

One of many big ones that the kids reeled in.

At the farm!

A real red barn just like in a picture book
Horsing around with a newborn foal!
Petting the baby chicks

Goats make great playmates.

Sand piles make for hours of fun!

Making a habitat for toy frogs and turtles.
Grandma's old pie tins are the perfect thing!
Introducing my kids to beloved smells from my childhood:

Honeysuckles . . .

 . . . and Magnolia

By the way, my on-line friend, Marghanita, has a wonderful campaign going called the Let's Go Outside Revolution to get North American kids outdoors.  Please check it out and be a part of it!

What are you or your church doing to get kids outdoors to explore God's amazing creation?  I'd love to hear!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Nature Table: Easter

We are not going to be in Berlin this Easter, so I wanted to go ahead and decorate the nature table before we left.  The eggs on the Easter tree are ones that we have collected over the years from Germany, Austria and Poland, and they are hanging on some lovely cherry tree branches that should be blooming by the time we return.  On the left you can see a sculpture of Golgatha that the kids and I made last year out of a stone and branches that we found in the park.  My son made the empty tomb (in the middle) out of clay, small sticks and another stone that we found.

I wish you all a wonderful Palm Sunday and Holy Week!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Simplicity Parenting

“Like any work of art, families need inspiration, fresh infusion of hope, and imagination.”
 - Kim John Payne, Simplicity Parenting

While this book does not directly relate to faith and children’s spirituality, I am writing a post about it for two reasons. First, the topics it addresses, namely the rhythm and environment of childhood, have a far-reaching impact on the spiritual development of children. Secondly, it is one of the best parenting books that I have read in a long time.

In this book, Kim Payne, a Waldorf educator, advocates using the power of simplicity to bring security and stability to children.  He addresses simplicity in the areas of material possessions, daily rhythm and environment.  Western society is based largely on acquisition and consumption and children learn this at an early age.  Often, they have so many toys and clothing that they cannot enjoy any of them, because their rooms and living spaces are too cluttered and the effect is that they end up overstimulated and weary. 

The same applies to daily rhythms.  Our generation of parents is so concerned with giving our children every educational and entertainment option that our children are often so stressed out that they cannot benefit from any of it.  Yes, each child has a different capacity, and we as parents need to be sensitive as to how much is too much and how much is just plain healthy. 

Environment is also a huge factor.  In homes where the television or computer games are  allowed too much time and influence, children lose the ability to imagine and interact with their world.  They become passive spectators and the wonder of chidlhood is robbed from them. 

Our family has experienced periods of excess and imbalance in all of these areas and I am happy to say that we are taking a closer look at these things and asking God for wisdom.  We have always had a policy of getting rid of old toys when the children get new ones, but after reading this book, I got rid of half of their other toys as well as clothing and many books.  The result is that my children play with what they have more, have an easier time getting dressed in the morning, and read more books.  I probably still need to get rid of a lot more, but it’s a start.: ) 

Also, I have seriously taken a look at my children’s schedules and capacities. Intuitively I have always strongly believed that they should not be over-involved in extra activities. But when our son started to show signs of being stressed at school, we dropped one of his activities for a while and I made it a point to pick him up earlier more often in the week.

This leads me to another great point in the book.  The author states that just as children have physical fevers, they also have “soul fevers”.  Just as we intuitively pull our children close and nurse them when they are sick, we need to do the same thing when they are emotionally or psychologically stressed.  Sometimes the soul fevers are short, but sometimes they last for longer periods of time. Our children are only little once and they only have one childhood,  It is worth it to pay close attention to their emotional health, and in doing so we are a living example of God’s heart for them.

One part of the book that I do not fully agree with is the chapter entitled “Filtering out the Adult World”.  By this, Payne means deliberately sheltering children from the anxiety over the adult world that they come into contact with through mediums such television or their own parents’ conversations,  While I do fully agree that limiting television and monitoring what we as adults talk about in front of the children is extremely important, I do feel it is appropriate and even vital to their spirituality to allow children the opportunity to learn (within reason) about people in need, natural disasters and crises.  Children who are encouraged to have a relationship with God then have a place to put their worries in prayer and can leave the worries there rather than constantly carrying them around. They also learn to think about others and situations beyond themselves and have an opportunity to see God answer their prayers.  My own children saw people in difficult situations in Uganda and this caused them at an early age to experience genuine compassion for others.  We as parents discussed what they had seen over and over again and helped our children pray for the Ugandans we met.  Later on, we helped our son start sponsoring a child on a monthly basis to help put his faith in action.

I definitely recommend that anyone involved with children read this book whether you are a parent, teacher or children’s ministry worker.  When we intentionally cultivate the beauty of “doing life” in children, our entire society will benefit from it. 

To change or not to change?

Can one change the text of a Godly Play story to fit one’s own church tradition or theological beliefs?  That is a controversial question in the Godly Play world. Jerome Berryman wrote the Godly Play stories with his own Episcopal church background in mind. As a result, some of the ideas or interpretations contained within Berryman’s texts differ from other Protestant traditions as well as the Catholic and Orthodox traditions.  The tension comes from a fear that Godly Play will be changed so much that it won’t remain Godly Play.

My personal opinion on the matter is that for Godly Play to be used on a widespread basis, the individual storytellers must be able to use the stories within their specific theologically context.  Storytellers learn a text by heart, internalize it, and act it out in a sense to draw the listeners into it.  Must of the effectiveness of this teaching method depends on whether or not the teacher really believes and stands behind what he/she is saying.  Otherwise, the telling of the biblical stories becomes a fairy tale hour with no relevance.  I was fortunate enough to have a trainer in my Godly Play training here in Germany, who told us very clearly that we had freedom to tweek the stories to fit our theological beliefs and that no one could expect to say something that we couldn’t stand behind.  While Godly Play Germany as an organization is very concerned that the GP stories remain as true as possible to Berryman’s texts, it has translated all of his stories with variations for the both the Catholic and Lutheran traditions here in Germany in mind.

An example of how I have tailored stories to fit my context is the Godly Play baptism story.  I absolutely love this story, but in our church tradition, we do not baptize infants. So when I told the story to our children, I explained that although many Christian churches baptize babies, our church only baptizes older children and adults who are old enough to make the decision themselves.  Rather than using a baby doll, I used an adult figure from my daughter’s dollhouse and we baptized her.  The children in our church plant were delighted with the story and played baptism with the dollhouse figure just as I have seen children play with the baby doll in other churches. 

Another example is “The Faces of Easter” story that I have been telling in the Easter Club.  While I think this story is just about perfect, my one criticism would be that it only gives very little information about the resurrection itself and is a bit anticlimatic. This did not sit well with me, so I added a few lines from the biblical text where Mary Magdalene and the women visit the tomb, find it empty, and receive the news from two angels that Jesus is actually alive.  (When I do add to GP stories, I usually add things directly from the biblical text, because I figure you can’t go very wrong if your words are straight from the source!)

I recently volunteered to be a part of a research project by a graduate student in the U.S., who is researching how other Christian traditions are adapting GP into their context.  Also, I will be taking part in a field study for Godly Play in the Russian language. So, I hope that I will have much more to say on this subject later!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Easter Club Week 4/Oster AG Woche 4

In Part 2 of "The Faces of Easter", the children heard the story of the Last Supper, the crucifixion and the resurrection of Jesus.  I find the imagery in this story to be ingenious in the way it verbally and visually illustrates the contrasting sadness and pure joy that are both a part of the Easter story. It is so helpful in understanding both the mystery of Easter and the character of God.  The seventh plaque in the story has the crucifixion on one side and the resurrection on the other.  The storyteller explains that one side cannot be separated from the other as he/she tries to no avail to pull the two apart.  "When you see this side (the crucifixion), then you always know that the other side (the resurrection) is also there." Bei Teil 2 der Geschichte, "Die Gesichter Christi",  hörten die Kinder von dem letzten Abendmahl, der Kreuzigung, und der Auferstehung Jesu. Ich finde die bildliche Darstellung in dieser Geschichte genial, wie die Kontrastwirkung von der tiefe Trauer und die pure Freude des Osterns verbal und visuell erklärt wird. Sie hilft einem das Geheimnis von Ostern sowie den Character Gottes besser zu verstehen. Der siebte Tafel hat ein Bild von der Kreuzigung auf der eine Seite und ein bild von der Auferstehung auf der anderen Seite.  Der Erzähler/In sagt, dass es unmöglich ist eine Seite von der anderen zu trennen, während er/sie versucht die zwei Bilder auseinanderzuziehen.

The final plaque is then placed in a straight line with the other plaques at the top of the felt (purple with a white portion at the top to signify the change from a season of mourning to one of joy). "Wait a minute, something here isn't quite right." The he/she explains that if we only have the crucifixion, then the story has truly ended. But if we have the resurrection, then that "end" is actually a new beginning.  Then, the storyteller rearranges the pictures into a circle with the "new beginning" in the middle. In the Wondering Phase (reflection time), I asked the children which story was their favorite and which was most important to them. The children cited the stories of Jesus as a baby, the baptism, the time in the desert and the resurrection as their favorite and most important stories.  Der siebte und letzte Tafel wird in einer Linie mit den anderen Tafeln auf Filz hingelegt.  (Der Filz ist purpur außer einem kleinen weissen Teil oben, der die Veränderung vom Trauer zur Freude andeuten soll.) "Wartet mal, etwas hier stimmt nicht . . ." sagt der Erzähler/In. "Wenn wir nur die Kreuzigung haben, dann ist die Geshichte wirklich zu Ende. Aber wenn wir diese Seite (die Auferstehung) haben, dann ist das Ende auch ein Anfang." Dann werden die Tafeln in einen Kreis mit dem neuen Anfang in der Mitte umgeordnet. Im folgenden Ergründungsgespräch habe ich die Kinder gefragt welche Geschichte sie am besten fanden und welche für sie die wichtigste war. Die Kinder haben geäußert, dass Jesus als Baby, seine Taufe, die Zeit in der Wüste und die Auferstehung für sie wichtige Geschichten waren.  

Below is a girl pointing to the picture of Jesus' baptism as her favorite part of the story.  Hier ein Mädchen zeigt auf das Bild von Jesu Taufe als ihre lieblings Geschichte. 

During the creative phase, Group 4 begins a painting of the empty tomb. Während der Kreativphase fängt Gruppe 4 an ein Bild von dem leeren Grab zu malen.

Group 3 finishes up their painting of the crucifixion.  Gruppe 2 macht ihr Bild von der Kreuzigung fertig.

Group 1 works further on their mixed-media collage.  Gruppe 1 arbeitet weiter an der Kollage.

And here are the finished pictures: / Und hier die fertige Bilder: 

"The Mystery of Easter"
"Das Geheimnis von Ostern"
"The Good Shepherd"
"Der Gute Hirte"
"The Crucifixion"
"Die Kreuzigung"
"The Resurrection"
"Die Auferstehung"
And, of course, we painted a few Easter eggs.
Und, natürlich, haben wir ein paar Ostereier angemalt.
A silly egg!  Ein lustiges Ei!

Unlike the cress that we planted in children's church, the cress in our nature projects didn't grow the first time, so we had to try it again. As you can see in the picture above, the second time around it started to sprout. Im Unterschied zu der im Kindergottesdienst gepflanzte Kresse, ist unsere Kresse beim ersten Mal nicht aufgegangen und wir mussten nochmal probieren. Wie ihr im Foto oben seht, hat es zum zweiten Mal geklappt. 

One more week of Easter Club to go!  Noch eine Woche Oster AG zu berichten!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Art Materials - Where do I start?

If you want to provide your child with basic art supplies, where do you start? Likewise, if you are seeking to incorporate art into your children's ministry, you may also be wondering what to provide.  Here are a few suggestions that I hope will be helpful.

1) Less is more.  Children as well as adults are overwhelmed by too many choices. Limiting our choices actually allows for more creativity. Begin with a few basic mediums and use those supplies before you buy new ones.  At home, you might begin with acrylic paint, oil pastels, and colored pencils.  In a children's church setting, consider choosing 1-2 mediums in each of these areas:  drawing, painting, collage and clay.  

2) Buy quality materials. It is worth it to spend more money on a few items. Cheap crayons and colored pencils cause little hands to be cramped and take the joy out of art.  The materials that your child uses should easily make vibrant marks on the page, be it paint, magic markers, or oil pastels.  Playdough, for example, can be a great medium for the clay area, but be sure to buy a good brand or a homemade version from a Waldorf or Etsy shop and not the cheap stuff that dries out quickly, is not pleasing to the hands, and possibly toxic. 

3) Use appropriate paper.  Especially when painting, the paper should be between 170 and 190 g/m2.  Painting on paper that is too thin produces paintings that curl up too much or rip from the amount of liquid it is absorbing.  When using chalk or oil pastels, however, one can be more creative and a paper bag, for example, makes a marvelous ground for a picture. 

4) Have the materials stored where the children can get to them.  This empowers the children and saves the parents / teachers lots of headaches.  Also, in a children's church setting, the art center should be in a place where the floor can get a bit dirty.  It is also wise to think through how the children will get the water for the paint and how they will clean their brushes afterwards.

5) Try the materials out yourself.  This way you know a little more about what your child is experiencing and if the product is easy and pleasurable to use. If you are buying for children's church, ask an artist for advice.  Once I was in a church setting where there was a desire to encourage the arts,  but the people buying the materials and setting up the workspace were not artists themselves.  The result was that in the art corner, there were no drawing boards to draw on (we were sitting on the floor) and there were no sharpeners for the colored pencils. There were paints, but no water to mix them with.  I ended up thoroughly frustrated, despite good intentions. It takes more than a variety of mediums to make an art area usable. 

Monday, April 4, 2011

Easter Club Week 3/Oster AG Woche 3

This week the children heard a Godly Play story called “The Faces of Easter” that recounts important events in the life of Jesus and helps children understand the connection between Christmas and Easter.  This story is unlike other Godly Play stories that I regularly tell in that the materials are not three-dimensional.  The story is told using paintings by the German artist Juliane Heidenreich mounted on wood.  While the language in the story is absolutely beautiful, I was, to be quite honest, unsure as to whether the children (especially the first graders) would find the materials attractive or find the narration too long or boring.  As a result, I decided to only tell half of the story this week.  Diese Woche bei der Oster AG haben die Kinder die Geschichte, “Die Gesichter Christi”, gehört, die wichtige Szenen vom Leben Jesu darstellt und die Verbindung zwischen Weihnachten und Ostern untermauert.  “Die Gesichter Christi” ist sehr anders als andere Godly Play Geschichten, die ich regelmäßig erzähle, indem das Material nicht dreidimensional ist.  Sie wird stattdessen durch Gemälde von der deutschen Kunstlerin, Juliane Heidenreich, erzählt.   Obwohl die Sprache in der Geschichte wunderbar ist, war ich mir unsicher, ob die Kinder die Gemälde langweilig finden oder ob die Geschichte einfach zu lang für 1. und 2.Klässler wäre.   Deshalb entschied ich mich nur die Hälfte diese Woche zu erzählen. 

Much to my surprise, the children were attentive and glued to the pictures the entire time.  When I stopped after the part where Jesus comes close to the blind man and heals his eyes, the children became upset and begged me to continue.  Since I hadn’t yet rehearsed the second part, I gently told them that I couldn’t tell it today and moved them into the reflection time.  Überraschenderweise waren die Kinder die ganze Zeit aufmerksam und fanden die Bilder hochinteressant.  Nach dem Teil, wo Jesus die Augen von Bartimäus heilte, habe ich angesagt, dass Teil 2 nächste Woche kommt.  Da waren die Kinder etwas irritiert und flehten mich an noch mehr zu erzählen.  Da ich Teil 2 noch nicht richtig geübt hatte, musste ich den Kindern sanft sagen, dass wir warten müssten. Dann gingen wir ins Ergründungsgespräch.

Instead of asking questions during the Wondering Phase, this time I asked the children to look around the room and see if there was something that would help us tell more of the story. This turned into my favorite part of the day. The picture above is after the children laid several objects beside the pictures and began to explain why.  One child, for example, laid a package of cookies and a stop sign made of sticks beside the picture of Jesus in the wilderness.  He then explained that this represented Jesus’ long fast and how hungry he must have been.  Another child laid a candle beside the picture of Jesus healing the blind man, because the blind man could now see light.  Yet another child placed the cross from the focus table near the picture of Jesus with his parents as a baby, because of the line in the story that says that as the baby looked into his parents’ eyes, he saw the lines of the cross already.  Das war mein lieblings Teil des Tages.  Normaleweise stelle ich den Kindern Fragen während des Ergründungsgespräch.  Aber bei dieser Geschichte bittet man stattdessen, dass die Kinder Gegenstände im Zimmer aussuchen, die vielleicht meht von der Geschichte erzählen können.  Das Foto oben zeigt, was die Kinder ausgesucht und hingelegt haben.  Ein Kind legte eine Packung Kekse neben das Bild von Jesu in der Wüste hin und machte ein “Verbotschild” mit 2 Stöcken darauf.  Das sollte das lange Fasten und Hunger von Jesu representieren.  Ein anderes Kind legte eine Kerze neben das Bild von Bartimäus hin, da dieser nachher Licht sehen konnte.  Und noch ein Kind legte das Kreuz vom Fokustisch neben das Bild von der heiligen Familie, weil es in der Geschichte gesagt wird: “Als das Baby schaute ind Gesicht der Mutter Maria, konnte es schon die Form eines Kreuzes sehen.”

In the creative phase, I have the children working on group projects.  Each week a different group starts their project.  I meet with the children and ask them what was most interesting or important to them about the story that week.  Then, they decide what they want to paint on their 80 x 80 cm canvas, which medium to use, and who will work on what.  This is quite a complicated process for first and second graders, and they learn about communication, teamwork and perseverance through it. In der Kreativphase arbeiten die Kinder an Gruppenprojekten. Jede Woche ist eine neue Gruppe dran, ihren Projekt anzufangen.  Ich rede mit der Gruppe darüber, was für sie am wichtigen oder interessanten war.  Danach entscheiden sie sich wie sie ihre Leinwand gestalten möchten, welches Medium zu verwenden, und wer was macht.  Durch diesen etwa komplizierten Prozess lernen sie über Kommunikation, Teamarbeit und Ausdauer.  

Group 3 (below) started on their project this week.  Before I even got around to talking to them, the three boys had already decided what they wanted to paint and who was to paint what.  They began to paint a picture of Golgatha, which is interesting, because we haven’t covered that part of the story yet.  Gruppe 3 (unten) fing diese Woche ihren Projekt an. Bevor ich den Chance mit ihnen zu reden hatte, haben die drei Jungs schon entschieden, was sie malen wollten und wer welche Aufgabe hatte.  Sie haben ein Bild Golgatha angefangen, was ich interessant fand, weil wir diesen Teil der Ostergeschichte noch nicht behandelt haben. 

Group 1 continues to work on their mixed-media collage based on “The Mystery of Easter”.  Here below a boy experiments with the placement of the collage pieces.  Their project has taken a long time, because the two girls working on it are designing and cutting out complicated collage pieces to glue onto the canvas.  Gruppe 1 arbeitet weiter an ihrer Kollage, die nach der Geschichte, “Das Geheimnis von Ostern”, gestalten wird. Hier unten experimentiert ein Kind mit der Einstellung der Kollageteile.  Ihr Projekt dauert länger, weil die anderen 2 Kinder zeichnen und schneiden sorgfältig komplizierte Designs für die Kollage aus. 

Group 2 (below)  is the closest to being finished.  They based their picture on the story of the Good Shepherd.  After drawing the shepherd and sheep with oil pastels, they painted the background with watercolors.  There are still a few things that they want to add, so I won’t give away their secrets! Gruppe 2 (unten), die ihr Bild nach der Geschichte vom Guten Hirten gestaltet haben, ist fast fertig.  Nachdem sie den Hirten und Schafe mit Ölpastellen gezeichnet hatten, haben sie den Hintergrund mit verdünnter Deckfarbe gemalt.  Sie möchten noch ein paar Dinge hinfügen, aber ich verrate nicht was!

These girls decided spontaneously to draw Easter eggs with oil pastels.  Diese Mädchen wollten spontan Ostereier mit Ölpastellen malen.

It’s always fun to play with the stories.  Es macht immer Spass mit den Geschichten zu spielen.

For our snack this week, we decided to try some things that Jesus might have eaten:  flatbread, olives, and Feta cheese.  Everyone was full and happy afterwards!  Fürs Snack haben wir Essen zur Jesus Zeit probiert:  Oliven, Fladenbrot und Schafskäse.  Alle waren satt und glücklich!

Friday, April 1, 2011

What I'm learning . . .

I shared in a previous post that I am doing on-line Montessori Training with Karen Tyler from Worldwide Montessori. I am learning so much and am able to incorporate many things into both my work as a children's pastor and my work as an ESL teacher.  I'd like to share a couple of ideas that I used on Sunday at our Family Brunch.

One lesson that we learn in Karen's course is a simple Practical Life activity where children take nuts and bolts and screw the nut onto the bolt.  Little hands like the challenge of turning the nut until it fits all the way onto the bolt or seeing how many nuts will fit onto the bolt.  This exercise develops their fine motor skills and is actually a preparation for learning to write by training the muscles in the hands. I added a twist to Karen's original presentation by painting the nuts and bolts with coordinating colors so that the children could also work on sorting and categorizing skills as well. 

The tray with the color coordinated nuts and bolts.

Another activity was inspired by the Naturkinder.  Here the children have the opportunity to plant cress in egg shells. This activity is wonderful on several levels. It trains the fine motor skills, allows the children to see the wonder of nature in action, and allows them to reap quicky what they have sown.  Cress starts to germinate overnight and tastes great in salads!

The trays with the materials for planting the cress.

Sowing the seeds . . . 

And the harvest!

Jesus, Our Light

I don't always do Godly Play or YWC at our children's worship services and at times I experiment with other things.  But I am, however, committed to a sensorimotor style of teaching and shepherding children. (By "sensorimotor" I mean learning that incorporates  tactile, visual and auditory styles.) With a little thought and training, one can incorporate Montessori principles into any Biblical story or theme.  

Ich verwende Godly Play und Young Children and Worship nicht immer beim Kindergottesdienst.  Ab und zu experimentiere ich mit anderen Ideen oder Konzepten.  Ich bin aber überzeugt, dass Kinder am besten durch Konzepte lernen, die visuelle, auditive, und kinäthetische Lernstile integrieren.  Es ist auch möglich Prinzipien von der Montessori Pädagogik in jeder biblischen Geschichte oder biblischen Thema einzubeziehen.

At our Family Brunch last week, I told a story called "Jesus, Our Light".  I developed this story using the text and ideas from a book called  Adventsstündchen und Osterstündchen by Norbert Thelen.  (When I find a German texts that fit theologically and stylistically, I often use them in my storytelling rather than trying to reinvent the wheel as a non-native speaker.)  This story fits well in the Lenten season, because of the emphasis on light. 

Letze Woche beim Familienbrunch erzählte ich eine Geschichte namens "Jesus unser Licht".  Ich habe diese Geschichte von dem Text eines Buches  Adventsstündchen und Osterstündchen  von  Norbert Thelen entwickelt.  (Wenn ich theologisch und stilistisch passende Texte auf deutsch finde, verwende ich sie oft in Geschichten, damit ich als Nichtmuttersprachelerin das Rad nicht neu erfinden muss.) Wegen dem Thema von Licht passt diese Geschichte gut in der Fastenzeit.

As an intro to the story, I invited the children into a room with no windows and turned off the lights. I had a flashlight and turned it on. Then, I asked the children how they had felt in the dark and what difference the light had made.  I explained that sometimes we have to experience or understand what darkness is in order to really appreciate the light.  I was trying to once again help the children understand that the story of Jesus' death and resurrection has two sides, one full of darkness and one full of light.  And they are both equally important to knowing the character of God.

Als Einleitung lud ich die Kinder ins Zimmer ohne Fenster ein and schallte das Licht ab.  Ich hatte eine Taschenlampe mit und machte sie an.  Dann fragte ich die Kinder, wie es für sie war im dunkelen zu sein und was für einen Unterschied das Licht machte. Ich erzählte, manchmal müssen wir die Dunkelheit erkennen können um das Licht wirklich wahrzunehmen. Mein Punkt was wieder zu untermauern, dass er zwei Seiten in der Geschichte von Jesus und Ostern gibt. Die eine ist traurig und dunkel und die andere ist hell und schenkt uns Hoffnung. 

In the picture above, the yellow circle represents the sun and the arches respresent doors.  The story talks about how people opened their doors (literally and figuratively) to Jesus and his bringing light into their homes and lives.  The four doors recount the episodes where Jesus encountered Blind Bartimaeus, a lame man, Zaccheus and children.  The text ends with the point that Jesus became more important than the sun for these people.  And, of course, I then invite the children to process their thoughts by asking open-ended questions that allow them to place themselves within the story.  

Der gelbe Kreis im Bild oben stellt die Sonne dar und die Bögen sind Türe.  Die Geschichte erzählt wie Leute ihre Türe (wörtlich und bildlich) zu Jesu geöffnet haben und wie Jesus Licht in ihre Häuser und Leben gebracht hat. Die vier Türe sind von dem blinden Bartimäus, Zacchäus, einem Gelähmten, und den Kindern.  Der Text beendet mit den Gedanken, dass Jesus noch wichtiger als die Sonne für diese Leute war. Im folgenden Ergründungsgespräch habe ich Fragen gestellt, die den Kinder helfen sich in der Geschichte hineinzufinden.

After the story, the children had the opportunity to either do some Practical Life activities or work with chalk pastels.  We have used pastels several weeks in a row now, because I want the children to become familiar with this medium and discover the possibilities. Chalk pastels are fascinating to younger children from a tactile point of view, although adults who look at their free drawings without seeing the process are often unimpressed.

Nach der Geschichte konnten die Kinder eine Aktivität aussuchen.  Sie hatten die Auswahl entweder  eine "Praktisches Leben" Aktivität zu machen oder mit Kreidepastellen zu arbeiten.  Wir haben schon ein paar Wochen hinter einander mit den Kreidepastellen gearbeitet, weil die Kinder dieses Kunstmedium gut kennenlernen sollen und die Möglichkeiten damit entdecken.  Kreidepastellen sind ein taktiles Vergnügen für Kinder, aber Erwachsene, die nur die fertige Bilder anschauen ohne den Prozess zu beobachten, sind oft völlig unbeeindruckt.