Monday, May 30, 2011

Sunday in the Park

The weather in Berlin has warmed up enough that our bi-weekly Family Brunch can meet in the park again.  How wonderful it is to meet with God right in the middle of his wonderful creation!  This week I combined two Young Children and Worship stories, "Jesus Commissions the Disciples" and "Ascension".  Das Wetter in Berlin ist endlich schön geworden und wir dürften den Familien Brunch (ein Angebot von Haus Berlin e.V..) draußen im Park veranstalten. Es war wunderschön Gott mittendrin in seiner Schöpfung zu begegnen! Diese Woche habe ich zwei Geschichten von Young Children in Worship, "Jesus gibt seinen Jüngern einen Auftrag" und "Himmelfahrt", kombiniert. 


The story time was actually a bit rough this week, because the children were so distracted by having church outside for the first time in a long time. But that was okay.  It was exciting to be outside and who wouldn't be distracted by the adorable squirrels and cool bugs?  Das Erzählen von der Geschichte ging ein bisschen schief diese Woche, da die Kinder so  aufgeregt waren den Kindergottesdienst zum ersten Mal draußen nach dem langen Winter zu haben.  Aber das war in Ordnung. Es war einfach toll im Park zu sein und wer hätte sich von den niedlichen Eichhörchen und faszinierenden Insekten nicht ablenken können?


One of the activities that the children could choose from in the Creative Phase was the Ascension Art Project that I wrote about in my last post.  In addition to the artistic aspect, this project involved counting (the children had to make 11 dots for the 11 disciples and 2 white dots for the two angels) and recognition of emotions (I asked the children to imagine how Jesus' friends felt when he left them and if they were happy, sad, surprised, angry, etc.). Während der Kreativphase gab es mehrere Möglichkeiten.  Eins davon war das Kunstprojekt zu Himmelfahrt, die ich im letzen Post gezeigt habe. Zusätzlich zu dem kreativen Aspekt, konnten die Kinder die Zahlen üben, indem sie 11 Püntkchen für die Jünger und 2 für die Engel malen mussten.  Auch habe ich die Kinder gefragt, wie die Jünger sich gefühlt haben als Jesus plötzlich weg war.  Das war eine gute Gelegenheit für die Kinder unterschiedliche Emotionen und Ausdrücke zu überlegen. 

Painting the mountaintop.
Ein Kind malt den Hintergrund.
Drawing the disciple's reactions to
Jesus' ascension with a felt-tipped pen.
Dieses Kind malt die Reaktionen 
der Jünger mit einem Filzstift.

The finished paintings made me smile! Die fertige Bilder haben mich total gefreut!



I set up two Montessori Practical Life activities for the children to choose from as well.  The first one, pictured below, involved stringing buttons in the shape of ladybugs, butterflies, and other insects onto pipe cleaners.  Es gab auch zwei Montessori Angebote vom Bereich, "Praktisches Leben".  Bei der ersten unten sollten die Kinder Knöpfe in der Form von Marienkäfern, Schmetterlingen, und andern Insekten auffädeln.


In the second activity the children used tongs to find and transfer acorn shells from a bowl of sand into the compartments of an ice cube tray. Bei der zweiten Aufgabe sollten die Kinder einen Pinzette benutzen um Eichlen vom Sand in eine Eiswürfelform zu übertragen


The older children who could read had the opportunity to put together the words of the Great Commission.  The control card is in the bottom right hand corner. Die älteren Kinder konnten die letzen Worter, den Auftrag, von Jesus puzzeln. Die Kontrollekarte ist unten rechts.


This was the first time that I have set up a focus table outside.  It looked so beautiful surrounded by the plants in the park.   Ich habe zum ersten Mal einen Fokustisch im Park aufgestellt.  Mit den ganzen Pflanzen herum sah es hübsch aus. 


Have a wonderful Ascension! We get the day off here in Berlin, so we are especially excited! Bis zum nächsten Mal!




Linked to The Magic Onions

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Quote of the Day

“Accept the children with reverence, 
educate them with love, 
send them forth in freedom.” 
– Rudolf Steiner

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Jago inspired Art Project for Ascension

Jago is a respected artist and illustrator of children's books.  Our family has particularly enjoyed his work in The Jesus Storybook Bible, and it inspired my latest art project below for Ascension.  This whimsical aerial view painting depicts the 11 disciples staring up into the clouds after Jesus has returned to the Father and the two angels who respond their bewilderment. 


Step 1:   Using watercolors or thinned tempera paint, make a grassy background. Ascension actually took place on the Mount of Olives, so the kids can use their imaginations and paint flowers or whatever they think should be on a mountain.  I painted the background here green with yellow streaks.


Step 2: Paint eleven dots in different colors to represent the disciples' heads. This is a great counting exercise for younger children as well.


Step 3: While the dots are drying, paint white clouds using a thicker acrylic or tempera paint.  I used what Germans call "Deckfarbe", which is a type of tempera paint. The clouds do not have to be opaque. Leaving them a bit transparent gives an airy feel to the painting.


Step 4: Next add the angels.  Paint a dot for the faces and just a hint of wings.


Step 5:  Once the paint is dry, use a black felt tipped pen or a gel pen to draw faces on the the disciples and the angels. This is also a way for the children to explore and process what the disciples might have been thinking as Jesus was taken up into the clouds.  Were they surprised, sad, angry, happy, shocked, etc.?  Older children can draw the bodies as well, but younger children are fine just to draw the faces.


 
If anyone tries this project with their children, please send me pictures. I'd love to see your results!

Linked up to Art for Little Hands

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Nature Table: Ascension and Whitsun (Pentecost) / Jahreszeittisch: Himmelfahrt und Pfingsten

Today we set up our nature table for Ascension and Whitsun / Pentecost!
Heute haben wir den Jahreszeittisch zu Himmelfahrt und Pfingsten aufgestellt!


Jesus went away, but now he is with all of us all of the time.
Jesus ist weggegangen, aber er ist jetzt zu jeder Zeit bei uns. 

Lady bugs and dragonflies that charm us in the spring and summer.
Butterflies are a living example of transformation.
Plants and flowers remind us of the incredible beauty of life.   
Marienkäfer und Libellen bezaubern uns im Frühling und Sommer. 
Schmetterlinge stellen die Verwandlungskraft Gottes dar. 
Blumen und Pflanzen errinern uns an die Schönheit des Lebens.

Symbols of the Triune God.
A crown for the Sovereign Father who rules with mercy and grace.
A wooden cross for the Son who came to us and gave us new life.
A dove and a flame for the Holy Spirit who brings peace and empowers us.
Symbolen der Dreieinigkeit. 
Eine Krone steht für den Vater, der uns mit Gnade und Barmherzigkeit führt. 
Das Kreuz ist für den Sohn, der zu uns kam und neues Leben schenkt. 
Eine Taube und eine Flamme stellen den Heiligen Geist dar, 
der Frieden und Kraft verleiht.

Just a few words about materials:  I always try to use things that we already have for our nature tables.  My figures of Jesus and the disciples are made of wood, but one could also make figures out of felt or cardboard.  All Join In has an excellent post on making Bible dolls.  The adorable bugs are actually buttons strung onto a pipe cleaner.  Everything else is just odds and ends from around the house or from the park.  Ein paar Wörter über das Material: ich versuche immer Sachen, die wir schon haben, für den Jahreszeittisch zu verwenden, und nichts Neues kaufen. Die Figuren von Jesus und den Jüngern sind aus Holz, aber man könnte sie aus Filz oder Pappe fertigen.  Oben ist ein tolles Link fürs Basteln von solchen Puppen. Die Käfer und Libellen sind aufgefädelte Knöpfe, die ich mal im Nähladen gefunden habe. Der Rest ist einfach Kram, das bei uns zu Hause liegt.: )

Have a wonderful week!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Godly Play 101: The Space

In a perfect world, we would all have a Godly Play room.  It would look something like this:

Picture borrowed from Godly Play Deutschland e.V., of which I am a proud member!

In case you can't read the German descriptions, the circles in the middle are where the children and the storyteller sit in a circle to hear the story.  Directly behind the large circle, representing the Storyteller, is the Focus Table, which as the name suggests, gives the children a visual focal point in the room. Above this story circle are tables where the children can use art materials during the creative phase. The other shelves in the room hold the art materials and the many different Godly Play stories told throughout the year that the children can choose from during the creative phase.

That having been said, I only know of a few GP storytellers in Germany that actually have rooms like the one described above.  Most of us are religion teachers or children's workers who use borrowed rooms and transport our materials from place to place in suitcases.  In my case, I am a children's pastor for a church plant (that doesn't have property of its own) and teach religious clubs at an elementary school.  My Godly Play "rooms" are my kitchen, the park in summer, and a borrowed classroom.  Even my on-line friend Storyteller in Finland (whose blog Wonderful in an Easter kind of way you should definitely read), who is part of an already established church, doesn't have a GP room and transports her stuff each week.

So, if you are thinking of starting Godly Play or Young Children in Worship with some group of children and don't have access to a room to permanently set up as the GP room, don't let that deter you from plunging into the great adventure! Think rather of creating Godly Play "space".

Maria Montessori wrote of the necessity of a "prepared environment". This would be an environment that includes aesthetic beauty, structure, appropriate freedom and child-friendly materials.  A Godly Play "space", whether it is in the park or in a classroom, needs to have these elements and requires a little forethought.  I have to admit that I haven't always gotten it right and my thoughts have evolved in this area.: )
  • A GP space should be aesthetically pleasing.  A disorderly room does not allow the mind be at ease for prayer or meditative thought.  If you are in borrowed space, you may have to rearrange some furniture before you begin.  (In the Easter Club, the children themselves helped with this each week and it was a bonding experience for us all.)  Outdoors in the park, look for an area where trees or bushes provide natural boundaries and where there is less traffic.  
  • Godly Play spaces need structure, so that the children know what to expect and are able to build community together. The materials should be positioned in an orderly way that the children can reach them without help from an adult. There should also be a routine to the children's service, so that they learn what comes next without too many surprises.  
  • The children should have an appropriate measure of freedom in making decisions about how they want to spend their time.  In a permanent Godly Play room, all the stories and all the art materials are available at each worship service.  However, in my case, I couldn't possibly haul all of those things around in a bicycle trailer each time.  So, I offer a smaller selection of stories, art materials and practical life activities. The children are then still able to make their own decisions about what to work on. 
  • A focus table in the room/space is not 100% necessary, but is very helpful for the children. (I obviously didn't have one in the park!) The things on it, such as the Christ candle, Nativity, Cross and Risen Jesus help children to draw connections between the stories and give their eyes a place to rest if they wonder away from the story. 
A simple focus table in my kitchen. 
So, prepare your space, wherever it may be, have fun, and let yourself learn (even through mistakes!).  If I've left out any aspects that other fellow storytellers feel are important, please feel free to join the conversation.

Monday, May 16, 2011

When your Child asks about Death / Wenn Kinder über den Tod fragen

If you are the parent or caregiver of a young child, then you know this experience: you are going somewhere (usually in a hurry) or doing something really fun, and then suddenly, out of the blue, comes a question from your child that you never saw coming. "Mommy, what happens when I die?"  "Daddy, will I die someday? Will you die?" We, as adults, are often caught off-guard or taken aback by such questions. After all, it's not a pleasant topic and certainly not one that we want to dwell on. However, it is very important to remember that such questions are a healthy and normal part of a child's spiritual and psychological development. How we react and what we say can go a long way in comforting and allaying fear in a child. Wer Kinder im Kindergartenalter hat, kennt diese Geschichte:  du bist unterwegs (meistens in Eile) mit den Kindern oder ihr macht irgendwas Lustiges zusammen und dann plötzlich aus der Luft kommt eine ganz unerwartete Frage.  "Mama, werde ich mal sterben?" "Wirdst du oder Papa sterben?" "Was passiert, wenn man stirbt?"  Wir als Erwachsene fühlen uns sofort unbequeem und wissen oft nicht, was wir dazu sagen sollen.  Tod ist natürlich kein schönes Thema und man will nicht so lange darüber nachdenken.  Aber, es ist wichtig zu erkennen, dass solche Fragen über den Tod normal und gesund sind.  Sie gehören zu der geistlichen und psychologischen Entwicklung des Kindes. Wie wir darauf reagieren kann dem Kind trösten und helfen Angst abzubauen. 

I am addressing this topic, because I run into many parents who are almost paralyzed by questions about death. However, taking time to process such questions with our children builds trust and strengthens both their character and ours.  A child's journey is one of trying to make sense of the world around them.  In asking about death, children are expressing curiosity about something that is unknown and may be trying to relieve fear about it.  As author Mary VanClay points out, children become aware of death at young ages as a result of everything from hearing fairy tales to interaction with nature.  Talking about it with a trusted adult gives them invaluable opportunities to process before they at some point in their lives actually experience the death of a beloved pet or a grandparent.  Ich schreibe etwas über das Thema. weil ich immer wieder mit Eltern rede, denen es sehr schwer fällt solche Fragen zu beantworten. Wenn wir die Zeit nehmen, um diese Fragen von unseren Kindern wahrzunehmen, dann bauen wir Vertauen zu unseren Kindern auf und gleichzeitig stärken wir ihren und unseren Charakter. Die Kindheit ist ein großer,, schöner Versuch die Welt einzuordnen, und deshalb wenn Kinder über den Tod fragen, drücken sie Neugier über etwas Unbekanntes aus und versuchen dabei Angst abzubauen. Wie Autorin Mary VanClay schreibt, kommen Kinder in Kontakt mit dem Theman Tod fast täglich durch Märchen, die Natur, usw.  Die Möglichkeit sich mit einem vertrauten Erwachsenen darüber zu unterhalten bietet eine unhelimlich wertvolle Zeit an, die Gedanken zu verarbeiten, bevor die Kinder in der Zukunft tatsächlich den Tod von einem beliebten Haustier oder sogar von den Grosseltern erleben.  

One of the things that I treasure about my work as a children's pastor and with Godly Play is that it provides opportunities for children to think about death in a safe place.  In the Godly Play story, "The Great Family", about Abraham and Sarah, the storyteller at one point encloses the figure in her hands, explains that Sarah was "full from her many years" (translated from the German!) and actually buries her in the sand of the Desert Sack.  It is not unusual after this story and others with similar themes to see the children burying the figures in the sand during the creative phase where the children are allowed to play with the story materials. This often shocks parents to see their children "playing" death. Children, however, are sensorimotor beings who learn and process play. Through play, they find the words to formulate the questions that come "out of the blue".  Ich schätze in meiner Arbeit als Kinderpastorin und mit Godly Play, dass die Kinder Möglichkeiten haben sich Gedanken über das Thema in geschützen Rahmen machen zu können.  Bei der Godly Play Geschichte, "Die Große Familie", die um Abraham und Sarah geht, nimmt der Erzähler die Sarahfigur in der Hand und sagt, "Sarah war voll an Jahren" und begräbt sie in die Sand.  Oft in der Kreativzeit nachher begraben die Kinder Sarah und die anderen Figuren wieder beim Spielen.  Das schokiert die Eltern manchmal, wenn sie sehen, dass die Kinder "den Tod" spielen. Kinder aber lernen und erfahren mit den 5 Sinnen. Durchs Spielen finden sie die Worter um später Fragen zu stellen.

When your child asks you about death, here are some things to keep in mind / Wenn Kinder den Tod ansprechen, hier sind ein paar Dingen zu beachten:

1. Provide a safe place for them to talk.  Keep your own emotions in check and be patient with their questions.  Don't try to distract them or hurry the conversation to an end. Schaffe geschützen Raum für sie zu reden.  Versuche die eigenen starken Emotionen oder Ängste unter Kontrolle zu halten.  Versuche nicht das Gespräch woanders zu lenken oder schnell zu beenden. 

2. Be honest about what you know and don't know.  A friend of mine, who isn't at all religious, was recently talking to me about this subject and asking me what I told my children about death.  I told her that, of course, I can't provide any scientific evidence about what happens to the soul/spirit when a person dies, but I did tell my children that God promises never to leave or forsake us and that nothing can separate us from his love, not even death. We don't have all the answers, but God did not mean for us to, did he?  Gib ehrlich zu, was du weisst und nicht weisst.  Eine Bekanntin, die gar nicht religiös ist, hat mich gefragt, was ich den eigenen Kindern über den Tod sage.  Ich habe erzählt, dass ich natürlich nicht genau beweisen kann, was wissenschaftlich mit der Seele und Geist nach dem Tod passiert. Aber ich sage meinen Kinder, dass Gott verspricht uns niemals zu verlassen und dass Nichts kann uns von seiner Liebe trennen. Ich muss nicht alle Antworte haben.: )   

3. After your child asks, provide a "playful" (by this I do not mean flippant) way to talk further about death.  Read a Bible story or another story together in which someone dies and talk about it.  Or allow your child to process with play figures such as Playmobil or wooden figures by making up a story together and asking your child how he/she feels when one of the characters die. This can help your child (and maybe even you!) process in a healthy way.  Nachdem dein Kind die Frage stellt, kann man weiter auf eine spielerische Art und Weise darüber reden.  Lest eine Bibelgeschichte oder eine andere Geschichte, in der eine Person stirbt, und diskutiert sie zusammen. Man kann auch Playmobil Figuren oder Puppen holen und eine Geschichte zusammen ausdenken.  Frage dein Kind, was es empfindet, wenn die Figur/Puppe stirbt.  Das kann dem Kind (und vielleicht dir auch) helfen die Gedanken zu verarbeiten.

Here are some other helpful articles that I found on the web / Hier sind ein paar hilfsreiche Artikeln vom Internet, die das Thema behandeln
I hope this is helpful and wish you wisdom, patience and a healthy dose of playfulness when your child gets around to asking this question!  Ich hoffe, diese Gedanken sind behilflich und ich wünsche euch Weisheit, Geduld und Kraft, wenn die unerwarteten Fragen kommen!




Friday, May 13, 2011

Sensorimotor Worship: Gardening

Sensorimotor worship is a spiritual lesson or experience that involves all or most of the five senses and incorporates visual, auditory and kinesthetic learning styles.  Such experiences are essential for young learners to make sense of the abstract concept of "God".  Almost any "hands-on", everyday experience can be turned into a sensorimotor lesson with a little forethought and preparation.  

The Bible is filled with metaphors about seeds, sowing, reaping, trees and plants.  Jesus himself used agricultural examples that the people of his day knew very well.  Unfortunately, in many parts of the western world, children are no longer exposed to the process of growing their own food or plants, and the important principles contained in these biblical metaphors are foreign concepts to them.  

I would like to suggest that gardening can be an important part of a child's spiritual education.  Not only do the children learn responsibility by caring for another living thing, they come into contact with valuable lessons about sowing, reaping, growth and change.  

What if you don't have a plot of land for a garden?  We live in a big city and only have a balcony.  Fortunately, most plants and vegetables can be grown in containers even in the smallest of spaces.  You need to observe beforehand how much light your area receives and plant accordingly.  There are lots of shade-loving veggies that thrive even in darker places.  

Step 1: Choose seeds and plant them with your children, allowing them to do the majority of the work (within reason of age and developmental considerations).  After planting the seeds, here are some ideas for discussion and prayer over the next several days:

1. Important things with God usually start small like the seeds we just planted.  Ask the child, can you think of some small beginnings in the Bible? (Examples include: Jesus, the King, being born as a small baby in a stable; David was a small shepherd boy when he was chosen as King of Israel) Then, the parent could share some small beginnings either in their own lives or in the lives of their child.  (For example, I showed my son, who is an accomplished artist for his age, some of his first drawings and paintings as a toddler.) Pray and thank God together for the great things that come out of small beginnings!



Step 2: Teach your children  to water the plants daily.


2. Just as plants need water, we need the water of the Holy Spirit.  Why do plants need water?  Why do we need water?  What do we do with water? Read John 4:13 and/or Jeremiah 17:7,8 together.  Why kind of "water" does God give us? How does he give it to us?  Why do we need it?


3. When we grow in our friendship with God, the result is the fruit of the Holy Spirit.  Many plants bear fruit.  Why do you like fruit so much?  Read Galatians 5:22-23 and explain what the nine fruits of the Spirit are. Isn't the world much nicer when love, peace, joy, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness and self-control are visible in our lives?  Pray together for God's fruit to grow in your lives.  (We adults need this as much as the kids!)


Step 3: When the time comes, demonstrate for your children how to trim dead leaves. (This is actually a Practical Life exercise taught in many Montessori preschools.)


4.  Just like plants need pruning, sometimes we need it, too! Talk with your child about John 15:2 where Jesus says that the Father prunes branches that bear fruit so that they will bear even more fruit.  Trees can't produce new fruit unless the dead, wilted foliage is removed.  In the same way, if we always do everything exactly the same day after day, we can't grow either.  There are times (like Lent) where God leads us to change things in our lives to make room for growth and new experiences.  


Here are some great links for container gardening in limited spaces:


Please be sure to use child-size gardening tools for little hands if at all possible.  Our set is from Tchibo. There was a blue shovel, too, but my son planted it inside the flower box for the radishes as a "surprise"!  



And the unparelleled joy of seeing tiny living sprouts shoot up from the ground.  My son was hopping around the apartment as if it were his birthday! 





Linked up to The Magic Onions.

Monday, May 9, 2011

On-line Montessori Training - New Enrollment

Karen Tyler from Worldwide Montessori On-line is beginning enrollment for a new course in June!  I have been taking Karen's classes and have learned so much from her work.  The course covers everything from language to Zoology and is a treasure trove of ideas. Because it is all done on-line, you work at your own pace according to your own schedule.  In case you are wondering about costs, she has several different and extremely affordable payment options.  


If you are interested, please contact Karen at karen@amontessorimarketplace.com


I highly recommend this class to anyone who would like to learn more about Montessori in a systematic, professional way!




Sunday, May 8, 2011

Collaborative (Group) Art Projects

Collaborative art projects help children on many levels.  When children work together to make a piece of art, they sharpen skills in teamwork, communication and creativity.  The children have to verbalize their ideas, which does not always come naturally at their developmental stage.  Also, such projects often require them to practice conflict resolution and problem-solving. In other words, it's a pedagogical treasure chest.: ) 

During my first-ever Easter Club, the children worked on an Easter sculpture garden together as a response to the Godly Play stories they were hearing.  While the sculpture garden project was collaborative in one sense, the children were usually working individually on some object. Noticing that I was running around like a chicken with my head cut off trying to help each child and answer questions, one of the mothers who was helping me with the club gently suggested that I might try having several children work on one object together instead of each child doing his own individual thing. 

This idea intrigued me and I began to research how one might go about trying to do a collaborative project with groups of children for the next Easter Club.  And honestly, there wasn't much on the web to be found on the subject. I asked at least one well-known art teacher blogger, but she also had no experience in this area.  So, me being me, I decided to wing it.: )


When the time for Easter Club rolled around again, we divided our group of 12 children into four smaller groups.  Each group received a large canvas to paint together. After each story, I met with one of the groups and I would typically ask them what they liked best about the story and what was important to them. Next, I would present a medium or technique for them to use. (For example, collage or pastel resist work.)  Then, I would ask them for ideas about what to paint and have them discuss it together.

As a student of personality types, this process was fascinating for me to watch.  Each group usually had one child with strong ideas of what he/she wanted who acted as a leader for the other two.  One group worked slow and methodically, while the other three groups very quickly decided what to do and who would do it.  One of the groups drew sketches for their work, but the others did not. One group finished their work in one sitting while the other three needed more than one week to complete theirs.  I was also astounded at how much the children trusted one another's ideas. When there were conflicting opinions, the children worked them out after a brief exchange.

The group work also provided opportunities for problem-solving.  For example, while painting a lake with ducks on it, one child dripped red paint used for the flippers and bill, so that it looked like the birds were bleeding.  After brainstorming what could be done, we decided to paint over the red with brown paint making an island for the ducks in the middle of the lake.


Since this was my first time to help children with collaborative projects, I certainly didn't do everything right.  I think that I talked too much at times and was sometimes too directive in a desire to be helpful (and sometimes just plain old impatient) instead of fully trusting the process.  I looked towards the goal too much instead of treasuring the process, which is equally if not more important.

To see the children's finished projects, click here.

Some tips on collaborative group projects with children:

1. Trust the process. (Don't offer too much advice!)
2. Introduce a specific technique or medium (Limiting choices can enhance creativity!)
3. Ask good questions.
4. Give the children adequate time to discuss.

If you are looking for some ideas for collaborative projects, here are some that I have found:

  • Photo Mosaic from Squidalicious. (I would probably have the children attempt to draw the tiles rather than color them, but still a wonderful idea.)
  • Paper Quilts from Art & Creativity
  • Murals and Shared Journals from Lisa Magloff
  • Patchwork Puppet: I don't have  a link or picture, but the art teachers at our school, Anne and Caro, helped the children sew a giant 2 meter high patchwork puppet together made out of strips of fabric that the children cut themselves. 

I found the whole experience to be valuable for the kids and me, and I would definitely do a collaborative group project again!

If you have led any collaborative art projects with children, please be sure to leave a message about your experiences and a link!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Things that hinder holistic children's ministry


Doing children’s ministry in a holistic way is very important to me.  The Bible says that we are to love God with our heart, soul and mind.  But many times in children’s ministry we can fall into the trap of only focusing on one area and neglecting the others. I certainly have not “arrived” in the area of helping children to know God holistically, but I am committed to continue learning. 

Sometimes it is easier to start defining a thing by defining first what it is not.  I recently ran across this excellent article from Child Faith  called “Ten Rats in the Church”.  By “rats” the author means things that gnaw away at and get in the way of true spiritual development.  I would encourage you to read the entire article, but I am going to repost the points here:

  1.  “Following the rules” is more important than love and relationships.

  1. Teaching people they are spiritually incompetent and that only the “professionals” have something to give. (Having children pray for me for example have been some of my most powerful spiritual experiences.)

  1. Teaching or modelling that doing good things, and avoiding or hiding the bad, will make us more acceptable to God.

  1. Laughing or grinning at expressions of spiritual experience by young children.

  1. Trying to be like a really good school.

  1. Insisting there must be a major crisis salvation event.

  1. Maintaining a child-unfriendly environment. (Expecting kids to be little adults or using furniture that is too big.)

  1. Assuming kids are incomplete Christians. (Children are spiritual beings from birth on, even though their developmental level expresses it differently at each stage.)

  1. Religious activities such as excessive memorization that have little or nothing to do with spirituality or faith.

  1. Aquiescing to the culture rather than critically thinking through what should be accepted, adapted or rejected. (I would add to that the opposite:  rejecting the culture outright without considering its positive God-inspired aspects.)
In my own life, "following the rules" rather than focusing on love and grace had a negative impact on me, our family and ministry.  Reading Timothy Keller's "The Prodigal God" among other things helped me start on a new path. 

Have you found any of these things to 
have been hindrances in your spiritual development?  
What other hindrances might there be?

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Quote of the Day

"I have a great belief in the fact that 
whenever there is chaos, 
it creates wonderful thinking. 
I consider chaos a gift." 

- Septima Poinsette Clark
(American educator and civil rights activist)

Monday, May 2, 2011

The Joy of Easter

We arrived home to Berlin on Sunday after a refreshing visit to the USA.  Last night, my son and I moved the wooden figures representing our family's Lenten journey with God. . . 


and placed them near the empty tomb on the Easter table! 


It's been a long journey (Lent seemed a lot longer than 6 weeks!) with lots of challenges this year, 
but the joy of Jesus' resurrection changes everything. When I was a child, because our family was not familiar with the church calender, the Easter season began a couple of weeks before Easter Sunday and then ended on Easter Sunday. Now, I am glad to perceive and be able to share with my children that it is just beginning and we can celebrate it through Pentecost/Whitsunday. 


We have learned a lot and been changed by stepping out of our normal rhythms and walking with God through this season. And we are looking forward to what is still to come!