Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Eastertide Guest Post #2: 'Jesus the King' materials

Welcome to the second installment of our Eastertide guest post series! This week, Storyteller from Wonderful in an Easter kind of Way is up to share with us. If you aren't familiar with her blog, please check it out. She writes all kinds of thought-provoking things about Godly Play, children's spirituality and her own experiences in training for the ministry.

I've met many people who think that Godly Play is all about expensive wooden figures. It's not true. Godly Play is about treating children with dignity and creating holy space. I own a few Godly Play materials that were made by official sourcers, but others that were cobbled together from flea market finds. Some I do plan to replace eventually with something more beautiful. But some of my quirky materials I would never want to replace! My Jesus the King materials illustrate this well, I think.

Sorry, Sheila. Jesus the King isn't really an Easter story, but the Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem is just so... triumphal that I think of it as more Easter than Lent.

[In Godly Play proper the triumphal entry is almost relegated to part of the background to the Last Supper, as in the Anglican lectionary it's observed within a short Liturgy of the Palms celebrated outside before we enter the church for a congregational reading of the Passion. But Berryman's earlier Young Children and Worship script, written up by Sonja Stewart, has a dedicated script for the Triumphal Entry, called "Jesus the King".]

This was the first Godly Play -style story I ever told in my church. It's excellent for children who are new to this style of storytelling and/or very young. It's short and interactive and includes that wonderful feature of  Godly Play (and YCW) - it brings together Bible and liturgy. As we lay cloaks and leaves upon the road to Jerusalem we repeat the refrain that we sing every Sunday: Hosanna in the highest. Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest! 

The first time I told it I had assembled the materials in a great rush. Our "cloaks" were cut out of wrapping paper and Jerusalem was a Sunday School coloring-page. Jesus was merely a small bit of printed paper  pasted onto thin cardboard for extra durability. It was a comfort to know that Berryman himself started out using construction paper! I made several copies of that Jesus and sent one home with each child. When I pulled out the materials again the following year one child cried out, "We have that Jesus on our bulletin board!"

Since then, I've replaced several of the materials:

  • We are still using the cardboard-and-paper Jesus. I look forward to the day when I buy a wooden Jesus-on-a-donkey, but it hasn't come yet. 
  • My "road to Jerusalem" is made of a thin fleece-like material. It was cut from a gray poncho which I bought for that purpose at a flea market. I have a second underlay which goes beneath that - a purple tablecloth which I smooth out while talking about being in the season of Lent.
  • My cloaks and leaves are cut from a fabulous flea market find - upholstery swatch/sample books. Sonja Stewart's model cloaks are mere rectangles, but before realizing that I'd cut mine with sleeves. Similarly, I'm afraid my leaves don't look at all like palms, but they do look like the sort of leaves we find in Finland.
  • For several years we continued using the coloring-page Jerusalem. I had it laminated and it worked reasonably well. But then I stumbled across another flea market prize: a tourist plate from Jerusalem. 

It's certainly not the "prescribed" object, and it's a little battered, but I am very pleased with it. It shows a panorama view of the city, and has the word Jerusalem written in both English and Hebrew. I hold it in my left hand (I am right-handed), and with my right hand I trace the word Jerusalem as I say that God's people went up to Jerusalem. Then I continue around the circle, so that when I reach the word in Hebrew I am moving from right to left, and I repeat it as best I can in Hebrew (here's one model pronunciation). 

Do you have any beloved but unusual materials? I'd love to hear about them!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

"Russian" around (again!)

I'm rushin' around this week (terrible pun, I know, but I couldn't resist) getting prepared to take part in the first-ever Godly Play conference to be held in the country of Belarus. My talented friend, Helen Spencer, from Teach Beyond came up with the idea. She has invited Peter Privett, the author of several books on children's spirituality, a Godly Play practitioner named Anita from Latvia, and me to share with local children's workers. I am so thrilled to be a part of introducing this wonderful concept for encouraging children's spirituality in a Russian-speaking country!

During our two days together, Peter will share on children's spirituality. (I am looking forward to hearing him speak, not only for his wealth of knowledge, but because he and Rebecca Nye were instrumental in introducing Godly Play to Germany.) The following day all of us, including Helen, will be sharing Godly Play stories. I will be doing "The Faces of Easter". I am so glad to be able to tell this story, since it is Eastertide and I've just told it in German. It is, however, an incredibly long story, so I have a lot of homework this week in order to learn it it Russian! Then, Peter will do an enrichment lesson, and I will speak using about Godly Play in the home and at school.

I would really appreciate your thoughts and prayers on Friday and Saturday as we gather together to see what God has for us!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

More Eastertide fun: Knock-knock jokes

My kids received this book from their grandparents last year and have kept us quite entertained with it this year. Although most of the jokes are downright corny, they're perfect for 5-8 year olds. One of my kids' favorites:

Who's there?
Zombies who? 
Zombies are buzzing around your bonnet.

: )

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Eastertide Post #1: Stations of the Resurrection

One of the great things about blogging is the friendships that you develop with people who share similar interests. I met Storyteller from Wonderful in an Easter Kind of Way , a Godly Play practitioner in Finland, early on in my blogger experience and have been enriched personally and professionally by our virtual conversations. During Lent we hosted the Celebrating Lent Link-Up and had a blast hearing and learning from so many of you. Since we put so much effort into Lent, we also wanted to do something just as special for Eastertide. Storyteller suggested that instead of a link-up, we should host a guest post series about celebrating Eastertide. So for the next six weeks, we'll be sharing some special posts from ourselves and various blogging friends. Today, it's my turn . . . 

You may be familiar with the Stations of the Cross, but did you know that there are 
Stations of the Resurrection as well? 

After several years of doing the Stations of the Cross with my children and finding them so meaningful, I thought it odd not to spend just as much time focusing on the Resurrection. I was looking for something similar for Eastertide when I found out about this awesome tool through Lacy at Catholic Icing. (If you are not familiar with Lacy's blog, it is full of wonderful ideas!) 

The Stations of the Resurrection cover all of the stories found in the four Gospels and beginning of Acts that happened after Jesus was resurrected and began appearing to different people . . . 

To read the rest of this article, join us at Wonderful in an Easter Kind of Way!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Making Pysanky

As one who facilitates art for children, I find it important to continue to learn and develop my own creative skills. I have always admired Pysanky, the ornate Ukrainian Easter eggs, and wanted to try my hand at making them. When a friend invited me to a Pysanky workshop, I immediately said yes, even though I had a million things to do to prepare for our trip to the States over Easter!

Assorted Pysanky

Below you can see the materials needed for the project: a raw egg, a pillar candle, beeswax cake, a pencil and a "kistka". There are actually three kistkas in this picture and these are pencil-like instruments with a metal well and sharp point attached to the end. The beeswax flows through the well and and sharp tip and with it you "draw" your design on the egg with beeswax. The latte macchiato is optional.: )

You also need special dyes for the eggs. Ours were in large peanut butter jars.

My teacher, Ruth, was an American woman who learned the technique while living in Berlin. She taught us to lightly section the egg off by drawing latitude and longitude lines with a pencil.  This helped me greatly in understanding how to begin making such a complex design. Design has never been one of my strong points and the Pysanky designs seem visually overwhelming at first. 

It is important not to draw heavy lines, because they will show through the dye. If you make a mistake, then a little vinegar can take off some of the pencil marks. (Also, if your eggs are stamped like ours in Berlin, the vinegar will take off the stamp.)

A closer look at the sectioning:

Then, you choose designs such as flowers, stars, or triangles to put in each section. Our teacher provided some booklets with examples to get our creative juices flowing. 

When all of the designs are completed, the next step is to decide what parts of the egg will remain white. These lines will then be covered in beeswax with the kistka as seen below. 

I chose to do a simple pattern of flowers and waves. Here is my first attempt with the dye. We learned that you start with yellow first and then move to the darker colors.

After the yellow dye, I decided which parts would remain yellow and began covering those areas in beeswax. You continue this process with each color. Below is another student's work.

Ruth was also simultaneously creating an egg:

After two hours, my egg looked like this:

I had to leave before I had a chance to do each color, in order to make another appointment, so Ruth promised to take the egg home and do the final stages of removing the beeswax, blowing the egg with a special tool and varnishing it. Below is a picture of my finished egg. Not bad for a first try!

Here are some of Ruth's eggs:

I ordered this Pysanky kit for my children and hope to make some Pysanky with them after Easter. Stay tuned in the next couple of weeks for photos. For a proper tutorial from someone who regularly does Pysanky with children, head over to That Artist Woman!

This was such a fun experience, and as my friend commented while we were making them, I can't wait to see how we incorporate Pysanky into our work with children!

linked to The Magic Onions

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Celebrating Eastertide

In the Godly Play story, "The Mystery of Easter", we teach children that Easter is such a great mystery to be enjoyed that we can't possibly fit it into just one Sunday! There is enough Easter to go around to last us the whole way to Pentecost six weeks later. Though the commercial world tries to tell us that Easter ends on Easter Sunday, that special day is actually just the beginning of the Easter season.

Because I did not grow up with the liturgical calendar, this concept was new to me when I discovered it several years ago. However, it has been quite refreshing for me knowing that I don't have to pack all the fun and meaningful activities for my family into one (stressful) day. We can savor Christ's resurrection and digest its full impact on our lives over a six week period. Not to mention enjoying all those fun art projects that we didn't get to before Easter. 

From a pedagogical perspective, it is also much better for children to slowly experience the truth and beauty of Easter over a longer period of time rather than having sensory overload on one day. So, if you have never followed the liturgical calendar or if the concept of Eastertide is new to you, I would highly recommend stretching your Easter celebration out this year and planning a few activities that you may not have gotten around to beforehand. 

Last night, we made "empty tomb cookies" with our kids at Grandmama's house. We used this recipe. The kids loved the crunchy meringue with a hollow center.

Mixing the egg whites with Grandmama

The long wait begins . . .

Storyteller from Wonderful in an Easter Kind of Way and I had a wonderful time observing Lent with all of you through the Celebrating Lent Link-Up Party. Now, we'd like to celebrate Eastertide with you as well. Over the next 6 weeks until Pentecost, we'll be sharing once a week guest posts with you about Resurrection stories and other Eastertide activities. 

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Happy Easter & Easter Table 2012

Christ is risen!
He is risen, indeed!

I hope that you are enjoying this joyous day with loved ones and friends. We are blessed to be with family that we love very much in Texas.

Before we left Berlin, I set up an Easter nature table so that my kids would be able to enjoy it for a few days. Here are a few photos:

The figures representing our family rejoice before the empty tomb.

The Easter candles that we made at Easter Club 
and a few flowers from the park.

These crosses were made in our very first Easter Club.

Over the years we've been able to collect beautiful hand-painted eggs from Austria, Poland, and the Czech Republic.

My sweet daughter helping me arrange things!

Happy Easter to all of you!

Friday, April 6, 2012

Celebrating Lent: Holy Week

It's Maundy Thursday and since we will be travelling on Good Friday, we decided to remember Jesus' last meal and the way to the cross today. As I was pondering how we could best celebrate Holy Week away from home, Three Sided Wheel contributed the salt dough crown of thorns idea to the Link-Up that I thought would be a great idea for the Last Supper. I expanded upon her idea by making the crown of thorns out of bread to be shared after telling the story of Jesus' last days.

I used this great recipe for a sweet Easter bread. My son helped make the dough and did the kneading. Below you can see that it ended up as a spaceship at one point!

I divided the dough into three pieces and my daughter braided them.

Getting ready to bake the crown.

A half hour later, we had delicious smelling bread and my children placed the toothpicks in to represent the thorns.

The weather was beautiful and we sat outside with Grandma to tell the story of Jesus' last days. My husband began the story and my children told the parts that they remembered. 

After the story, we recounted Jesus' words to his disciples at the Last Supper and enjoyed the bread and grape juice. It was a beautiful way to focus on Christ's suffering for the world and prepare ourselves for the joy that will come at Easter.

 . . . . . . . . . 

This will be the last week of Celebrating Lent! It has been a wonderful experience for me and Storyteller from Wonderful in an Easter Kind of Way.

If you haven't seen these, please don't miss Living Montessori Now's Model of Jerusalem idea

If you are here for the first time, here is the scoop: for the entire six weeks of Lent, we are inviting any of you with Lenten-themed or Preparing for Easter posts that fit the following categories to share your ideas with us.

  • story-based religious activities 
  • art projects 
  • Montessori activities
  • nature-based projects
Please enter your submissions below. All we ask is that you kindly link back to both of our blogs, Explore and Express and Wonderful in an Easter Kind of Way. Feel free to grab the button to the right to add to your blog post.

By participating you allow us permission to use your photos to share highlights. 

Monday, April 2, 2012

Time for some more Land Art!

Spring is such a wonderful time to make land art!! There are tons of interesting things lying around on the ground and the only limit is you and your child's imagination. 

Why do land art? Well, as Julia Brooklyn and Richard Shilling of Land Art for Kids write, "With it comes opportunities to learn about nature, to appreciate it's wonders, to learn respect for it and our place within. But there is also bag loads of exercise, fresh air, creativity and fun to be had. Each as important for ourselves and our children as a learned respect for the world that we share." Please check out their website for lots of fun ideas!

I've written a great deal about how the modern child is often disconnected from our natural world. This has broad negative consequences for the child's physical and spiritual development  that ultimately hinder the development of society as a whole.  If we care about this amazing world that God has given us, let's get our kids outside to play and explore!

Here is our first piece of spring land art made spontaneously on the playground today. It's a simple mandala made of acorn caps, pods, dandelion, and rocks. 

Next time you hear, "Mom, I'm bored!", look and see what you find on the ground and make some art!