Saturday, June 30, 2012

Lust auf die Bibel

Dear English-speaking readers, This post is a follow-up for my German-speaking readers to the last post about encouraging love and respect for the Bible among children. I also wanted to share what German language resources we used in our home and hear from them what they have used with their children.

Natürlich gibt es tausende Ressourcen über die Bibel in der deutschen Sprache sowie auf englisch. Soviel, dass man echt Schwierigkeiten haben kann, etwas auszusuchen ohne von der Auswahl überfordert zu werden. Hier möchte ich mit euch teilen, welche Bücher und Kinderbibeln wir in der Kinderkirche und in unserer Familie gelesen haben, und was wir davon hielten.

Als mein Sohn geboren wurde, schenkte ihm ein Pfarrerfreund Meine Erste Bibel: Geschichte von Jesus. Wir haben aber erst vorgelesen als er ungefähr drei war. Die Bilder sind zwar schön, aber ich hab's nicht gemocht, da es keine einzelnen Kapiteln gibt. Es ist eine einzelne lang laufende Geschichte und deshalb schwer einen Endpunkt zu finden um als Gute Nacht Geschichte zu lesen.

Als die Kinder ganz klein waren, haben wir keine gute Kinderbibeln für Kleinkinder gefunden. (Vielleicht könnt ihr ein paar empfehlen?) Sondern haben wir ganz viele Bücher über biblische Geschichten und Themen gehabt.

Z. B. dieses süße Buch über Psalm 23 mit einem Bären-Hirten. Jeder Vers des Psalmes ist illustriert und hat ein Gebet dazu.

Meine Kinder haben Jesus ist mein bester Freund: Was kleine Herzen wissen wollen besonders gemocht. In diesem Buch stellen Kinder sich vor, wie Jesus aussehen könnte, was er als Kind gemocht hat, usw.

Auch diese Serie von Parragon-Verlag über die berühmtesten Geschichten aus dem alten Testament haben wir gemocht. Die Bücher sind geeignet für Kinder 4-6 Jahre alt, obwohl drei-Jährigen die Bilder toll finden. Hier seht ihr Josef und seine Brüder.

Mit 5-6 Jahren haben wir diese Büchlein Serie, Was uns die Bibel erzählt entdeckt. Das sind kleine Büchlein, die hervorragend geschrieben und künstlerisch illustriert sind. Ich kann nur weiter empfehlen! Ich kaufe sie gern für die Kinderkirche, weil sie ein weiteres Angebot für die Kreativzeit nach einer Godly Play Geschichte sich gegeignen.

Ohne Frage ist dies die beste Kinderbibel, die ich entdeckt habe: Die Gott hat dich lieb Bibel. Sie ist auch von einem Kunstler illustriert (keine Comics) und der Text erzählt nicht nur die Geschichten, sondern den roten Pfad durch die ganze biblische Geschichten. Ich schenke diese Bibel oft und die Eltern lesen sie gern sowohl als auch die Kinder.

Neben Büchern haben wir die Musik von Daniel Kallach gern zugehört. Viele von den Texten in seinen Liedern kommen direkt aus der Bibel. Auch Bibel Hits: Du bist der Herr von Gerth Verlag.

Ich möchte sehr gern von euch hören, welche Kinderbibeln oder Geschichten ihr euren Kindern vorgelesen habt? 

Thursday, June 28, 2012

His first "real" Bible

We gave my son his first "real" Bible two weeks ago as a present for successfully finishing the third grade. By "real", I mean an actual translation of the Bible, not a paraphrase or the typical children's Bible with selected stories. This one is the NIrV, the New International Reader's Version, which is on a 2nd-4th grade reading level. Since our son is bilingual, we waited until he was reading freely (and enjoying reading!) in both languages to give him a real Bible.

His first "real" Bible complete
with a lizard on the cover
I've been a little shocked, not to mention pleased, at his reaction. I always knew that this Godly Play kid loved stories, but I did not anticipate his utter joy at discovering even more stories than the ones he already knew in the Bible. After laying on his desk for a few days, I decided that he really didn't know what to do with it yet and suggested that we start reading it together. He wanted to start reading in Genesis.

"Are you sure?" I asked.

"Sure. Don't you think the beginning is a good place to start?" he replied and then proceeded to sing: Let's start at the very beginning / A very good place to start / When you read, you begin with ABC / When you sing, you begin with do-re-mi. (Wouldn't Julie Andrews be proud?)

Anyway, he's been reading through Genesis since. Even the genealogical tables. I kid you not.

"Mom, do you know that Adam lived to be 930?!!!!!!!!!!!"

There are, however, a few interesting things about giving a child the "real" Bible. For one, it's not really a kid's book. Genesis 4:1 says, "And Adam made love to his wife Eve." Good thing we've already talked about the birds and the bees. I'm not entirely sure how we'll respond when he gets to the story about Lot's daughters, but we'll cross that bridge when we come to it.

But on that note, as Markus at Gott im Spiel recently wrote, we don't have to worry so much about presenting some of the more troubling aspects of biblical stories to children, because children usually take things at face value and imagine things in their own way. They don't yet have all the nagging why's that we as adults ask. (That's also why they can hear gruesome fairy tales like "Hansel and Gretel" and not bat an eye.) And we adults have to be super careful not to project our adults questions, struggles and doubts on the children. So, my son will read about Pharoah's first born dying, the story of Abraham and Isaac, and many other perplexing things. And if he asks, we'll talk about them. But on his 8-year-old terms and understanding . . .

How did we get to this point where an eight- year-old is thrilled to be reading Scripture? Well, even though my spiritual style (for more on this topic, see this post) is not a "Word-based" one, growing up in evangelical circles did give me a respect and value for the Bible. And since the time both children were babies, we have been reading various children's Bibles to them.

We started with this series of toddler Bibles called "The Baby Bible Storybook" by Robin Currie. This author very much understands child development and these "stories" are very short summaries of selected stories with hand and body movements to explain the basic points of a biblical account. And the illustrations are exactly the kind of thing toddlers love. By the time my kids were three, they both knew all about Moses, Abraham, Sarah and a host of other biblical figures.

We also read (and still read!) a ton of Arch Books, a series of Bible story paperbacks put out by a Lutheran publishing company, like this one to the right. The wonderful thing about these books is that they often cover biblical stories that children's bibles don't include. Stories about Deborah or Zerubbabel.

We also read The Bible in Pictures for Little Eyes by Kenneth Taylor when the children were around 4 or 5 years of age. This one is a classic. The stories are short and have intelligent questions to help the children "wonder". Taylor was definitely ahead of his time in the Wondering department. My mother-in-law read this to her kids and still gives it as a gift at baby showers.

Another important stepping stone to developing a love of Scripture was the excellent Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd-Jones. To date, it is my favorite children's Bible ever, in English or German. My kids can quote passages from it. If you get ahold of a copy, it might well end up on your nightstand before your kids ever see it.: )

We have also memorized important significant passages like the Lord's Prayer, Ten Commandments, and Psalm 23 using movement and hand motions. (Remember, kids often learn best when they're in motion!) Our next big project will probably be learning the Books of the Bible. 

Well, that's our journey and hopefully it will be helpful to some of you in mentoring your own children. I hope that sometime between the 2nd and 4th grade, that my daughter will be ready for her Adventure Bible as well!

How have you encouraged a love for God's Word in your own children?

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Inspiring Website

If you are looking for new ideas or fresh inspiration in your spiritual journey with children, please visit  the Spiritual Child Network!

Sarah, Victoria and Carolynn share beautiful, sensitive and respectful ways to shepherd children in the discovery of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. They also regularly update the website with new things. 

Some recent things that have inspired me:
- the story of Joe, a special needs child, who has learned to lead his congregation in worship
- liturgy boxes
- play spaces that encourage spirituality

I regularly go to this website and have been meaning to share it with you for a long time. But better late than never!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Always too Late

My daughter arranged the Holy Family figures today on the focus table for children's church. She said the wise men are to the side "because they are always too late". 

At least I know something she is hearing is sticking with her. : )

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Some further wondering . . .

One of the things you learn and experience through Godly Play is that children are not a "problem" in your church to be solved, but rather co-learners and even co-teachers. Before I started doing Godly Play, I was always worried about getting burn-out as a children's worker. But in Godly Play, the adult "teacher" is really a facilitator and co-learner with the children. The Holy Spirit has plenty of room to be the teacher and this is achieved, because everyone in the room learns from and teaches one other, even the children who don't utter a verbal word.

In my last post, I wrote about sharing the Parable of the Mustard Seed in our church service in the forest. I wanted to go into more detail about what I learned through wondering with the kids and preparing the lesson. The question, "I wonder what did the person did while the tree was growing?" stayed with me before and after the story. With the kids, we talked about how the person probably took care of the tree, but then went about his/her other daily activities. What I realized afterwards was that no mentioned that the person might be nervous or worried over whether the tree would grow or not. No one said that the sower was angry at the tree for not growing fast enough. The sower was faithful to do his/her part and the tree just grew.

I, on the other hand, often get nervous, worried or angry if the things that God has planted in my life don't grow fast enough or don't appear to be growing at all. I waste emotional energy instead of letting the ways of God take their course. Sure, I have a role to play and have to be faithful to do my part just like the sower, but God is the one who makes things grow. My fretting and getting frustrated - though normal human reactions - do not help the situation or make things grow faster. 

This wondering and considering helps me to let go of some things that I need to let go of and determine to joyfully accept the process of growth. 

Such is the kingdom of God.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Into the Woods! / Waldausflug!

Es ist manchmal vorteilhaft als Gemeindegründung keine eigene Räumlichkeiten zu haben. Dann hat man die Freiheit Kindergottesdienste in kreativen Orten zu veranstalten. Am ersten Sonntag im Juni haben wir einen Waldausflug-Kindergottesdienst für die Kinder in unseren SchulAGs gemacht. Da im Wald haben wir so viel Spass mit einander gehabt! Ich schreibe öfter in diesem Blog darüber, wie wichtig die Natur ist zur geistlichen Entwicklung von Kindern. Gott hat eine besondere Art mit Kindern in seiner Schöpfung zu sein und Kinder haben da eine besondere Art mit ihm zu sein. One of the great things about being a church plant and not having your own building is that you can have worship services in creative places. On the first Sunday in June, we decided to head to the forest. This was a special children's church that I planned for the kids who attend our after-school clubs and we had a blast together. If you read my blog very often, then you know that I am convinced that being in nature is essential to a child's spiritual development. God has a special way of being with children in his creation and they have a special way of being with him.

Im Grunewald, ein großer Wald mitten in Berlin, sind wir bereits für ein Abenteuer los gegangen. Meine Kollegin, Melinda, und ich haben uns vorher Gedanken über Wanderweg und Spiele gemacht, aber wir haben versucht den Interessen der Kinder zu folgen. Als wir an einen Teil vorbei gelaufen sind, wo viele Stöcke auf dem Boden lagen, wollten die Kinder etwas bauen.  Ein süßes Hüttchen ist daraus geworden. In the Grunewald, a large forest right in the middle of Berlin, we set out on an adventure together. My colleague, Melinda, and I planned the route ahead of time, and had a few games and activities up our sleeves, but we tried to follow the interests of the children. When we passed an area with lots of sticks laying on the ground, the kids wanted to start building, so we all pitched in an made a nice little hut together.

Beginning the story: what's in the box?
Eine Mutter in der Gruppe war Naturführerin und zeigte uns interessante Dinge, z.B. wie die Förster sich um die Tiere und Bäume kümmern. Es gab auch ein Spiel, "Finde etwas", wobei die Kinder Zetteln mit einer Aufgabe zogen. Darauf stand z.B "Finde etwas Weiches" oder "Finde etwas Schleimiges".  (Siehe diese Post für mehr Infos über das Spiel.)  Another adult chaperone was able to act as a nature guide and point out some interesting things to the children. We also played a game called "Find this" in which the children drew slips of paper with instructions to find something "slimy" or "small" or "wet". (Click here for more details about this game.)

Endlich kamen wir zum Ort, wo wir den Kindergottesdienst feiern wollten. Nach dem Mittagessen habe ich den Kindern das Gleichnis von dem Senfkorn erzählt. Da die Geschichte von Jesu um einen klitzelkleinen Samen handelt, der zum großen Baum wird, passte sie sehr gut zum Waldausflug. Ich habe hier erzählt, wie ich das Material für die Geschichte neu gemacht habe, so dass die Unterlage und Baum etwa ein Meter in Durchmesser sind. Die Kinder waren total fasziniert als der Baum vor ihren Augen "gewachsen" ist.Finally, we came to the area where we wanted to have church. After lunch, I told the children the Parable of the Mustard Seed, Jesus' story about a tiny seed that grows into a huge tree. As I mentioned in this post, I completely redid the materials for this story, so that the underlay and tree were about a meter in diameter. Although this story is very short and simple, the children were glued to the story as the mustard seed "grew" into a tree.

In der Kreativphase konnten die Kinder Steine und Baumrinde, die wir auf dem Weg gesammelt haben, anmalen. For our response time, the children painted stones and pieces of birch bark that they had collected along the way.

Der absolute Hit des Tages war aber im Schlamm neben dem kleinen Teich zu spielen. Er was zu frisch um zu baden, aber die Kids hatten Spass daran, den Matsch zwischen den Zehen zu quetschen. Solche taktile Erfahrungen sind neben dem ganzen Spass wichtig zur gesunden Entwicklung von Kindern, und es macht mir eine Freude dies zu unterstützen. The real thrill of the day, though, was playing in the mud on the edge of a small, shallow pond. Though it was too cold to really wade in the water, the kids had fun squishing their toes in the mud. Such experiences of getting dirty and coming into close contact with God's wonderful creation are essential to a child's development, both physical and spiritual,  and I am happy to help provide these experiences for young ones.

Zum Glück fing der Regen erst an als wir uns auf dem Weg nach Hause machten. Es war ein perfekter Tag gewesen! We started home just as it was beginning to rain. It had been a perfect day. 

Linked to The Magic Onions

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Post-Eastertide Guest Post #8: Montessori-inspired Prayer Chart

This week's guest post is from Leann, one of the fun on-line friends that I have made through blogging. We "met" in Karen Tyler's on-line Montessori course and have kept in touch through our blogs. Montessori Tidbits, Leann's blog, is a great resource for anyone wanting to learn more about how to implement Montessori into your homeschool experience. This was originally supposed to be part of the Eastertide series with Storyteller, but life happens, even in the blogging world. . . so we get to enjoy it now!

prayerchart2I love the simple prayers of a child.  They are so sincere, innocent, and pure.  They are spoken from the heart and in a way that many adults miss in their own prayer life.
As a Christian mom, I have always sought ways to help my son understand prayer is more than just asking for things.
It’s his time to mention things that are important to him. 
It’s his time to say thank you.
It’s his time to ask for help, especially on character traits that he’s working on.

However, my son sometimes has a hard time remembering what he wants to pray for and about.  That’s how our Montessori-inspired interactive prayer chart began.
interactive kids prayer chartIn a corner of our classroom hangs a small pocket chart with 2 sentence strips.  “I pray for…” and “I am thankful for…” is written on the sentence strips.  A small basket sets beside this chart containing photos and name cards, to be placed on the chart. 

I created the name cards to include people in the family, friends, and character traits.  Also in the basket are postcards and printables from various religious organizations that focus on people groups around the world, orphans, missionaries, and persecuted Christians.

During our morning “Breakfast and Bible Stories” time, my son goes to the basket prayerchart3and selects some cards for things he would like to pray for that day.  Then after our Bible story and study time, we look at the chart once more to remind him of the things he selected.  We take turns praying for those topics that we feel led to pray about.  I love that the chart is positioned close by, which he can quickly reference, if he feels he cannot remember someone or something to pray for.

On the day that I snapped these photos, my son pulled out that he wanted to pray for his grandmother – my mom, because her cancer treatments have started to wear on her body.  Likewise, he wanted to pray that God will make him “a person after God’s own heart,”  -- a card he has continuously pulled out since we began talking about King David several weeks ago. 

At the bottom, he’s placed that he’s thankful for two of his cousins, as well as a printable about a persecuted people group in Central America (this is usually located under the “I pray for…” section and not the “I am thankful for…” section).


When I first began this chart, I was seeking additional resources that could complement it.  Here are a few of our favorites:
I love that this interactive prayer chart allows my son to have the freedom to choose what he’d like to pray for.  It is teaching him to have compassion and gratitude, by reminding him to be thankful besides being earnest.  Most importantly, it’s building a foundation of coming to the Father with an open heart about any problem, situation, or care – and, in my eyes, there’s nothing else more important to teach him.

535686_10150932236814256_601874255_1[2]Leann is a Christian homeschooling mama of an over-active 6 year old, proud wife of a cop, and pet lover of their two dogs and frogs. Her personal blog, Montessori Tidbits, chronicles their homeschooling journey, while throwing in tidbits about life, reviews, and recipes.

Monday, June 11, 2012

New Godly Play Film

Godly Play Deutschland e.V. has just produced a wonderful new film called "Was ist Godly Play?" or "What is Godly Play"? Not only does it explain more about Godly Play to the German-speaking world, but it also to shares Godly Play Deutschland's experience of making this concept that came from America via Italy very much its own. When you consider that Godly Play has only been around for about 10 years in Germany, it is truly amazing to realize what has been accomplished in only a few short years.

Even without a translation, you can see several interesting things about how Godly Play is being used in Germany. In addition to churches, Godly Play is widely used in schools and kindergartens. Because religion is a subject taught in public schools, religion teachers can use Godly Play with their students to help them gain an understanding of Christianity.  The section with Martina Grass, a special education teacher in southern Germany, who uses Godly Play with her students, speaks volumes without words. 

Markus from Gott im Spiel - Godly Play, who you may remember from his Eastertide guest post, is in this video. He's the guy with the curly hair and glasses.

You can also see Delia Freudenreich, a Catholic theologian, who is also one of the few people in the German-speaking world doing academic research in the field of children's spirituality.

Yours truly is working on a translation, so maybe we will be able to hear it in English at some point in the future! 

Watch and let me know what you think!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Mustard Seed Materials Revisited

The Parable of the Mustard Seed was one of the first Godly Play stories that I ever learned. When I was just starting out, I didn't have the money to purchase lots of ready-made materials (which I have since come to realize was a blessing in disguise!). I also was more than a little unsure about making my own things. So I used whatever I could find and for this story, it happened to be Playmobil figures that I raided from my own kids' toy box that you can see in this post

I still highly recommend using whatever you find when just starting out with Godly Play. But as you learn more and find out there are specific reasons for certain materials, it is a good idea to slowly replace them. For example, the parable genre always uses flat figures to give the stories a "storybook" feel to them. This is because, as opposed to the Sacred Story genre, the parables are not historical events, but rather stories that Jesus told. 

So when I was planning to tell this story at our children's service in the forest last Sunday, I began to rethink how I could make more pedagogically appropriate material that was aesthetically pleasing. I ordered a DIY kit last year from a certain GP supplier whose name I won't mention. (There are several, so don't try to guess!) It came with wood to saw - I had been hoping for preferated materials - and paper figures to glue onto the wood. I had not been impressed by the drawings and my friend, Helen, went on to say that they were just plain ugly. Helen had been drawing her own figures that I finally saw in Belarus and this inspired me to try my own. 

As I have mentioned before, I am not a woodworker. So I was then off to the craft store to look for a suitable alternative to using wood. There, I found some foamboard and decided to give it a try. At home, I then looked through children's Bibles for inspiration to draw Biblical figures. I drew simple ink drawings and then painted them with watercolors. Then, I took an exacto knife and carefully cut the foam to match the figures. Hours later, I finished and was pleased with the process. Making the materials helped me to consider  and "know" the parable at a deeper level. 

Another change that I made was to buy new felt and make the mustard tree and underlay larger. Part of the power of this story lies in the tiny seed "growing" into an enormous felt tree right before the children's eyes. Again, because of my lack of insight into Godly Play in the beginning, I had made the materials too small. This time, I cut the yellow underlay to be 1 meter in diameter and the tree to fill the space. 

The children were truly amazed on Sunday, but I will write more about that later!

Linked to 

and Keep Calm Crafting on at Frontier Dreams

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Reader Art Project: Holy Trinity

It is a beautiful thing to me when someone is able to use one of my art projects as a tool for reflection and worship. One of my most frequently read posts is an art project based on Andrei Rublev's icon, "The Holy Trinity", in which artists of all ages are challenged to imagine and reflect upon the nature of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. 

Recently Katie Munnik of the Presbyterian Record and the author of a blog called "The Messy Table" contacted me to let me know that her church in Scotland had found this project to be both meaningful and fun during Lent.

Katie writes, "We were also thinking about Christ and the questioning call in Matthew 16: 'Who do you say the Son of Man is?' We used an idea from Explore and Express, using Rublev's icon of the Holy Trinity, and wondering together about why we talk about God as three and as one. It is a complicated and simple idea - that we know God differently, but that God is one."

You can read the rest of Katie's lovely article about their Lenten Art and Talk workshops here.

Interspersed in this post are the results of the wondering from both child and adult artists. Thank you, Katie, for sharing!