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!

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and Keep Calm Crafting on at Frontier Dreams