Sunday, September 30, 2012

Expedition in the Desert: The 10 Best Ways to Live

Wir erreichten diese Woche das letzte Reiseziel auf unserer Expedition in die Wüste: den Berg Sinai, wo Gott seinem Volk die 10 besten Wege zum Leben gab. Wir kennen sie auch als die 10 Gebote.  This week we reached our final destination in the desert: Mount Sinai where the people of God were given the 10 Best Ways to live, also known as the 10 Commandments. 

Mose und das Volk erhalten die 10 besten Wege.
Die Herzen Tafeln sagen: "Liebe Gott, Liebe die Menschen,
Gott liebt uns".

Moses and Israel receive the 10 Best Ways.
The heart pieces read: "Love God, Love people,
God loves us".
Das Volk Israel war endlich von Ägypten frei. Sie konnten gehen, wohin sie wollten und tun, was sie wollten. Aber wohin sollten sie gehen? Welcher war der beste Weg? Wir hörten, dass Gott seine Volk so sehr liebte, dass er ihnen die 10 Besten Wege zum Leben schenkte. Sie sind sowie Wegweiser, die den besten Weg kennzeichnen. Und obwohl sie sehr alt sind und manchmal schwierig zu erfüllen sind, bleiben sie bis zum heutigen Tag die besten Wege zu gehen. The children of Israel were finally free from Egypt. They could go wherever they wanted and do whatever they wanted. But where should they go? Which way is the best? We learned that God loved his people so much that he gave them the 10 Best Ways to live. These 10 Commandments are like signposts that show us the best way to go. And even though they are old and sometimes really hard to follow, they are still the best way to go even today.

Wir machen uns Gedanken über jeden von den 10 Wegen.
Discussing each of the 10 Best Ways.
Das Ergründungs gespräch war aufregend, weil wir uns Gedanken über jeden Weg gemacht haben, was es wirklich bedeuten könnte. Gibt es einen Weg, der uns am besten gefällt? Welcher ist wohl der wichtigste? Ist einer für mich im Moment besonders? Als wir zu "nicht lügen" kamen, ist ein bestimmtes Thema unter den Kindern hochgekommen: wenn etwas verloren geht und ein Geschwisterkind uns anklagt. Einige teilten Situationen mit, wo sie ungerecht anklagt würden, und wir fragten uns, was man darüber machen könnte ohne zurückzuschlagen. Gemeinsam kamen wir auf die Idee, es wäre besser nicht darauf zu bestehen, wer Recht hat, sondern das aktuelle Problem zu lösen. Nämlich das verlorene Ding zu finden und mit der anderen Person zu einigen, wo man vielleicht das Ding stehen lassen könnte, damit man's nächstes Mal findet. The Wondering for this story was particularly exciting, because we wondered about what each of the 10 Best Ways meant, and then if there was one we liked best, or was most important, or particularly meaningful to us at this place and time. One theme seemed to emerge among several of the children as we talked about "Do not lie": the age-old theme of siblings or friends placing the blame on us when something goes missing.  The children told about such situations where they felt unjustly accused, and we wondered together what we could do about it instead of arguing, trying to get revenge, or hitting the accuser. We came to the conclusion together that in such situations we needed to shift the focus away from who was right or wrong and try to solve the problem. For example, when something was missing, we could try and find it, and then agree with the other person to always put in in one particular place, so that it doesn't get lost in the future.

In der Kreativzeit haben die Kinder ihre Wüsten-Schatztruhen fertig gemacht. Nachdem sie die Schatztruhem anmalten, haben sie kleine "Schätze" aus Ton gebastelt. Die Schätze sollten etwas sein, das sie an Gott oder an einer Geschichte erinnerte. During our creative time, the children finished up their desert boxes. After painting the treasure boxes, they made "treasures" out of clay to put in the boxes. Their treasure could be something that reminded them of God or a story that they heard.

Einige Schatztruhen und Ton-Schätze.
The treasure boxes and some of the clay treasures.

Einige haben neue Bilder entweder mit  Kreidepastellen auf Schleifpapier  oder mit Sandfarbe gemalt. Some made new sandpaper drawings with chalk pastels or painted with sand.

Andere arbeiteten bei der "Danke, Gott" Station, wo sie etwas an Gott geschrieben haben oder ein Bild für ihn gemalt haben. Others worked at the "Thank you, God" station drawing a picture for God or writing something for him.

Diese Woche baten wir den Kindern Hefte an, wo sie weiter sich Gedanken über die 10 besten Wege zum Leben machen konnten. Es gab leere Seiten in der Heft, damit die Kinder schreiben oder malen konnten.  This week, we also gave the children a booklet where they could write or draw about one of the 10 Best Ways that they wanted to think more about. 

The cover has the summary of the 10 Best Ways from the  story:
"Love God, love people, God loves us"

Zwei von den Jungs haben mir die Geschichte von Mose erzählt! I was also treated to a story when two of the boys decided to tell me the story of Moses.

Nun ist unsere Expedition jetzt vorbei und wir haben Herbstferien. Es war eine wünderschöne Zeit mit Gott und einander! Now our expedition is over and it's fall break here. It was a wonderful expedition together and with God! 

See our other expeditions:

Expedition in the Desert: Joseph
Expedition in the Desert: Moses
Expedtition in the Desert: Abraham and Sarah

For more about "The 10 Best Ways to Live" click here.

(For my Godly Play Readers: This is one of the core stories in the Godly Play curriculum. There is a short version for younger children and a longer one with more historical background for older children. I used the shorter version since the children had already heard the historical info in the story of Moses and so we could focus more time on each commandment.)

Linked to Montessori Monday at Living Montessori Now

and Seasons of Joy

Saturday, September 29, 2012

European Godly Play Conference 2012

Last week I attended the European Godly Play Conference 2012 at Burg-Bodenstein in Thuringia, Germany. The theme was "Playful Mentoring" and there were a lot of interesting topics to discuss, but the most fun thing was the people! Who knew that here was someone telling Godly Play stories in Welsh? The languages and countries represented were amazing!

In addition to all of my German friends like Markus and Ulrike, it was exciting to meet people like David Pritchard of Spain, whom I had only previously known on-line. The Finns present knew Storyteller and were excited that I had contact with her. Helen and Anita, whom I was with in Belarus, were there as well. I also enjoyed meeting Caryl, Jeff and Rebecca from the USA. I also had lots of good conversations with some great Norwegians, Canadians, Belgians, Brits and Australians.

We also premiered the English translation of the "Was ist Godly Play?" film. I recruited David and Helen to help with the voiceovers. Soon we will have it somewhere on-line for you to look at. Many of the people in the film were in the room and found it interesting to suddenly hear themselves in English.: )

The two main plenary sessions that I heard were about "Mentoring in Playing" with Rüdiger Maschwitz of Germany (I got recruited to translate for him! I haven't translated very many philosophical lectures in German, so that was a bit challenging.) and "The Role of Smile in Spiritual Development" by Juha from Finland. Both had some great thoughts that I will blog about later. 

Another very helpful session was about getting GP started in other countries. Helen and I attended this as we are interested in how GP will take root in the Russian-speaking world. Basically, what we discovered listening to other people's stories is that GP found its way into natural academic circles in Europe where theology and spirituality are serious topics of research and discussion. However, in the US and Canada, because the academic world is largely uninterested in these things, the spread of GP was more of a grassroots movement. I hope to blog more on this later as well.

I was having way too much fun to remember to take pictures, but here are few highlights and impressions:

We lodged at the beautiful, medieval castle, Burg-Bodenstein, in Thuringia.

Being shown around the castle grounds by a local.

Hiking around the castle.

It wouldn't be a conference in Germany
without "Kaffee und Kuchen" (coffee and cake)!

Beginning our worship service on Sunday in front of the chapel.
Heidi holds a golden parable box. I wonder what's inside.

Another interesting thing was seeing the workmanship of Godly Play carpentry shops in Europe. St. Michael's Workshop in England, Godly Play Finland, and our own Diakonie Leipzig in Germany gave workshops on making your own materials.

A nativity crafted by Johanna of Finland.

Saint figures for Godly Play: Volume 7 from
St. Michael's Workshop in England.

My favorite: Johanna's lovely 3-D wooden boards
for the story, Paul's Discovery.

I have been told that the next Godly Play European Conference will be four years from now. If you are ever able to attend, it is definitely worth it to meet so many interesting people and learn more!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Expedition in the Desert: Abraham & Sarah

Die Wüste ist unheimlich groß und viele interessante Dinge passieren dort. Unsere Expedition fing diese Woche mit einer Wiederholung über die Geschichte von letzter Woche an. Ich war wirklich überrascht, wie genau 2 Kinder die Mose-Geschichte nacherzählten.  The desert is a big place and a lot of interesting things have happened there. We began our expedition this week by asking a couple of children to review what we discovered last week. A girl and a boy volunteered to re-tell the story of Moses. I was truly amazed at all they remembered.

Die Nacherzählung von Mose.
Re-telling the story from last week.
Danach erzählte uns Christina-Maria von Abraham und Sarahs Erfahrungen in der Wüste. Da die meisten Kinder schon "Die Große Familie" gehört haben, die Godly Play Geschichte über Abraham und Sarah, erzählte sie Teile ihrer Reise in die Wüste, die die Kinder nicht vorher kannten. Ein Höhepunkt war, als Christina-Maria die Kinder einlud mit den Fingern auf den Rücken von einem Partner "mitzuerzählen".  Christina-Maria shared with us about Abraham and Sarah. Most of these children have heard "The Great Family", the Godly Play story about the two, before. So Christina-Maria shared some other parts of their journey with God through the desert that the children may not have heard before. A highlight was when the children were invited to be storytellers themselves by "telling" about the walk through the desert on the back of a partner with their fingers and rhythm.

Christina-Maria erzählt von Abraham und Sarah.
Christina-Maria tells about Abraham and Sarah.

Das "Erzählen" mit den Fingern auf dem Rücken des Partners.
"Telling" the story to a partner.
In der Kreativphase baten wir 2 neuen Stationen an. Ein Station hiess "Danke, Gott" und hier konnten die Kinder entweder etwas an Gott schreiben oder ein Bild für inn malen. Danach konnten sie dies in der Gebetszeit miteinbeziehen, wenn sie Lust hätten. For the creative phase, we added two new stations this week. One station was our "Thank you, God" corner. Here the children had the opportunity to either write or draw something for God. They had the option of sharing it during the prayer time before the feast if they wanted to.

Ein Kind schreibt ein Gebet.
A child writes out a prayer.

Im Bezug auf Gebet ist es schön zu sehen, wie einer Gebetssprache unter manchen Kindern sich entwickelt hat. Als wir die AGs angefangen haben, haben wir nicht gebetet, da wir auf einer staatlichen Schule waren. Nachdem wir in die Kirche eingezogen sind, fangen wir als Mentoren an vor den Kindern zu beten. Diesmal habe ich empfunden, dass es genug Vertrauen unter den Kindern gab,  um allen die Möglichkeit anzubieten. Wir geben einen kleinen Stein herum, und wer mit Gott reden möchte, darf. Wenn man fertig ist oder nicht beten möchte, gibt er den Stein weiter. Jeder hat die Möglichkeit ohne Druck. Es macht mir eine Freude zu hören, was bei manchen Kindern gewachsen ist. On a related note, it has been wonderful to see how prayer has developed among these children. When we first started these clubs at the school, we did not pray together, because there is definitely a separation of church and state in Germany, although religion is allowed as a subject in public schools. When we moved to the church, we adult mentors began praying in front of the children. During this club, I felt that there was enough trust established to give everyone the opportunity to talk to God if they wished. Our method is to pass a stone around in a circle. If you want to pray either silently or out loud, you hold the stone. If you don't want to pray or are finished with your prayer, you pass it to the next person. That way, everyone has the opportunity, but there is no pressure. It has brought my heart a lot of joy to hear the simple, sincere prayers of many of these children. And the children are very respectful of one another as well.

Die zweite Station ging darum mit Sand zu malen. Ja, wir haben einen köstlichen Matsch mit Sand und Farbe gemacht, mit dem die Kinder auf Papier malen konnten. Unten sind ein paar Fotos von den Kindern an der Arbeit.  The second station was painting with sand! Yes, we made a luscious goop by mixing sand straight into the sand. Here are some pictures of the kids at work.

Köstlicher Sandmatsch zum Malen!
Luscious sand goop paint!

Natürlich ging die Arbeit an den Wüsten-Schatztruhen weiter. Diesmal bastelten die Kinder einen kleinen "Schatz" für die Truhe aus Ton. Unser Vorschlag war etwas zu machen, das die Kinder an Gott oder einer bestimmten Wüsten-Geschichte errinerte. Naturally the work on the desert treasure boxes continued. The children made small objects out of clay to put in their treasure boxes. We suggested that they make something that either reminded them of God or of a particular story from the desert.

Der "Schatz" aus Ton für die Truhe.
Making the treasure for the desert boxes.

Zum Fest hatten wir Weintrauben und Kekse. Alle sind glücklich und satt nach Hause gegangen. This week we had grapes and cookies at our feast together. Once again, everyone left happy and with full tummies.: )

Melinda bereitet das Fest vor.
Melinda prepares our small feast.

To see our other adventures:

Expedition in the Desert: Joseph

Expedition in the Desert: Moses

Expedition in the Desert: The 10 Best Ways to Live

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Expedition in the Desert: Moses

Wir sind noch unterwegs in die Wüste! In der Expedition diese Woche entdeckten wir die Geschichte von Mose. Als wir in die Kirche kamen, waren die Kinder vom Schultag aufgeregt. Melinda, meine Kollegin, sagte aber, dass sobald die Geschichte anfing, verbreitete sich eine Ruhe sowie eine Kuscheldecke im Zimmer.  Als ich von einer Mutter erzählte, die unbedingt ihr Kind vom Pharao retten wollte, meinte zwei Kinder zu einander, "Wir kennen diese Geschichte!"Wie schön, wenn die Kinder Verbindungen machen . . .  Continuing our "Expedition in the Desert!", we heard the story of Moses this week. The children were all pretty wound up when we arrived. My door person, Melinda, said that as the story began, a hush fell like a blanket over the entire room. After the introduction, as I began to describe a mother who wanted to save her baby by hiding it in a basket along the Nile, two children excitedly told each other, "We know this!" I love it when they put 2 and 2 together, so to speak . . .

Mose und der brennende Busch.
Moses and the burning bush.

Das Volk Israel bereitet sich vor ins Verheissene Land
zu ziehen und Mose schaut vom Berg hinauf.

The Israelites prepare to enter the Promised Land
as Moses watches from a mountaintop.
Diese Geschichte ist zwar lang, aber hoch interessant. Man erlebt die Wüste darin als einerseits einen gefährlichen Ort, aber andererseits einen Ort, wo wichtige Dinge passieren können. Wir hörten von den guten und schlechten Momenten in Mose Leben und wie Gott ihm immer treu war. This biographical story is a long one. It begins with the desert and hits all the high and low points of Moses' life. In it, we see God's faithfulness to Moses through it all.

Jonas, der Cantor von der Gemeinde, kam zu Besuch und brachte uns Wüsten-Lieder über Mose und Kamellen bei. Die Jungs geniessten besonders das Trommeln. The cantor from the church, Jonas, also joined us to teach some songs about Moses and caravanning. The boys especially enjoyed pounding out the desert rhythms.

Während der Kreativphase, baten wir zwei neuen Wüsten-Kunstprojekten an, damit die Kinder über die Geschichten weiter nachdenken konnten. Das erste Angebot war auf Schleifpapier mit Kreidepastellen zu malen. Es macht große Freude mit der leuchtender Kreidefarbe auf dem ungehobelten Papier  zu arbeiten. During the creative phase, we introduced two new desert-related projects to allow the children the opportunity to explore the stories more. The first was drawing with chalk pastels on sandpaper. This is a simple, but fun art project. The chalk pastels appear so vibrant on the coarse texture of the sandpaper.

Die Kinder haben auch eine Wüsten-Schatztruhe gemacht. Sie malten kleine Pappkisten an und füllten sie mit Sand. Nächste Woche werden sie einen kleinen Schatz aus Ton für die Schatztruhe basteln.  The children also began to work on desert boxes. They decorated tiny boxes and filled them with sand. Next week, they will make a small treasure out of clay to put in the box.

Manche Kinder stehen eher auf die Geschichten-Material als Kunst & Co. Ein Junge saß mit mir und holte das Material für die Stiftshütte, worüber er in der Mose-Geschichte gerade erfahren hat. Er baute alles auf und stellte zunächst die Auferstanden-Christus Figur in den Wüstensack neben der Stiftshütte. "Dieser passt auf alle auf," meinte er. Ich konnte nur zustimmen. Some children like to play with the story materials even more than the art supplies. One little boy sat next to me and examined the materials for the tabernacle, which he had just heard about in the Moses story. After building it up in the desert sack, he placed the figure of the Risen Christ near the tabernacle and said, "He is watching over everything." Indeed, He is.

Jede Woche feiern wir ein kleines Fest zusammen. Melinda backte diese Woche Apfelkuchen für die Kinder. Und dann war das Zimmer voll glücklichen Kindergesichten! Near the end of out time together, we always celebrate a small feast together. This week, Melinda, my door person and right-hand woman, baked apple cake for the kids. There's nothing like seeing a room full of happy kids!

(To my Godly Play readers: This is once again not a Godly Play story. If you are in an English-speaking context, I encourage you to use Jerome Berryman's enrichment material for the story of Moses. I would have done this, but we just don't have it in German!)

To see our other desert adventures:

Expedition in the Desert: Joseph
Expedition in the Desert: Abraham & Sarah
Expedition in the Desert: The 10 Best Ways to Live

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Art Project: Sandpaper & Chalk Pastels

I have another project to share with you that we did this week in our after-school club, "Expedition in the Desert!": chalk pastel drawings on sandpaper. This extraordinarily easy project is also a tactile delight for kids. Many thanks to DLTK - Growing Together for the idea. 

I recommend using a coarser grain of sandpaper and good-quality chalk pastels. Before they began drawing, I gave the children the following tips:

1. Lightly sketch the main parts of the picture with a pencil before using the chalk pastels.

2. Draw the things in front first and then work on the background. This is an important step when starting out with chalk pastels. Because you can't color over things with chalk pastels without them showing through, you draw what is in front first and then work on the background last. This is the exact opposite of what a child would do in painting and it is worth pointing out to them. 

Here is my sample painting that I showed the children:

And here is some student work:

The picture that I drew is of the burning bush from the Moses story that we heard this week. I did not intend for the children to use this theme, but most of them did anyway. In an art class, that would be fine, but in Godly Play, it is not. I realized then that my sample had been too direct and that it would have been better to have simply told them what to do rather than show them. Oh well, we learn from our mistakes. : )

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Expedition in the Desert: Joseph

Die Wüste. Obwohl sie gefährlich ist, sind trotzdem viele wichtige und wunderschöne Dinge dort geschehen. In der Bibel (und in der Godly Play Pädagogik) ist die Wüste nicht nur ein geographischer Ort, sondern ein existentieller Ort. Ein Ort, in den wir nicht unbedingt freiwillig hingehen, sondern einer, wo wir an unsere Grenzen kommen. Ein Ort, in dem Gott uns mit seiner Gnade begegnet.  The desert. A dangerous, but fascinating place. In the Bible (and in the Godly Play concept), it is not just a physical place, but an existential one. A place where we come to the end of our own strength and resources. A place that we don't go willingly. But a place where God meets us and gives us a new perspective. 

Materials for the Joseph story.
Click here for more about the dream boards.

Joseph is reunited with his brothers.
In der AG, "Expedition in die Wüste!" entdecken wir die Wüste und was Gott da mit seinen Kindern macht. Wir fingen mit der alt-testmentlichen Geschichte von Josef an. Was für eine Geschichte! Man hat Geschwisterkonflikte, Eifersucht, Räche, unverdiente Strafe und veil mehr in dieser Geschichte. Aber Josef stellt etwas Wichtiges fest: er ist nie allein gewesen und Gott kann immer etwas Gutes aus einer traurigen Situation machen. As you may have already guessed, in our latest after school club, called "Expedition in the Desert!", we explore the desert and how God interacts with his children in it. We began with the story of Joseph. What a story! There is something for everything to identify with here: sibling rivalry, jealousy, revenge, unjust accusations, imprisonment. But Joseph finds out something very important, namely that he is never alone and that God can make something beautiful out of the worst situations.

Die meisten Kinder sind schon lange in diesen AGs zusammen gewesen, deswegen gibt es ein gewisses Vertrauen unter ihnen. Man hat das im Ergründungsgespräch gemerkt, da sie viel verbal geäußert haben. Als ich gefragt habe, welcher Teil der wichtigste sei, haben einige die Stelle gennant, wo Josef seinen Brüdern hilft ohne sich zu rächen. Die Kinder haben wahrgenommen, wieviel es Josef gekostet hat um die richtige Entscheidung zu treffen. Noch eine Frage war, ob die Kinder selber erlebt haben, wo Gott eine entäuschende Situation zum Guten verwandelte. Dann haben wir uns daran errinert, wann vor einem Jahr unsere AdventsAG im letzen Moment aus Mangel an Räumlichkeiten ausfallen musste. Dadurch fanden wir ein zu Hause bei der evangelischen Gemeinde in der Nähe von der Schule und haben die Pfarrerin, Christina-Maria, kennengelernt. Jetzt haben wir einen schönen, ruhigen Ort, wo wir Gott entdecken können. Eine Lampe ging da bei den Kindern auf. Most of the children present have been in every after-school club that we have offered. Because they know each other and some trust has been established, the kids were verbal from the get-go during the Wondering. For many, the favorite and most important part of the story was that Joseph blessed his brothers in the end instead of trying to get back at them. One of the questions I asked was about whether or not the children had experienced a situation where God had turned something bad into something good. Together, we remembered how last year at Advent, our club had been cancelled at the last minute for different reasons. But as a result, we got to know Christina, the pastor of the church on the same street as our school, who now co-leads the club with me and Melinda. And then, we were able to use the beautiful rooms in this church that are quieter and more comfortable than the ones at our school. A light seemed to come on in the kids' heads at that point.

Während der Kreativzeit dürfen die Kinder entweder mit dem Geschichtematerial spielen oder sich hit dem Kunstmaterial beschäftigen. Es hat much gefreut, dass einige Kinder auch mit dem Material von den Geschichtentisch spielen wollten. During our creative phase, the children can either play with the story materials or work with the art materials. I was delighted that several children wanted to explore the materials.

Wie wäre eine Wüste-AG ohne Sand? Neben Farbe und Buntstiften bieten wir Projekten mit Sand an. Diese Woche haben wir Sandbilder gemacht. Melinda und ich haben vorher den Sand gefärbt. Dann "zeichneten" die Kinder Skizzen mit Bastelkleber und streuten den Sand darauf. Schöne Bilder sind entstanden und es war ein taktiles Vergnügen für die Kinder.  In addition to paint and colored pencils, we will be offering art materials that use sand in order to explore the desert a little more. This week, we made sand pictures. Melinda and I dyed the sand beforehand. The children then "drew" pictures with glue and sprinkled sand over the glue to create some unique artwork.

Mehr Aktion von der Wüste kommt in den nächsten Tagen! Stay tuned for more action in the desert! 

(One important point for my readers who are particularly interested in Godly Play: though I borrow heavily from Godly Play and use its principles and structure in the club, this particular story of Joseph is not actually a Godly Play story, but rather a story that has been written for our German-speaking context. If you are planning to share this post or pin it on Pinterest, please honor Jerome Berryman, the creator of Godly Play, by not labeling it as Godly Play. Thank you!) 

To see our other desert adventures:

Expedition in the Desert: Moses
Expedition in the Desert: Abraham & Sarah
Expedition in the Desert: The 10 Best Ways to Live

Linked to: