Thursday, October 31, 2013

Godly Play with Seniors

My family has developed a relationship with a Senior Citizen's Home in our area through our work with Serve the City. On Sunday, I'll be sharing the Parable of the Good Shepherd with the residents as the "sermon" at their church service.

Although I have told GP stories in many settings, this will be my first experience with seniors. Jerome Berryman, the creator of Godly Play, says that his concept is for children from ages "3 to 99", and there are other storytellers who have used it with seniors on a regular basis.

The opportunity arose when I was talking to the Senior Home's ergotherapist about Susan Dyer's blog, The Moveable Alphabet, and how Susan's Montessori work with seniors in Alaska has fascinated me. I also saw a lot of parallels between the work I do with children and the Senior Home's work with their residents. Then, the ergotherapist asked me if I had ever heard of Godly Play . . . !

In planning out the service together, the ergotherapist helped me realize that I would have to adjust a few things for my audience. For one thing, many of the seniors have failing eyesight and my normal wood figures would be too small. So, I decided to photocopy and enlarge them, and then mount them on cardboard.

You can see the difference in the size of my cardboard figure on the left and the normal-sized wooden figure on the right.

I had to make sure they would still fit in the parable box, though!

Then, of course, I had to buy a giant-sized piece of felt for the underlay and then a larger lake, sheep stall and dangerous places. If you're wondering how I'll fit the giant underlay in the parable box, I won't  be able to. Because of the eyesight issues, I'll also be telling the story at a table. 

Another thing is that I will be wearing a lapel mic, since impaired hearing is also an issue with the residents. I'll have to remember not to breathe heavy during pauses in the story!

I'll be very interested to see what the seniors think and how they react to this unusual "sermon"!


  1. I'm really keen to hear how this goes. Godly Play with older persons is something we're hoping to get started here in Ireland. Blessings!

  2. So interesting! Can't wait to hear how it goes! I like the bigger figures and am sure kids would love to play with them too.

  3. I'll be sure to write a follow-up!