Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Learning the story by heart

Last week, I was privileged to lead a Godly Play seminar for 25 teachers from St. Clara Catholic Church's three preschools in Neu-Kölln. We spent some time at the beginning talking about the theology and educational philosophy behind Godly Play. Then, I shared "The Great Family" with  a Response Time. 

Afterwards during a question and answer session, the parish priest asked if I had any tips for learning the texts of the stories. What a great question! I had never given much thought to it before, so his question prompted me to think more about it.

In Godly Play, we encourage the storytellers to learn the texts by heart. For one thing, it would be really difficult to move the figures around the felt or sand if you had to constantly look at a script to know where you are. Also, a very important part of the pedagogy is that the storyteller always has her focus on the materials. If she doesn't, then it breaks the concentration of the whole group. And lastly, the stories "flow" from a deeper emotional level within when we tell them from memory rather than from a piece of paper. 

So how do we learn them, especially the longer texts? I think there are many ways. It certainly helps if you have already read the stories in the Bible and are familiar with them. I tend to read through the entire script out loud once to get the big picture. Then, I learn smaller sections at a time. (Since I tell stories in three different languages, this method really helps me.) Also, the figures themselves provide visual prompts for me, so that I know which part of the text comes next. On the average, I have to practice a new story at least 3 times from start to finish, before I can tell it freely from memory. 

But once I have already told a story, it is much easier to prepare it the next time, even if it is 6 months or a whole year later. And once you've told a story several times, you can "wing it" if you have to. This I also discovered during the Response Time at St. Clara when several of the teachers wanted to hear the Parable of the Sower.: )  

Some of the preschool teachers' work in the Response Time.

What about you? How do you learn the texts for Godly Play stories?


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  2. I've been tempted (but haven't followed through yet) to read some of the scripts into an MP3 file, which I could listen to from time to time as a way of marinating myself in the story...

  3. Oh, that's a creative way to use technology. It would also be interesting to listen to one's own voice telling the story.