Monday, August 26, 2013

Brunch + the Spiral Curriculum in Godly Play

I am trying to get back into blogging on a regular basis. It has just been a busy season for our family. Thanks for your patience!

Yesterday was our church's first Brunch of the new school year. I decided to start off with "The Great Family", the story of God's promise to Abraham and Sarah. This story is from the genre of what we call "Sacred Stories" in Godly Play and addresses the question of identity: who we (the worldwide church) are as a Christian family, where we came from, and how the individual child fits into it all.

The body of Godly Play stories are divided into core stories and extension stories. The core stories, of which "The Great Family" is one, are told in each stage of childhood: early, middle and late. In early childhood, only the core stories are told. Extension stories begin to be added in middle childhood once the children are thoroughly familiar with the core stories. Berryman writes in Teaching Godly Play that "it usually takes three encounters with a lesson for a child to become familiar with it and its context in the liturgical year". By late childhood, the children are so familiar with the stories and how the classroom functions that they can listen more closely to the words and apply a broader meaning. Berryman goes on to write that this upward spiral of learning is advanced by three distinct circles: the circle of the creative process in each child, the circle of dynamics in the class, and the circle of the church year.

I have to admit that I had been practicing Godly Play for some time before I realized that it had a spiral curriculum. In fact, it wasn't until I had some e-mail correspondence with Jerome Berryman in my third year that I heard the term in relationship to GP. While a spiral curriculum works well in a setting where the children attend church each Sunday, I have to say that it is quite challenging in my context. Less than 1 percent of Berliners attend church on a regular basis, and a regular basis means once a month. In our church plant, I see the children 1-2 times a month if I'm lucky. And in our after-school clubs, I might see the same children only 4 weeks out of an entire school year. 

I can't say that I've figured it out yet, but my strategy right now is to keep repeating the core stories as much as possible with all the kids and fight the urge with in me to want to do something new. And that's why I started out this school year with "The Great Family". Each child in the room had heard it at least once and some 2-3 times already. I did notice as a result that the Wondering was deeper with the children who had heard the story more often. Another child who had heard the story only once before was confused about some of the characters and stopped me to help her get the names straight. Yet another reason to keep repeating the core stories.

Some highlights from the Wondering: one child shared which character he liked best rather than which part of the story he liked best. It was Isaac, whose name means "laughter".  Another child shared that she liked God coming close to Abraham.  One child though the most important part was that Abraham and Sarah found out that God was everywhere, not just in their home city of Ur. When I asked what we could leave out and still have everything we needed for the story, one child responded that we could have left out the part about the parents (Abraham and Sarah) dying. 

During the Response Time, an 8-year-old girl drew this picture.

When I asked her if she wanted to tell me about it, she responded, "It is nighttime outside and God is there. He gives us this bouquet of flowers."

Although Godly Play is full of repetitions, it is completely different each time. : )

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Inspiring Blogs: People I actually know!

Continuing my series on "Inspiring Blogs", here are a few awesome blogs that don't fit into any particular category, except that I know all of these people in "real time" and not just virtually.: ) I hope you will find them just as inspiring as I do!

Just click on the titles of the blogs to go straight to them.


Troy is one of the most playful people I have ever met. With Godly Play in his background, he takes the discussion of what it means to "play" further in this blog. Several philosophers and theologians in the 20th and 21st centuries have argued that the ability to play is part of what makes us human. (Take that Thomas Aquinas! It's not all about reason!!) You'll be encouraged and have a lot to playfully ponder as you read Troy's thoughts.

Shared From Way Over Here

Jenni is a former colleague of mine who along with her husband runs a hospitality center in Portugal. On her blog, she shares about interior decorating, crafting, sewing, homeschooling and living abroad. Maybe someday I'll talk her into coming and decorating my home for me!

Amazing & Amusing

I've written about Asmic's blog and linked to her quite a bit in the past. We met many years ago in her native Uzbekistan and have remained friends ever since. Her blog is aptly titled, because she never ceases to amaze me with her energy and creativity. Asmic writes about her adventures with her three boys and the other children in her life - anything that she finds amazing and amusing.

Lark & Bloom

I had the privilege of observing Liz as a third culture kid growing up in Siberia, and her Dad was my boss for many years. She has a quirky and witty writing style that will keep you in stitches as she muses over life, parenthood and faith. 

Be sure to catch these other "Inspiring Blogs" entries:

Inspiring Montessori Blogs
Inspiring Nature & Waldorf Blogs
Inspiring Art Blogs

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Inspiring Art Blogs

Hi everyone, We're back to Berlin for good now and school has started! It's been a rough week for blogging, because in addition to my kids starting school, I've had to get my own lesson plans together. Shakespeare with my sixth graders, Greek myths with my fourth and fifth graders - it should be a fun year.: ) 

My next entry in the "Inspiring Blogs" series is about inspiring art blogs. Hope you enjoy making some new friends!

That Artist WomanArt Projects for KidsDeep Space Sparkle

You may already know these great blogs from my side bar and previous posts. Gail, Kathy and Patty, respectively, have deeply enriched my knowledge of how to teach art. These blogs are great go-to places for art project ideas that have been tested on their art students. That Artist Woman has also introduced me to new and interesting techniques. 

The Art of Education

This ingenious blog talks about a topic that many art teachers avoid: the organizational side of art. Just what do you do with those 150 clay sculptures that the second grade made last year? And how do you get the right supplies when your budget is really tight? 

Even if you are not an art teacher, you can benefit from the conversations going on in at this website. And as a Godly Play teacher, the art materials may not be your forte. Here you can get some really helpful tips about how to have the children clean those paint brushes in an orderly manner or how to set up your art shelves.  


Jane's blog combines her love of nature, children and art. I love to read about her projects with children as well as her own creative journey that she documents in her blog.

Mini Matisse

How could you not like a blog with a name as cool as "Mini Matisse"? Named after her daughter, art educator Mrs. Hahn writes about art adventures at home as well as with her elementary students at school. 

Sharon Tomlinson

Sharon is a multi-media artist. She chronicles her projects in this blog as well as musing on life and being retired. It is refreshing to hear her thoughts about her stage of life and see her continued development as an artist.

Artsy Ants

Sylvia and Simona are two creative sisters and moms who live on two continents, but stay connected through their creative endeavours. They have lots of fun ideas that can be used at home or in the classroom. 

Stay tuned for my final entry:  "Inspiring Blogs of People I actually know!"

Don't miss these entries: