Sunday, October 12, 2014

Room to think and explore

One of our goals in Godly Play is to give children room to move around in and explore the biblical stories that they hear. Often in church settings, children are presented with a biblical story and are led to focus on a certain aspect of the story. This is not necessarily bad, and there is room for this in children's ministry. However, what if a particular child is interested in another part of the story? A part of the story that is different from the aspect being highlighted? How can that child explore or play with the part of the story that is important to her?

Let's take the classic story of Abraham and Sarah. Usually when this story is told, the activities that reinforce the learning are usually based on Abraham and Sarah. But what if a child identifies more with Rebekah, or Isaac or even the three strangers who come out of the desert?

The "Wondering" and Response Time in the Godly Play structure are designed to help the child go where he likes in the story and discover whatever God may be pointing out. 

Today, I told the story of Joseph from the Old Testament. It was fascinating during our "Wondering" to see where the children focused their attention. Several children found themselves in the bickering amongst siblings. Another child was absorbed with how Joseph was able to forgive his siblings for selling him into slavery. And still others were interested in how Joseph's suffering and life in a foreign land ultimately saved the entire family during the famine. 

These children all went in different "directions" within this story, but they might not have done this had I presented the story with an emphasis on one or two points. 

I'll never get tired of seeing the children explore and bring God's story into their own story!

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Taking care of your own spiritual needs

One of the things we were reminded of at the European Trainers' Conference was to continue to look after our own spiritual needs and help others on their Godly Play journey to do the same.  Gemma Simmonds, one of our speakers, said that " . . . you need more than just you to sustain such a big ministry [as Godly Play]". 

Honestly, I needed to hear this, because I haven't always been really great at looking after myself, so to speak. And because Godly Play doesn't usually lead to burn-out through its understanding of us being co-learners with the children, I sometimes forget that I need outside input in my life.

One of the things that I am doing right now to look after my soul is an Ignatian on-line spiritual retreat. I am drawn to Ignatian methods, because they combine Scripture with imagination. Imaginative play was and is my favorite form of play, so it is a natural way for me to relate to God. 

If anyone else happens to be interested, here is the link to the retreat:

An Ignatian Prayer Adventure online retreat

I am also seeking some "live" mentors. I have had wonderful women in the past who have fulfilled this role for me, and I think the time has come to have some more in my life.

What are some ways that  you look after your own spiritual needs?

Friday, October 3, 2014

What effect does childhood play have on our future?

I've just finished my first week of the "Exploring Play" on-line course offered by the University of Sheffield. I've already learned a lot and some real-life and Godly Play friends from all over the world have joined in!

One of our first assignments asked the question, "How does our childhood play affect our future choice of profession as adults?" It was incredible to read all of the "Aha! moments" from my virtual classmates as they realized how much their choices of play in childhood played a role in choosing their future jobs. 

I myself have vivid memories of pretending to be a schoolteacher with my dolls and stuffed animals. I also played school with other kids and always wanted to be the teacher! I also remember making art, creating things, and telling stories. 

I, of course, still do all of these things with children in my roles as Godly Play and English teacher.: )

Did your childhood play choices have an impact on your future profession?