At the Threshold
A doorkeeper waits by the door to the Godly Play classroom, warmly welcoming children into a circle. He or she says, “I’m so glad you’re here. Are you ready to be part of a Godly Play classroom?”
Building the Circle
Children make their way into the classroom and sit in a circle around the storyteller. He or she talks quietly and easily with the children, building a community where each and every participant is warmly welcomed. The storyteller says, “We need to get ready for the story.” The storyteller then shows how by sitting quietly, legs crossed, hands at the ankles. Conversation yields to silence. The storyteller asks the children where we are in the church calendar, rings a bell to begin the story quite the students
Presenting the Lesson
The Storyteller goes to get the materials for the day’s presentation –a box, a basket or a tray. Slowly, deliberately, the storyteller brings out the story figures and objects, gently moving and arranging them as he or she tells the story. The children’s eyes focus where the storyteller’s eyes and hands focus, on the small wooden figures, painted plaques or beautifully finished props moving in the circle. The lesson continues, moves forward… and concludes.
The storyteller sits back, but keeps his or her eyes on the figures. “I wonder… I wonder what part of this story you like best?” There is silence for a moment, and then a child answers… and then perhaps another. The storyteller affirms each answer. The storyteller continues, “I wonder what part is the most important?” Children name different parts. Every serious struggle to answer is, again, affirmed. “I wonder where you are in the story or what part of the story is about you?” “I wonder if there is any part of this story we could leave out and still have all the story we need?” The storyteller listens respectfully to every answer, repeating it, never calling one response good or another wrong. It is the child’s effort to speak theologically in a seriously playful way that is being supported.
The wondering sinks into silence. The children watch as the storyteller puts away the lesson. He or she invites them to think about what work they would like to do in response to the lesson. The children have been involved in the story and the wondering. Now that absorbed involvement continues as they, one by one, name what response they choose to make. Some play mindfully with the materials from the presentation or from other presentations. Others want to paint. Still others work with crayons.
When the response is finished, the storyteller draws the attention of the group to gather for a reading or song as each child waits to be picked up by his or her parent. When a parent arrives at the entrance of the classroom, the doorkeeper quietly escorts their child to the door, looks into their eyes, smiles, and quietly says, “It was a pleasure to have you here today. Thank you for being with us.”
Helpful tips for parents
When you pick up your child, keep in mind that young children will not always be able to tell you what they learned, because what they learned was how to learn about the powerful language of the Christian people.
Children will not always be able to show you a physical product for their “work” that day, because some of what they’ve learned cannot be put into words even by adults. In Godly Play, we focus on our relationship with God and the depths of relationships in the community of children.
Godly Play classes end at 11:00 am, except for those who are joining the regular worship service for Eucharist. Please meet your children by 11:10 am to ensure that we are caring for our faithful storytellers and doorkeepers, enabling them to return to their own family and friends in a timely manner.
8:50-12:00 Nursery Care
9:00-9:30 Coffee + Fellowship
9:30-9:45 Prayer for Sunday School
9:45-10:00 Music for Godly Play
10:00-11:15 Sunday School
If you would like to have the dates and times for all the gatherings please see the Families Brochures here and email the Director of the program, Barrie Rose Bliss, at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like a brochure mailed to your home!