What Is Godly Play?
Godly Play is a creative way of sharing bible stories with children. It was developed over 30 years ago by Episcopal priest, author and teacher, Jerome Berryman, who continues to practice and write. It is what he calls his interpretation of Montessori religious education.
Godly Play welcomes children into a “sacred space” where they experience a program that uses an imaginative approach that supports, challenges, nourishes and guides their spiritual quest. The program differs from other church education curricula that are designed mainly to teach information and educate children about factual materials. Godly Play invites the children to enter into the sacred stories and the liturgical practices of the Episcopal church in a deeper and more respectful way.
The 3’s, 3+, 4’s and Pre-K classes meet in the Godly Play room once a month for a 30 – 40 minute session. The 4’s and Pre-K’s have a ‘response time’ after their story. The Pre-3’s will experience Godly Play in April and May to get them ready for the following year.
Godly Play Stories
The stories are broken into three categories, known as “Christian language”:
Sacred Story: These are Old Testament stories which include Creation, Noah and the Flood, the Ten Best Ways and Abraham and Sarah beginning The Great Family.
Parables: Contained in gold boxes that house their secret meanings, these are the most authentic voice of Jesus. The ‘wondering’ questions invite children to create their own meaning of the parable. Some of the parables include The Good Shepherd, the Mustard Seed and the Parable of the Sower.
Liturgical Action: These explain the symbols and rites of the Church and the way the Christian community worships God. These stories include Baptism and Advent.
Children explore the stories by answering ‘wondering’ questions after the story is told. For example:
I wonder what part of the story you liked best?
I wonder what part is the most important?
I wonder where you are in the story or what part of the story is about you?
There is no right or wrong answer to wondering questions.
Parents are encouraged to ask wondering questions at home rather than, “What did you learn today?”
After the story the children in Pre-K and 4’s classes have the opportunity to respond to the story creatively with art materials or work with the stories – as seen above in the photo.
In the Godly Play Room
Two teachers, the ‘storyteller’ and ‘door person’ guide the session.
The children cross the threshold into the room and are welcomed individually into the circle – the storyteller and door person model Christ in greeting and welcoming the children, building a foundation of mutual trust and friendship.
We gather together to hear one of ‘God’s stories’.
Children explore the stories by answering ‘wondering’ questions.
The children respond to the stories they hear through art media and the opportunity to work with any of the story materials in the room.
The children are then sent out with a blessing.
After each session the children are given a Parent Page to take home so that their parents can see what the day’s lesson was about and to give their children the opportunity to revisit the story throughout the week. Parents are encouraged to ask wondering questions about the story.