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What's this "Godly Play" talk all about?

posted Sep 18, 2013, 7:27 AM by Amelia Fannin   [ updated Sep 18, 2013, 7:27 AM by in apropos ]
I've taught a couple of different ages at Grace Sunday School, but never the group that uses the "Godly Play" materials.   So I'm curious, and asked Susan Keefe, one of our teachers, to tell me more.  Is it just our term for "class for younger kids"?

Godly Play is an imaginative story telling approach to sharing the stories of the Bible and liturgical rituals of the Episcopal Church. The structure and format of the lessons awakens the children’s sense of wonder about God’s presence. Godly Play assumes that children have some experience of the mystery of the presence of God in their lives but that they lack the language, permission and understanding to express and enjoy that in our culture. The stories are told using basic materials to enhance the experience and always end with wondering questions to open up discussion to the children’s ideas like: "I wonder what part of the story you liked best?" or "I wonder what part of the story is most important?"

Having that vocabulary is a huge thing.   And it's not our only big goal.   We aim high for our kids...

There are many unspoken lessons for children inherent in the Godly Play approach. Through this approach, we are teaching the children that they are respected and loved, they are capable, that the stories have value, they are accepted just the way they are, that this is a place of imagining, and that this is a safe place to wonder and find meaning.

Honestly, you cannot ask for a better way to spend a Sunday morning.  Sounds good, but what's it really like in a roomful of younger kids?

The best way to experience the magic of Godly Play is to hear a lesson for yourself.

We are always looking for doorkeepers to help with the sessions, and it’s a very easy job!  The doorkeeper is in the room to serve as a second adult and follows the lead of the teacher.  The doorkeeper greets the children as they enter the room and may ask them to bring a rug in to the Godly Play room to join the circle. The teacher leads the class.  During the story, the doorkeeper will sit outside the circle (possibly near the door) and be available if the teacher asks for assistance with a child. 

Don't you have to be one of the parents to help out?

It's best if the doorkeepers are not parents of children in the class because children sometimes behave much differently in front of their own parents than they do with others (as most of you likely know)!

It's really that simple.  Psyched?  Find Susan or Leah and tell them how cool what they do is, and when can you try out being a second adult for a week.

David Barbrow
Senior Warden