Thursday, December 11, 2014

Advent Club Week 3

In der 3.Adventswoche haben wir eine Geschichte gehört, die das Weihnachtsbaby erzählt hat, als es Erwachsen geworden ist, nämlich ein Gleichnis von Jesu. Meine Freundin, Jessica, die neulich angefangen hat, Godly Play-Geschichten zu erzählen, kam um uns das Gleichnis vom Barmherzigen Samariter zu zeigen. Dieses Gleichnis passt perfekt in der Adventszeit, da es um die Nächstenliebe handelt. This week in Advent Club we heard a story that the baby we're waiting for told when he grew up - one of Jesus' parables, of course. My friend, Jessica, who is at the beginning of her Godly Play journey, came to share the Parable of the Good Samaritan with us. This is a great story for the Christmas season, because it deals with the theme of love for one another and asks the question, "Who is our neighbor?"



In der Kreativephase ging's weiter mit den Linöldruckerei:
We worked more on our linocuts during Response Time:





Die Kinder waren sehr kreativ und vielfaltig in ihren Designs. 
The children showed much creativity and diversity in their designs.




Einige Kinder machten ihre Türanhängern fertig. Other children finished their Christmas mobiles.


Andere haben die Tonfiguren in Schmuck für den Weihnachtsbaum verwandelt. 
And some transformed their clay pieces into decorations for the Christmas tree.


Und wir machten den Tannenbaum für das Spiel im Seniorenheim fertig. 
And we worked on the poster for a game at the Senior Center next week.


Am Montag geht's los ins Seniorenheim
On Monday, we're off for an afternoon of fun at the Senior Center!

Monday, December 8, 2014

Advent Club 2014 Week 2

Diese Woche hörten wir Teile der Weihnachtsgeschichte, die nicht immer erzählt werden, aber trotzdem wichtig sind. "Das Geheimnis der Weihnacht" verwendet Bilder von Giotto aus dem 14.Jahrhundert, die in der Scrovegni-Kapelle in Italien zu sehen sind. This week we heard parts of the Christmas story that don't always get told, but that are still important. "The Mystery of Christmas" uses the frescoes of the 14th century artist, Giotto, that can be seen in the Scrovegni Chapel in Italy.


1. Die Verkündigung / The Annunciation
2. Maria Besuch bei Elisabeth und die Geburt Johannes des Täufers / Mary's Visits Elizabeth
3. Die Geburt Christi / Christ's Birth
4. Die Darstellung Jesu im Tempel / Presentation in the Temple
5. Der Besuch der 3 Könige / The Visit of the Magi
6. Kindermord in Bethlehem (ein sehr trauriger Teil der Geschichte!) / The Massacre in Bethlehem (a very sad part of the story!)
7. Der Fluch der heiligen Familie nach Ägypten / The Flight to Egypt


Ich geniesse immer das Ergründungsgespräch mit den Kindern, wo sie erzählen, was ihre lieblings Teil der Geschichte ist; was ihnen am wichtigsten ist; oder was man weglassen könnte, aber trotzdem alles haben, was wir brauchen. My favorite part is after the story, where we wonder together about the story. The children have a chance to tell what their favorite part of the story is, or what the most important part is, or even what could be left out of the story. 




In der Kreativphase arbeiteten wir an den Projekten von letzter Woche. In the Response Time, we worked more on the projects from last week.

Hier ein gut gelungener Linoschnittdruck:
Here is a finished linocut print:





In Vorbereitung auf unseren Besuch im Seniorenheim, haben wir eine neue Station angeboten. Hier gestalten die Kinder einen Weihnachtsbaum. Beim Seniorenheim wird ein Spiel daraus gemacht, wo die Augen eines Kindes verbunden werden, und das Kind wird von einem Senioren an den Baum geführt. Das Kind muss versuchen den Weihnachtsstern auf den richtigen Platz zu kriegen. In preparation for our visit to the senior center next week, we started making a Christmas tree that will be used for "Pin the tail on the donkey" type of game. We'll cover a child's eyes and have a senior lead the child to the tree, where he or she will have to try to place the star in the right place. 


Und wir übten Weihnachtslieder, die wir mit den Senioren singen können. Da Musik nicht meine Stärke ist, kam mein Mann mit Guitarre um uns zu unterstützen. And we practiced Christmas songs to sing with the seniors. (The good-looking guy with the guitar is my husband.: ) )


Die 3.Woche kommt bald! Week 3 coming soon!

Advent Club 2014 Week 1

Alle Jahre wieder kommt (mit dem Christuskind) die AdventsAG! Wir fingen dieses Jahr mit 14 Kindern aus unserer Grundschule kurz vorm 1.Advent an. Advent is here again and it's time for Advent Club! We started the club this year shortly before First Advent with 14 children from our local elementary school.




Am Anfang jeder AG hören wir eine Geschichte aus der Montessori-inspiriete Religionspädagogik, Godly Play. Natürlich war die Adventsgeschichte diese Woche dran, die den Kindern hilft zu verstehen, warum es die 4 Adventswochen vor Weihnachten überhaupt gibt, und woran wir in dieser Zeit denken:  
Each week we begin by hearing a Godly Play story, and this week it was the Advent story. This story helps children understand why we have Advent and what we can think about and ponder during these 4 weeks: 

1.Sonntag - die Propheten zeigen den Weg nach Bethlehem / First Sunday - the prophets, who pointed towards Bethelehem
2.Sonntag - Maria & Josef unterwegs nach Bethlehem / Second Sunday - Mary and Joseph travel to Bethlehem
3.Sonntag - die Hirten / Third Sunday - the shepherds
4.Sonntag - die 3 Könige / Fourth Sunday - the wise men
Weihnachten - Alles ändert sich, auch die Farbe, und das lang erwartete Baby kommt!
Christmas - Everything changes, including the color, and our long-awaited Baby is born!



Nach der Geschichte gibt es eine Kreativphase, wo die Kinder ihre Gedanken durch Spiel und Kunst weiter verarbeiten können. Es gibt bei uns selten "traditionelles Weihnachtsbasteln"; wir bieten eher Möglichkeiten mit offenem Ende an, damit die Kinder selber die Weihnachtsgeschichte für sich entdecken können. Jedem Kind ist etwas anderes wichtig und die Kinder dürfen für sich in der Geschichte aussuchen, was ihm am wichtigsten ist. After the story we have a Response Time where the children can explore what they have heard through art and play. There are seldom "traditional" Christmas crafts in our clubs, because we offer open-ended activities so that the children can discover the Christmas story for themselves.

Es gab die folgenden Stationen und die Kinder dürften sich dazwischen bewegen:
The children could move between the following "stations":

1. Linölschnitte - Hier gestalten die Kinder ein Bild, das dann später gedrückt wird. Linocuts - the children cut pictures out of linoleum plates that will be used to make a print in the following weeks.


2. Weihnachtswandschmuck - Hier gestalten die Kinder Figuren mit Ton, die an einem Baumzweig verbunden werden, die an die Tür oder an die Wand aufgehängt werden können. Tree Branch Mobile - The idea here is make figures out of clay that will be hung on a tree branch to make a Christmas Mobile. 


3. Stempeln und Buntstifte - Vielen Kindern ist es wichtig mit Wortern sich auszudrücken. Hier können die Kinder schreiben oder malen, je nachdem sie sich am besten ausdrücken möchten. Stamps and Colored Pencils - Sometimes the simplest materials allow the most creativity. And for some children, it is also important to be able to write out their thoughts.


4. Spielen mit Holzklötzen - Hier bringt man die Phantasie in die Weihnachtsgeschichte. Wooden Blocks - this is an opportunity for imaginative play. 


Ganz am Ende feiern wir ein kleines Fest mit Essen u. Trinken. Heute gab's Brownies und Trauben.: ) We always have a small feast each week before we leave. This week we had brownies and grapes!

Bis zum nächstes Mal! See you next time!

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Godly Play and "Church-out-of-a Box"

At the beginning of this school year, I was given a new position with a larger church in Berlin that is planting a new congregation in the area where I live. The new congregation has a weekly children's service as well as the original congregation, and I was asked to help both congregations implement Godly Play into their services. 

I was very excited about this new opportunity, because, for one thing, I needed a new challenge at this point in life and sensed that God had something new for me. Also, as a Godly Play Trainer, I consult other churches about how to implement GP, but I had never actually had the hands-on experience of doing it myself!  

The interesting thing about this church situation is that both congregations meet in theatres on Sunday rather than owning their own buildings. As a result, we do "church-out-of-a-box" each Sunday, where we literally set up the service, including the children's services, by unpacking boxes and rearranging furniture. (Nothing new to me, as you regular readers know from the after-school clubs.) Aside from the effort it takes to set-up each Sunday, the big drawback is that it makes it impossible to have a permanent Godly Play room. 

I have a team of 20 volunteers. They are gifted people who are 100% committed to the children. In many ways they are a dream team for me! I am also lucky to have a few people within the team who have professional experience with children. But here is the challenge: some of my teachers are open to Godly Play and others are skeptical that it can really work. I walk a tightrope at times of encouraging them to at least try GP, but also trying to value the way things have been done in the past. 

I've had a relationship with this church for years, so I had been in their children's services many times. One problem that I noticed from the get-go was that with different teachers on each week, there were no overarching rituals from Sunday to Sunday. Each children's service was very different from the week before, and the children never knew what to expect.  Consequently, there were a lot of behavioural issues among the children and some burned-out teachers. 

As a result, our first step in introducing GP has been to implement the structure and principles: getting ready, building the circle, the story, Wondering, response time, the feast and the blessing. So as not to manipulate or force people into something, we have given the teachers the freedom to either tell the story using whatever method or manner they choose. 

After 4 months, here is where we stand: it's been a rollercoaster ride of highs and lows. We have good days and bad days. Some are becoming more open to GP, and others are really frustrated. 

I keep reminding everyone that most of the time God works in processes. He can do things overnight, but most often He chooses not to. The process of Godly Play is important, because it changes us, the children, and the parents. 

The parables of the Mustard Seed and Leaven have become very important images for us: the Kingdom of God takes time to grow and become visible. It may be two years, before we see real change, and in our instant society where we want everything quickly, that can be frustrating. However, I think it will all be worth the wait. : )




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?