What is a session of Godly Play like?
A greeter waits at the door to welcome each child and help him/her become ready to enter the room quietly. (The Godly Play Center is treated as a "sacred space.") Next, a Bible story is orally shared with the children, using "manipulatives" (items) related to the story that engage the children's eyes and hands. The storyteller uses wondering questions to reflect on the story together with the children. Telling the story from the heart to the children's hearts is a unique feature of this method. Then, each child is offered a choice in creating a response to the story. Their drawings, poetry, and other writings are kept in a spiritual journal. Additional choices include retelling a Bible story using manipulatives. Finally, each session concludes with the children praying, individually and together, and sharing a "feast" (snack). As each child leaves, he/she is thanked for their work and blessed by the teacher.
What are the benefits of Godly Play?
- The children assume responsibility for listening attentively, selecting and putting away materials, and serving and cleaning up after the snack, with guidance from the adults.
- Appropriate moral behaviors that are expected of people living within a Christian community are modeled.
- Each class session follows the pattern of the church's Sunday service, so children will have a deeper understanding and enjoy fuller participation in corporate worship.
- The same stories are used yearly. As children hear the stories repeated, they gain new levels of understanding and relate this learning to events in daily life. As adults, we share the same needs as children to life's big questions and issues. Connecting the God we experience with the God of the Church is a lifelong learning task.
- Children have hopes and fears at every stage of their development. As they grow, their developmental understanding changes. In Godly Play, multi-age groups of children learn together, each child responding at their level of understanding to the stories presented. By sharing their responses with others, children gain new understanding by serving as both learner and teacher.