Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Godly Play

One of the reasons that Pete and I are returning to the Casa in September is because when we were here in February, I asked Lupita, (the Casa's incredible Director) about ways in which we could support the Casa after we left and she named a few things including having a Spiritual Education Teacher and a Reading Specialist. Well, looks like I'll be working in those roles very soon and I got to try my hand in both of those areas on this trip.

Yesterday, I led my first Godly Play lesson, about the Creation Story, in Spanish. (Shout out: Thank you Second Church folks for leaving amazing Godly Play materials!) For those who aren't familiar with Godly Play, it is a Montessori-esk Christian education program in which the teacher tells a Bible-based story using props and then questions the children about their reflections on the story. The children then complete "work" (such as drawing pictures or playing with the story props) to further their spiritual reflection. Godly Play is based on the belief that children are born with an understanding and deep connection to God. My experience sharing the Creation story with the chiquitos (the youngest: ages 3-7) was lovely. There were 25 or so of them and they were so great. They paid close attention and then were able to re-tell the story to their amazing teacher, (this woman was finishing up bathing and dressing the entire group as I entered the room to set up the story!) She had an incredible system going with the chiquitos. She was firm, yet incredibly loving. As I was preparing to leave, she had them line up in two lines holding hands, then drop their hands so they were standing up firm and straight, and then sit down in two parallel lines. She then called on individuals who volunteered to share specific things that they wanted to thank me for. I was blown away not only by the chiquitos cuteness and focus during the story, but also by the maestra's mastery in caring for and managing her little ones.

When I was walking back to my room with the Godly Play materials, various kids asked me what I was doing. A pair of girls asked me if I would tell them the story. "Sure," I replied. Why not take advantage the opportunity of children wanting to do a religious activity? Among the two girls, there was a really talkative, extroverted one, and a really quiet, pensive one. They invited me to go into a room away from everyone else. I started the story: "What's the greatest gift you've every received?" I asked. "Life!" the talkative girl responded. Wow, I thought to myself, that's a great start. "Air," the other responded after some thinking time. Throughout the story, they continued to blow me away with their insightful thoughts about God, the story, and life. Some deep 10 year-olds, I thought. After a while, a few other kids began to enter our little private cove and then I learned that the girls were supposed to have asked permission to enter that room (which I had specifically asked about before going in,) so I closed up shop--the story was finished anyhow--and gave a mini-talk about how lying to me was not a good idea for the future. I prefaced that by telling them how incredible their ideas were and how I loved to share the story with them :) Seeing the markers and construction paper I had with me, the extroverted girl asked me if they would have been able to draw if they didn't lie to me and I responded "yes." I told her that we could finish up the activity by drawing tomorrow.

In fact, she did ask me today if we could continue with our activity. I was touched by how psyched she was about the activity.  She was so internally motivated to learn and talk about "life" as she put it. I had also verbally encouraged her on a few occasions by telling her and others how incredible her ideas were and how wonderful it was that she was sharing them. She felt very good about herself. Today, she asked me if we could draw and then we did, along with another boy who was not with us yesterday. She told a staff member who was walking by that we were working on an activity about "life."

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