Megan, a member of Christian Montessori Network Facebook group, share with us again some very helpful information on How to Learn Godly Play Stories. If you missed the previous posts, be sure to check out Why I Love Godly Play, How Godly Play Works, and What is Godly Play Work time? and check back next week for the last of Megan’s wonderful Godly Play posts. ~Marie
So, we’ve talked about what Godly Play is – a sunday school curriculum that uses Montessori principles to help children learn and use the stories of the Bible and the church – and how you go about telling Godly Play stories. But how do you learn a Godly Play story in the first place .
My first recommendation would be to purchase the Godly Play lesson books. Each book is about $22 for the physical book, and $9 for an e-book. There are six total volumes of lessons, but I’d start with just volume 1 and 2. Volume 1 is an overview of the Godly Play lessons and how they should be shared, and Volume 2 contains the first stories that are presented each year, starting with creation and moving through the Old Testament. It’s fine to buy the books one at a time as needed.
Each Godly Play lesson has a “script” and movements to go with it – how you’re supposed to move the materials as you tell the story. It’s best to try to memorize the script well and practice many times before you share a lesson with your children. How you memorize is up to you – every teacher does it differently.
The Godly Play Foundation has also put videos on the lessons on YouTube, which is a great resource. I find it much easier to watch a lesson first when I’m trying to learn it because I have a hard time understanding the movements as they’re written out. Then I go back and read the script and work through it, little by little, until I can remember it easily.
Is it necessary to learn the script verbatim? Yes and no. The words of each story have been specifically written to captivate children and convey only the most important concepts, not every single detail. Jerome Berryman “tested” the lessons for years presenting his lessons to children all over to perfect the words. That being said, it’s nearly impossible to say it perfectly, and we can always trust that God is working through us as teachers to help us say what needs to be said, not worrying about what we’ve left out or forgotten.
If you’re interested in learning or trying Godly Play, one of the easiest stories to learn (and easiest materials to recreate at home!) is the lesson of Creation.
Notice how the storyteller treats the materials with great respect, handling them carefully. She’s never in a hurry. The way she’s telling the story, you know it’s important, without her having to tell you. Notice how she looks down at the story, rather than making eye contact with her students. That seemed weird to me when I first started, but as I told more and more stories, I began to see why it’s done: to focus the students on the story, rather than ourselves as a storyteller. The more you focus on the materials, the more the students are drawn in.
If you’re interested in learning Godly Play stories, I’d suggest watching more videos from the Godly Play Foundation to make yourself familiar with both the stories and the method. Like Montessori, Godly Play isn’t magic, but it is a method, and it works best when followed how it’s designed to be presented.
What questions do you have about Godly Play stories or telling them? Share your thoughts on this version of the creation story or any other stories you may have seen by leaving us a comment!
Megan Cottrell is a mama, writer and journalist who lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
Megan’s life changed as a Christian when God spoke to her through a summer-long internship on the Westside of Chicago where she learned about God’s heart for the poor. She spent six years writing about race, housing and poverty in the city and was awarded the Studs Terkel award for writers who capture profoundly human stories.
Megan attended a Montessori preschool, but didn’t become formally interested in Montessori education until her son, Teddy, was born in 2012. Through her interest in Montessori, she fell in love with Godly Play, a Montessori-based Christian education curriculum, and has been a Godly Play teacher every since. She and her son work on Montessori-inspired activities at home daily, and she loves to watch him grow in independence and curiosity.