Watch a short video of our Faith Formation Director, Lisa Kaufer, introducing Godly Play.
What is Godly Play?
Godly Play recognizes that children naturally have some experience of the mystery of the presence of God in their lives, but lack the language, invitation, and understanding to engage and express holy mysteries in our culture. Using a Montessori approach, children enter into parables, silence, sacred stories and liturgy in order to discover God, and the world around them. The leaders tell stories, ask “I wonder…” questions, and provide play-filled and meaningful multi-sensory response materials intended to guide the children on their spiritual journey and help them know they are loved by God.
What is Godly Play?
The goal of Godly Play is to provide an environment that fosters discovery learning in which children feel safe and welcomed; where they can learn the art of using religious language to encounter God and to find meaning in their lives.
Through Godly Play, participants are invited to practice rhythms of our faith as modeled in worship: Gather, Share Story, Respond through Wonder & Play, Bless.
Immersing children in the story
(excerpt from Living Lutheran Magazine, 7/10/20)
In traditional Sunday school, a story about the Israelites’ exodus from Egypt might include reading a book, then a related craft and coloring page. With Godly Play, a trained storyteller sits on the floor in a circle with the children, using small wooden figures on a surface of sand.
The storyteller, slowly and deliberately, engages the children by moving a hand across the sand, describing the wind, heat and cold of the desert, and how hard it is to exist there. The storyteller then moves the wooden people around in the sand while telling the story, rolls out a fabric sea that “parts” for them to cross and ends the story with questions such as “I wonder what part of the story you liked best? I wonder what part is most important? I wonder who you might be in the story?”
After the story, children have time to do whatever they want [as a response to the story]: they may create something out of clay or paint, play with the props or take a box with another story from the shelf to play with.
Godly Play uses a Christian formation curriculum that helps children explore their faith through story, gain religious language and enhance their spiritual experience through wonder and play.
Godly Play immerses children in the story and helps them experience it with their senses, their curiosity and their spirituality.
“The children really like to be there,” Liebster said. “They participate beautifully.” Sometimes the depth of their responses to the wondering questions and the things they create after the story floor her, she added. [Karin Liebster is an ELCA Pastor in Houston, Texas.]
The way the stories are presented and the wondering questions get them to think about big questions of life, Liebster said, without the storyteller coming out and asking them directly. Things such as who they are, finding meaning in life and the fact that things end.
Sample Storytelling Video: “The Exodus”
The Godly Play® approach to nurturing the spirituality of children finds its roots in the Montessori method and is used across the globe in many venues such as religious education programs, schools and hospitals as well as with Alzheimer's patients. This is but one story.