Easter in the LCH Sunday School

All of us who teach Sunday school face the problem of how to engage both small children and teenagers in the story of Easter.  We have been using the Faces of Easter stories from the Godly Play curriculum through Lent, but often when it comes to Easter itself the curriculum is too heavy for the young or not engaging enough for the old.  What to do?

This year on Palm Sunday we divided the children into two groups.  Grades 4 and under had a folk tale of how we started to decorate Easter eggs found in the Godly Play spring stories. They learned the meanings of some of the colors and images found on decorated Easter eggs.  This was followed by an opportunity to decorate egg shaped paper and make a display for the Easter brunch LCH will have next Sunday.  The children themselves decided to display the eggs in the shape of a cross.

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At the same time the older children went over the events of Holy Week in detail using pictures of  Giotto’s frescos.  They used the rest of their time to stuff plastic Easter eggs in preparation for the egg hunt they will put on for the younger children next week.

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The lessons were satisfying for all.  Flexibility is an important part of teaching the young.  We wish all  of you a blessed and meaningful Holy Week.

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Godly Play on Reformation Sunday

I’ve posted here about how I’ve made some changes to GP in order to use it in a Lutheran setting.  Along the same lines I felt that I needed to do something special for Reformation Sunday since we consider it an important Sunday in church history.

GP has a technique called an object box for telling biography.  I thought that an object box on Martin Luther was perfect for Reformation Sunday.  In an object box there are 3 or 4 items to illustrate the biography.  As the storyteller tells the person’s story she puts the items on the underlay around a picture of the person.  There is also a pamphlet in the object box with a short writeup of the person’s bio so students can tell themselves the story.

Here for your Reformation enjoyment is the completed visual for Martin Luther along with the story as it is written in the pamphlet.

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 MARTIN LUTHER

Martin Luther was born in Germany on November 10, 1483. Martin was a brilliant student so his father sent him to university to study law. However, a sudden thunderstorm changed his life!

Martin was returning from visiting his parents when a lightning bolt knocked him to the ground. He cried out to St. Anne and promised that if she saved him he would become a monk. He survived the storm. He kept his promise and became a monk. His father was furious since he had hoped his son would become a wealthy lawyer and support him in his old age.

Martin was as good a monk as he had been as a student. He followed all the rules and commandments as completely as he could. But he did not feel that he was good enough no matter how hard he tried.

Martin became a teacher at the university in Wittenberg. There he continued to study. In those days most people could not read. The Bible was in Latin anyway. Since he was a monk and could read Latin, he read the bible. There he found his answer on how to feel saved. In St. Paul’s letters he read that God’s grace is a gift to everyone. You don’t have to be “good enough” you just need to realize you are loved by God and saved by grace.

Martin was very excited to read about grace in the bible. He wanted to talk to others in the church about these ideas, but no one was interested! In the church there had grown up the idea that people were saved by good works, following the rules, and by paying money.

Martin put together a list of 95 theses (ideas) that he wanted to talk to other churchmen about. On October 31, 1517, he nailed them to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg.

Still no one wanted to talk about his ideas, but the list got him into a lot of trouble. The people in control wanted him to take back what he had written, but he said, “Here I stand. I cannot do otherwise. God help me. Amen!”

Martin’s friends carried him away into hiding for his own safety. While he was alone and in hiding he translated the New Testament of the Bible into German so more people could read it for themselves.

Martin’s friends helped him find a place where he could be safe and preach. He helped people to bring the church back closer to what is said in the Bible. He also wrote the Small and Large Catechisms for teaching adults and children.

Martin lived a long life preaching and helping people find their own way to God. He married and had 6 children. He had many students from all over the Christian world. He loved music and made sure it was part of his new order of worship.

Over the rest of his life he would translate the rest of the Bible into German and write many letters, sermons, and hymns.

We remember Martin Luther on the last Sunday of October, Reformation Sunday, because he taught us to read the bible for ourselves and accept God’s grace.

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Children’s Sabbath on Sunday

Every year on the third Sunday of October we have a Sunday when we highlight the many talents of the children and youth of LCH.  Next Sunday, October 19, is Children’s Sabbath this year.  The whole group of Sunday school children are preparing an anthem to be sung at both services, young soloists will provide some of the music at the services,  there will be a skit as the sermon, and the children and youth will help as ushers and communion assistants.  We have a lot of talent in this church!

children preparing the music for Children's Sabbath

children preparing the music for Children’s Sabbath

It may take a village to raise a child, but it takes children to make a village into community.  We have an obligation to care for the children in our church. In return the nurture of children makes us into a community.  Come and enjoy the youngest members of the congregation on Sunday.

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Practice, practice, practice

We are blessed at LCH to have 4 people who are able to be the storyteller for Godly Play.  That means we can trade off and not have to memorize the story every week.  Next Sunday my daughter is giving the Noah story.  She is a trained Waldorf kindergarten teacher so she is comfortable with storytelling, but even so it’s important to go over the gestures and the pieces of the story set, so she came over to my house to practice.  That gave me a chance to take a couple of pictures.

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During the telling of the Great Flood the storyteller rocks the ark up above the heads of the children.  It is a wonderful gesture showing how devastating the flood was.

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At the end of the story God puts a rainbow in the sky as a promise that he would never cause another flood.  The teacher material says we could use a prism to make a piece of rainbow, but it wasn’t splashy enough.  My daughter had the fantastic idea to make the rainbow out of ribbon on a stick.  It makes a lovely curve above the ark and the animals.

It’s great to tell old stories in a new way.

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The Holy Family

On the central top shelf as you enter the Godly Play room there is a nativity set.  The one in LCH was mine and I collected it over many years.  It is made of wood, is sturdy, and fits nicely in the hands of a child.

photo 2In GP we return to this image again and again reminding the children of a story we, as adults, have usually restricted to Christmas.  It is a safe and nururing image for the children.photo 3

I watches as one child interacted with the Holy Family.  She had each one of the other figures put the baby to bed while she sang and whispered, “shh”.  The children are told that this nativity set is for them and they can use it whenever they want.  Remember that play is the way that children learn.  What better lesson is there for them than the love surrounding the baby Jesus in the manger.

 

 

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And We are Off and Running…

Last Sunday we had our first Godly Play (GP) lesson of the new Sunday school year.  It was a roaring success in so many ways!  We had 13 of a possible 17 students in a wonderful circle for the story.  The children were engaged and happy to be there.  The teachers were prepared and comfortable with their areas of responsibility.  Dividing the work among storyteller, doorkeeper, and feast host really helped us feel less overwhelmed and more supported by each other.

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children putting together puzzles during artistic response

The story was very simple.  It was an introduction to the Holy Family and an orientation to the GP room and the timing of the Sunday school hour.  The attitude of the children drove the feeling of the lesson.  They were respectful and eager to explore the materials and ideas in the lesson.  Taking time to do the simple things and talk about the stories everybody knows gives them a foundation to learn the harder more complicated lessons.  I am blown away by these children and so thankful LCH supports our work with them.

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September Lessons for Godly Play at LCH

We had a lovely blessing of the Godly Play (GP) room on Sunday.  
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Pastor Angela blessing the GP room

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a few children at a time were invited into the GP room to explore the materials

We are all eager and readily to start Sunday school.  The Junior High and High School children will have their program up in the rainbow room and the kindergardeners through 5th grade will start GP.  Preschool children are invited to stay for the GP story if they are comfortable being away from their parents.  They can then go into the nursery for the rest of the Sunday school hour.
Below is the schedule of stories that will be told in GP during the month of September.
9/7    The Holy Family/orientation
9/14  The Circle of the Church Year
9/21   Creation
9/28  The Flood and the Ark
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Almost time for Godly Play

One of the things we teach in Godly Play is the circle of the church year.  It sounds as if it would be a dry subject but the children love it!  I think it makes them feel part of the in-group when they understand the color changes on the altar and the flow of the year.

The first thing they look at when they come into the Godly Play room is the large circle of the church year we have on the wall.  To help young children learn to tell church time we have a pointer that we move each Sunday to show where we are on the wheel of the year. This helps them learn the number of weeks in each season and the liturgical colors.

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The church tells time by celebrating the events of Jesus’ birth, life, death, resurrection, and ascension and the gift of the Holy Spirit. The church year is basically composed of Sundays occurring in 6 seasons: Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, Lent, Easter, and Pentecost. Since the date of Easter moves every year, the exact length of some of these seasons changes every year.

The liturgical colors are BLUE for Advent, WHITE for the Sundays of Christmas, GREEN for the season after Epiphany, PURPLE for Lent, WHITE for the Sundays of Easter, RED for Pentecost, and GREEN for the Sundays after Pentecost.

The summer is almost over and we will soon start a new cycle of lessons with the LCH children.  And they will be able to follow along with the church seasons on their own church year circle.  Knowledge gives them a sense of power!

Come join us at 9:15 this coming Sunday, August 31, for the installation of the new Sunday school teachers. After service, at about 10:30, we will have a blessing of our Godly Play room and a open house of our wonderful materials.

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The Perfect Focal Shelf

Ever since I started getting the room ready at LCH for our Godly Play (GP) curriculum I knew that the display of the story sets was important.  I struggled mightily to find ready-made shelving for most of the room, but I could not find anything out there that could serve as the focal shelf.  Getting the correct feeling for this shelf became an obsession with me. Luckily I have a very understanding pastor who also does woodwork.  He promised me a focal shelf before the blessing of the GP room.  Yesterday he delivered the shelf and it is beautiful!

photo 1The focal shelf is the first thing the children see when they come into the room.  It is directly across from the door and on the top there is a Christ candle, the nativity set, and an image of the Good Shepherd.

photo 2These are the core images used in GP to help the children understand Jesus. The lower shelves have story sets about Jesus and his life on earth.

I couldn’t be happier with the way the room is coming together.  We are able to surround our children with beauty and with exciting stories from our Christian traditions.

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Waiting

As some of you know my daughter has been in the hospital for more than a month and I am taking care of her 3 year old.  Today my daughter is coming home and we are all very happy.  But what do you do with a 3 year old that is exciting enough to entertain her at a time like this?  Why bake communion bread of course!

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This is the first time this particular grandchild has helped with the baking.  Click here for a post about my other granddaughter and her communion bread baking.  It is always a joy to introduce children to baking and doing the baking for the church makes it more of a magic event.

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