This morning our Children's Pastor led a training session in the children's teaching method we use with the 1-3 graders. It's called Godly Play. It has been around for a couple decades, and they use it for the kids at Duke Chapel, among other places, but I really didn't know anything about it.
It's a really interesting program in that it structures the whole class time with great intentionality, from the moment each child enters the room (one-by-one, with a personal greeting) until they leave (one-by-one, with an individual blessing). Each week they move the hand on a big clock-like liturgical calendar. The main part of each class is the story, when a storyteller recites (from memory) the Godly Play story for that week. The stories all use unique sets of figurines & props. The stories are written by the Godly Play curriculum, and they are based on either biblical narratives, parables of Jesus, or (occasionally) on more abstract concepts, like "I am the light of the world."
I was really shocked by how theological it is. I really don't know how to relate to children as people, and I have very little concept of what they can understand or remember. But compared with the high-fructose VBS curricula that are out there, Godly Play is just wonderfully solid. It is totally oriented towards creating a reverent, sacred space in the children's classroom. To be honest, the only thing other than church worship that it reminds me of is Mr. Rogers: when the show shifted over to the Neighborhood of Make-Believe, you knew that something special was happening. It's like that.
Anyone else have any experience with this program?