So what if you could hold your breath and jump, landing right in the middle of the Bible? Look to the left, there are Old Testament stories; to the right, New Testament.
Also within view are the parables, Jesus’ stories within the Bible stories and the stories of the liturgical year—Advent transitioning into Christmas, Lent advancing to Easter.
Turn around, and there are Moravian stories: Hus, Comenius, Zinzendorf, Jesus as Chief Elder, the Moravian star, along with Christian practices like The Lord’s Prayer, baptism and communion.
What type of world have we jumped into? It is the world of Godly Play, a method of teaching young children also known as “Catechesis of The Good Shepherd” and “Young Children and Worship.”
Step into this world, and you are literally surrounded by these biblical stories. They each have a space on a shelf, tucked in a basket. Spread out the underlay, put the wooden figures in place, move them as the story is told, and have the adventure unfold before you. Walk Abram and Sarai across the desert. Have Jesus wake up in the rocking boat and calm the seas. Follow the sower to the space with thorns… the trodden path… the rocky soil… and the rich earth.
Using their eyes (visual learners), ears (auditory learners) and bodies (kinesthetic learners), participants are making the Bible story their Bible story. These stories, like the seed that has fallen onto the rich earth, can grow in children as they mature, providing meaning and richness to their lives according to their developmental and personal twists and turns.
With Godly Play, there is no need to go into all of that background on experiential learning. We just sit in the Bible and hear and tell these stories to ourselves, to each other and to God.
The Godly Play program is available for Sunday School and Bible studies classes for young children. Beth Hayes at the Southern Province’s Board of Cooperative Ministries’ Resource Center has both printed and DVD resources on the topic
You can also learn more about this process of Montessori-based learning, by visiting the following websites:
Margaret A. Norris, Director of Christian Education at Home Moravian Church, also taught using the Montessori Method. She has been consulting in Godly Play/Young Children and Worship for 15 years.