Monday, January 24, 2011

Godly Play: The Good Shepherd

   As part of our Play and Learn morning routine, we start the day off with a Bible story. As soon as the house is in order and everyone is dressed and ready, I ask Sweetpea to fetch the Bible Blankie (a small quilt I made for her when she was a baby. We take this to church on Sundays and they are expected to sit quietly on it...yea, well...) When ArrowBoy hears the words 'Bible Blankie' he plonks himself down just where he is!

  To help make the stories more visual and concrete, I follow some of the principles of Godly Play. This is a Montessori-inspired approach that I first read about on Deb Chitwood's blog, Living Montessori Now. At Deb's suggestion I bought the book Young Children and Worship  by Jerome S. Berryman and Sonja Stewart. It is a fantastic introduction to this approach and about half of the book consists of patterns for making your own material. I gleaned a tremendous amount from it, and then added my own style to it, since there are a few things about their approach that I find either lacking or too 'legalised'  in comparison to our family's convictions.It remains a wonderful reference and source of inspiration for our morning Bible stories, though.

  To complement our Play and Learn with Mama theme from last week, for which we looked at the book Psalm 23 as illustrated by Barry Moser (you can see what we did by clicking here), we read the story of the Good Shepherd in the mornings. For this one I followed the guidelines from Young Children and Worship, but used a wooden shepherd figure and sheep from a nativity set that I had made last year. Instead of using strips of tan felt for the sheep fold as the book suggests, we made one out of shaped craft sticks.

Here the Good Shepherd is leading his flock through the narrow and dangerous places toward the safety of the sheepfold. 

  On the first day of our week I read the story from a children's Bible and  just briefly discuss it. We then learn a new song that relates to the story (in this case it was the Afrikaans song, Die Heer is my herder [The Lord is my Shepherd]), and then repeat our memory verse for the week (Psalm 23:1).  On the second day I bring out the Godly Play materials and present the story in this way, and we again sing our new song and practice our memory verse. The same goes for the third day. On the fourth and fifth days of the week I invite Sweetpea to present the story using the materials. She is also welcome to play with the set during the rest of the day, but only in a calm, respectful way. I will give her another toy if she is just wanting to play for fun. 


  1. What a wonderful approach! As always, very inspiring!

  2. Hello Joyful Mama! This is my first time visiting. I'm beginning to learn about the Catechism of Good Shepherd which is very similiar to Godly Play. You have many inspiring activities on your blog. Thanks for sharing!

  3. HI Celiah Ann, thanks for stopping by and for the kind words! Xxx

  4. Hi there 2PT and welcome to my blog!! I hope you'll be visiting often. Have a blessed week!

  5. I love this idea! The book sounds great!

  6. Hi JD4'sM!! It really does draw the children into the story, and I hope 'cementing' it in their little hearts! Thanks for stopping by!


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