Saturday, 27 September 2014

Godly Play and Character Development

  " Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.  Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates, so that your days and the days of your children may be many in the land the Lord swore to give your ancestors, as many as the days that the heavens are above the earth." Deuteronomy 11: 18-21


Our faith is a very important part of our family life.  There is no separation for us, church is not just a Sunday morning thing.  We talk about God's creations when we are in nature, bible stories that relate to what we are doing, biblical wisdom and Godly advice that guides behaviour...

This year I really wanted to be more intentional about character development and taking time to share more bible stories with my boys.  I was very inspired by this blog to incorporate more Godly Play into our daily rhythm.  Now we do not follow a set curriculum or liturgical calendar.  I simply took what I have read and made it our own.
MJ's story telling
Here are some ideas of how we have incorporated such things into our home:
  • We have a story telling area in the family room always set up.  There is a basket of characters close by.  We add play silks and other accessories as needed from the playroom.  My younger son always adds his trucks and lego creations when telling me a story.  He loves to tall me stories all day long especially after I have had my turn.  Often he'll ask me to incorporate one of his toys into whatever story I'm doing.  There may not have been tractors in bible times, but here is at our house!
  • At the moment we are working our way through the alphabet spending two days on each letter (one day is uppercase and another is lowercase).  As often as possible I have used a bible story to help with the letter of the day.  For example "A" was the story of Jesus's birth because there are lots of Angels, while "a" was the story of Adam and Eve eating the forbidden fruit because the small a looks like an apple.
  • My boys are also in AWANAS (a mid-week church group) so we review their memory verses and stories each day.  Sometimes we'll read the story from a picture book, bible, or use toys to act it out.
  • For character development we are focusing on one thing each month.  September was Attentiveness.  For inspiration I used Kids of Integrity along with some ideas I found on Pintrest, Google, and some other various books in our collection.  Throughout the month we work on a memory verse for that character, work towards understanding what it means, highlight when the boys are doing it/ or not, tell bible stories and do other activities to extend the idea.  My boys are doing much better with attention now and I think giving ourselves a month to focus on it relieved my pressure if we missed a day or more, and gave us all time to fully understand the meaning
  • We talk about our faith and what it means as a natural part of our daily life.  Because it flows so naturally things come up on their own that tie us back to pointing the boys to the LORD.  Oh and we love a good praise song here too!  My boys get right into it.

I'd love to hear what you are doing?  How are you sharing your faith with your children?  What curriculum or ideas do you have to share?

Some of the characters we made and use

Note on what we use: Our awesome cave stacker is shades of brown on one side and rainbow on the other.  It came from Simple Gift Toys.  I made the wire bendy people using a tutorials from Wee Folk Art and Willodel.  We also use peg people I made, all sorts of felt and knit creations of mine along with Playmbil and small wooden toys.  We dyed our own playsilks but you can use any material, nature objects and such (a coconut shell is very versatile).

UPDATES:
We no longer follow a set curriculum, but still tell stories often throughout the week.  My boys often choose the bible as a book for reading along with others that they are interested in.  Although we don't currently follow a schedule or plan for character development, we do address anything that comes up naturally.  I now have a variety of stories and things I can bring in to our discussions etc.  Feel free to ask me more about how this works with unschooling if you'd like.