10th December 2021
What is Godly Play?
Godly Play was first developed in the USA by Jerome Berryman within a youth work context. It has developed into powerful tool in both churches and schools as a way of telling bible stories. It has strong links with the Montessori approach to education.
Godly Play is a way of creating time and space for children to be, not just to do and is about process rather than product.
Key elements of Godly Play are:
- Space - a safe, child-oriented environment, somewhere to be and to think
- Process - open, exploring, valuing questions, discovering truth, freedom to face difficulties, developing the language of spirituality
- Imagination - playful, exploring both the light and the dark, opening channels for deepening spirituality
- Relationships - between children, between adults and children, equality within community, mutual learning
- Intimacy - valuing self and others, respecting autonomy, inclusive, looking for the good in people
- Trust - faith in the power of story, valuing silence, , valuing each person’s spirituality and vulnerability, allowing power to move around the circle and people to take responsibility for their actions and words
What happens in a Godly Play session?
- Children are welcomed into the space and given time to become quiet.
- They listen to a story, told in a circle using objects and artefacts. Children are drawn into the story as everyone including the storyteller looks at the objects and artefacts as the story is told.
- The story is explored using open questions and discussion, allowing plenty of time for thinking. Be prepared for long silences!
- Children then respond to what they have heard using a free choice of materials, e.g. art materials, small world materials, mark-making materials, or they may just wish to sit and think. They can also use the props to retell the story for themselves.
- Ideally the session ends with a simple ‘feast’, i.e. something to eat and drink together in the circle.