Friday, May 20

Red Hot Pentecost!

I was so excited to be part of the Pentecost celebration at church Sunday.  I had made white clay doves (cookie cutter type) and written the fruits of the spirit on them.  They had a hole to string red balloons through.  Someone else made red hand kites for the kids and we bought a couple cakes.  It was the first time these things had been done at our church (as far as I know) and I was really excited to celebrate together.  But alas, we ended up with a nasty little virus and decided it was best for everyone to stay home on Sunday.  

So I'm grateful for a week of red at home.  I hung banners Monday and got out our shoe box of decorations and we will enjoy them through the week.   Here is a glimpse of our Pentecost celebration.  How are you celebrating?

The boys painted the red paper like flames on the banner across the door.  The banner hanging behind it is from my mom's stash of Red fabrics.  
This banner was our Saints and Seasons group project earlier in the month.  We each brought a yard of red fabric and cut it into strips.  We then tossed all the fabrics in a pile and tied them on twine to make banners.
While Isaac and I drew the other day I made lunch box notes for the older boys.  

And we had Red Velvet cheesecake cupcakes.  My boys insist on calling them Pentecost muffins, but there is nothing muffiny about them - they are definitely dessert!  The cupcakes are from this recipe and have my very favorite frosting - a whipped cream cheese frosting, which is so light and delicious (I half the sugar). 

Friday, May 6

A Tour of the Godly Play Room

This month many spare moments have been consumed with finishing our Godly Play room.  It helped to have the training we hosted mid-April as a goal.  As with any space, it will never truly be done.  We'll be adding stories, supporting materials and larger banners in the coming months.   But the space feels complete on another level, the hardest work is done and now comes the fun of tweaking and enriching the space.  I love the Natural light in this room and the collection of different natural woods (pecan chairs, birch tables, pine and birch-look shelves...)  Overall, I really love the space that many hands have worked together to create for our little ones.

Much of how the room is laid out (especially what is on each set of shelves) is diagrammed in the Godly Play books.  However, I will point some things out as I know that not everyone reading here has those books available.
This is the view when you enter through the first door.  We've been using this as our threshold.  Because the room was made from two smaller classrooms there is a second door, which I think  we will use next year as it enters more directly to the circle where we start our time together.
In front are the focal shelves.  Our Christ candle, Nativity and Risen Christ, and the Good Shepherd go across the top shelf.   On the shelves underneath are the baptism set, world communion set, circle of the church year and liturgical cloths.

On either side of the focal shelves are the Christmas and Easter shelves.  I love that these shelves highlight the importance of incarnation and redemption.  I'm dreaming of adding creation shelves as well to highlight that doctrine too.

One of the things I love most about Godly Play is the visual time line that the children see and work with each week.  On the top shelf of this set of six shelves are what are called the core stories.  Creation, the Ark, The Great Family (Abraham and Sarah), The Exodus, The 10 Best Ways, The Tabernacle and the Temple (on the second shelf down util we can get another set of shelves), and the Exile.

On the floor in the corner is the desert box, which is used to tell many of the Old testament stories.

Turn the corner and you have the New Testament stories.  The Gold boxes are parables.  The last set of shelves hold the red Pentecost set, one lonely Saint, and "the part not yet written" (a blank journal).  I'm so excited that there is an empty book that the children can write in and can physically see that they are part of God's great story.  I gives me chills to think about how we are gifting our children not only with the the great story God has written, but also with what I hope is a deep sense that they are part of this story.
The sheep skin is for a reading nook that I hope to make more inviting over time.  Our rugs are under the 'observer chair' and need a box or basket to live in.  Yes, still more to be done.  

This is the view of the other side of the room.  

These are our practical life shelves, which aren't typically in a Godly Play Classroom.  I have a feeling this space may be needed as our collection of stories grows, but for now, it is a nice collection of options for the children.  The basket of Jerusalem blocks have been an interesting addition and I'm still not sure how I feel about much of the work that is done with them.  Oh, it is fun work, but not always very purposefully responsive.   
These are our art shelves.  Each class has folders above the shelves where their work can be left from week to week.  The shelves hold watercolors, brushes, beeswax crayons, water, scissors, pencils, pens, prismacolor watercolor and colored pencils, glue, markers, oil pastels, Plasticine, play dough, cotton balls, fabric scraps, clipboards and clay.  Smocks are hung to the right of the shelves and drying shelves for clay and paintings are above the smocks.
These are our cleaning shelves.  Water, tissues, rags, cleaning spray (water and peppermint oil), and a watering can for our growing garden are currently present.  I have a running wish list for these shelves in my head.  The basket on the drying shelves above the cleaning shelves has things the adults might need to use or supervise children using in the classroom- stapler, wet wipes, permanent markers, and tape.
This is the hallway outside the classroom.  
We use the hallway space as storage for feast items, extra matzo, teacher books, extra supplies, seasonal items, etc.  It saves space and decreases clutter in the room.

And here is the room in action.  It always feels a bit lonely without the children. There is such a sense of joy sitting and being present while they go about their work.  
The yellow lantern is for our birthday song, which I'd love to share at some point.

Tuesday, March 29

Easter Morn

Happy Easter!  We told our boys (who were super excited to look for their Easter baskets) that they could wake every one in the morning by yelling "Alleluia!"  What a lovely way to wake up in Easter morn!  I'm hoping this is a new tradition (though I wouldn't complain if they wanted to sleep in a bit later.)

He is Risen!

Saturday, March 26

Saints and Seasons: Passover

Some young moms in our church have started a group called "Saints and Seasons."  We met once in the fall to make a circle of the church year.  We're now meeting each month to talk about another Saint or season in the church year and make something to inspire our celebrations at home.  In February we met to talk about Saint Valentine and made heart garlands.  And in March we wanted to do something for Holy Week. We decided to focus on the passover meal.  

After some serious browsing of pinterest we settled on making story rocks of the symbolic foods of the passover meal.  We had found this pin on pinterest and I relied heavily on these images for my rocks.  Some of us used paint pens and spray fixative; others cut out and mod podged images found online.

Here are the foods we put on the rocks and a simple explanation for each one.  Displaying IMG_3176.JPG

The shank bone reminds us of the slain lamb whose blood painted the door frames of the Israelite people.

The bitter leaf reminds us of how life in bondage is bitter.

Charoset (mixture of apple, nuts and cinnamon) reminds us of the mortar used by the Israelite slaves.

Parsley reminds us of hope.  It is dipped in salt water to remind us of the bitterness of slavery.

The Bitter Herb (horseradish) reminds us of the bitterness of slavery.

The egg reminds us of new life.

The wine is toasted at the passover meal to remind us of Joy.

The matzo is unleavened bread to remind us of the Isrealites hurry as they left Egypt.

Isaac wanted to match the rocks to the foods on the passover plate in the book Company's Coming.
Perhaps this isn't exactly the kind of play I had in mind, but I do think it is wonderful when the ordinary of the boys' days meets the biblical story in play.  I've seen some really meaningful connections made during this type of play.


Here are some rocks others made to inspire you should you want to make some.  Thank you to my dear friends for letting me photograph their stones and share them here!

Wednesday, March 23

Pretzels for Lent

We always try to make pretzels at least once during Lent and we eat lots of the store bought variety to remind us to pray.  There is a legend that a monk in 610 AD twisted bread in the shape of arms crossed in a prayer and gave the twisted dough to children who learned their prayers.  He called them 'pretiola' or little rewards.  From the limited research I have done, this legend seems to have little historical proof, but we're going with it as it makes for a teachable moment.  Not to mention that homemade pretzels are yummy!

Someone was very excited that he figured out how to twist the pretzels all by himself.  I was excited too as Mr. 4 and Mr. 6 did most of the rolling and shaping which meant I could tidy the kitchen.

Monday, February 29

Epiphany (is over)

I know Epiphany is over, but I wanted to share some work that we did at home over Epiphany.  Right after Ash Wednesday we had a birthday and St. Valentine's day and then it began; stitches, strep, ear infections, stomach bug (x 6).  Apparently we've decided to condense a years worth of sickness into two weeks, which I'm okay with as long as it stops and everyone stays well till next February.  So forgive the lag and enjoy this little look back at Epiphany!

This is the first year where we really wandered though Epiphany as a season instead of just celebrating the day.  We focused on the four main stories the Episcopal church highlights in Epiphany; The wisemen, the baptism of Jesus, the wedding at Cana, and the Transfiguration.  We shared each story from scripture and then wondered together what the Epiphany was in the story.  The boys really enjoyed this and we made some window hangings to go with each story.  They are made from contact paper and tissue.  The boys helped with putting the tissue onto the contact paper, which was fun.  I drew and cut out the black frames and silhouettes.

I was hoping to also make one for the conversion of St. Paul and the Confession of St. Peter, which are feast days in Epiphany that have very obvious epiphanies in them.  We did talk about the stories, but the window art will have to wait till next year.

Okay, and now onto Lent.

Saturday, February 27

Godly Play Work for Lent

Sometimes I'm amazed how long I go without visiting this space.  It doesn't feel like a long time as I'm thinking about it, but then I return and realize the last post is a couple months old.  So forgive the Epiphany banner and read on.

Aside from the daily mothering of four little boys and running of a home, I've been keeping busy with Godly Play recently.  Since the fall we've been running godly play during Sunday School (K-1) and Church (3 and 4 year olds) and I've been very present.  It has been really fun to watch the other storytellers develop over the past months, they are such lovely women who so quickly grasped the vision for Godly Play at Saint Matthews.  It has been gratifying and is delightful now to not be in the Godly Play room some mornings and know that it is in good hands.  

We have a trainer coming in April (The training is open to anyone if you would like to come sign up!)  We were given funding to expand and furnish the room and I'm excited that the bulk of that should come together next month.  

I've also been teaching three sessions of Godly Play each week on Wednesday mornings to the four year old classes at the preschool at our church.  We tried it in Advent and are now going through most of Lent and Easter.   This has been delightful and really great for me as a storyteller; nothing helps you learn a story more than telling it three times in a row to three different groups of children.

Because I don't have a door person (their preschool teacher is there, but they aren't trained) and because they all arrive together I meet them by the door and have cross and candles for each week of lent.  It is working well to greet them all there and then walk in together to build our circle.

One of our practical life trays is hole punching and it is a definite hit.  The shape of the punch (tree, star, hearts) changes with the liturgical season as does the color of paint strips.
While generally godly play doesn't recommend a set 'craft' I do love giving the option to make something that helps them play with the story at home.  I found all the purple paper in my house (including some wet on wet watercolors) and made this cutting work that lives on the practical life shelves so they can explore the Mystery of Easter lesson in a different way.  There are envelops for them to store their pieces in on the try, scissors and the crosses.  This has been really popular work over the past two weeks.
A sand tray is a new addition to the practical life shelves.  Meditative and hopefully prayerful this was very simple to put together.
Because I teach at the preschool on Wednesday they all saw the Ash Wednesday Cross on my forehead and were very interested.  So for the next week I made this work so that they could experience what it feels like to use ashes to make a cross.  The children have loved this work and I love hearing little voices saying some variation of "Remember from dust you have come and to dust you shall return."
New paint sets (a couple metallic and glitter mixed in) have also been a real draw in these early days of lent.  I'm excited to add some 'big paints' soon, but for now watercolors are our painting option.