Thursday, September 30

Godly Play: Part 2

Part 2: Resources for getting Started

{I've had quite a few questions about starting godly play in the home or at church in the past few months. This is part 2 of a series of posts to help answer these questions.}

Godly play is resource rich. It requires a lot of gathering and organizing. The good new is that you probably have much of what you need to get started among your toys already and if you do want to purchase some items for your Godly Play space, most items can be found from fair trade eco- friendly sources inexpensively or made. The basic things you need are figures (human and animal), accessories, blocks and cloths.

1. Figures:

Traditionally the figures for godly play are cut from wood with a jigsaw. If you have a jigsaw or have a kind uncle, mother, brother... with one this can be a good way to make your figures. You can buy this sort of figure here (UK) or here (USA). But for most of us, this is pretty cost prohibitive and I prefer to have our items be 3-D and some of the jigsaw ones are made to lay flat.

I have used small wooden figures that you can find at most craft stores. I order mine from casey's wood products in Maine, because I know that this company is responsible in their use of wood. I painted Jesus, a couple women, an angel, John the Baptist and the twelve disciples early on and they have remained Jonah's favorites to play with. We also have lots of plain figures.

Below you can see the painted figures and the figures by the sheep are the good shepherd (blue sash) and the ordinary shepherd (plain). At church I haven't painted any faces (lower left), but do have some with different solid colored robes for the nativity as it makes them easier to tell apart when you are telling the story. One mistake I made originally is I didn't finish my painted figures and they are getting smudged as they are painted with acrylic, which is water based.
But in getting started you can use any figures you have around - playmobile, lego, small figures of any sort. Or you can use clothes pegs or make paper figures.

Below you can see animals that we have used at various times. Everything from wooden animals (my preference) to schleich animals, rolling lions, chunky puzzle pieces, finger puppets, game piece sheep and playmobile sheep. Again, you could make animals out of paper and a whale from a pop bottle if you want.

2. The Playscape:
To make the basic playscapes you will need to have a strip of brown felt or linen for a path and three square clothes in blue (for sea), brown (for beach and dessert) and green (for grass and pasture). I love the haba middle eastern blocks for making the biblical cities. These are the one expense I would encourage anyone wanting to do godly play to make. That said, any blocks can work.
To make bethlehem I used cardboard and silver spray paint; this is another inexpensive option.

I have a dream of making several little wooden houses to make a street in a biblical town. I would also love to make some tents and a wooden temple someday.

It is also nice to have a sand tray for some Old Testament stories.

3. Accessories:

Lastly, there are lots of accessories that you may want for different stories and your child will probably find toys they want to use to accessorize as well. Many of our accessories I cut out of fabric or make from wool felt. Again, playmobile, legos, blocks and other toys can be used for accessories. I would recommend getting a few small bowls with your wooden figures and then just find the accessories you need as you introduce each new story.

[Above you see bits of colored wool (for flame and cloud), cut palms and coats (for palm sunday, a wee bed, a cross of sticks, a sewn tree for zaccheus, an electric candle, blue wool yarn (this makes the rivers of the middle east in some stories I tell), a sewn boat and fishing net (we also use Jonah's wooden boat at times), a wooden bowl (used in the temple and filled with clay loaves and fishes at times) and a small chain which is used in the stories of exhile.]

4. Seasonal clothes
The church year is a great way to build a biblical timeline and enter the biblical story in an imaginative way. I always have a cloth in the color of the church season on our godly play table. Our table has a piece of glass on top of this, so it is easy to play on without mussing up the cloth.

The circle of the church year is also a great teaching tool. Here is the one I made out of cardboard. I hope to have a wooden one like this someday. You will want green for ordinary time (I like this to be cotton - an everyday fabric), purple for advent and lent (some prefer blue for advent), White for Christmas and Easter and red for Pentecost. I like to use cotton or wool (everyday fabrics) for ordinary time and use silks for the other seasons.


Bending Birches said...

you have a lovely blog! love all your projects and creativity!

Watkins said...

Thanks for stopping by. I just enjoyed a browse through your blog and it is lovely.

Katie Coons said...

Hi Emily, I don't know if we've ever met but I am LOVING your blog! Trevecca Okholm recommended it to me. I'm a Wheatie (01, 06MA)who is now a mom of 2 little ones at home while my husband is at Regent. I'm looking forward to getting started with some Godly Play soon! I've posted your blog and recommended it to friends. Thanks so much!

gmyo said...

Do you have a preference on size of your wooden figures. I am wondering if the large (3+ inches) men are too big...or if the smaller (2 inch) men and angels would seem too small. Thanks!

gmyo said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tobi said...

I love this idea! I found it when I was writing a post on how I used peg dolls to help me teach a Sunday school lesson. I've included a picture of your dolls, credited you as my source, and linked back to this post. Here it is so you can check it out. If you prefer me to remove the image, let me know. Thanks again for the inspiration!

JoMarie said...

May I ask where you purchase your wooden animals? You are so creative and resourceful! What an imaginative idea to make that whale from a pop bottle! I can just imagine all the wonderful possibilities floating around in your head. THANK YOU.

Watkins said...

Some of our animals have come from a swiss manufacturer, but most that I use for godly play are from a man in the uk.

Crystal Forman Hayward said...

Loved your ideas. When teaching it gets expensive to buy a lot of toys for teaching with. thanks for sharing.