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.
There are published scripts for many stories, one book for each term. Commercial artefacts are available.
To find out more, visit:
Godly Play (external website)
This site gives details of courses, resources and methodology.