I Wonder: How Do We Pick What Story to Tell?

We have an generous parish and an amazing library of Godly Play stories at our disposal – we even have storage for the stories we’re not using immediately. This is a GOOD problem to have!

It wasn’t always like that. In the very beginning, in a class we started with older elementary children, the story we told on any given Sunday was the one we finished making about 10 hours prior to Sunday School. (The first classes were all the parables, because they were easy to make.)

For several years, the four teachers who tell stories to the the class of 3rd-5th graders have met in August and January to pick the stories for the “semester.” As a rule, we follow the progression suggested in “The Complete Guide to Godly Play” (volumes 1-7).

This fall, we tried something different. We have many children who only attend Sunday School and do not regularly attend worship services. So this time, we tried to pick every story we could that touched on corporate worship in some way. We had hoped to end the semester (on November 20) by attending church together as a class, but we’ve had to table that idea until January due to various conflicts (good conflicts!) in our parish life.

Here’s the schedule we came up with for Fall 2011:

9/11: How the Church Tells Time (The Complete Guide, Vol. 2)
9/18: The Ark and the Tent for God (The Complete Guide, Vol. 2)
9/25: The Ark and the Temple for God (The Complete Guide, Vol. 2)
10/2: The Boy Jesus in the Temple (Young Children and Worship)
10/9: Jesus’ Last Passover (Young Children and Worship)
10/16: Good Shepherd and World Communion (The Complete Guide, Vol. 4)
10/23: The Synagogue and the Upper Room (The Complete Guide, Vol. 4)
10/30: The Road to Emmaus (Young Children and Worship)
11/6: The Circle of the Holy Eucharist (The Complete Guide, Vol. 4)
11/13: The Lord’s Prayer (from our collection of stories in the style of Godly Play)
11/20: What Does It Mean to Be an Episcopalian?

This series of stories has been a particularly rich period for us as a class. Some of them gravitate to the “setting the table” materials during their work time. After hearing the story “Jesus’ Last Passover,” One fifth grader immediately said she would draw the story and went straight for the markers and paper. I was snapping photos (but being blind as a bat, I never truly see what I’ve accidentally captured until I get home to the computer). Her response is more profound than words I could write:


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5 Responses to I Wonder: How Do We Pick What Story to Tell?

  1. Storyteller says:

    Thank you for this post. What an interesting Fall curriculum! Well thought out for the needs of your children.

    I do have one question – which stories do you store rather than have accessible in the classroom for Response Time? Or, are there any that you always keep out?

    • browniesmoke says:

      Our parish has been very generous over the years! So, we have almost all of the stories in The Complete Guide to Godly Play (volumes 2-4, 6-7), in some cases two copies (one for each classroom). We have all of the stories in Young Children and Worship (again, sometimes 2 copies each). We have several many from Following Jesus, and then I think 11 stories in our Extra Stories (in the style of Godly Play).

      Generally we keep the basic stories from The Complete Guide in the classroom. The younger class will tend to keep more of the Young Children and Worship stories in their class. So, the stories you see on the shelves in the picture are mostly extra copies of the Young Children and Worship, Following Jesus, and the Extra Stories that we’re not using this semester. In August and January, I’ll go through and take out stories the teachers have not decided to tell and don’t seem to be “popular” this year just to keep the shelves neat and well ordered. There’s probably several of the Complete Guide Vol. 6 in there as well.

      These are easy to get to, especially with the new mini shelves you see in the picture. If a child asks about a story, it only takes a minute or two to get it from the closet. Once I tried to fit everything in at least one classroom and it was just really too overwhelming!

      This is one of our GOOD problems. We have a lot of struggles in other areas!

  2. Pingback: Work. Bleh. | What Can We Leave Out…

  3. Joy says:

    I am interested in your extra stories. What are they like?

    • browniesmoke says:

      Joy – thanks for reading! Over the years I have collected many scripts of stories written in the style of Godly Play, and we photocopy these and put them in a notebook as an extra “textbook” for the teachers. One example is the “What Does It Mean to Be an Episcopalian” linked to above. I’m making a note to write a blog post about the extra stories, so be sure to nag me if you don’t see it forthcoming in a few days!


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