September 2018 — June 2019
Pre S – 2nd
More an organizational system than a curriculum, Spirit Play was developed from a combination of Montessori instructional styles and a similar program called Godly Play by Jerome Berrymore. Rev. Dr. Nita Penfold, longtime professional religious educator, Montessori teacher and minister, adapted Spirit Play especially for Unitarian Universalist congregations. Spirit Play is engaging of a child’s sense of wonder, and allows children the opportunity to begin to form their own relationships with and ideas about such abstract concepts as right and wrong, and the divine.
With this method:
- Present core stories of our faith and your particular church and its theology
- Help children to make meaning through wondering and art
- Create a spiritual community of children
- Support multiple learning styles and challenges
- Create a strong Unitarian Universalist identity
The co-developers (Dr. Nita Penfold, Beverly Leute Bruce, Rev. Ralph Roberts) see this purpose as helping children to find the religious language and story to live into their own answers to existential questions such as:
- Who am I?
- Where did I come from?
- What is my purpose? What are my gifts?
- How do I choose to live my life?
- What happens when I die?
- Why am I lonely and sad sometimes?
We want to help children make meaning of their lives through the container of Unitarian Universalism.
Key elements from Montessori:
- Teacher as guide into materials rather than leader
- Prepared environment (child-sized): everything in the room has an assigned place and is available to the child for work time
- Other elements/structure and order, reality and nature, beauty, materials in sequential order, sensorimotor materials (manipulatives)
- Development of community life through mixed ages
Key elements from Jerome Berryman and Sofia Cavalletti:
Doorkeeper greets children to ready them at door, keeps art supplies organized and helps children find their materials, helps with feast time and leave-taking
Storyteller checks on readiness of story baskets, manages circle time, tells story and leads wondering, helps children choose work, manages feast time, affirms children when saying goodbye.
- Entering and getting ready for story
- Circle with song, story and wondering
- Work time: response to story in art or choose another story
- Clean-up and feast, leave-taking
Spirit Play Strengths
Proven educational method whose values support Unitarian Universalism
- Encourages independent thinking through wondering questions
- Values learning differences and multiple styles of learning
- Gives children real choices within the structure of the morning
- Creates community of children in classroom of mixed ages
- Develops an underlying sense of the spiritual and the mystery of life
- Supports congregational polity through choice of lessons
- Develops an identity as a Unitarian Universalist
For more information about SpiritPlay go to www.spirit-play.com.