CHILDREN'S FORMATION AT ST. MARK'S
ABOUT ST. MARK'S SUNDAY SCHOOL PROGRAM
Children have an innate sense of the presence of God. So at St. Mark’s we use a multi-level approach to Biblical storytelling, called Godly Play, which taps into that natural curiosity. Our trained volunteers encourage the children to explore their faith through story, to gain religious language, to discover their individual gifts and to enhance their spiritual experience though wonder.
Based on Montessori principles and developed using a spiral curriculum, this program serves children ages 3 to 3rd grade.
Under normal circumstances, children are invited each Sunday at the conclusion of the 9am service, to lead the congregation out of the church, carrying a special cross made for them. They proceed to the entrance of The Atrium, located on the north side of the Parish Hall. There, they are greeted by one of the teachers, asking each one if they are ready to hear the story. Once inside, children choose a comfy mat and place it around the storyteller, who is seated on the floor. This creates an intimate setting, in which the storyteller can capture their attention.
Before the story begins, a candle is lit to remind us of God’s presence, followed by a short prayer. Sometimes a song is sung. Each week, a child is chosen to water our live plant, reminding us of God’s creation, and how important it is to take care of it. When the children are ready, the storyteller uses wooden figures and props to tell the Bible story of the day. The figures are non-descript so that the children can use their imagination as the story unfolds. Many of the Old Testament stories are told moving the characters around in a rollaround “desert” box of sand.
Once the story is finished, the children are asked a series of “I wonder” questions… prompting them to express what they saw, and what the story means to them. After this session, all are invited to work with a choice of retelling the story using the figures (or they may chose another story that they have already heard), or they may choose an art medium (watercolors, markers, crayons) to express their feelings in a drawing or painting. In addition, children are also allowed to “set the altar” (a small table) using the labeled vessels, candles, linens and other elements.
Under the supervision of a teacher, they learn the proper names of each piece and their purpose. This serves as a pre-training introduction to becoming an acolyte! At the end of the session, the children must clean up their own space, roll up their mats neatly and return them to their designated place. Teachers give them a special blessing as they leave the room.
With our current safe gathering restrictions in place, we will not be able to gather together in our usual way this semester. Instead we will be recording our Bible stories until we can return safely to the Atrium for in-person lessons. Although it’s not the ideal setting, we will be able to present the stories in unique locations, such as the beach or the park.
We are asking for your help, to assist us by offering the children some of the same experiences they may have had if we were able to gather in person. Ask them if they are ready to hear the Bible Story for the Day. Then help them play the lesson for that week, allowing them to construct a comfortable place to listen. Perhaps let them water and care for a plant in your home. Offer them the opportunity to respond to the story they have heard with paper and art supplies. Invite them to wonder aloud with the leader on the recording, and engage with them about what they say. Allow them to help clean up their space afterward.
Until we can meet in person again, our Sunday School lessons will be available each Sunday at 10:45am on our Facebook page. You can also revisit each lesson here. Just click on the link and enjoy!