Naomi Elliott is helping children play as a way of learning and growing in their faith. She’s passionate about open-ended play (where children are free to create their own rules and meaning) and using natural and easy-to-come-by items rather than expensive, bought items.
I love playful approaches to doing faith at home.
Have you heard of Holy Week In A Box? Not my own idea but one that appealed because of its simplicity and also as a practical option to deliver to church families during lockdown.
There are several versions but the main idea is that a small box is filled with objects that represent some of the different events of Holy Week to help a family explore those events in a tactile way.
Keen for the experience to be hands-on I’ve tried to supply props connected with each story that needed something doing to them. So I’ve invited the families to
- cut the green paper into leaves for Palm Sunday and dress and undress their figures with the black cloaks,
- fold the silver foil into coins for the Temple,
- make something with plasticine that might feature at the Last Supper,
- build trees, leaves or olives for the Garden of Gethsemane from the green plasticine
- craft a cross and a crown from the pipe-cleaners for Good Friday
- sprinkle the ‘spices’ on Jesus before wrapping his body with the white fabric.
The box itself can be used as a prop – be it the walls for Jerusalem, tables, a hill or a tomb.
I’ve supplied the stories directly from the Bible and each story is accompanied by some open-ended questions to discuss such as
- I wonder what surprised you about this story?
- I wonder why the crowds did this?
- I wonder what’s not fair about this story?
- I wonder where God was?
And of course the children are encouraged to play out the story, using the props. Although some families have added even their own toy figures (Lego/Duplo) to supplement the story-telling. Which is awesome. Yes, a zebra is a fine stand-in for the donkey!