Our goal at St. Stephen’s is to help children deepen their relationship with God, learn about the love of Jesus Christ, and become active members in the church and greater Christian community. We offer the Godly Play curriculum during the 10:00 am service in three classrooms — Pre-K–K, Grades 1-3, and Grades 4-5. Parents may drop their child off in the appropriate classroom at 9:45, and teachers will escort the class to the “big” church for Communion.
Teacher Training: We complete CORI reports (a background check of criminal history) on all volunteers. Our teachers go through a “Safe Church” training program run by the Diocese, and also attend training specific to our curriculum.
What is Godly Play?
Godly Play was developed by Episcopal priest, author, and teacher Jerome Berryman. Based on the Montessori method of experiential learning, Godly Play uses a careful telling of scripture stories and engaging story figures to encourage children to seek and find their own answers to their faith questions. This unique approach to religious education invites children to wonder about themselves, God and the world in a way that is playful and meaningful to them.
Each week we invite God’s presence and grow in community as we experience a deepening spiral curriculum. In Godly Play, we play with the language of God and God’s people: our sacred stories, parables, liturgical lessons and silence. Through this powerful language and wondering about the stories, our circle of children hears the deepest invitation of all: Come play with God.
What Happens In a Godly Play Class?
At the Threshold: A greeter waits by the door to the Godly Play classroom, warmly welcoming children as they arrive.
Building the Circle: Children make their way into the room and sit in a circle around the storyteller. She/he talks quietly and easily with the children, building a community where each and every participant is warmly welcomed.
When everyone is ready, a prayer is said and the offertory box is passed around the circle. A child is chosen to move the arrow ahead on the Circle of the Church Year.
Presenting the Lesson: The storyteller goes to get the materials for the story and brings them to the circle. Slowly, deliberately, she brings out the story figures and objects, gently moving and arranging them as she tells the story. The children’s eyes and hands focus on the small wooden figures, painted plaques, or beautifully finished props moving in the circle.
The lesson concludes, and the storyteller sits back and says, “I wonder what part of the story you like best?”
Response: The storyteller invites the children to choose the work they would like to do in response to the lesson. What work will keep the story close to their heart? Some children play with story materials, some choose to create with arts and crafts, and older children often search for more information about the story in the Bible.
Feast: The children work together to serve a healthy snack. A prayer is said, and the feast is shared.
Saying Goodbye: Each child is thanked for coming, and the class is brought to the “big church” for Communion.
St. Stephen’s provides fun, educational opportunities to instill in our children the importance of helping those less fortunate than us. Organizations we have served include: Cohasset Food Pantry, Golden Living Nursing Home, Mary Martha Learning Center, Long Island Homeless Shelter, and Wellspring.