Created World


We wanted an event where the children were focused not just on the biblical story of Creation but also on the depth and breadth of the created world.

We began with the Godly Play creation story and then the children were sent off to explore seven stations, each with a focus on different parts of the world.

This was a good opportunity to use the school's outdoor area, which included a pond, a sand pit, mounds and outdoor equipment that we could use.

The stations were: Desert, Ice, Water, Sea, Mountain, Grassland and Woods and Forest.


Each station had a board with words, pictures and reflective questions; the older children were encouraged to read the boards and think about the questions.

The classes were then brought back together and given the opportunity to make a creative response. Three classes came to the event: the two oldest classes (8 – 11 year olds) and the youngest class (4 – 6 year olds.)

Introduction



The classes were lined up facing a line of black cloths, attached to the apparatus

"This is our world… we have always known it. Even as tiny babies there were things we could see and hear and touch and taste and smell. But it hasn't always been like this. Long ago there were no buildings here… no cars… no people… no animals… no birds… no green and growing things… no earth… no water… no time…

Almost every culture/people has a story or myth about the beginning of the world. Myths are stories that tell us how things are, not in a way that you can touch or see, but in an underneath way that tells us a different kind of truth. This story is the one told by the Christians and the Jews…

What was it like in the beginning? We don't know and it is hard to imagine… But it was dark.

We are going to try and imagine the beginning by going between the dark cloths towards the light."

The children went between the black cloths, and then formed a semi circle where the storyteller told the biblical story of the seven days of Creation using the Godly Play creation cards. They were then sent off to explore the different areas.

1 Ice



Fake snow was sprinkled into a long black tray. We added blocks and ice animals such as polar bears and arctic tigers.

Plastic sea polar animals such as seals and whales were frozen into blocks of ice and placed in a small paddling pool. We provided a small wooden mallet which the children used to smash the ice and free the animals. (We included this activity as we had used it in the past and knew how much the children enjoyed it!)

Words and questions


Antarctica is the coldest place on earth… it is a barren icy desert... Sometimes the temperature drops below minus 60 degrees Celsius.

But even in very cold places, life exists. In the seas around Antarctica there are seals and penguins. Tiny wingless insects survive on the rocks, "sleeping" when the temperature drops.

I wonder if you have ever been in a really cold place?

2 Desert



We used the school's sand box to set up a desert area.

Bowls of cacti (by chance in flower) were placed around the edge.

We added camels, lizards and a large snake (which was very popular!)

Words and questions


The desert is a dangerous place…

It is always moving, so it is hard to know where you are. Water is rare. Little grows there. In the daytime it is hot but at night it is very cold. The wind can blow the sand into raging sandstorms. People do not go there unless they have to.

I wonder if you have ever come close to the desert?

3 Water



The school has a pond and wild life area, where the children were able to see real frogs and tadpoles. We did add a variety of water animals - toads, newts and duck billed playtpus around the edge.

This was the one station which was monitored by an adult.

Words and questions


Water is essential for life…

The saltwater oceans contain 97% of all the water on earth. Less than 1% of water is the fresh water people need to live. Earth is the only planet in the solar system with a large amount of liquid water on the surface.

Do you think there is life elsewhere in the universe? Can there be life forms that don't need water?

4 Sea



We put down plastic sheeting and added blue and green organza and white netting. The two tyres that bordered it were draped in cloths to give the impression of waves. Sea creatures were placed amongst the cloths.

Words and questions


The sea is always changing… Some days it is calm and gentle, on others it is wild and stormy.


We cannot control the oceans… but once Jesus stood in the front of the fishermen's boat, raised his hand and shouted "Peace, be still" to the storm.

I wonder if you have ever come close to a wild rough sea? I wonder what other things we can't control?

5 Forest



We hung the triangular scramble net with vines and creepers which created a dark place. Some animals were placed on the ground, others were wired to the net or hung on string.

Words and questions


The rain forest is home to more than 5 million different kinds of life: animals, insects and plants. Half of all known forms of life live in the rainforest. More than half of the rainforest has been cut down for wood or for farming. We live in a hungry world.

How far are we responsible for the created world? Is there anything we can do?

6 Mountain



Crates and cones were used to create extra height on the school's mound; they were then draped with hessian and green cloths. Mountain animals such as sheep, goats and deer were then added.

Words and questions


Things look different from the top of a mountain…
As you climb higher the air becomes thinner and colder. Looking back, you can see the way you have come far below. Sometimes people climb mountains to come close to God…

I wonder if you have ever stood on top of a mountain or a high hill?


7 Grasslands and Woods



The school has a raised grassy area on which we placed a variety of woodland and grassland animals from around the world - from lions to kangarooos, squirrels to elephants! We also included tame and domesticated animals such as dogs and cows.

Words and questions


People have tamed the grasslands and woods…


We have cut down trees to make space for our farms and the grasslands have been used to plant cereal crops. We have domesticated animals like cows and pigs for food. But even here, there are still wild places…

I wonder what it means to be tame? I wonder what it means to be wild?

Creative response



The class was brought back together, to sit at the outside benches and tables under the trees, where they were given a drink and snack.

They were asked:
I wonder which of these places you like the best?
I wonder which question challenged you the most?


I wonder if there is anything we could leave out of creation?
I wonder if there is anything you would like to add?


The children were then given the opportunity to make their own response:

"Christians believe that people share in creation...

It might be an idea like the wheel, or how to mend a broken tap. It might be building a house or cooking a meal, painting a picture or making music. We are going to give you the opportunity to be creative now."

The children were given either a black or a white circle. They were given the choice of paint, pastels or using natural materials.

We suggested that they might like to create their own world using the paints or art materials or use the natural materials (straw, pressed leaves, seeds, shells, feathers etc) to make their own design.


To finish the children were given a few moments silence to reflect on something in the world that they found amazing.


How well did it work?



This event was dependent on dry weather. Although we did have contingency plans to recreate it indoors, it would have been cramped and lost some of its scope.


As it happened, the two older classes had fine weather while the youngest class had to visit in drizzle and we had to move the creative response time into their classroom.


We were concerned that the oldest children, within a few weeks of leaving primary school, would think the event was beneath them. However, we found that they enjoyed the freedom to choose where they went and each child found at least one place that really engaged them.


The pond with the real frog and tadpoles was especially popular, as were the animals frozen into ice and the snake in the desert area.

The sea and mountain areas were the ones I felt worked least well, probably because they relied on cloths to give the effect, rather than on real sand, ice, creepers etc.

We encouraged the older children to read and engage with words and questions.

However, following this up as a whole class outside was difficult as it was hard for the children to hear and be heard. It would have worked better if each child had returned to their favourite station (or possibly two stations) where they could have engaged with the questions at more depth. The question about life elsewhere in the universe was the most popular.

The youngest children engaged very thoughtfully with what they liked best and what might be left out. The creative response worked well, with even the youngest children using the materials reflectively and creatively.

Sarah    


(with thanks to Rowena Berridge and the team)