Setting up a Godly Play space
First, a great deal of excellent Godly Play is going on in spaces which are not ‘Godly Play rooms.’ But if you are thinking of setting up a room or maybe just providing a focal shelf or a place to store response materials then these are a few things to consider.
Before you make any decisions and spend any money, visit a few Godly Play spaces if you can. Here are some examples.
These shelves are made from planks of wood resting on glass blocks… effective but low cost and flexible.
When you enter a Godly Play space, ideally the first thing you should see is the focal shelf. For that reason it should be opposite the entrance. The storyteller sits in front of it, and it anchors the circle of children. It holds the central themes of the Christian story. Factors affecting where to put the focal shelf include: where the threshold is, so that eye contact is made with the storyteller when the children enter the room; the position of windows; the shape of the room – if the children will be sitting in an oval shape then it is better if the long side of the oval is opposite the storyteller (remember that a small number of children may be able to sit in a circle but if your numbers grow and the room is rectangular then they may have to sit in an oval shape).
This room was an odd shape, so the focal shelf was placed across a corner… but it works well.
Ideally the focal shelf should be distinctive – usually by being lower and deeper and wider than the other shelves. In this example, it is the same height as the other shelves, but attention is drawn to it by using a gold cloth behind the focal stories and a gold triptych behind the Holy Family.
The focal shelf should have 3 levels and all the other shelves should have 4. However some people choose to have 3 levels for everything. Your decision may depend on how much wall space you have for shelving (if this is limited then you may need 4 levels in order to fit the stories on.. and remember that you might add to your collection of stories).
These Sacred Story shelves were made of MDF, finished off with a strip of pine along the edges and brushed with Danish oil. By using brackets instead of partitions there is maximum flexibility for where the stories go. More stories can fit on the shelves because the baskets can fit end on. There is space at the far end for the carpet squares to be stacked next to the door. It can be tempting to display books so their cover is seen, but this detracts from the stories. Similarly try removing other distractions – like pictures on the walls – and see how your eye is then drawn to the stories.
Decide if the Godly Play space will need to be cleared away or covered or if it can be left set up. The room in St Stephens, Sheffield is a dedicated Godly Play room but other groups also use the space with no problem. As a result of being in the room, an adult group now occasionally uses Godly Play. Sometimes things got moved or went missing but the benefits of not having to clear away shelving and materials far outweighed this.
If the room needs to be cleared away, shelves on casters are ideal, as in this example. If there is a back to the shelves then they could be turned around.
Response materials’ shelves
The response materials are displayed in open natural containers so that they ‘call’ to the children. There is order to where things are kept. The document below lists stories and their location. There are plenty of ideas for response materials.