About Spirit Play™
Spirit Play is a Unitarian Universalist program of religious education that evolved from a long line of Montessori-based religious education programming including Sofia Cavalletti’s Catechesis of the Good Shepherd, Jerome Berryman’s Godly Play™, and Joyce Zaugg’s The Children’s Hour. It is based on story and ritual, play and creativity. Spirit Play gives children the tools to make meaning of their lives within the container of Unitarian Universalism.
Three religious educators (Beverly Leute Bruce, Reverend Ralph Roberts, and Nita Penfold), who were having difficulty reconciling the method used in Sunday School religious education classes with the openness of Unitarian Universalist thought and theology, developed Spirit Play. As Unitarian Universalists, we talk about encouraging questioning yet we hand children pre-packaged content following a hierarchical model of the teacher having the knowledge and experience and imparting it to the children as if they have none of their own.
Spirit Play seeks to engage children in the existential questions about life within the context of the Unitarian Universalist faith. Stories are presented dealing with these questions accessing our broad base of sources. They are presented using an active storytelling method followed by a “wondering” time that opens up the child’s response to the story, then the child is free to work directly with that story or another, or to respond to the story or to his or her feelings with art materials.
Introducing children to the stories of our faith in a concrete way where they can wonder about them at their own level of maturation, intelligence, and creativity, Spirit Play allows our them to learn the language for talking about their faith in a nondogmatic way.
The program encourages independent thinking through wondering with an adult who does not mediate correct answers but truly wonders with the child. It gives the children real choices through freedom within the structure that promotes a sense of community and develops an underlying sense of the spiritual and the mystery of life.