Starting the Year
The time has finally arrived for you to set up your classroom and start your Spirit Play year. This page covers the major activities you will need to complete for these activities.
- Install Story Shelves: Go over the Spirit Play materials, and decide where the stories fit in the room. Categorize your shelves so that the stories make sense by theme. Sample shelf maps are provided in the curriculum. We also found it good to label the place on the shelf for the teachers, and use symbols with the story name on the baskets for the children. Promise stories can be color coded so that they can be found easily. Use the source symbol on baskets with source stories.
- Collect Supplies and Furniture for the Room: Many materials can be donated, such as baskets and trays. You can create a wish list to encourage monetary donations for identified items such as better shelving or particular basket materials. Collect small rugs and easels for work. Collect or buy furniture for the room. Note that tables and chairs are not often in Spirit Play rooms.
- Set up your room: Determine places for work activities. Make an altar with a chalice if you don’t already have one. Put in an area rug if you have hard floors. Remember that everything that the children should access should be at their height.
- Train volunteers: Train teachers and doorkeepers. You can teach them yourself, bring in one of the trainers to conduct a training, or have them enroll in the online training.
- Orient Parents: You’ll want to let the parents know and get excited about your new Spirit Play program. Have an orientation for parents to show them the room and explain or demonstrate the class structure. Orientation materials are available to access after you complete the training.
- Orient Children: Unless the children have been in a Monessori class, they will likely be unfamiliar with the structure of the class. Start your class with the orientation for available to access after you complete the training. We recommend that you start each school year with this orientation as a refresher.
- Evaluate Program: After a few months, evaluate the program. Is there better attendance, do the children need more time, do the storytellers and doorkeepers need additional training, do you need to have one of the trainers come in for a workshop? At the end of the year, decide if you should expand to another class or add more stories. Be sure to keep the basic lessons as a continuing part of the shelves.
- Discourage Visitors: While it might sound counter-intuitive since you’ve built so much excitement around the program, you shouldn’t let parents or others visit the class until the year is about half over. This gives the children a chance to develop their community without the room being over-adulted. Visitors should be given specific instructions about their presence in the room not distracting the children and having respect for the process unfolding. Visitor guidelines are available as part of your training packet.
If you begin a Spirit Play program, please register it by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with your church name and what ages you’re using this with. Please update your information if you change DREs or contact people, or if you add or change ages.