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Archives - October 2015

A Call to More Play

October 30, 2015
By Chelsea Carrier

A Call to More Play

Chelsea Carrier

 

For me, childhood outdoor memories include climbing a dogwood tree and flinching when I felt a caterpillar crawl across my hand, running barefoot through the hayfield that was still wet and warm with dew and humidity, and picking and eating June apples with a little red headed girl from across the street. Most summer and autumn days we pretended we were characters from whatever book we were reading, spinning stories as we explored our backyards. We weren’t rushed, and we were free to explore and create out of enjoyment.

I’m sure many parents and teachers would agree that children of all ages need to experience those moments of meaningful play. Thankfully, at Cornerstone, we as teachers are encouraged to create opportunities for kids to play, or engage in mindful (not mindless) enjoyment in what God has created and humans have experienced and expressed in literature, art, drama, history, and science.

Teachers of various subjects have also found multiple creative ways to engage their students’ imaginations, and as a middle school literature teacher, I find myself creating opportunity to play mostly through creative writing and drama. Below is a description of some of my favorites.

Creative Writing

When we read A Christmas Carol in seventh grade, my students write imaginary letters from Ebenezer Scrooge to a London Newspaper demanding the Humbug Award. Summer reading projects have included creating their own universe and story (for The Silmarillion), writing their own Screwtape letter, and writing a short story sequel to Huckleberry Finn. Readers of Shakespeare’s comedy A Midsummer Night’s Dream write letters from one character to another.

Drama

One year, I allowed my sixth graders to choose between The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Little Women. Students then worked in groups to create a scene between characters from both books. (What would happen if Tom Sawyer ever met Jo March?)  In previous years, students have created their own skits from books like A Christmas Carol and The Swiss Family Robinson. Last year my students asked if they could dramatize a poem they were reciting called “The Walrus and the Carpenter,” and I let them. We assigned roles both onstage and backstage, and they experienced first hand (and leisurely) what it was like to plan, direct, perform, and prepare set, costumes, and make-up for a mini-play.

Finally, since learning doesn’t just happen in the classroom, I wanted to leave you as parents a few ideas for engaging your child’s imagination:

  1. Tell stories. Growing up, my grandma was always telling me stories about when she was a little girl. Take an evening, sit outside or somewhere comfortable in the house, and share some of your favorite memories.
  2. Listen to audio books and radio theatre. Both of these provide another way for families to use their imaginations together whether in the car, or at home while smaller children draw, build with Legos, play with play-dough, or while the entire family plays cards or a board game. Some of my family’s favorites from Focus on the Family include: The Chronicles of Narnia, The Truth Chronicles, Anne of Green Gables, The Hiding Place, and C.S. Lewis at War.
  3. Act it out. This could take the form of charades or dressing up as a character for dinner. My family enjoys dressing up as dwarves and hobbits every September 22nd to reenact the first part of The Hobbit in which the dwarves show up unexpectedly at Bilbo’s for dinner. If you’re feeling extra ambitious, you might just create your own play, but I’ll let seventh grader Megan Miles tell you about that.

 

How to Write a Play

Megan Miles, 7th grade

 

Would you like to write a play? Here are some steps to making your play a success!

The materials that are needed in a play are actors (or puppets, depending on if you are doing a puppet show), props, and costumes. If you wish to have a big set, you will need big pieces of cardboard to draw on for the background. Also, you will need pencil and paper, or a computer, if you would rather type than write your script. Now, on to play writing!

First, you need to choose a theme. If would be wise to choose something that you know about, instead of doing something that would happen on the other side of the world. Also, unless you have play experience or very high ambition, do not choose something difficult to perform on your first play. It might be fun to make the play about the meaning of a holiday or a moral you think everyone should learn. Choose names of characters and write or type a rough draft of your plot. Be sure to include some jokes to make your audience laugh!

  1. Then, ask siblings, friends, and relatives if they want to be in your play. Figure out a place where you can perform. Make sure the room is big enough for your set and that there is enough room for your audience. Remember that if there are any messy scenes that involve water or anything else hard to clean up, the floor of the stage should not be carpet. A wood stage would be ideal. Find a time when all the actors can come to practice and set a date for the performance. You do not want your actors missing on the day of the play.

Next, look around your house for things you can use as props. If you cannot find something you need, try making a craft that will work instead. You can go to a store and purchase materials if you need. Before you panic over what you are going to wear, check out your closet. Blankets will work for capes and robes.

Finally, practice, practice, practice. It will seem long and tiresome, but it is worth it! You will need to practice until everyone knows their lines and what they are supposed to do.

Play-making is fun, but performing is even better! Invite friends and family to see the show. After all, your show is going to be a success!

Showing the Gospel to Our Children

October 09, 2015
By Chelsea Carrier

One Way to Show the Gospel to Our Children

Chelsea L. Carrier

 

Recently I went on the annual high school trip to Doe River Gorge. On the first night we had a bonfire on the railroad tracks, and the headmaster led a hike above the gorge. No flashlights were allowed. We were to stay between the tracks and follow the headmaster’s voice and the person directly in front of us to avoid falling over the edge of the cliff. Most kept saying they couldn’t see their hand in front of their face, and I had to agree. The only thing I could see was the phosphorescent mineral on the tracks, an occasional glow worm, and the stars. Fortunately, I was right behind a young man who, despite his quiet demeanor, had the thoughtfulness to communicate each step.

“Watch your step here, Miss Carrier. Go a little to your right. Now back to the left. Watch the rails.”

He was only a few steps in front of me, but when walking in pitch darkness, the next step is all that really matters.

On our journey through life, hopefully with Christ, we may feel at times as though we are only one step in front of those following us. We may not really know our own next step. We are in just as much confusion as they.

As a young teacher who is still single and has no children, I often wonder what wisdom I could even offer my students. I’m still a student myself in so many ways, constantly having to seek counsel. But what I find from my colleagues and mentors is that we are all learning. Sometimes we are walking behind someone, sometimes beside, and sometimes just one step in front. But God uses all three. As I continue to learn through my own imperfections and contemplate the incarnation highlighted in our theme verse for the year, John 1: 14, I’ve determined that one of the best ways to exemplify the gospel is through my own brokenness.

Many situations and ideas come to mind with a word as broad as brokenness, and I’ve been contemplating this term for well-over a month now. After brainstorming on my own and discussing this word with a friend and colleague, I’d like to share the following three aspects of brokenness:

  1. human limitation
  2. consequences of a fallen world
  3. consequences of sin

 

In other words: being human. With the exception of Christ, who was fully human and yet never sinned, part of the human condition is experiencing all three forms of brokenness. In this post, I’ll only focus on the first one.

As I’ve developed relationships with students over the past four years, I’ve learned a few ways to “come alongside” students as we struggle with human limitation.

  • Sharing with them that I’m not a math person, that I had a meltdown while taking the ACT for the first time, that I was the kid in college who always had her hand up, not because she knew the answer, but because she had a question, that I got mad at my mom for making me rewrite a paper in high school, that I’m just plain tired this week--those are the things I have to weave in my conversations with them.

 

  • Asking for help passing out papers, opening a door, or cleaning the classroom--those the small ways to show them I am not above receiving help.

 

  • Allowing them to pray for me on a bad day when I can no longer hide it--those are the moments when they realize that I am human.

 

I don’t have to share every detail, and I’m not advocating the glorification of past struggles or complaining as a perpetual victim or martyr. That’s not truly sharing brokenness. But even scripture is filled with examples of godly people honestly sharing their brokenness with others for the encouragement of others and glory of God. This is the story of the gospel: the God of the universe so loved the world that He accepted the vulnerability of becoming a man, and while He never sinned, He suffered as one who had.


Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. (Philippians 4:5-8)


Work Cited

The ESV Study Bible. Ed. Lane T. Dennis. Wheaton: Crossway, 2008. Print.

 

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