Spirit Play Information Page

All children four years through first grade will be in one of our multi-age Spirit Play groups. These children are assigned to a particular Spirit Play group; they participate in classes following the first portion of our service, which they attend with their families

We are so happy to welcome your child into the exciting world of Spirit Play! If you are not already familiar with this exciting Montessori-based approach to religious education, you may find this basic information helpful!


What is Spirit Play?

Spirit Play is a Unitarian Universalist adaptation of the Godly Play and Montessori Methods developed by Nita Penfold D.Min., Rev. Ralph Roberts, and Beverly Leute Bruce. It was first tested at the Winchester and Milton UU churches. A number of other churches are now using the adaptation.

We see the purpose of religious education as helping children in living into their own answers to the existential questions, as in Jerome Berryman’s work:

  • Where did we come from?
  • What are we doing here?
  • What is our purpose?
  • How do we choose to live our lives?
  • What are our gifts?
  • How do we use them?
  • What happens when we die?
  • Why do we die?
  • Why are we lonely and sad sometimes?

We use the Montessori approach and Berryman’s morning-as-worship approach for the structure of the morning. As in Montessori, the key elements are the classroom environment and the teachers. These elements free the children to work at their own pace on their own issues.

  1. The Door Keeper helps the children get ready to enter the classroom as parents drop them off.
  2. The Storyteller leads the circle in the story of the day, followed by wondering.
  3. Children choose an art response or to use a story previously heard, helped by the Door Keeper
  4. Children clean-up, followed by a feast (snack) with the Storyteller.
  5. Leave-taking is a formal process of saying good-bye to the Storyteller when parents arrive and children are ready.

Stories have been developed in the following categories using current children’s literature, myths, and religious stories that cover answers from various sources to the existential questions above.Each set of stories is color-coded or symbol-coded to the shelf for easy access and return.

Unitarian Universalist Focal Shelves: Lessons pertaining to our central story of agreeing to live in community and right relationship, including our central symbol, the Flaming Chalice, church history, UU history and UU figures.

Promises: Lesson pertaining to our principles and stories illustrating each principle.

Sources: Lessons pertaining to the sources of our principles and our faith, including Judeo-Christian stories from Godly Play. On the top shelf will be pitchers with the symbols of the sources on them, including UU. The pitcher used for the feast juice will be one relating to the story of the day.

Stories of the Mystery: Stories relating to the Mystery that some people call God.

Beginnings and Endings: Stories from all cultures and science telling of our beginnings and what might happen when we die, including concepts of heaven and hell, and reincarnation.These shelves will include materials on the Universe Story and the story of Earth. Sacred Places: Table containing a Jerusalem Temple, and other sets of blocks representing those spaces religions hold sacred, including a labyrinth.

Art Shelves: Contains materials for art responses including paint, clay, paper, crayons, markers, glue sticks, templates for UU and source symbols, and easels.

Cleaning Supplies Shelf and Snack Preparation Shelf: Child-size materials for clean-up and snack preparation.There is also a hand-washing station, and a station for clean-up from painting.

Church Corner: Model your sanctuary space with an altar table, lectern, and those materials needed for ceremonies at your church including child dedications, coming of age, marriage or union, memorial services, flower communion, water ceremony, etc.