Welcome to the coloured glass classroom! We hope to provide you with lots of creative ideas and resource links to help you engage the young people in your religious and Christian education classes. This blog is sponsored by the Anglican Schools Commission of the Anglican Church Southern Queensland.

5 November 2012

Thinking about Religion with Young Children

Strand(s):  Philosophy of Religion

Year level:  Lower Primary

Phase: Orient

Time: n/a

Summary: Introducing philosophy of religion questions with young children

Thinking about religion (aka “philosophy of religion”) is an important part of a well-rounded religious education. Students should be encouraged to ask and explore questions that relate to the structure and thinking behind religious belief.

Important questions to explore might include – what is freedom and choice? What is truth? Where do morals come from? What does God mean? What reasons do people have for the existence of God? Concepts such as fairness, beauty, time, truth, good and right also might also be examined.

But how might these seemingly complex topics be explored with young children?

One approach is not to try and do philosophy like high school or university courses might, but to focus on helping children be aware of concepts and to be able to recognise where they are being used. In addition to this children might begin to understand some of the basics of good thinking including giving reasons, exploring evidence, comparing and, agreeing and disagreeing.

There are many starting points for engaging students with these questions and concepts. Here are two.

Children Books
Children’s books raise many questions that are pertinent to the philosophy of religion. An example is given at the following website using the book Yellow and Pink to explore questions around creation and existence.

Movies are a  great source for engaging in philosophical discussion. On e great example that connects with the area of thinking about religion is Horton Hears a Who. The critical question revolves around knowing something exists even if you can't see it. For a more complex discussion look at the following web page.

Natural Questions
Many events throughout a child day raises question relating to philosophy of religion. These can be good starting points for dialogue.
  • Is my pet a person?
  • Is it OK to kill some insects but not others?
  • Where did grandma go when she died?
  • How can anyone think insects are beautiful?
  • What does it mean to be a ‘best friend’?
  • Why does time move so quickly sometimes and so slowly other times?
  • Can anyone know everything?

23 October 2012

The importance of Religious Education

This great little video would be very useful at the beginning of the year. It asks in a highly visual way many of the important questions that religious educations seeks to explore. In doing so it highlights how religion permeates so many parts of our life and therefore why it is important to investigate it.

The video was made in connection with the English GCSE Religious Education course but has a lot to say about the religious education that we do here in Australia.

Below is a similar video that asks more of the broad questions that are often asked in religious education classes.

These videos could be used as a starting point for getting students to think about some of the big questions of life or as examples for them to make their own videos about why exploring these questions is important.

8 October 2012

Hooks - Does Religious Education need them?

"Introducing a new topic to students is an important moment. In a nanosecond, the students decide whether they can see themselves enjoying the unit and will actively participate in the class activities, or if it is of little or no interest and they will therefore switch off" 
Innovative Teachers' Companion: Primary Edition 2012, page 34 )

There is maybe no other subject that needs effective hooks more than religious education. In part this is because RE teachers often find their learners in a default position of scepticism or disinterest, because of family or social views. While students can be won back it is of value to think about what it is that will keep students engaged.

While creating an interesting name for a unit is important, more critically the process of developing hooks should lead the teacher to designing a unit that gives students significant ownership of the learning process.

For example, say you were creating a unit around understanding the basics of the  Bible. If you called it, "The Bible", the message you are communicating to students (and yourself)  is "content".  If we think about the unit in this way it may lead us to focus on the content therefore develop learning experiences focussed heavily on lower order thinking skills, instead of higher ones such as analysis, evaluation or design.

If on the other hand you called it: The Bible - Does it make any sense? , or The Bible - Is it the worlds  most difficult book? , or The Bible - Is it to hard to read?, an invitation is given to students to engage and make up their own mind about the question posed.

The purpose of the hook is to help the teacher define more clearly what the unit is really going to be about, but it also provides a focus for the type of learning that will happen. Hooks provide students with a potential challenge to meet.

Here are some examples of hooks for different units:

World Religions - Are they all the same?
(Exploring the key beliefs of different world religions and letting students decide if they are the same)
The Eucharist - Does eating it make any difference?
(Exploring the meaning of the Eucharist and how it changes people)
Jesus - Is there any truth to the stories?
(Exploring historical information about Jesus)
Poverty - should we bother helping?
(A unit exploring the reasons for poverty and reasons for helping people)

For more information look at  Innovative Teachers’ Companion:  Primary Edition 2012, page 34-35, or see www.itcpublications.com.au ) 

19 September 2012

Hollywood Jesus

The use of popular culture as a way of engaging students in religious education is on the increase. It is a proven strategy  to heighten student ownership and engagement. Movies have become the dominant form of story telling of our age and many films are replete with spiritual and religious imagery and themes that are worth exploring. 

The Hollywood Jesus site gives a teacher all the fodder they need to use examples from movies, TV and comics in their teaching.

10 September 2012

The Bible - Drama in Six Acts

Strand(s):  The Bible and Theology

Year level: Upper Primary, Middle School, Senior School

Phase: n/a

Time: n/a

Summary: A way of helping students to grasp the overarching Biblical narrative.

In recent years there has been an increase in the number of resources that focus on teaching the overarching narrative of the Bible, as opposed to focussing in on smaller sections of the story. This may be due to dwindling time that churches and religious educators get with young people. Either way it is very helpful to gain an understanding of the big picture of the Bible.

One way of exploring the Bible as narrative is by considering it  as a drama in six acts. Using this method the story might look something like this.

Act 1 - Creation

In this act the drama is opened, the scene is set and the actors are introduced. We are witness to creation, Adam and Eve, and the perfection of God's world. This act is covered by Genesis 1-2. This is a short act, but important in understanding the rest of the story. There is more in this act than first meets the eye.

Act 2 - The Fall

Things go wrong in this act and the relationships between people and God and creation are damaged and disrupted. From this point on much of the narrative is about the consequences of human sin and God's work to restore relationship. Genesis 3 - 11 covers this section.

Act 3 - Covenant and Israel

In this act we see the beginning of God's action to restore relationship with people, how this evolves and humanity's continued sin, disobedience and failure. This is by far the largest act and includes the entire Old Testament from Genesis 12 through to the book of Malachi. 

Act 4 - Jesus

With the coming of Jesus, the drama, after a long and twisted path, introduces the one who will bring resolution to the conflict and tension that emerged at the Fall. This act is covered by the four Gospels.

Acts 5 - The Church

In Act 5 we have an opening scene which provides us with a picture of the early church and then the Biblical narrative stops. The Book of Acts and the Epistles provide us with the script for section.

Acts 6 - Eschaton / The End

The final act in the Book of Revelation reveals to us how all things will come to their conclusion.

There are many ways that religious educators might use this model to explore the Bible with students.Here are a few:

1. Explore each "act" with the class to help them understand the whole "drama:

The following books are useful resources for this task. They both use creative and innovative ways of approaching the topic. The one by Jenny Baker doesn't use the drama in six acts division but a similar twelve part one.

Through the Bible in Twelve Weeks - Jenny Baker
Enter the Story - Mike Novelli 

2. Create and play with a  drama act/timeline

Using pictures and/or words create signs that designate the six different acts. Spread them out in order across the ground. Have students write the name of a story and character they know from anywhere in the Bible on two pieces of the paper. Get students to place their pieces of paper where they think they go on the timeline. Some work might need to be done is helping them do this or it could be used as a culminating activity. Alternatively the timeline could be a permanent part of the class. As student learn about parts of the story they can add things where they belong.

3. Help student understand that they are part of the story

Act 5 is mostly empty. We have the first bit and we know what has happened since the end of Acts, but the story continues and we are in it. Thinking this way can help students understand how they are part of the story and what role they might play in it.

27 August 2012

The K Source

The K Source and has been developed by a Catholic teacher with very good academic references. There are two sets of resources – one is the webpage www.theksource.com  which contains several sets of lessons on Jesus, Sacraments, Church History and other topics. You can download powerpoints and assessment resources. Huge amount of stuff.

The second is a series of short videos on youtube which are hilarious as well as informative. There is a series Life under the Romans with  awesome clips from Life of Brian and other films intertwined with factual information.

Contributed by Sharon Baird

21 August 2012

Ethics of Entertainment

Strand(s):  Ethics and Values

Year level: Senior School

Phase: Full Lesson

Time: 50 min +

Summary:  A lesson exploring the ethic of downloading music and movies.

Class Discussion
  • What are the ethics of downloading music and movies  that you have not purchases?
  • Do you abide by your ethical position?
  • If not, is it really your ethical position?

 Entertainment Ethics
Particularly towards the end of the 1000 years of the Roman Empire, Gladiatorial contest at the Colosseum became very popular.  Slaves were forced to fight to the death in the Arena. After the great fire of Rome in 79 AD Nero blamed the Christian for the disaster (though most historians blame him). As a result Christians were killed by wild beasts or set alight.

Answer the following questions:
  • Were the gladiatorial contests  ethical?
  •  What about the killing of Christians (and others) who were not allowed to fight back or given weapons?
  •  Do you think that it would have been ethical to attend the Colosseum to watch one of these events? WHY or WHY NOT?
  • Would it change the ethical position if you were a poor peasant who was asked to accompany your master for the first time, and you knew what was going to happen at the arena?
  • What are the ethical similarities and differences between the acts of the Colosseum and watching a realistic bloody murder on a movie.
  • What concerns do some people express about violent video games or roleplay games such as World of Warcraft?
  • What would be some of the ethical issues about games where you get to inflict violence against innocent civilians or Police?

Journal  activity
Are there boundaries to what is acceptable in games?  If killing people is acceptable, what about stealing, bashing or rape? Respond to this ethical question in 100 words or more.  "What ethical restraints, if any do you think should be placed on games? Support your opinion with a reasoned, logical response."

Contributed by Scott Huntington

14 August 2012

Story Telling in the Classroom

Strand(s):The Affective

Year level: All Levels

Phase: N/A

Time: 1 - 5 minutes

Summary: Story telling is an integral part of human identity and growth. Much wisdom can be gained from telling and listening to stories especially those we tell ourselves.

Each week, one or two [or more] students tell a story.

The story: what they did over the weekend or on holidays; some thing that they did a long time ago; a story from the legends around the home meal table; a story they have made up; a poem or any piece of creative writing.

Duration: 1-5mins

  • Every student must have at least one turn before the year is out.
  • The teller is asked to do their very best at stirring the imagination of their fellow students.
  • The listening class must follow the guidelines: Listen, Respect.  
  • Joking or the slightest ridiculing should not be tolerated.  
  • You the teacher should join in the story telling practice.

Look at creating some practice or habits around this: for example, the teacher to take the seat of the story telling student, that the story be told from the story telling rug; or there is a particular class hat to be worn by the story telling student [as long as it is not fickle, but honours and enhances the art of story]; ask the class to shape and make the pattern or ‘ritual’.
Such story telling will:
  • increase student’s skill in the art of story telling
  •  enhance student’s skills and confidence in communication
  •   honour each person with a story of theirs which is heard [an exercise in building stones for sound self esteem]
  •  Emphasise an understanding of the truth that we are relational beings: people who are connected to others and things.  We are people with stories, and those stories are connected, even if the story itself that is told seems pretty ordinary, there is created the moment of person with story with others who listen and offer respect.
  • Theological: that students might come to recognise themselves as persons with history and event [story], and that in this story there lies meaning [beauty, dignity, purpose, opportunity, responsibility].  What becomes possible then is that students will be able to see that God also has history and event: that God has a story.  The next possibility is the recognition that God’s story and ours is woven together.
Contributor : Richard Browning

8 August 2012

McCrindle Research

Mark McCrindle produces some of the most interesting research on social trends, demographic shifts and  generations in Australia. This information could be the basis for a unit of work exploring religions in Australia or peoples attitude to religion.

His website McCrindle Research has free resources on all sorts of things including youth slang, educating and engaging, and spirituality in Australia.

This recent research provides some interesting insights into what people think about religion, spirituality and Christianity in Australia. The questions used in this survey could form the basis of discussion in the classroom about what Australians think and feel about religion or even be used to conduct a survey within your school.

17 July 2012

Exploring a Gospel with Bloom's Taxonomy

Strand(s): The Bible and Theology

Year level: Middle School

Phase: Any

Time: N/A

Summary: A range of ideas for applying Bloom’s Revised Taxonomy to lessons focussing on Biblical texts with middle school students.

Bloom's Revised Taxonomy of the Cognitive Domain is a effective way of meeting the needs of students and engaging them cognitively at a range of levels. The six levels of thinking enable teachers to think about how they may take students from basic thinking levels such as remembering to much higher ones that require them to use the information to design new things. Below are some ideas for using Bloom’s Taxonomy when engaging with one of the Gospels as a whole

List unfamiliar words from the Gospel you are studying and find their meaning.

Describe the appearance of several key people (Jesus, a disciple) using words and illustrations

Illustrate a pivotal scene from a section of the Gospel in comic strip format

Design a timeline that chronicles the major events of the Gospel being studied.

Rate the Gospel – write an essay or review to persuade someone to read it.

Create a map indicating the significant places in the Gospel.

9 July 2012

Double Bubble - Similarities and Differences

Strand(s): n/a

Year level: Upper Primary, Middle School, Senior School

Phase: Orient, Enhance

Time: n/a

The Double Bubble thinking framework can be useful for helping students to compare the similarities and differences of two things. It could be used to compare simple things for younger students or may be applied to comparing the sides of complex religious or ethical issues for senior students.

In the two central bubbles write the two things that are to be compared. In religious education this could include any number of things.

Some examples might be:

church/synagogue (used after a visit to both)
Peter/Judas (exploring Biblical narratives)
Old Testament/New Testament
Two sides of a debate

Students then fill in the bubbles for similarities and differences. You will see on the map that some bubbles connect with both the central bubbles - these are the ones used for similarities. The bubbles that only connect with a single central bubble are used for differences. Students could use a template but those exploring at a higher level will need to draw their own double bubble map.

Here's an example of a double bubble map found online comparing two civil wars.

30 May 2012

RE Online

REonline is a portal site that seeks to provide information and resources to those involved in religious education in England.

It has information and resources for a variety of age groups on a range of different religions including Christianity. There are lesson plans and other resources for topics such as baptism and worship. Actually there are far too many resources on this site to begin describing them in this blog. The best thing to do is go there and check it out.

The site is easy to navigate and despite being based around an English context has plenty of ideas and resources that can be adapted to RE in Australia.

14 May 2012


Strand(s):  n/a
Year level: Middle school,Senior School
Phase: Synthesise
Time: 1  lessons
Summary:  A way of helping students see and vocalise what they have learnt.

The following is a thinking tool called "bunching". It is best used at the end of a course to facilitate the synthesis of knowledge and encourage students to vocalise and consolidate their learning. Bunching is one way to help students think reflectively as they look back and over their work.

Towards the end of the semester's work on Year Ten ethics, the students word-stormed all the key concepts that had been an important part of the course/

Trust, power, consequences, Nietzsche, balance, responsibility, individual, collective, fair respect, challenge, conscience, situation, punishment, honesty, decide, learn, communicate, compromise, choice, free will, integrity, learn, ethic, morality, reason/reasoning, character, act, knowledge, reason, justification, punishment, justice, compassion, wrong, right, should, ought, natural law, utilitarian.

The students were instructed to 'bring an object' to the next class. Any object? Yes. There was a key, a shoe, a half eaten sandwich, a flower and many other things. These objects were placed in the bunching circle along with the words above. The entire class sat in a circle around them.

Instructions: Pick three or more things from the table. String them together with a few sentences and help us all to see how they might be connected. 

The following are real student examples. They are not earth shattering. But what is important is that they are the manifestation of a students thinking at the end of a course..

Bunch 1 (words: respect, act, consequence. Object: flower)
"When you  respect nature it mean you must act. Every action has consequences. We must act to help things grow and be sustainable.

Bunch 2 (words: balance, individual, collective)
"There must be a balance between the needs of the individual and the collective. One cannot be emphasised at the expense of the other."

As the bunches accumulate and student confidence grows, the students build on each others word and provoke each other further.

Bunching is a way for students to voice what they think and how they see, making both visible to others.

Contributed by Rev Richard Browning

1 May 2012

Religious Education with Girls

Strand(s): Values, The Affective
Year Level: Middle School and Senior Secondary
Phase: Introductory, and others as appropriate
Time: varies
Summary: what is it all about with girls? Relationship!

I grew up as a happy product of the state education system in Queensland, my first teaching years were spent in the state education system and I began my foray into the Anglican Schools network at a co-ed school. This provided a great background for many aspects of teaching. However, when I first started at a girls-only secondary school, I was completely unprepared for the phenomenon where girls in a girls’ school so completely “own the zone”. Perhaps it exists in just that one lovely school, but I hazard a guess that it exists wherever girls are encouraged to be themselves and to respond freely to challenge and are supported in that process. From beginning to end, this was all about relationship.
Creating genuine relationships with girls in any sort of ministry requires a high degree of honesty and openness, admission of vulnerability and personal sharing. Teaching Religious Education in a girls’ school offers abundant opportunity for developing ongoing positive relationships with students. My experience in those first few weeks as I settled into this new planet showed that girls were amazingly open to discussion and to my initial horror, personal disclosure!!  It was all about the relationship with those teenage girls. They were unrelenting in their need to know about me. I was in their Religious Education classroom, the new teacher on the block, and they wanted to know who I was. In our question sessions, they wanted to know my thoughts on creation, evolution, sexuality, promiscuity, divorce, trouble with parents, trouble with friends, theology!
I was delighted by the relationship building opportunities, but I also realised the need for balance in the relationship between staff and student. Taking this slowly seemed the best idea and so I found several ways of sharing personal stories that allowed me to go slow with the relationship building, get an idea of the culture of the school and the personalities of the individual students in the room. The aim is to honour the need for connection while keeping the distance needed for professionalism.
Some examples:
  • Use storytime with a twist: Work up some personal stories that illustrate a point. Make sure these are stories you are happy to share, and spend time imagining your responses to the most unexpected questions – they will come.
  • Consider bringing in some personal photos from your youth – the worse the fashion, the better for building relationships. Spend time thinking about the event depicted, what you wore, the names of people also in the picture, and what they are doing now. “I was sorting through photos on the weekend and thought you’d get a giggle out of ...”   Ultimately the point of this exercise is to prove that life goes on: Your best friend (the one in the purple jumpsuit in that photo) moved over to Germany to study but you are still close and visit whenever possible, and she, by the way was the one who invented the "tim-tam-slam".
  • Remember phrases your parents used over and over again. “Not dressed like that you don’t!” “Be home by ten or heads will roll!” (or was that only MY parents?) Challenge everyone to come up with 3 of their parents’ faves and offer yours too.
  • Bring a favourite book from your younger days and share snippets each lesson. It doesn’t really matter what the book is, just as long as it resonated with you. Be prepared to discuss why it meant something to you then, and why you still think of it today.

23 April 2012

Bloom and the Bible #2 – Lower Primary

Strand(s): The Bible and Theology

Year level: Lower Primary

Phase: Any

Time: N/A

Summary: A range of ideas for applying Bloom’s Revised Taxonomy to lessons focussing on Biblical texts with upper primary students.

Bloom's Revised Taxonomy of the Cognitive Domain is a effective way of meeting the needs of students and engaging them cognitively at a range of levels. The six levels of thinking enable teachers to think about how they may take students from basic thinking levels such as remembering to much higher ones that require them to use the information to design new things. Below are some ideas for using Bloom’s Taxonomy when engaging with Biblical texts. With all of these activities appropriate passages of scripture needs to be chosen.

Remember: After reading a particular passage of scripture, have students arrange shuffled story pictures in sequential order.

Understand: After reading a Bible story from a book, have students draw a picture showing what happened before and after a particular passage or illustration found in the book.

Apply: Have students make finger puppets and act out a part of the story.

Analyse: Students must select parts of the story that were funniest, saddest, happiest and most surprising.

Evaluate: Have students judge whether a particular person should have acted the way they did in the story and why?

Design: Students must decide which character in the story he or she would most like to spend a day with and why.

17 April 2012

A well-timed question...

Strand(s): all
Year Level:all
Time: 5 mins - 30 mins
Summary: give your questions some thought, get great results.

There is an art to asking useful questions and an even more refined art to allowing students time to process and respond. We’ve all been in situations where the speaker finishes, hastily asks “well, what do you think of that?” and then proceeds to “ok, no ideas? Must be my turn again!” This approach helps the speaker lose their voice, and frustrates listeners who know they have good ideas, if only they had time to formulate them!

Given time, most students will come up with ideas in response to questions, but we often misjudge just how much time they need. Here are a few steps as a refresher:

  1. Alert students that a question is coming up and that you will randomly select respondents.

  2. State that you will give everyone 30seconds to think quietly, and that jotting notes or scribbling concept maps is fine during this time.

  3. Ask your question, clearly and concisely, and record it on the board for easy reference.

  4. Read or view any stimulus material you have, eg the Bible story in the example below.

  5. Restate the question.

  6. Actually give that 30 seconds you promised (some will be counting!) in silence, without giving in to the temptation to fill it with your voice, or further instructions.

  7. Allow people to keep their pens active during the feedback time, as they add the ideas of others to their own.

  8. Choose people to respond, moving quickly so no one feels they bear the full responsibility.

  9. Follow up the process with an exercise where students place themselves along a line of opinion. E.g.; Human Continuum (see http://www.itcpublications.com.au/)

An example for the "Teaching the Bible" strand.
Tell a story about Jesus, eg: the episode where Jesus drives the moneychangers from the Temple:
· Mark 11: 15-19; 11: 27-33
· Matthew 21:12-17; 21:23-27
· Luke 19:45-48; 20:1-8
· John 2:13-16

Possible questions to start with:
  • What surprises you about this story?

  • What do you think made Jesus angry?

  • What do you think about people using a place of worship as a place of business?

  • Think about our would. Where do you see religion and money mixed together?

Possible questions for the Human Continuum:
  • Should we be surprised that Jesus acted this way? Why/why not?

  • Should Jesus have become angry in this situation? Explain.

  • Should people use a place of worship as a business centre?

  • Should money be a big part of religion?

16 April 2012

Genres in the Bible

Strand(s):  The Bible

Year level: Upper Primary, Middle school

Phase: All

Time: 1-2 lessons

Summary:  A basic outline of an approach to helping students understand genres in the Bible.

Helping students understanding that the Bible may be “one book” but it is actually many books, with many styles of writing, is important for helping them to understand the content. Below is a very basic framework for exploring Bible genres with students.

1. Discover what students know about genres.

If they don’t know what a genre is provide them with a definition such as:
“A genre is a specific style or type of writing”
Also explain that genres helps the reader understand what is written in greater depth.
You might need to give them some examples of genres – science fiction, travel, cooking, mystery etc.

2. Have students brainstorm as many different genres as possible.

An optional game here would be to play a modified game of categories. Students would take turns to name a genre and a title of a book that fits that genre. If anyone takes too long or repeats a book they are out. Keep going till there is only one student left.

3. Discuss how knowing what the genre of a particular piece of writing is helps us to know what to expect from it. We don’t expect recipes from a science fiction novel, or fairy tales from an encyclopaedia. When we know the genre we know how to handle the information.

4. Arrange students in  groups and give them seven excerpts from different genres. Provide the group with a list of the genres represented. Student must then identify which excerpt goes with which genres.
 Some useful excerpt examples:
  • encyclopaedia entry on bees
  • a vivid science fiction description of an alien
  • some road rules from the manual
  • an brief passage about Australian history
  • a poem
  • a diary entry

 5. Have groups feed back to the class on their decision. Have them explain how they knew which genre is which.
Discuss how knowing the genre helps us to understand what is being written.

6. In the same groups have students brainstorm what genres they think they might find in the Bible? Fill in any gaps and outline some of the basic genres found in the Bible.

These might include:
  •  Law
  • Narrative
  • Poetry/Song
  • Epistle
  • History
  • myth

Explain that Christians may disagree about some of these categories. In particular the category of myth may be contentious. Explain that myth doesn't mean untrue or fairy tale. Myths contain truth that the community wishes to express. This may mean that while not all that is written happened the truth the story is telling is real.

7. In the same group provide students with excerpts from the Bible and have them decide which of the genres outlined above they might fit into. 

Some useful excerpts might include: 
  • Romans 1.1-7
  • Psalm 46.1-5
  • Leviticus 19
  •  Joshua 4.1-9
  • Luke 14.15-24
  • Genesis 3.1-18

 This lesson could lead onto more in-depth lessons on the individual genres.

10 April 2012

Godly Play

Strand(s):  The Bible and Theology, The Affective

Year level: Early Childhood, Lower Primary

Phase: n/a

Time: n/a

Summary:  A way of engaging young children with worship and the Bible based on Montessori method.

Looking for a way to authentically engage young children with the Bible. Why not explore Godly Play?

Godly Play is a way of telling Bible stories using a method based on the Montessori approach. Developed by Jerome Berryman, Godly Play is ideal for children under eight. It uses parables, sacred stories and liturgical lessons about religious traditions to deeply engage students.

Godly play is about the way young children experience God while learning about God.

It uses a sensorimotor style of storytelling as a primary means of encountering God, so God is experienced, not just learned about. It provides opportunities for students to continue to work and play with the story using art and figurines. It enables young children to bring their lived experiences into dialogue with God in the biblical stories and enables them to tell the stories to one another.

The website of Godly Play in Australia is good place to begin exploring or by reading the book Young Children and Worship by Sonya Stewart and Jerome Berryman.

2 April 2012

Diaries of Reflection

Strand(s):  The Affective

Year level: Upper Primary, Middle school, Senior Schools

Phase: n/a

Time: 5 – 20 minutes

Summary:  A strategy for encouraging students to reflect on life.

Diaries of reflection are a regular opportunity for students to acquire and practise the skill of quiet reflection with others and focus on some of the deeper spiritual and moral aspects of human life.

In an established atmosphere of disciplined quietness, the students are presented with four unfinished sentences.  By reflecting on them and completing them, it is hoped that they will become more alert and aware of their own insights, values and beliefs.

Stilling is an art and a skill that requires practise. 
As an art, it can be an experience of worship.  It is worship through:
  • shared silence
  • an orderly approach to a focussed and shared activity
  • reflection on some of the things which are of the greatest worth in our experience of what it means to be human.

This non-threatening approach to worship has deliberate connections to Christian worship that may not at the first instant be obvious. 
They include:
  • Thankfulness for the blessings of life (praise)                 
  • sorrow and regret for the way we often mess it up( penitence)
  • Concern for those in need (intercession)                                 
  • Commitment of self and the community to uphold good values (dedication)                                                                                                    

Diaries of Reflection must be used only when they are taken seriously, and the following points are followed faithfully.

Diaries of reflection seem to be most effective when:
  • Writing the diaries is a regular, disciplined exercise.
  • The statements or on the board before the students enter the room . . . or
  • The statements are dictated, reflected upon and written in silence.
  • From time to time, teachers feel free to substitute their own topical or other ideas for reflection, responding the moment or context for that day.Confidentiality is respected, and no pupil’s reflections are read beyond themselves, UNLESS permission is given.
  • Students cover their diaries attractively with their own choice of cover.
  • The diaries are known to be valued and stored securely by the teacher and no unauthorised access is possible.
Here are some examples of starter sentences:
  • If I was to thank any one today it would be . . . for his/her . . .
  • I think people say “I don’t care” because
  • The biggest differences between someone in their 80’s and me is . . .
  • Some of the people who are most different to me are . . .
  • I think that the worst kind of evil is . . .
  • One charity I would always like to support is . . . because . . .
  • I think every one should be more responsible about . . .
  • The best thing I have given away was . . .
  • The best gift I have ever received was

Contributed by Richard Browning

26 March 2012

Morality - reason and response

Strand(s):  Ethics and Values

Year level: Senior School

Phase: All

Time: 1 lesson

Summary:  An activity to explore the motivations behind people's moral decisions making using Kohlberg's stages of moral development.

1. Introduce students to Kohlberg’s Stages of Moral Development with the following information:

Moral development is the process by which we acquire values, beliefs and thinking abilities that guide moral behaviour. In order to study this Kohlberg presented children of different ages with the following scenario:

A woman was near death from cancer, and there was only one drug that might save her. It was discovered by a druggist who was charging 10 times what it cost to make the drug. The sick woman’s husband could only pay $1000, but the druggist wanted $5000. He asked the druggist to sell it cheaper or let him pay later. The druggist said no.  What action should the husband take?  

(at this stage you might like to get student to reflect and write about what they would do in this situation and why)

Kohlberg classified the reasons given for each choice and identified three levels of moral development. Each is based not so much on the choices made but on the reasoning used to arrive at a choice. The three levels are: Preconventional, Conventional and Postconventional.

  • At the preconventional level thinking is guided by the consequences of the action. (reward, punishment etc)
  • At the conventional level reasoning is based on the desire to please others or to follow accepted rules and behaviours.
  • At the postconventional level reasoning is based on self-accepted moral principles.

Within these three levels Kohlberg proposed six stages of moral development. People pass through these stages are different rates, with some never reaching the higher levels.

2. Using the scenario above, and Kohlberg’s six stages of moral development as a framework, propose possible courses of action the husband might take and most importantly the reason behind them.

Kohlberg’s Stages of Moral Development


Stage 1. Punishment orientation

Actions are evaluated in terms of possible punishment, not goodness or badness; obedience to power is emphasised. Avoid punishment.

Stage 2. Pleasure-seeking orientation

Proper action is determined by one’s own needs; concern for the needs of others is largely a matter if ‘you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours.’ Not of loyalty, gratitude or justice. Self interest.


Stage 3. Good boy/good girl orientation

Good behaviour is that which pleases others in the immediate group or which brings approval; the emphasis is on being ‘nice’. Whose approval do I seek?

Stage 4. Authority orientation

In this stage, the emphasis is on upholding law, order and authority, doing ones duty, and following social rules. What would traditional values say?


Stage 5. Social-contract orientation

Support of laws and rules is based on rational analysis and mutual agreement; rules are recognised as open to question but are upheld for the good of the community and in the name of democratic values. Social contract.

Stage 6. Morality of individual principles

Behaviour is directed by self-chosen ethical principles that tend to be general, comprehensive, or universal; high value placed on justice, dignity and equality.

3. Explore possible responses with students.

Possible  Responses:


Stage 1. Punishment orientation
 ‘He shouldn’t steal the drug because he could get caught and sent to jail.’ (avoiding punishment)

Stage 2. Pleasure-seeking orientation
 ‘It won’t do him any good to steal the drug because his wife will probably die before he gets out of jail’ (self-interest)


Stage 3. Good boy/good girl orientation
 ‘He shouldn’t steal the drug because others will think he is a thief. His wife would not want to be saved by thievery’ (avoiding disapproval)

Stage 4. Authority orientation.
 ‘Although his wife needs the drug,, he should not break the law to get it. Everyone is equal in the eyes of the law, and his wife’s condition does not justify stealing’ (traditional morality)


Stage 5. Social-contract orientation.
 ‘He should not steal the drug. The druggist’s decision us reprehensible, but mutual respect for the rights of others must be maintained. (social contract)

Stage 6. Morality of individual principles
 ‘He should steal the drug and then inform the authorities that he has done so. He will have to face the penalty, but he will have saved a human life’ (self chosen ethical principles)