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Project ‘Summer Seeds’

Lutheran Church, Rockford, Ill., through playful learning stations where children planted the seeds for a lifelong relationship with God. Members Sara Fleming and Andrea Mahan were both Montes- sori mothers. So they started putting their ideas together and developed a Montessori-style summer Sunday school experience.


Promotional material says chil- dren “are given the freedom to learn about God at their own speed and within the boundaries of their own current knowledge, setting the foun- dation for a lifetime quest for greater understanding and experience of God.”

Send stories of your youth group (pre- school-confirmation age) to: Andrea Pohlmann Kulik , 8765 W. Higgins Rd., Chicago IL 60631; andrea.pohlmann@

Using the theme “Summer Seeds,” a garden plan started grow- ing. First job was to clear out the “stuffed” closets in the primary Sunday school room—just like pre- paring the soil. Seeds were planted, developing into a garden complete with a worship circle, library read- ing tent, art easels, a global village corner, a sound stage with keyboards and headphones, a yoga mat with mirror, an offering altar, costume dress-up station, video area, com- munity art canvas, service work choices, and Bible story workstations. While the inspira- tion for the program was original, the preparation for the classroom revealed

40 The Lutheran •

es, you can have Sunday school during the summer. Members learned this at Emmanuel

Sunday school continues into the summer at Emmanuel Lutheran Church, Rockford, Ill. These children (names withheld for pri- vacy) begin their day at the worship circle for discussion of the day’s theme. Then each child chooses one of the worksta- tions, including art, to continue exploring the theme independently, with the guid- ance of volunteers.

others who have done work in this area. “Godly Play” books by Jerome Ber- ryman served as a resource, with training for new teachers through the Godly Play Foundation ( On the first Sunday, children started arriving for the 9:25 a.m. class—

twice as many as had been coming. They left their flip-flops and tennis shoes at the door as the stations started drawing them in to explore the room. The teaching began at the worship circle with a community prayer, song, story and then discussion (or “wonder”) time. Chosen themes for each Sun- day centered around parables, creation, the universe, our bodies, psalms, global concerns, community, relationships with family and friends, and self-care.

Following the worship circle, children picked a workstation where they would continue exploring the theme through art, music and more. The hour ended with the “feast,” when a healthy snack was provided and

the children had the opportunity for sharing and fellowship. Every child was then given a joyful send-off blessing. Each Sunday the garden grew little by little in children, helpers and curi- ous parishioners. Rally Day came and the summer Sunday school children led the congregation in a procession out to the labyrinth garden to release more than 100 Monarch butterflies with excitement and cheers. Yes, there can be summer Sunday school. 

Jonathan P. Chell Chell, a retired associate in ministry, is a member of Emmanuel Lutheran Church, Rockford, Ill. For more information, contact Sara Fleming at

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