Teams of volunteer storytellers usually from a church local to the school use drama, mime, props, costume - even the children and staff themselves - to present Bible stories in ways that are lively, engaging, informative ... and great fun for everyone involved!
It might seem simple but it has a profound effect on pupils, staff and teams. Most teams are made up of members of Church of England congregations but there are plenty of groups from other denominations, such as our group.
Between us we make or put together all the costumes, and I will say it has helped to have two moms of young people who have been involved in music and drama for years, their costume making skills and ideas have been invaluable!
I first got involved in this when the headteacher of one of the schools I was already involved with approached me and asked me to put a team together. That was about two years ago. We began just over a year ago and are now in our second year, having added a second school at the start of this school year. I lead our team of 4 people, doing the planning and organising but we all take turns in the presenting role, narrating as well as taking turns at playing major or minor characters in the story.
Most weeks involve us also using children and staff from the schools to play minor roles and these are often the most fun, such as the teaching assistant who played Eli in the story of Samuel hearing God in the night, snoring loudly and tossing and turning in his bed, with suitably grumpy behaviour when he was woken. He had us laughing as well as the children.
Sometimes the children are not even aware that the person at the front is one of their teachers until we thank them at the end.
The most moving story for us last year was the crucifixion of Jesus. We were all nervous, wondering how the children would take it as Open the book is often noisy and funny and involves them being loud and actively involved. This time, they got it straight away. They understood the seriousness of the story, were quiet and contemplative and very relieved the following week when we portrayed the resurrection.
Most of the children in these schools have no church background, and this is our opportunity to present the bible to them in an active, engaging way that fulfils the school's requirement for statutory worship.
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