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If you are beginning to use Godly Play® but do not have a desert box, why not put “a piece of the desert” in a fabric bag? Slowly opening the bag of sand and creating the desert on the underlay (the bag becomes the underlay) can be a wonder-filled and meditative way to begin the stories that take place in the desert. Try about ten pounds of sand for an underlay about 36"x36” and make sure the weave is tight, perhaps a microweave, with enough texture on the bottom side to keep it from sliding on the floor. Heavy felt is another fabric that works, because there is friction that keeps sand from sliding off.
In Godly Play®, the type of sand you use in a desert box matters. For the storytelling to go smoothly, and for it to actually resemble a desert, the sand must be very dry. Craft sand from a home supply store will need to be allowed to dry. We've heard about a storyteller who took sand from a beach and returned it after the lesson. The combination of coarse and powdery sand had the look and feel of the Middle East and worked beautifully. It even made a small cloud of "desert dust" when it ran through the storyteller's fingers. Try not to use such dusty sand that you're brushing off your hands during the story, as this could be a distraction.
You can use wooden doll bases for people figures in Faith & Play stories. These are cone-shaped with spherical heads and are conveniently unisex. They can be purchased at craft and fabric stores or on the internet. Stain them oak, maple, walnut, beech and mahogany to suggest the diversity of the human community.
For Godly Play stories that use desert box, there are a variety of figures that can be used: Lauri® Crepe Rubber "puzzle kids," gingerbread-shaped people from the craft store, or round-headed wooden clothespins are all options -- as well as the "People of God" figures sold by Godly Play Resources.
The red dot on people figures in the Listening for God and the Prayer and Friends Meeting for Worship stories can be painted on with acrylics, or you can use nail polish. Nail polish has a sharper and shinier finish than most paints, making the dot stand out, which is helpful when the stories are told to large groups.
After children (or adults!) wonder together and it is time for them to go to the supply table to find their work, the storyteller might suggest they take their eyes and fingers with them. Explain that they may not know what their work is, but their eyes and fingers might. Something on the table may say to their fingers, “Pick me up.” Or their eyes, seeing something warmly familiar or delightfully unexpected, may let them know that they are to work with it, even if they don’t yet know what that work will be.
Having trouble finding matryoshka dolls for the Let Your Life Speak story?
Try cutting out three different sizes of "paper dolls" of the same shape from heavy paper. Stack them with the smallest on the bottom, and "uncover" them one at a time to reveal the increased simplicity as you move "inward."