The topic is "To Be A Pilgrim." We'll be using Dangerous Journey, the BBC's children's adaptation of Pilgrim's Progress. (Note: it says it needs a Region 1 DVD player, but it's actually formatted for all regions. I do find it heavily ironic that this is a BBC production and you can only get it if you import it from America.) Our plans are heavily ripped off a Lenten programme my mother did on the same topic when I was about eight or so.
The whole week will focus on producing a puppet show for the final day. The puppet show will be performed USING THE SERVING HATCH FROM OUR KITCHEN AS OUR PUPPET THEATRE. I just came up with this idea and I love it. We'll have a backdrop showing the entirety of Christian's journey and occasionally we'll pop up and perform musical numbers at certain points in the show - the beginning ("He Who Would Valiant Be"), after the Valley of the Shadow of Death ("One More Step Along The Road I Go") and at the end ("Guide Me, O Thou Great Redeemer").
Each day will start with half an hour of free choice - our themed baskets (Easter, Christmas, Liturgy, Creation, Good Shepherd and Baptism) will be available, as will a child-sized altar, drawing materials, and a book corner. We'll have outdoor play and quiet time each day as well.
Here's the basic overview of the week:
Monday - The Slough of Despond and the Interpreter's House.
Making puppets of the characters we've met so far.
Drama games - 10-second objects with objects from the story, experimenting with moving as different characters, hot-seating some of the characters from the story, devising a dance to show Christian's journey so far.
Object-handling - children have a selection of items, including a guidebook, a postcard, an "I heart London" badge, a scallop shell, a picture of an old pilgrim badge, a walking stick, etc. They choose three objects to take on their journey with them and explain why they chose them and why they would be useful. We look at how the scallop shell could be used - a plate, a cup, a knife, etc. - and I briefly talk about old pilgrim traditions (what the pilgrim badge was used for and how it's similar to modern souvenirs), how they're the same and different from modern tourism. The children each get a scallop shell to be their mascot of this week's journey and paint it with their name and symbols of what's important to them.
Then we'll play a game. This is one I learned from Malcolm and which is IMMENSELY useful in a variety of situations. You need a big open space and a bunch of chairs. You can put the kids in teams or with a small group (as is the case here) all together. Each group has the same number of chairs as there are people in the group, all in a row at one end of the space. Each person stands on a chair. You tell them that they have to, using the chairs, get the whole team across the space - if anyone touches the floor, the whole team has to go back to start. Let them try to figure out how to do it. Eventually they'll figure out (maybe with help from you) that by squeezing two people on one chair at the end and passing the extra chair down the row, they can move the whole team across the space. This will be our "Slough of Despond" game - using teamwork, we can get across it!
Tuesday - the Hill Difficulty and the Fight With Apollyon.
More puppet-making, and starting on the big map that will be the backdrop of our puppet show. For half an hour in the afternoon we'll brainstorm about what needs to go into our script - who are the important characters, what are the important events, and what are some of the lines that we need to include? Using the kids' ideas, I'll put together the first half of the script that night.
Wednesday - The Valley of the Shadow of Death and Vanity Fair.
More puppet-making in the morning.
Drama games - "I am walking," 10-second objects, and conscience alley (for several different points in the story)
In the afternoon, we'll cut out pictures from magazines and newspapers to illustrate different places that Christian has been on his journey. Then we'll have an obstacle course. For the slough of despond, they'll have to step across chairs of different heights without falling off. For the Interpreter's House, they'll have to find their parchment which will be hidden somewhere around the room. For the Hill Difficulty, they'll have to climb up the steep pews in the balcony without touching the ground. For the Fight With Apollyon, they'll have to play "pin the arrow on the monster" (stolen from Beulah's David and Goliath activity - thanks, Mommy!). For the Valley of the Shadow of Death, they'll have to walk across the top of the storage cupboards in the balcony (fairly wide, and with not far to fall if they don't make it). For Vanity Fair, they'll have to walk through a series of obstacles on the floor, while, on either side of them, are tables full of sweets that they will NOT BE ALLOWED TO TOUCH. For Doubting Castle, we'll play a game where we all randomly join hands and then have to untangle ourselves without loosing our hands (this simulates being bound, as Christian and Hopeful were in Doubting Castle). Then it's time for the Dark River - a pop-up tunnel they have to crawl through, which will lead them straight to the Sunday School room, where we will play some joyful music, have some sweets, and finish with closing worship.
Thursday - Doubting Castle and the Dark River
This day is geared towards preparing for the show - finishing the puppets and the map, finishing the script, and practicing the show.
Friday - show!
Final practices, setting up the theatre and the party, and performing at noon (half an hour of show, half an hour of party).