Creative Movement Workshop
Summary of Lesson Activities:
Children will contemplate the awe and wonder of God’s creation by exploring Psalm 8 through expressive movement using scarves or body sox.
For scripture reference and objectives, see above.
- Read the scripture for this lesson.
- Read and reflect on the overview material provided for this lesson.
- Practice suggested movements to the psalm or create others if desired. (See the end of the lesson.)
- Gather the following materials.
- Handouts of Psalm 8 (1 per student; for students who haven’t received one yet)
- Variety of colored scarves/fabrics or Body Sox™ (tubes made of a very stretchy Lycra)
- Soft music and a means to play it
- Some sort of noisemaker to gather everyone’s attention (if using body sox)
- Before class:
- Write the key Bible verse with the scripture reference on the easel.
- Trim your copy of the Psalm 8 handout so that it fits inside a Bible. Set aside this Bible to use to read to the class.
Lesson Plan: Opening
Do: Gather everyone sitting in a circle. Greet your students warmly, welcoming them to the Creative Movement Workshop. Introduce yourself and any other adults.
Say: Today we will be hearing God’s word and responding by expressively moving our bodies. First, let’s begin our time together with prayer.
Ask for any prayer requests. Ask if anyone would like to lead the group in prayer. Be prepared to say a prayer yourself, working in prayer requests. Use the Lord’s Prayer as the ending. [You may ask one or two students to lead the Lord’s Prayer.] A suggestion: “Majestic and awesome God, when we think about what you have made, we are amazed. We are filled with awe and wonder. Thank you for being such a creative God. Open our hearts and minds this day to help us to learn more about you. (End with everyone joining in on the Lord’s Prayer.) Amen.”
Do: Go around the circle and ask children to say their name and one wonderful thing God has created (repeats are ok).
Say: God is an amazing God. There are so many fantastic things God has created. When we think about all of them, it is mind-boggling! Many years ago, long before Jesus was born, the Hebrew people looked up at the night sky, or at a sunrise, or at the fish in the sea, and they thanked God for creating such a fantastic world. When they saw what God had done and they thought about it, they were filled with awe and wonder! They just had to praise God!
Ask: What are some ways we praise God? (accept all answers)
Say: The Hebrew people wrote their praises down and used them in worship as songs or poems. These special praise songs or poems are called psalms. Many of them are collected together in one book in the Bible – the Book of Psalms. We still use psalms today when we worship God.
Ask: These psalms were written many years before Jesus was born. Where do you suppose we would find this book in the Bible?
Say: The Bible is divided into two major sections or testaments – the Old Testament and the New Testament. We find Psalms in the Old Testament.
Do: Distribute Bibles. Have students find Psalm 8.
Say: It’s easy to find the book of Psalms. If you open your Bible about in the middle you will probably open it right at the book of Psalms, or very close.
Do: Show them that the word Psalms starts with a “P” but sounds like it starts with an “S.” Point out how chapter numbers are large and indicated with a range at the top of each page.
Ask: Who wrote many of the psalms in the Bible? (David)
Who remembers learning about David? (King David, David & Goliath)
Say: David took care of sheep when he was young. There were probably many nights when he lay on the cool grass, looking up at the night sky. Perhaps it was on one of those nights that David wrote Psalm 8.
Ask: Have any of you ever been far away from the city at night?
What did the night sky look like?
Say: Sometimes when we see something such as a huge night sky full of stars, we are overwhelmed by all God has done, by how powerful God is. Listen for the things that amazed David as I read the psalm.
Do: Have the children close their eyes. Read Psalm 8 from a copy of the Psalm 8 handout. [ It’s important to reinforce that this passage comes from the Bible by holding open a Bible to Psalm 8 even though you are reading the verses from the paper that was cut out earlier.]
Read slowly and dramatically. Have the children open their eyes.
Ask: What did David think about when he looked at the heavens? (how amazing God is, how small we are…)
Say: Sometimes when we see the vastness of the sky and the universe and all that God has created, it can make us feel very, very small… David is amazed that a God so huge can still care so very much for us.
Ask: I wonder if you have ever felt anything like that? (allow all answers)
Do some creative movement
Say: David wrote his feelings in Psalm 8. We can express our feelings by writing or by singing but we can also express our feelings by the way we move.
Do: Have students stand up, and practice expressing feelings through body movements. Try anger (stomping around), happiness, or seeing beauty. Explain that there are no right or wrong ways to do these things; each person’s response will be different.
Explain that the only rules are:
* Moving safely so you and others don’t get hurt
* No talking (use your face and body to show the object/feeling/experience).
Say: We will now create motions to reflect the words in Psalm 8.
Do: Slowly read the first line of the psalm. Allow students to use their own motions or to follow your movements (just like a mirror). [Suggested motions are attached].
Go through each line of the psalm together, expressing the words with movements. Read the verse out loud and have the children echo it. [For younger students, consider shortening the psalm to verses 1, 3-5 and 9.] Repeat this process as time allows.
Do: Give each child a colored piece of fabric. Repeat the movements and recitation, line by line using the scarves to enhance the movements. You may also choose to play soft music. Or use body sox.
If you use Body Sox...
Ask everyone to take off their shoes. Pass out body sox and have everyone put them on. [Expect chaos for several minutes because of the excitement of the body sox. After everyone is in Body Sox, sound a noisemaker. Stress that they move without making noise.]
Do: Gather up scarves and body sox and put away. Bring children together sitting in a circle.
Ask: I wonder what David was feeling when he wrote this psalm?
I wonder which part of the psalm is the most meaningful to you?
I wonder when you might think about these words again?
Do: Close with a circle prayer. Have anyone who would like to, complete this sentence…”I praise you God because you are….”
If you have extra class time:
Distribute copies of the Psalm 8 handout. Form two groups that line up facing each other. Have the first group read the first verse in unison. Have the second group read the second verse in unison. Continue in the same fashion, alternating groups until the entire Psalm is read. Repeat, breaking at different points, perhaps at each line.
Suggested Motions for Psalm 8
These are just suggested motions. Feel free to create different motions or have the children create their own. For other ideas, consult a book on “signing” or visit an American Sign Language website. (But be sure to not limit your movements to just using your hands.)
Lord – arms outstretched at sides with face looking up
Majestic – bring arms in to center of body and sweep upward and outward
All the earth – sweep arms from center to sides
You – point away from self
Glory above the heavens– lightly clap hands together above head, then wiggle fingers and spread out over head
Tiny infants – pretend to rock a baby
Enemies silent – bring index finger to mouth in “Shh” motion
Consider heavens – put hands to forehead and look upward
Work of your fingers – move hands forward while wigging fingers
The moon – cup one hand and raise above head
The stars – raise hands above head and alternately flick fingers of both hands
Why do you care… – lift hands to sides with palms facing up, shrug shoulders
Made us a little lower – arms at side with palms down, press lower, crouch down
Crowned us – pretend to place crown on head
With glory and honor – lightly clap hands together above head, wiggle fingers and spread out overhead
Put us in charge– place one hand in front, palm up, then repeat with other
Everything you made – sweep arms from center to sides
Sheep and cattle – place hands at forehead with fingers pointing out like horns
Birds in the sky – flap arms as a bird
Fish in the sea – move hand up and down to simulate waves
Ocean currents– add wave motions with both hands
Flodin, Mickey. Signing Illustrated: The Complete Learning Guide. New York: Berkley Publishing Group, 1994.
A lesson written by Carol Hulbert from: First United Methodist Church, Ann Arbor, MI
Photo Copyright Carol Hulbert.