We Provide Resources for Sunday School Children & Worship Activities that also use Montessori Techniques
We try to satisfy our customer’s needs with more than one option. This is an area where you, as the customer, have a choice of style preference as you make your selections throughout our online catalog. All of our materials are made to the specifications and approval of the late Dr. Sonja Stewart.
We hand craft two styles of figures for the Young Children & Worship and the Following Jesus books. Our most popular style of figure is made using a single-wood. An alternative style of figure is made using an assortment of wood types, for example: pine, black walnut, cypress, maple, zebra, and several other exotic woods. The suggestion is a single type of wood draws attention to the story and movement of the figures rather than the figures themselves. Although identical in shape the solid color wood figures, the multi-wood items suggest we are all different.
Figures in either of the two styles vary from 3/8” to 3/4” thickness, depending on the story in which they are used. The Old Testament figures are specifically made to stand in the sand which is confined in the Desert Box. The New Testament figures easily stand on the felt underlays and are a perfect size for little hands to manage. Each figure is carefully sanded and buffed to a smooth finish.
Most of the structures used in the telling the Biblical stories are handcrafted from Baltic birch. We offer the wall of Jerusalem and wall of Bethlehem in two styles: as solid wood Baltic birch structures or multi-wood structures using the same beautiful woods of the figures to indicate the various architectural elements on the Baltic birch wall. All of our structures are sanded and finished with a MSDS approved wood sealer for protection.
The pieces used for the parable stories are two-dimensional characters cut from 1/8” Baltic birch. Laminated color prints ready for you to cut out is a second option. A third choice is purchasing the color print and preparing it as you wish for telling the story. The small mountains and the tomb are made of resin. This material has the look and feel of a real rock. The tomb is also available in wood. The large mountain, used in “Following Jesus”, is available using foam with a outside resin for durability. All of our materials are made with safety and usability in mind. If you have any questions, please contact us at 1 (888) 689-6757 or [email protected].
Some baskets and trays may be substituted for what we have in stock and may not resemble what is pictured.
History of Worship Woodworks
Worship Woodworks Inc began when Tom Berryman said to employee Sally Selzer, “Start your own business”. Sally did just that, and soon she met Sonja Stewart who also encouraged her to make “Young Children and Worship” materials. Since 1995, Worship Woodworks has grown from a “one person, in the family garage” endeavor to a growing business with 7 employees in 2 well-equipped shops and a few others who work out of their homes.
The materials Worship Woodworks handcrafts are made to the specifications of the late Dr. Sonja Stewart. These materials are used in the stories Sonja and Jerome Berryman developed using the Montessori Method for teaching young children Bible stories and how to worship in a setting limited only by each child’s readiness to learn. Adults often say they also understand more details in these favorite Biblical stories after observing them in this children’s program setting.
“Following Jesus” is considered a continuation of the established and respected “Young Children and Worship” curriculum. “Young Children and Worship” move children through the entire Bible, from “The Creation” to “Pentecost” with several parables included. “Following Jesus”, primarily taken from the New Testament Book of Mark, begins with “Baby Jesus is Presented to God” to “A New Heaven, a New Earth, and a New Jerusalem”. Colorful felt underlays set the scene for wood figures to play out the stories and allow children to expand their imagination. Textures of the various materials used and the wondering questions, allow even more senses to be stretched and developed. The figures, buildings, mountains and other tangible materials stimulate the visual and imaginative senses of all ages.
History of Young Children and Worship
Sofia Cavelletti was an internationally known educator and Biblical scholar. With Gianna Gobbi, a Montessori educator, she developed a religious program based around the Story of the Good Shepherd. Cavelletti lived in Italy but travelled the world helping people teach children in a way that honours the oral method of faith formation and that is Biblical and sacramental. Cavelletti died in 2011.
Principles of Maria Montessori, who was an educator and a physician, greatly influence this children’s worship program. Principles such as:
- Children absorb learning from a carefully prepared environment.
- There must be freedom within the prepared environment for children to develop physically, mentally and spiritually.
- Movement starts the intellect working and children learn through movement.
- Teachers guide more than direct children. Teachers must be good observers.
- Children have a natural desire to learn and to work.
The National Association of “The Catechesis of the Good Shepherd” is founded on the ideas of Sofia Cavelletti. The organization assists in “. . . the involvement of adults and children in a common religious experience in which the religious values of childhood predominate.” This organization supports “. . . the catechist, parents and others in the church and beyond, as they grow in their understanding of the religious potential of children.”
Sonja Stewart, an ordained Presbyterian Minister, was the coordinator of the Master’s in Religious Education at Western Theological Seminary in Holland, Michigan before her retirement in 2003. Dr. Jerome Berryman and Dr. Stewart combined their efforts to write the book, Young Children and Worship. Several years later, Dr. Stewart wrote a second book of stories for children called Following Jesus. Dr. Stewart died in 2006. Her granddaughter, Olivia Stewart, is continuing to offer training events in the tradition of her grandmother. Dr. Stewart says that Children and Worship is. . . “a joyful way to worship God. It invites both children and adults to experience the wonder and mystery of God through a unique storytelling format and multi-sensory materials. It is a worship environment that cultivates the imagination and invites children to fall in love with God.”
The Reformed Church in America, The Christian Reformed Church in North America, and The Presbyterian Church in Canada have been offering training events based on the book, Young Children and Worship since the late 1980’s. The Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the US and Canada began offering training events in the mid 1990’s.
Jerome Berryman, co-author of Young Children and Worship, studied with Sofia Cavelletti. He has developed a similar program to Young Children and Worship.