Spirit Play is a Unitarian Universalist model of religious education based on Montessori educational principles. While Maria Montessori’s educational methodology is well-known, fewer people know that she was also concerned with children’s development of spirit. She believed that children come into the world with an inherent sense of spirit, and that most traditional religion pretty much drums it out of them. The idea, then, is to provide the nurturing environment a fledgling spirit needs to grow and develop. And so, the Spirit Play Center isn’t just another classroom. Here, we “have all the time we need.” Here, we speak softly, because someone might be speaking with the Spirit, and we don’t want to disturb them.
The core of the model is presenting selected stories, in a special way, and then—through open-ended Wondering Questions and opportunity for an Art Response—children are invited to make their own meaning of what they’ve heard, either with art materials the child selects, or by choosing to retell the story of the day or one of the stories previously heard.