Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Give Thanks Bulletin Board

 Hello Fall!  Here is my fall hallway bulletin board:
 I keep the tree and owl border up all year and rotate other decorations.  For fall, I added yellow, orange, and red leaves to the tree and we made a pumpkin patch.  The cute origami pumpkins are just the tradition Japanese origami  "balloon" done in shades of orange and topped with a curly green pipe cleaner.  They are tied onto green yarn for a vine and stapled on the board.   (FYI- Teaching origami to a room full of children is not for the faint of heart, no matter how obedient and crafty your kids are.  Don't say that I didn't warn you.)

The kids then wrote something that they are thankful for on the pumpkin die cuts.  I made the title "I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart." ~Psalm 9:2.  The end result is very colorful, and the kids really like it!

I also printed out the same title, but instead of cutting it apart for a bulletin board, taped the four sheets of paper together and made a banner for inside the classroom:
You might notice that these match my coloring page from earlier this week:
You can get the coloring page in this post.

You can make the same type of poster or bulletin board!
Click here for the four page printable title for the bulletin board:

Monday, September 23, 2013

I will give thanks

Oh, I am loving fall.  Or, I should say I am ready to love fall.
I got out my classroom fall decorations last Friday in hopes that this week would bring us more 60 degree temperatures rather than the 90 degree temperatures we had last week. I love it all!

Here is a fun coloring page that you can use with your kiddos to remind them to be thankful during this season of beauty.  I am working on a bulletin board to match, so look for that post later this week!

Click on the picture below for a link to the printable.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Teaching about St. Maximilian Kolbe

I'm just wrapping up my second go-round with teaching a cross curricular unit on the life of St. Maximilian Kolbe.  Combining art, literature, writing, research, spelling, and religion, the resources below can help you introduce St. Max to your kids or students.  He happens to be our classroom's Patron Saint, and this unit is a great way to start our school year.
A little about St. Maximilian Kolbe.
-Polish Franciscan priest
-Completely devoted to the Blessed Virgin Mary
-Demonstrated incredible charity and faith
-Intelligent and inventive
-Started a group called the Knight of the Immaculata- goal of sharing the love of Jesus through Mary
-Founded two cities of the Immaculata, a magazine, and radio broadcasts
-Arrested after the Nazi invasion of Poland, imprisoned, then sent to Auschwitz
-Suffered heroically, brought hope and the Sacraments to his fellow prisoners
-Offered his life in place of a husband and father about to be sentenced to death
-Killed by lethal injection after ten days in a starvation chamber
-Patron Saint of the pro-life movement, families, journalists, prisoners, and drug addicts
You can read more about him here.

We read the book Saint Maximilian Kolbe, Mary's Knight by Patricia Edward Jablonski, FSP.  Click on the picture below to see it at Pauline Books and Media.  I think this book would be good for 4-6th graders.  (There are many more titles in this Encounter the Saints series, and all of them are great!). As we read it, we worked primarily on the skills sequencing, symbolism, and cause and effect.

We also watched this 20 min. cartoon from My Catholic Family.  It was a little below 5th grade level, but reinforced the facts about his life we were learning as well as the virtues he emulated.  Click on the picture for a link to EWTN.

Here are some of the handouts that I used while reading the book.  Click on the link and you will have the full printable.

 Practicing cause and effect notebooking sheet: This goes along with chapters 1-3 of the book.
A research assignment using various St. Max websites:  We used this to work on non fiction research and reading for information.  Some of the links that I had this kids use were here and here and here and here.

Here are two weeks of spelling/vocab units to match the book:

  Here is the study guide for the test:
 Here was their final test over the books and skills we practiced:
Our final project was to create a graphic novel/comic strip style book about St. Max's life.  As we read, we recorded the who, what, when, where, and why of the significant events in his life.  We then put those events in order and combined them until we had the same number of events as students.  Each student then created one page for the timeline book about his life.
 Here is the rubric used to grade the timeline project:
  Click here for a pdf of the instructions that I used for introducing the timeline project...
.. which include photos of St. Max at various ages to help the kids with their drawing.
Here are a few pages from last year to show you what the kids came up with.  You can read this year's version of the book here.

Journaling topics that could be used with St. Max include:
-What do you most admire about St. Max?
-What should St. Max be the patron Saint of?
-Write a letter to St. Max from Francis Gajowniczek.  (the man St. Max saved in Auschwitz)
-Choose two important events from St. Max's life and write about how they help us know him.
-What virtue can St. Max teach us about?
-What does St. Max teach us about loving Mary?

While talking about symbolism in literature, the Miraculous Medal was used as our chief example.  Not only does it symbolize something in the book, but the medal itself contains layers of symbolism.  Read more about it here.  We made this art project of "giant" miraculous medals using tin foil inspired by Catholic Icing.  You can find directions and a printable from Catholic Icing here.  I also offered the kids this printable, which is actually how I made the example below.

We also had some coloring pages throughout the time for early finishers.  Here are a few that I found:
Click here to visit Paper Dali for an awesome coloring page of St. Max as a boy.
and here for one with more of his biography.

and here for a coloring page of the St. Max icon.
I hope you are able to introduce this awesome 20th Century Saint to some kids in your life!

Monday, September 16, 2013

Sacrament Symbols

I always start my year in religion with an overview of the Sacraments.  Our 5th grade curriculum focuses on all seven of them as a gift to the Church from Christ.  We will get into the nitty-gritty of each throughout the year, but I like to begin with a big picture. Because we have been talking quite a bit about symbolism within literature in our St. Maximilian Kolbe unit (more on that soon!), I thought we could make some connections with symbols that we use to represent the Sacraments.   Here is how our graphic organizer turned out:
Note that these are not necessarily the official "signs" of the Sacrament, just something that draws our mind to make a connection.  I know there are many more symbols, but this is what the 5th graders came up with (some with a little help!).  The graphic organizer also divides the Sacraments into the categories of Initiation, Service, and Healing, as well as lists a few Bible references connected to the Sacrament.

We also now have a matching anchor chart on the wall to use as reference throughout the year. 

If you would like to use this idea to review/intro the Sacraments there are two printables available below, one filled out, and one with the note taking space left blank.  They would make a great addition to a notebooking project!

Click here for the graphic organizer that you can fill in yourself:
 Click here for the filled in version of our notes:

Friday, September 13, 2013

Armor of God Boys' Retreat

This summer, we had a Boys' retreat centering around the Armor of God.  We wanted the boys to have a fun day and leave with the message that they can grow up to be strong, faithful, Catholic men who live for God in whatever they do.  Big task, but we tried to do it in little ways.

The food is very important, and honestly I think that this is the only reason that most of the boys could name the "weapons" of the Armor of God by the end of the day.  I had this set up on our counter:
 Squares of green bell pepper for the Breastplate of Righteousness:
 Skinny carrot and celery sticks for the Sword of the Spirit:
 Mandarin oranges for the Shoes of Peace:
 Pringles for the Shields of Faith:
 Tostitos Scoops for Helmets of Salvation:
 Licorice for Belts of Truth:
 I honestly did not think of this ahead of time, but the first thing that most of the boys did as they sat down was something like this:
Pretty cute, huh?  They then memorized the parts with no prompting, because they would have conversations like this:
"I'm going to dip my sword of Spirit in the ranch dressing.  Does that make this Holy Spirit sauce?"
"I'll trade you two shoes of peace for a belt of truth."
"I don't know about you, but I need six shields of faith for protection."
It was cool.

We also used the book the Squire and the Scroll.  I found a reproducible coloring book with a simpler version of the story to send home with the boys.

 We also had some guest speakers, including a video chat with my Army Lt. brother-in-law stationed at Ft. Benning, GA.  He spoke about his decision to join the Army and how he feels he is serving God as a soldier.  (He did such a good job!  If you you can keep kids attention through a video chat, you know that it is quality!)
 We also had a visit from a couple local Knights of Columbus, who spoke about the symbolism of Knights of Columbus regalia, their mission, and how they are choosing to serve God as adult men.
 We also had some "quiet" sit down activities that the boys did in between things and at the beginning while we were waiting for everyone to arrive.  Most popular was the scratch art shield:
 ...but they also enjoyed the Armor of God bookmarks, coloring pages, etc.

We then made some giant shields using posterboard and duct tape.
 Cut out, designed, and they had to decorate them with symbols of faith.

 We added a duct tape handle:

And then talked about all of the things that can attack our faith in the world- temptation, bad choices, sin, forgetting about God...etc.  They had quite the specific list.

Then we went outside.
And I told them that these water balloons represented all of the things of the world that make it hard for us to love God like we should.  We have to use our shields of faith to keep those things from attacking us.  They then spread out and had at it, firing away each other and using their poster board shields as a defense.
 The only other highlight was that they got their foam "sword of Spirit" to take home with their shield of faith at the end of the day.

 Here are some links to some of the activities to go along with this retreat:


You might also like to check out the Princess Day that we had, which would make a great companion retreat for girls.