Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Marian Apparition Investigation

We've reached the end of the school year, and my students are well, a little restless, as I can imagine yours are too. :) With the time that we have left, I've decided to try some high interest Catholic topics to keep them learning and (hopefully) engaged during our last classes- things like Eucharistic Miracles, incorrupt Saints, the Stigmata, etc.)

One group is going to be studying Marian Apparitions, a perfect topic for this month of May.  My hope is to help develop Marian devotion and understanding of the guidance Mary still gives to the Church.  I also want the students to more readily recognize different Marian titles and devotions and their symbols.

I used these Marian prayer cards to intro the lesson and talk about titles of Mary we know, as well as the symbols, etc. in the images.  (These lovely cards are from Avery & Co on Etsy.)

On the back of this booklet, I provided a list of Marian titles (certainly not exhaustive, but a good place to start) and a list of (what I think are) Vatican approved apparitions.  I talked with the students about the purpose of Marian Apparitions, and how they can be approved for devotion but that we are not required to believe private revelation- it does not (and cannot) change the content of our faith. I tried to find a reliable source that lists all the Vatican approved Marian apparitions, but couldn't locate a single exhaustive source.  This list is the best I could find by cross referencing several places.  If you know of a good, reliable website to check, please let me know!

Once the students chose a Marian Apparition, we got started on research.  They looked for basic facts like where, when, and to whom the apparition occurred.  We used the internet (again- would love to have a specific reliable site to have them use!) and my collection of Marian books.  (You can see some of them in this post). The students also had to summarize the message or purpose of the apparition.  On the front, there is space to draw an image of the apparition or list the symbols described.

Then, to work in a little more content no matter the apparition chosen, I had them read a few paragraphs in the Catechism and summarize some Marian facts.  And finally to develop some higher level thinking, I asked them to consider what we can learn from this apparition and the message shared for the Church today.

Finally, the students will share a little mini report on the apparition they chose with their classmates, so we are all learning more about these Marian devotions.  So far it's working great and been a high interest way to use some of our last days this school year. 

I hope that it might be a good resource for you as well!  Feel free to add in the comments or send me an email if you have any great books or websites that you think would be helpful for this project- I'd love your input!

Click here to download your copy of the student guide:

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Lovely Lady {Ideas for Honoring Mary in May}

In honor of this month of Our Lady, I've collected a whole series of posts with tons of ideas for teaching kids about Mary- and through her, modeling Christian life, prayer, generosity, and virtue.

Click on any of the pictures below to take you to a post with more info, ideas, printables, and pictures.

Marian Music Playlist:

Favorite Books About Mary:

Hail Mary Sort Cards:

Angelus Mini Book:

Regina Coeli Mini Book:

Holy Family Hearts Coloring Page and Prayer Cards:

Immaculate Heart of Mary Coloring Pages and Prayer Cards:

Immaculate Heart of Mary and Seven Sorrows Coloring Page:

Mary as the Moon Coloring Page:

Lovely Lady Dressed in Blue Coloring Page:

Lovely Lady Dressed in Blue Retreat:

My Soul Magnifies the Lord Theme:

Marian Bulletin Board:

Mary, Mother of the Church Feast Day

Mary Garden Plant Labels:

Mini Mary Flipbooks:

Notebook Marian Shrine:

Marian Prayers Flipbook:

Marian Typology Info Cards:

Mary & Discipleship Youth Bible Study:

Family Marian Shrine:

World Mission Rosary:

Brown Scapular Resources:

You might also like these Marian Stamps in my Etsy Shop:

Lovely Lady, dressed in blue, teach me how to pray.
God was just your little boy, and you know the way.

Monday, April 29, 2019

Where I've Been

After a two month absence from the blog, I thought I'd share a little about where I've been, why I haven't posted any new content, and the reason I've been terrible about answering your emails and inquiries.

In early March, my 57-year-old otherwise healthy mother developed a bad cough. After spiking a fever, she was diagnosed with bacteria pneumonia and sent home with antibiotics. Less than 48 hours later she was rushed to the ER and admitted to the ICU in full ARDS (Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome) due to H1N1 Influenza.

She fought hard for 24 days, and I and my family were with her every day. She celebrated her 58th birthday on March 29th, and welcomed her fourth grandchild on April 2nd. And the morning of April 6th, she peacefully passed away.

My family and I are coping, but are wrecked and still in shock from such a terrible loss. I've shared a little on Instagram if you follow me there, and was going to stay quiet here on the blog, but changed my mind. This blog isn't about me, it's about Religious Education for homes and classrooms, but along the way so many of you have become friends. I've met you in person, you've send the kindest emails, and we are united in this kinship of evangelization and catechesis.  I'd like to ask for your prayers for the repose of my mom's soul as well as your prayers for my family during this difficult time.  You can visit her Caring Bridge site here if you'd like to read more about our journey.

Thank you for your support.  I hope that you've been able to find activities for Easter and Divine Mercy in the archives, and I'll be back in May with some new ideas and reviews.  My Etsy Shop did reopen yesterday with some new products as well as some sales.  As always, I'm grateful for the community of believers united here.
~ ~ ~

Mom's Obituary:

Rebecca Sue Bogner, 58, of Sparland passed into eternal life on April 6, 2019 unexpectedly from a respiratory virus. Cherished wife, beloved mother, and adored Gigi to four grandchildren, she has left an indelible mark on the world that words would never do justice to.

Becky was blessed enough to always call the countryside her home. She was raised in Wyoming, IL, born to Harold and Betty Wilkinson on March 29, 1961, and was a 1979 graduate of Wyoming High. She attended Illinois Central College. She and her loving husband, Steve, were married in 1983 and resided on their family farm in Sparland for more than 35 wonderful years of marriage. Their love for each other and for their family is undoubtedly Becky’s most impactful legacy.

Becky devoted herself to raising her three daughters, instilling in them through her actions a love for radical hospitality, gracious generosity, and service to others above self.

As they grew, Becky was employed with the Midland School District as an administrative assistant. She worked for the district for 22 years, and greeted everyone with her kind smile and willingness to help without hesitation. She loved her daily interactions with her coworkers and the students. She was an involved parishioner at Immaculate Conception Catholic Church, where she and Steve attended their entire marriage and made many lifelong friends.

Becky was known to her friends, family, and community through countless ways. She was part of the Sparland Mothers Club when her girls were young, a 4-H leader and volunteer for many years, and a proud supporter of the Midland FFA. She baked cakes for every special occasion, from birthdays to weddings. She renovated and decorated their 140 year-old farm house, making it both beautiful and a place to call home for her girls and their friends. She was always elbow deep in craft projects and ankle deep in her garden. Her generosity could not be exceeded through her cooking and baking - there was always enough food for one (or five) more at her table. She would cook a several-course meal and still ask for requests for your favorite pie to whip up at the end of it.

She leaves behind the love of her life, husband Steve, her three daughters, Katie Bogner of Chillicothe, IL, Stephanie Zimmerman of Colchester, IL, and Emily Werner of Fort Riley, KS, beloved sons-in-law Steven Zimmerman and Luke Werner, and the little lights of her life - four grandchildren, Violet, Oliver, Evan, and Theodore. Out of the countless hats she wore throughout her life, Gigi was the one that brought her the most joy.

Services for Becky will take place at Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Lacon. The visitation will be held Thursday, April 11th from 5-7PM. The funeral Mass will be Friday, April 12th at 10:30AM with luncheon to follow. Memorials can be made to the Midland FFA or Immaculate Conception Catholic Church.

The joy and memories she leaves behind for those who loved her and were loved by her far surpass the great sorrow we feel. We rest in the hope that she is in Heaven in the presence of our Lord, and that she already knows what kind of pie to make for Him.

Eternal rest, grant unto her, O Lord and let perpetual light shine upon her.

~ ~ ~

And this is the letter we shared at the funeral:

Dear Family and Friends,

“...We boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we even boast of our afflictions, knowing that affliction produces endurance; endurance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit...”~Romans5:2-5

Hope- the word that has forged our path and guided our steps on this journey.

For much of these past weeks, the word hope has rung in our ears and pressed into our hearts. We rested in hope on the better days and clung to it on the hard ones. We lived in hope that mom would heal, be made well, and return home to us.

Instead, we walk this path, the one we would have never chosen but ultimately was God’s will. In such a time as this, it would be easy to question - what was the purpose of all that hope? What is the purpose of this suffering? And we have received this answer in Truth - our hope is not of this world, not of our own plans or desires, no matter how good. Our hope is in the Lord, ever gracious, ever merciful, ever loving. Our hope is in Heaven.

Our mom emulated this same hope and love in the way she lived each day of her life. She gave her time, her gifts, her kindness, and her smile to everyone she met and poured herself out in service to others. She loved as Christ loves us still - completely, selflessly, and unwavering.

Over the last few days, we have often spoken how people are grieving for us - losing a beloved wife, a cherished mom, and an adored Gigi too suddenly and much too soon has been the greatest tragedy we have ever faced. But also, there are so many who are grieving with us. Many of you feel your own loss of Becky so acutely. When you live the way she did, overflowing with love for others, it’s hard to not be touched by that love. We are all marked in some way by Becky’s life. We honor her by honoring you, her family and friends - thank you for sharing your stories, your memories, the places in your heart where she will live on forever.

In gratitude, we offer you the same thing that has been offered to us - hope through Christ. We do not despair. We rejoice in hope and persevere toward our ultimate goal - a life in Heaven with our Lord. We hope for happier days on earth, that the stories and memories we share will come with both laughter and tears, knowing they are made sweeter from the suffering. We hope for all of you who are hurting today to be comforted and for peace to wash over all of us, leaving only an ache for our true home, where there will be no more pain or sadness - only joy.

In mom’s kitchen, there is a sign that hangs on the wall stating, “Home is where your Mom is.” These words have never been truer. Our home is where our mom is. Our home is in Heaven. May we all one day be Home, together again once more.

With hope -
Steve, Katie, Steph, Steven, Violet, Oliver, Evan, Emily, Luke, & Teddy

Saturday, March 2, 2019

Lent Looks Different: Classroom Decorations

Lent should look different.  Our prayer and practices, our routines and environments.  To represent that visually, I like to really change up my classroom for Lent.  After school Friday, (we have a teachers' institute Monday, so really the kids will see it just one day early) I took down some of our extra posters and decorations, packed up a few statues, etc. to help the room look a little more simple.  Then I went about filling the space will lots of reminders of the purpose of Lent.  This bulletin board is a big visual (somewhere around 5'x5') and is the first view when you walk in the room.  I pulled out this lovely San Damiano Crucifix and then lettered the tradition prayer before a Crucifix that is used in the Stations of the Cross. Fast and simple, but bold and eye catching. 

That bulletin board is right above the prayer space in the corner of our classroom, so I also added a crown of thorns, candle, and a letter board with "pull up weeds, plant good seeds," a shortened version of the Fulton Sheen quote, "We can think of Lent as a time to eradicate evil or cultivate virtue, a time to pull up weeds or to plant good seeds. Which is better is clear, for the Christian ideal is always positive rather than negative." All our sets of Stations of the Cross prayer books and other Lenten reflection books are gathered in this corner as well.

Kendra from Catholic All Year sent me a copy* of her Printable Lent DIY Bundle to try in my classroom, and it is awesome. She used her graphic design skills to update a few of the long standing Lenten traditions of their household, and the set includes a great collection of tools for kids to understand and grow through the Season of Lent.  The set is in the Catholic All Year shop, and I just saw it is on sale for $8 (marked down from $20!) so now is the time to grab it for this Lent.

I've got our set hung in the main hallway at school, right above a prayer table that can be used by any of the kids and staff.  Since it is hanging in a main hallway, we'll be using all the clip art medallions as a calendar for the Season of Lent.  Included are Sundays, Lenten Weekdays, and all the Saint Feast Days that could fall during Lent, no matter how late or how early the Season starts.  (I've got all those extras stashed away for the future!) You can see a close up of the medallions in the photos below, and included in the set is a short kid friendly bio for each of the Saints that could be read on those days.  There is also a great Pray, Fast, Give poster to use as a title and some powerful Lent Saint/Scripture/CCC quotes (pictured above) to round out the display.

(*You know I only share things I've used and loved.  All opinions my own.)

Included in the set are printables and instructions for making a Lenten Sacrifice Bean jar, but I already had this Sacrifice crown, so I went with that.  Add a little purple fabric and a burlap runner, and it makes for an eye catching reminder of the season.

The set also includes little sheets for personal Lenten disciplines and a full page to post the Lenten disciplines for your family or classroom.

I'm going to keep the calendar up for all of Lent and mark the day with this little paper crown of thorns as we move through the Season.  It also would work great as a count down where the kiddos each morning have to find and take down the medallion for the day.  The size of the medallions (a little over 2") would also be super perfect for a pocket chart and calendar time in a younger classroom.  I think it's a versatile set that could work in many levels of classrooms or grow with your family no matter the ages of your kids.

On my Notes from the Saints board (you can see more at #notesfromthesaints) I did one quick quote from St. Maximilian Kolbe and then asked my homeroom to look up and add some favorite quotes from other Saints about Lent.  There's a stack of purple index cards and thumb tacks, so I hope they keep adding to it throughout the Season.  I've added in my metal envelope some Lenten bookmarks for them (I keep prayer cards, Saint cards, little copies of Saint quotes, etc. here for them to grab as they walk out the door if they want.) These bookmarks are actually the Bible Margin Doodle "stickers" in my Etsy shop, just printed on cardstock.  All digital downloads in my Etsy shop are 50% right now, so if you've been waiting to get any of the sets, now's the time!

And finally, I purchased this Stations of the Cross Coloring Book from Catholic All Year (along with the extended license for use in my classroom).  I plan to actually use copies for all of the kids for a Lenten retreat later in the month, but for right now, I wanted to have a set of the Stations hung prominently during Lent.  I love the traditional art of these stations, so they were just what I was looking for.  I asked some early finishers to help color them, with the basic instructions to keep Jesus in white and Mary in blue and then to do whatever they wanted.  Well, next I saw, Jesus was wearing a different colored neon garment in each station.  But, alas, this is their classroom, and if they liked it, it's all fine. ;) I laminated and trimmed them and have them hanging on our windows, giving them a stained glass illusion.

That's how Lent looks different in my classroom! Do you have any great ideas to share about setting the tone for the Season in your home or classroom?

You might be interested in these posts on:
Lent Activities for Kids (Including songs & video playlists, printables, and more)

 Lent Books (2019)

Lent Books for Kids and Adults (2018)