Sunday, December 16, 2012

O Antiphons

It will come as no shock to those that know me when I say that I think crafting is therapeutic.  I love sitting down to create something, especially for someone else.

I have found over the years that time taken while making crafts can also be prayerful.  This is especially true when doing "mindless" things like crocheting.  However, every now and then I find myself inspired to make something that actually seems to be a prayer itself.  That was this case with a book I made about the O Antiphons last year.  I made it during the Christmas season last year after getting some fun new scrapbooking materials (like baker's twine from Anita and number tape from Steph & Steve).  I love the O Antiphons, and they became the inspiration for a mini prayer book.  I loved choosing verses to include, thinking about images that would represent the different days, and coordinating a layout that emphasized the waiting that the Church remembers during the seven days before Christmas.  (You can read about the O Antiphons here and here and here.)

The carrying themes for the book are the song O Come, O Come Emmanuel, the verse "I will wait for the Lord, who is hiding his face from the house of Jacob, and I will hope in him." (~Isaiah 8:17), and the prayer "How Long, O Lord?" which is from Psalm 35:17.  These ideas carried me through the book, and I am very much looking forward to using the pages to aid in my prayer during this last week of preparation before Christmas.  My book will be sitting out near my Advent Wreath, but I though I'd share it with you, too.  So today, here are a few of the intro pages.  Each day following, I will have the pages from that O Antiphon posted.  I hope that they aid your prayer and remind you of the waiting before the birth of Christ, the waiting for this Christmas, and the waiting for him to come again.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

I Will Wait

Join me over with Bonnie at A Knotted Life for my humble contribution to her awesome Advent Series!

Advent Prayer Ring

This was a project that I made a few years ago with a group of high school girls.  They quite enjoyed it, and while I don't know how much they have continued to use it, but I pull mine out every year.  It was simple and cheap, and I think could go over well with some Youth Group kids or even adult Bible studies.

The process was simple.  I typed up an awesome Bible verse for each of the days of Advent and for the Octave of Christmas.  You can use the verse that I chose in this document:

We then cut up purple, white, and pink paper and glued each verse on the appropriate color.  Purple for all the days of Advent, with the exception of pink for the third Sunday, and white for the days of Christmas.  I made this intentionally so that it could be used year after year.  The days are labeled "Monday Week One of Advent" etc.

We then punched a hole in each of the corners and put them all on a binder ring.  Because we are girls, we decorated with ribbons and bells and Christmas-y type things.

The idea is to read and pray about the verse for the day.  I usually hung mine on the knob of one of my kitchen cabinets where I saw it each morning.  As I made my morning coffee, I would read the verse, pray a bit, and then add an intention for the day on the back of the card.  Because I have used the same set of cards for several years, it has been a cool way to see how those intentions have changed & stayed the same, how God has answered prayers, and how I have grown and learned.  I am glad that we made this project, and glad that I hung on to it after the first year!

Friday, December 14, 2012

What is...Advent Jeopardy?

Alex Trebek I am not. but I do love Jeopardy.

Back in college, I got a hold of an editable powerpoint file that was set up like a Jeopardy game.  You actually click on the point value and it goes to the slide with the "answer," and then another click reveals the "question."  It might as well of been gold.  The thing has been used in many classrooms for everything from reviewing the Rock Cycle to practicing multiplication.

So why not make it about Advent?  Here are a couple of Advent Trivia games for use with mid elementary to middle school kids.  Actually, I have used them with my Youth Group too, which they enjoyed.

Unfortunately, the fonts and style did not transfer quite perfectly to Google Drive, but I imagine that you can do a bit of editing once you have downloaded them to your particular version of Power Point.

There is a link to another Jeopardy game all about the Saints of December here.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Seeking Our Savior

*** Update: Click here to get the printable in Spanish!

Yesterday, I posted the activities we had at our 2011 Family Advent Night.  Our 2012 Advent Night is coming up next Friday, so I am putting the final touches on the plan.  We will start the night with a Children's Mass for the Vigil of the Immaculate Conception (our parish feast day), and then all of the kids and their parents come over to our parish hall for activities, snacks, and fellowship.

We are talking about 45ish kids ranging in age from preschool to 8th grade, so it is always interesting  to plan something that hits them all.  I am a big fan of multi-age activities, though, because there is such a great opportunity for the bigs to teach the littles and the little to learn from the bigs, even without them knowing it is happening.

The theme for this evening is "Seeking Our Savior."  If you read earlier, the CCD theme this year is "My Soul Magnifies the Lord," so I am playing off of the magnifying glass idea.  The concept is that the kids are looking for clues during Advent, leading them up to the real meaning of the season, which is to prepare our hearts for Jesus, not to celebrate Christmas starting the day after Thanksgiving.  We are doing the whole night complete with lots of little hands-on activities, but this could also be adapted to be a take home activity by just using the coloring book, or to a more classroom-friendly activity by using the coloring book as a group and looking up all of the scripture references. 

All of the paper items are free printables- you just have to click on each document to go to the link.
All of the crafts are intentionally simple and mostly very inexpensive.  I have included basic directions for each station.

Here is the mini coloring book with each of the "clues" leading up to the reason for Advent.  It includes at least one Scripture reference for each clue, a question to think about, some Old Testament Prophecy connections, and a place to record their "detective" work.

 Click here for the link to the coloring book:
Our kids are going to do an activity for each clue, so they will actually get the coloring book at the end.  Here is the bag that they will get at the beginning of the night to collect their evidence.  (And to ensure that I won't be picking up unlabeled crafts from all over the room when the evening is over.)

Here is a link to the printable Clue Collection bag label:
For each of the activities, the table will be labeled with a large sign identifying the "clue."  When the kids need to find where to go, this will be their guide.
Here are the printable signs for all ten clues, meant to be printed on cardstock and used like table tents:
Depending on the age of the kids and your plan for the flow of the event, you can use these clue cards to get the kids hunting.  There are two cards for each clue, one with a question, and one with a verse, both that match the coloring book.  You could use just the questions or just the verse or all of them.  You could have a set for each kid that they collect one by one as they move from station to station, or you could have one that the leader reads to them when they finish one station to tell them where to go for the next...there are lots of possibilities.
I plan to have the cards at the right stations with Bibles open to the right verses so that the kids get some context on their clue quest.  This would also be a way to adapt it for a larger classroom independent station activity.
Here are the printable clue cards:
Onto the activities.  None of them are super awesomely exciting, but I needed quick cheap things that gave the kids just a bit of hands-on-ness to drive home the clue before they moved on.  There will be a Catechist at each table explaining and doing a bit of teaching-whatever works for the audience.  For most of our kids, they will spend less than 5 minutes at a station.  Obviously our 4-6 year olds will need a little more help, which is the beauty of inviting the parents.  They tend to go around with the little ones and help where needed.  The parents of kids who are too cool to hang with mom and dad help by serving refreshments or spending some time in fellowship.  It works well.

A Family Tree: Isaiah 11:1 & Matthew 1:1-16
Have the kids trace their hand and arm on brown construction paper.  Write their family name on the trunk and family members on the branches/fingers.  Connect to Jesus' family tree and that the prophets told us what family the Messiah would come from.
A Crown for the King of Heaven and Earth: Luke 19:38 & Isaiah 9:6-7
***(Keep in mind that not all of these activities are safe for all kids.  I am using several choking hazards, but our preschoolers are at least 4, and we have lots of adult supervision.  Keep that in mind if you adapt this to use with your group.)
Because of our format, I went easy on this one.  Pre-cut out crowns, markers to decorate, and sticky jewels -which will be strictly rationed by the adult manning the table :).  If you have more time, go for glitter or gluing on jewels because it is a lot cheaper.  Our format doesn't really allow for wet glue, so we are going with the stick-on ones.

The Work of St. Joseph: Matthew 1:19
Cue the cool thing for this station-
We had cross sections of wood cut like this:
And the kids wrote "St. Joseph, pray for us" on them.

The Love of the Blessed Virgin Mary: Luke 2:19 & Isaiah 7:13-14
Mary pondered all things in her heart- so we are going to make a heart to remember her and her love.
The kids will cut out a heart of fun foam,
 And punch two holes in it,
And tie a blue cord through it- the little ones might need explanation of the symbol of tying a cord around your finger to remember something- the cord represents that Mary remembered everything that Jesus taught and showed her through His life.

A Little Town Called Bethlehem:  John 7:42 & Luke 2:1-7 & Micah 5:2-5
Printable of a big B with Bethlehem landscape inside.  All the kids can use a coloring break at this point.

 Here is the Bethlehem printable:

A Humble Manger: Luke 2:6-7 & John 6
I am making these simple mangers ahead of time because it involves hot glue.  These are mini popsicle sticks, but you could do the same thing with big ones.

Glue together two slightly squished x's.
 Then glue three or four horizontal pieces for the sides.  viola.
 That night the kids will add a heart stamp or sticker or marker drawn heart of some kind- I haven't decided yet.  The heart shows that Love became incarnate and rested in a manger, a feeding place, which is a great connection to the Eucharist.

A Bright New Star: Matthew 1:1-2

Thank you, last year's mega after Christmas sales.  The bright new star is just an ornament.
 You could also get some glitter involved if you are brave...

The Sound of Angel Wings: Luke:2:13-14 
The kids will collect a feather and a bell at this station, representing that angels are swift messengers from heaven (feather) and that they sang in the skies over Bethlehem (bell). 

The Visit of the Shepherds: Luke 2:!5
Brown and white pipe cleaners twisted together.  Pretty simple.

The Gift of the Wise Men: Matthew 2:10-11 & Psalm 72:10-11
On-sale small boxes, decorated with markers and stickers and tied up with a bow.  (I am sure the kids will be much more creative than me.)  Inside the box, the kids will write on small slips of paper the gift that they want to give Jesus.  This is a great time to remind them that Jesus really wants our whole hearts, not gold, frankincense and myrrh.

And we wrap up with a bag stuffed with clues and a coloring book to bring it all together.  The last page of the coloring book has some thinking questions for the kids about what they can learn about our Savior from the clues they have collected, as well as what Advent really means.
 I think that our kids are in for a fun evening! I will post after the event with some pictures and an update of how it all goes :)

***After a couple of requests, and while getting ready to run this with ten or so volunteers, I made a Discussion Guide with directions/questions/answers/etc.  Click here for a copy.