Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Katie hasn't changed.

If you missed my first studies in awkwardness and humility, visit here and here.

Old photos are fun.  Good memories, good stories, and a certain level of ridiculousness.  As I sorted through pictures from my childhood, I discovered that I haven't really changed all that much as I have grown up.  When in my Senior English class, we were assigned to come up with one specific adjective to describe each of our classmates.  Want to know what word my classmates chose for me? Predictable.  Here are a few examples:

I still don't go anywhere without my sunglasses.  
And I do love a good purse.

 I'm ok with taking calculated risks as long as
I can see the place I should land.  
Actually, I really just like keeping my feet on the ground.

 I multi-task in strange places.

I frequently craft until the wee hours of the morning.  
Also still use elmer's glue.
And sometimes rock pink footie pajamas. 
Or not.

I love my faith.
Five year old Katie may not know the difference between the Immaculate Conception and the Incarnation, but she fully adhered to the dogma of the Holy Roman Catholic Church.  Also, she had a Jesus WaterBaby and thought it was ok for the Blessed Virgin to have rainbows on her veil.

I still enjoy a good jam, like the one below.

What do you see in pictures of your childhood?  What are some ways that you have not changed a bit?

Friday, June 21, 2013

Vocations Part Five: Matrimony

 How do you teach kids about the Sacrament of Marriage?  It isn't easy, trust me.  The best education that they can receive is from the holy model of their parents' marriages, lived out in faith.  However, not all kids are blessed with that.  As the world bombards them with messages contrary to God's institution for man and woman, we have to speak truth into their lives.

This can be a touchy subject when talking with kids, because if they don't come from a home with some kind of brokenness, they certainly have a family member or friend who does.  When I talk with kids about the Sacrament of Marriage, I am always sure to do it with much love, but also with much honesty.

As I planned on how I was going to review the Sacrament with my 5th grade students, I debated with several possibilities.  Finally I decided to have a discussion.  I had a very inquisitive, honest, and open class, so we just cleared off our desks, and I opened up the floor with the topic.  What is marriage?  Who created it?  Why?  What should a marriage be like?  Who is called to marriage?  What are some lies that we hear about marriage? etc.  It was interesting, and probably could have lasted all afternoon.

As we wound down in the discussion, I passed out the graphic organizers (printable below) and asked the kids to help me fill them with words that helped define a holy, Sacramental, Catholic marriage.  Here is some of what they came up with:

We included these notes in our Fulton Sheen Notebook, to help remind the kids of the key ideas.
Was this the only or best way to talk about the Sacrament?  Nope.  But it seemed to work for these kids.  What are some resources that you use to talk about Marriage with kids?

Click here for the printable:

And here is an example of some items that could be listed inside:

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Vocations Part Four: Holy Orders

Continuing on my series on Vocations, this is the activity that I used to teach my students about the Sacrament of Holy Orders.  It is more note than activity based, and the content is drawn from our textbook, but the kids enjoyed and retained more from this notebooking activity than they would have from plain old lecture/discussion. This was included in our Fulton Sheen Notebook.

On the left is a set of notes about the Sacrament of Holy Orders.  Most was done by me, but the students had some fill-ins to do.  You can print the notes and my key at the end of the post.
On the right was a set of notes about what a Bishop is.  Since Fulton Sheen was a Bishop and then Archbishop, we learned a little more about this step of Holy Orders.

The kids copied their own notes for this one, but there is a printable you could use as a master at the end of the post. We also made cute and easy origami miters to add to the page- definitely the highlight of the lesson.  For steps on making origami miters, go here.

For a copy of the Holy Orders printable, click on the thumbnail:

For a copy of the key I made, click here.

For a printable of the notes about Bishops, click on the thumbnail:

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Vocations: Part Three- My Hands Can Serve Activity

When teaching kids about Vocations, I think that prayer is a critical part.  We can't just talk about what Vocations are without teaching that each individual child has a specific Vocation planned by God and that they should be praying to have the wisdom to know their Vocation and the courage to live it out.

This prayer activity was part of our Fulton Sheen Notebook, but it could be used as an individual project.

First, fold a piece of construction paper in half bathtub style. (short ends together).
place the pinky side of your hand up against the fold and trace.
Cut out along the lines, but do not sever the folded side.  You will end up with two hands that open up, symbolic of us opening up our hands in prayer and us opening up our hands in service, which is what a Vocation is about.

Color and cut out the My Hands Can Serve printable- link below.
On one palm, glue one of the scripture verses.  All can be included if you staple them together like a flip book.
On the other palm, glue the vocation prayer.
On the outside, glue the My Hands Can Serve title.
Ta-Da!  All done, and your kiddos have a quick little reminder to pray to tuck away in a book or on the family fridge.

Click here for the printable:

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

A Study in Awkward...Again

STOP!  Do not proceed until you read #1-3!

1.  Please revisit this post from a year and a half ago about some terrible high school pictures I found of myself and classmates representing the FFA organization.
2. If you don't know me, you might want to skip this post.  I am about to make myself humble for the entertainment of my family and friends.  If you chose to read on, prepare yourself.
3. OK, you may now continue.

This weekend, preparing for Em and Luke's wedding led us to looking for some pictures of Emily when she was little.  Looking at a few pictures escalated to going through every photo album and baby book and sorting through every box of old pictures.  This was quite enjoyable and started more than a few family stories.  It also let to some gems like this one:

 But more on that later.

It is now time for more embarrassing, poorly representative, awkward FFA pictures.

This installment is all about finding a good place to take a group picture.  Because we all know that when it comes to awkward pictures of groups of adolescents, it is all about location, location, location.

First, find a large stone object to pose on.  Subject matter is not important, and rarely will relate to FFA jackets.
 If pose is not nearly awkward enough, challenge a teenage boy to climb inside part of said sculpture.

Another highlighted FFA picture pose is the draped background.  It suppose to look professional and planned, but really it is just in a busy corridor of a convention hall where a group of moms are holding off the crowds so that no one cuts through the perfect picture.  It also makes us look like we are in a giant play-pen.

Not good enough?  Find a person in a giant animal suit to pose with.

The layout of this picture might not be the best, but it is the subject matter I wanted to share.  I wish you could see the expressions on our faces.
 Where are we, you ask?  A stud farm.  Yes, I said a stud farm.  I was on a tour of a working stud farm, with teenage boys as companions.  You do the math.

Moving on, make sure you capture the essence of FFA judging experiences, such as this poultry judging team's look of success.
Any large piece of farm equipment serves as a valid and opportune photo back drop.  It is advisable to have the farm equipment stop operating before loading it with minors.
 And finally, it is important to recruit and photograph members young.  This is my kindergarten class during National FFA Week 1991.  I am on the far right in the front.  The grown up in the back is the man that would become my FFA advisor about eight years later, and would teach me about leadership, service, hard work, growth, and one of the greatest youth organizations out there.  So I guess the recruiting worked! :)

 Here's to humbling yourself for a little fun.  Later this month I will post some more humbling pictures of myself and how my personality hasn't changed all that much in 27 years.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Vocations: Part Two

Check out Part One of my posts on Vocation activities.

When teaching about vocations, I love using this movie:

I also love these Vocation dolls, made by Wee Believers.

Meet Sr. Mary Clara:
 And Fr. Juan Pablo:
 Fr. Juan comes with his own mini Mass kit:
 Aren't they sweet?
 And both dolls come with these great books, complete with explanation of the Vocations, prayers for Vocations, and five real life Vocations stories.  Check out some of the pages:

 I keep the dolls and books in my classroom, and the kids are free to pull them out of the religion corner. Sometimes they use Fr. Juan Pablo or Sr. Mary Clara as a reading buddy.  One time I walked back into my classroom after dropping the kids off at PE, and found Fr. Juan propped up on a desk reading a book where a student had left off.  My, they are creative :)
What are some products or resources that you use to promote a respect for Vocations?

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Vocations: Part One

A couple of years ago, we had a vocation celebration for our CCD program at church.   Complete with crafts, guest speakers, and an explanatory Mass.  Some of the activities centered around learning more about the different kinds of vocations.  The highlight of the day were our guest speakers, which included one of our Diocesan Seminarians and five Sisters representing three religious orders.  They shared with the kids (and parents) their vocation stories and answered questions. It was an incredibly valuable experience.
I made these posters with basic definitions of the different kinds of Vocations, including Holy Orders, Religious Life, Marriage, and Single Life.
The kids really loved these posters of the habits/vestments of religious and priests.  The name of items they are wearing are on cardstock backed with pieces of velcro.

They can be pulled off and stuck on.  I kept a book with the answer key near by, so that the kids could self check their answers.
It was great to pull out these posters as I reviewed the Sacraments during our Fulton Sheen Unit.
Check back for part 2 of our Vocation Review!

***Update*** While I would love to share these posters with you, I made them in the days before my blogging and the graphics are not original (see comments below).  However, I have pulled the text of the Vocation definitions and descriptions into a document that you could use to make your own posters.  You can find it here.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Smash Prayer Journals

Have you seen these Smash Journals that are popular right now?  (Or Smashed Book, or Junk Journals...)  Think scrapbook, diary, and doodle pad rolled in one with no set plan.  They are very cool and a neat project for teenagers.
 A friend of mine was cleaning some things out and gave me this "Tear It Up" journal to see if I could use it for something.  The pages in this book had directions like "spill your coffee on this page" and a place to glue tickets and other memories from trips.

 So, I thought why not take this Smash Journal idea and make it about a prayer experience for teens?  A place to smash things that reminded them of God, items that helped them to pray, and a place to write prayers, quotes, and Scripture.  I pictured something that would be fun to make without much of a plan, something that could be added to for years, and something that would foster a love for beauty and faith and communication with God. (There is a printable at the end of the post with prayer journal topic ideas.)

First I gathered some supplies:

Composition Notebooks- donated to me from a parent's left over supplies.  Score.
 I actually found some actual Smash Journal elements on major sale. Awesome.
Then I gathered some of the cool patterned and color duct/masking tape that they have out there these days.  Not cheap, but a bunch of the girls brought their own to share, so we ended up with lots of patterns.
Next I cleaned out those desk drawers, boxes, baskets, etc. that have those pretty holy cards, calendar pages, prayer booklets and religious pamphlets. This is a perfect reason to save all those free religious things you get in the mail-the ladies at church love to give me bags of them.  My office desk has never been so clean.
I also collected some random office supplies- another great opportunity to clean out.  Here I have some envelopes, file dividers for index cards, cardboard cards, etc.  You will also want to gather staplers, tape, glue, etc.  The office supplies below are from a stash I have been working on for the entire school year that were donated by my cousin after she did some office cleaning out.  (Do you sense a theme here of people giving me things that they want to be rid of?  At least you can see that I am putting them to good use!)
 Assemble supplies with assorted colored paper, stamps, pens, markers, scissors...
 ...books, calendars, magazines to cut up, etc.
Finally gather a group of teenage girls and get ready for some fun.  I did this activity with about 10 girls from my youth group, with rave responses.  I had explained it before what we were going to do, so several of the girls came armed with their own supplies, including boxes they had of their own mementos- cards from people, religious pictures, holy cards, etc.  They were able to include personal things from the start, just like the ones that they will be able to add in the future.

We worked on out journals for a few hours over the afternoon. Before we started, I talked with them a bit about the different ways to pray, and how sometimes journaling or writing prayers to God can help us focus.  It also can be nice to have a place with beautiful spiritual things, quotes, Scripture, etc.  That's what I wanted them to create- a tool to help foster prayer.  It also wasn't something to create in one afternoon.  It could be written in and added to for years.

Here is my final journal.  They all looked so different and unique to the girls' personalities.
 I added tabs to split the journal up.  (I know Smash=no organization, but I couldn't help myself.) I created them by stapling in index card dividers.  Some of my sections included prayers, journal, beautiful things, Saints, quotes, Scripture, etc.
 Here is one of the tabs stapled in and then decorated:
 Here is my inside cover:
 Smash stuff in:
 Make an envelope page, ready to tuck small notes, cards, etc. inside.
The girls loved this idea:
We delegated one section of the journal "colors."
On those pages, they just smashed pictures, quotes, etc. of that color.  My pages aren't quite done, but you can see the effect
 Some other ideas:

Use paint sample strips as a place to make a list:
 Make spaces where journaling can be "private" or set to open at a certain time.  One of the best things about journaling prayers is that we can look back at how God has answered them.  Yes, no, or something you don't expect.
 Lists are always a good way to send quick prayers heavenward:
 Make sure to throw in some favorite Bible Verses:
 Here's my pretty back cover:
 There is the general idea.  Of course there are thousands of variations, but here is a printable with some possible journal starters. They can be cut up and glued to pages in the notebook, or can be written in your own handwriting.

 I would love to know how people adapt this idea and make it their own, or how you use it with kids!