Thursday, August 22, 2013

Teaching Prayer- Sign of the Cross Mirror

Ever get frustrated trying to help a little one learn how to do the Sign of the Cross?  They might get the words, but not the motions?  Or they never can remember what shoulder goes first?  Sometimes when they follow you, they automatically do the wrong thing because they are looking at the reverse direction mirrored in your actions.

When talking about this problem with one of my Kindergarten catechists, I decided to make a tool for their classroom to help the little ones learn this important prayer.  I once heard a monk say that if you were only going to pray one thing, this would be a good choice because it packs so much in.  You've got the Trinity, a connection to our baptism, and a bodily reminder that Christ became one of us and died for our sins on the cross.  Seems to me it is worth the extra time to help them get it right.

I started with a cheap mirror- this would be a great project to reuse one you have or pick up one at a thrift shop.  I went the easy route and bought a new $5 one.  This particular mirror is about 12 x 18 in.  You could go bigger, but I wouldn't go much smaller.
I spray painted the frame to make it a bit cuter and cleaned the glass well.  Then using a ruler, I made the first lines for a large cross outline, going nearly to the edge of the frame.
I used a white paint marker, and after it dried it seemed pretty permanent and not easy to scratch.
I then thickened up the lines to make it more visible.  I added numbers and arrows for non-readers, along with the words of the prayer.  When you make this, it is important to have it correct as a reflection, not the actual left to right of the prayer.  Make the sign of the cross in the mirror and think about where the 3 and 4 would go.
Next, hang it at a level that the kids can line themselves up with the cross-forehead at the top and shoulders on the horizontal pieces.  Then they can look in the mirror, follow the numbers and arrows, and make the Sign of the Cross correctly:

In the name of the Father...
...and the Son...
...and the Holy...

Eventually with practice the motions of this prayer will become ingrained as muscle memory- practicing it the right way will make it stick!

Some other ideas...
-If you have a wall mounted mirror in a bathroom or other place, you could cut out a large cross  from the center of a large piece of paper or piece of posterboard.  Tape the outside part on the mirror so the kids can still see their reflection in the middle part of the cross.  Write numbers and cue words on the paper.
-You also could do something very similar to the mirror above but with tempera paint or window chalk, both of which scrape or wash off, leaving you with a clean mirror once they have mastered the prayer.


  1. This is an awesome idea! :) You look very serious in the pictures. :| hehe

    1. Why so serious? Name the movie...
      I guess it is sort of weird to smile while making the sign of the cross as you take pictures of yourself...