Thursday, October 31, 2013

All Saints and All Souls Day Letters

Not one to abandon All Saints and All Souls Day to be overshadowed by Halloween, my classroom has spent this whole week talking about the Communion of Saints, praying for the dead, and eternity.  Our discussion led to the fact that we can ask the Saints in heaven to pray for us, and we can pray for the souls in Purgatory. 

Unfortunately for my students (not really) I am great at integrating subjects into each other, so our discussion turned into an official writing assignment. 

They could chose to write letter (yes, a letter, which should not be a dying art) to a Saint in heaven: (asking what heaven was like, mentioning what they admired about their lives, asking for their intercession...)
 ...or to a soul in Purgatory: (usually the kids chose to write to a dead loved one, so they wrote about how they missed them, told them about what was going on here on earth, an promised to pray for them, etc.)

This assignment could be made a little more fun by using this cute "stationary" for the letters and adding it to a notebooking project.  Click on the images for links to the printable.

In celebration of All Saints Day, why not play this Beatitudes and Modern Saints game?  Click on the picture below to go to the post:
And just in case you missed it, there is info about All Saints Day and All Souls Day in my coloring book Finding Truth in Halloween:

Happy Halloween, All Saints Day, and All Souls Day!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Ideas for a Rosary Lapbook

Back in this post I talked about how much I like Holy Cross Family Ministries' Rosary coloring books.  They are reproducible for classroom use, so I used them to make a Rosary lapbook.

I started with a regular sized blue file folder, refolded so that the sides met in the middle.  I used a hole punch  to make a hole for every bead of the Rosary around the edges of the file folder, and used an exacto knife to cut out the cross.  You could run your finger along the edge of the folder and pray the Rosary if you wanted, and it looks really cool too :).
There is so much content available in the coloring books, so this one is just about the Luminous Mysteries.
Here is an inside view:
I included some info on how to pray the Rosary in a pocket:
I also copied the coloring book pages on a slightly reduced scale and then created a small coloring book inside:
The coloring book is on a cardstock hinge that opens to reveal activity pages below:

I also have pull out cards with all of the prayers needed to pray the Rosary.
And a little pocket for prayer intentions to remember as you pray.

On the back, I included a coloring page with all five mysteries to summarize the contents.
The possibilities are endless!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Rosary Resources

While we are nearing the end of the month of October, it is not too late to work in some month of the Rosary activities.  Back here I promised to share a few more ideas, and I am just now getting around to it :).

Let me tell you about  Holy Cross Family Ministries.  Love their materials, and they are very affordable and work for varying ages.

They have a great video called Think Good Thoughts, which talks about the origin of the Rosary and can help kids learn to pray the Rosary.
Inside the DVD case is an idea book with this great activity to go along with the DVD, and I have used it more times than I can count.
Gather a ball of yarn, plastic Easter eggs, and some small stones. 
-Pass out the stones, one for each student.  Teach about how peasants in early Christendom would gather 150 stones to carry in a pouch to remind them to pray the 150 Psalms like monks and nuns did in monasteries.   Later those 150 stones came to represent the 150 Hail Marys of the Rosary.  Eventually, they started tying 150 knots on a string, and then beads on a string, which we recognize as the Rosaries we see today. 
-When the students choose a stone, remind them that we come from the earth, too, and can remember that while we are here on earth, we will keep praying about the things we need.  The stones are easy to hold on to, and while we are holding them, we can think of something that we would like to pray for.
-Then pass out the Easter eggs.  The empty egg reminds us of the empty tomb on Easter morning, and the hope that we have because of Christ.  The kids can then put their stone (all their prayers) into the egg, wrapping them up in the hope of Christ.
-Then pass around the ball of yarn and have each child hold onto a piece.  They can open up the egg with the stone inside and snap it over the yarn so that the egg is attached.  The string represents how we are all connected as the Body of Christ.  With the Rosary, all our prayers are  wrapped up in the hope of Christ, and we can all pray for each other.

Holy Cross Family Ministries also has a great set of coloring books, complete with how to pray the Rosary, and coloring pages and activities for each mystery.

And best of all they can be reproduced for classroom use.  Music to my teacher ears.

Here is a shot of the catalog.  Remember how I said that there materials were affordable?  $8.95 for a DVD.  It can't get much better.  That is, until you see that the set of four coloring books are $7.95.  Totally worth it!

You can visit their store here.

Come back on Tuesday to see how I used their coloring pages to make a Rosary Lapbook!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Finding Truth in Halloween

[***update- you might want to click over to this post for an updated (Oct. 2015) edited version of the coloring pages and book.  Thanks!]

It's almost Halloween.
Will you be decorating with skulls or cornstalks?
Dressing your kid as a zombie or St. Francis?
Teaching about death and salvation or pretending that the holiday isn't really happening?

I have to admit, all of the "camps" of opinions about Halloween can be confusing.  Redeem the holiday.  Ignore the holiday.  Revive the "holy day" in the holiday. Reject the dark, embrace the harvest. Focus on the Saints, forget about the evil...

There is great truth in the traditions and rituals of Halloween, and I think that instead of forgetting about them entirely, we can use this holiday (which the culture has abused) to teach kids about topics that can be easy to skip over, like death, purgatory, praying for the dead, relics, and good & evil.

My friend Bonnie at A Knotted Life is tackling her parish's All Saints Day party, and has set a goal for bringing in as much symbolic truth into the celebration as she can.  You can read about her ideas here, which includes great plans for snacks, games, structure, and decorations.  She also has a Pinterest board with all kinds of fabulous ideas.

Per her request, I put together some coloring pages with explanations, prayers, and Scripture to explain some of the "holy" found in All Hallow's Eve.  I was more than happy to comply, because after talking about many of these things in my classroom last year, the idea of a teaching tool like this was something that I knew I would be able to use.

Click here for an 8 page mini book about All Hallow's Eve, including its origins and traditions, All Saints Day, relics, praying for the dead, Jack-O-Lanterns, Saints and souls, good and evil, etc.
I also turned some of the pictures and information into single sheet coloring pages, better for little hands or shorter lessons.

Click here for one with info on a few of the traditions of All Hallow's Eve:

 Here is one about All Saints Day:
 Here is a connection between Jack-O-Lanterns and the Morning Offering:

 And one about praying for the dead:
 Here is one about zombies and the resurrection of the dead:
And one on relics:
Do you have any ideas on incorporating truth into Halloween and All Saints Day?  I'd love to hear them here, or you can join the conversation at A Knotted Life.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Creating a Faith Corner in Your Classroom

School has been back in swing for...three months now, and I am just now getting around to some of the back-to-school posts in my draft folder.  I guess that goes to model what a teacher's fall usually looks like.

I gave you a peek inside my classroom back in this post, and mentioned my faith corner, promising more details later.  Well, it is later, so here are some ideas for creating a holy space in your Classroom/CCD Room/Youth Room/etc.

(FYI- I know that not all CCD teachers are blessed to have a permanent location to set up something like this faith corner.  Lot of programs have to use shared spaces and can't store items in the same place that they teach.  I hope that the things that we use might inspire you as you set up your "mobile" classroom to find a few important items to make the space sacred for your students.  And God love you for working in such a state of transition, because I don't know if I could do it!)

Here is what our faith corner usually looks like:

It includes a classroom set of Bibles:
And another shelf with activities, our classroom Bible, prayer jar, and Mary statue.  This is also our Saint of the Month Board.  August/September was St. Maximilian Kolbe, who also happens to be our classroom Saint (click here for the Lit/Religion Unit I teach on him).  October is St. Terese.  I love these posters, which are through Pauline Books and Media.
Facing the opposite way are shelves of our faith books.  Lots on the Saints, liturgical seasons, Bible stories, etc.  We also have a box here for our "Words of Faith" which is a vocab activity we do in each chapter of our religion book, featured books (often related to Saint feast days- you can see Take it to the Queen featured for August), and inspiring words (right now is a colored and framed version of this quote.)  You'll also see my friends Fr. Juan Pablo and Sr. Mary Clara featured in this post.  I also have a prayer kit that came with my Religion book series.
Here is our classroom Bible, which the kids are free to use and look through, but is always left open on the top shelf in our Faith Corner.  I tell the kids that a Bible should be lived in, and demonstrate by highlighting and labeling things that we talk about in class.  We read the upcoming Sunday Gospel during the week and discuss it so that the kids are more prepared for Mass and can listen for the main message.  I highlight the reading and label it with the date so that it can be easily found by the kids during the week.  The nice thing is that after next year (my third year doing this in this particular Bible) it will be all set for the future because of the three year lectionary cycle.  Score one for the organization of the Catholic Church.
We also have our student Prayer jar on the top shelf in the Faith Corner.  I wrote about the prayerful environment/classroom management tool that is our Prayer jar here.
And of course, Our Lady.
On that shelf, there are also baskets with themes like Scripture, Saints, Prayer, etc.  They contain books, small games, etc.  The kids are welcome to explore these baskets, and many use them for early finisher activities.  I also store manipulatives/models from lessons here after we use them together so that they can get them out and see them again.  On the shelf just above are some Catholic coloring pages and prayer starters.

This old metal recipe box is our Saintly virtue box, which is a part of my classroom management system.  In brief, the kids can receive rewards as a whole class or individually.  When they earn an individual reward, they get to choose a saint card from this box.  I am always restocking it with various saints, some cards that I have purchased, and others that have been donated to me.  There are several ladies at church who save all of those free things that they get in the mail, and I make good use of them.
The idea is that the students is being rewarded for showing virtue of some kind (we are working on what that means and how we live it out) and that the Saints are our models of virtue.  They get to choose a Saint to remind them to keep making good choices.

Hanging from the ceiling is this chain (made from giant paper clips.) The students all have a binder ring with a card that says "name is growing in Saintly Virtue."  They get to attach their card, and will add many more throughout the year.  They then get to take home their own kind of mini book/prayer wheel of the Saints that they have chosen.

We also include other items for liturgical seasons, featured projects, prayers, etc. as they become important throughout the year.

I hope that gives you some ideas for creating a faith filled space for your students.  I'd love to hear how you have done it in your own classrooms!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

The Quiet Life

Judge ye not for the macabre accessories in this video. 
Just listen.  And thank me for giving your ears something beautiful for a few moments.

I am currently in love with this song.  It speaks to my introverted heart.

And it reminds me that I sometimes desire to run away- even just temporarily.  My dream vacation is away from everything- no phones, no computers, no calendars.  It is in a cabin somewhere far from civilization, preferably where the weather is cool enough for sweaters during the day and bonfires at night.  I would only have to use a handful of words in the entire day.  There would be coffee and a porch swing.  Add a shelf full of books and I would be one happy lady. 


Sometimes we need it.

I don't imagine I will be running away anytime soon, so in the meantime, I can listen to music like that and read words like this:

Sunday, October 6, 2013

The Sacraments and Grace

We are working on a "big picture" of the Sacraments in Religion at school right now.  I created these notes for the kids with the four main ideas we keep coming back to: Jesus' mission, the Church, the Sacraments, and Grace...and how they are all related. 

Here is my version with a little color added to make it pretty.

 You can print out my copy of the notes by clicking here:
 Or you can print the blank notes to have the kids fill in by clicking here:

You might also like our Sacrament Symbols notes or some of the other activities under the Sacraments tab above.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Happy Feast Day of St. Francis!

Happy Feast Day St. Francis of Assisi!

Here is a repost of my St. Francis coloring page, based on the St. Francis mural at our Church:

Click here for the printable!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Celebrating the Month of the Most Holy Rosary

Welcome to October, which is not only awesome because of pumpkin everything, boots, and bonfires, but it is also the month that we celebrate the beautiful prayer given to the Church called the Rosary.  This month, I'll be posting some new activities for teaching about the Rosary, but for now, here are some links to related projects already posted.

Mini Mary Shrine that can be used as a Rosary case

World Mission Rosary

Marian Typology Cards

Mary Fact Flip Books

Pop Out Marian Shrine and Marian Prayer Book