Sunday, December 15, 2013

Nativity Photo Booth

 Do you have some Nativity costumes lying around your church or school for those one-time-a-year Christmas plays for the kiddos?
 How about the props for the plays?  You know, gifts of the Magi, animal ears, angel's halos?

Does it seem wasteful to only use the costumes and props once a year and then put them in storage?

I thought so.  I also was looking for a main activity for our Advent Family Celebration last weekend, so I thought I would play off of the the photo booth trend and use all of these great costumes for some family fun.

Cue time for a backdrop:

We were having this event in our Youth Group room, which is a wonderful space, but doesn't have a single blank wall.  So I used my favorite ambiance changer, the plastic table cloth.  They are amazing and cheap.  You can create many of the same effects that you might want to do with fabric at a small fraction of the cost.

I bought a roll of black plastic table cloth (cheaper and can be cut to length than individual table cloths).  I picked a corner of the room and cut long pieces of the plastic.  I love drop ceilings for this purpose, because it makes it so easy to hang things.  We just lifted the tile a bit and shoved (gently) the plastic in.  It doesn't budge, and you don't have to worry about tape on the walls.  When you are ready to take it down, you just lift up the tile and the plastic drops.
To make the background a little more interesting, I added the star of Bethlehem using a foil star from those Christmas play props and some yellow crepe paper.

Zoomed in, it worked as a backdrop for a fun photo booth.  Zoomed out, it was just a corner of a basement room. 
Add a baby Jesus, and you are ready to go!
This guy's name actually used to be George, I think.  
I asked my mom to dig through our old toys for a doll, and she brought a Cabbage Patch.
I can imagine that Baby Jesus had cute chubby cheeks, though. Can you?

The event went great!   I had whole classes act out a scene from the Nativity, and families pose for a picture, and some of the kids come back time after time and try on just about every costume.  Who doesn't like dress up, right?  Hopefully this inspires you to think of a new way to use those Christmas Program costumes you have!  

Monday, December 9, 2013

Feasting with Archbishop Sheen

Today marks the unofficial feast day celebrating Venerable Fulton J. Sheen's birth into heaven.  While not yet named a Blessed or Saint, God willing, Sheen will be declared as such by the Church very soon, at which time his feast day would become official.  At the very least, we can honor him now as a man who loved Christ and His Church and desired for all souls to have that same love.  So while unofficial, I will still be celebrating today!

Bonnie at A Knotted Life has been posting a novena leading up to Sheen's Feast Day, and hosting several guests who share a love for Sheen.  Bonnie and Sheen are pretty tight, considering she and her family believe that it was through his intercession that God miraculously healed their stillborn (pulseless for 61 minutes) son.  You can read all about that here (trust me, you have to hear this story!). 

Bonnie and I are good friends in real life, and while I knew about Sheen and had read a book or two of his before, my desire to "meet" him was kindled in the witness of what God worked in their infant son.  In the past few years, I have read many of his books, watched his You Tube videos, listed to Mp3s and CDs of his talks, and I have gotten to the point where I feel like we are friends.  That friendship between the people of God's Church here on earth and in heaven is something that I am so grateful to have an understanding of.   And last year, it became something that I wanted to share with my 5th grade students.  I created a curriculum to teach them about his life and about the things that he taught.  Today, this year's class of kids is going to begin their Fulton Sheen Notebooks and get an introduction on the upcoming journey that we will share with Archbishop Sheen.

Bonnie asked me to come over and be a guest (her first) on her very fun new blog video series, which she is calling the "Knot Bad" Videos.  I love it.  Kuddos to Bonnie for making this video so professional looking, because between a lost and found camera, lots of dead batteries, an ipod, two laptops, five kids, five non-overlapping nap times, and about five hours (not really), I was pretty sure she was going to call me later to say we had to do it ALL again.  She did an awesome job, and I appreciate her asking me to share some ideas for celebrating Sheen's Feast Day as a family or classroom.

So give the video a watch, visit Bonnie, and maybe try some of the crafts that I mention in the video: A Sheen Lapbook, the Pop-up Marian Shrine, the Monstrance Craft, and lots and lots more.

Venerable Fulton J. Sheen, Pray for us!