Thursday, June 29, 2017

Katie Reads {7}

Time to chat about what I've been reading!  I've got a stack of various genres for you today, with books for both kids and adults.  

(FYI- the links for the books are Amazon Affiliate links.  That means that if you click through and purchase something, I will receive a small commission at no cost to you.  I will gratefully use it, probably to stock up on more books! :) )

Since I would rather be reading than writing long book reviews, I'll give you a grade and a quick run down- totally just my opinion based on what I enjoy.  I'd love to hear your thoughts on these books or suggestions of what I should read next in the comments! 

Praying the Angelus, Jared Dees, {A}
Ave Maria Press provided me with a copy of Praying the Angelus in exchange for an honest review.
  • The Angelus prayer is an integral part of my classroom routine.  I use this printable mini book (and matching booklet about the Regina Coeli) to help my students not only memorize the prayer, but also to understand its vocabulary, Scriptural base, and historical significance.
  • Jared Dees, best known in my circles as the The Religion Teacher, also has created the site The Angelus Prayer which features resources about praying the Angelus.  He contacted me for a feature called Why I Pray the Angelus and also sent me a copy of his new book for review.  I think that this new book is a great read for both those that are well practiced in praying the Angelus as well as those that might be new to the prayer.
  • Broken into two main sections, this book chronicles the history and origin of the beautiful Angelus prayer woven in with Jared Dees' personal connections.  The second half of the book provides line-by-line meditations for both the Angelus and the Regina Coeli.  Each 1-2 page reflection focuses on just a few words from each prayer and also gives a matching meditation for you to take into personal prayer or would work for group discussion.
  • This is a book I plan to keep near my prayer table at home as well as take in to my classroom use for quiet reflection time with my students. 

Anointed, Gifts of the Holy Spirit, Pope Francis, compiled by Jaymie Stuart Wolfe, {A}
Pauline Books & Media provided me with a copy of Anointed, Gifts of the Holy Spirit in exchange for an honest review.

  • This beautiful, new, hardbound book form Pauline Books & Media is going to become my go-to Confirmation gift.  Filled with beautiful minimalist graphics representing the Gifts of the Holy Spirit as well as interesting typography and photographs, this little book packs in a lot visually.
  • It is also filled with snippets of wisdom related to each of the Gifts of the Holy Spirit pulled from Pope Francis' teachings.  The short pieces from Pope Francis lend themselves perfectly to discussion or individual reflection.  
  • The book also includes prayers, Scripture verses, and more.  I plan to use this in my classroom prayer space when we are studying the Sacrament of Confirmation, but could see it being used for prayer or reflection in a Confirmation class or in the home of a student preparing for Confirmation.
  • Because of the modern design, there are some blank spaces on the pages introducing each new Gift of the Holy Spirit.  I can't help but think that Anointed would also make a great gift book for a Confirmand.  I would have parents, sponsors, catechists, pastor, etc. write a special message to the Confirmand throughout the book.  It also could be set out at a Confirmation celebration for guests to write in, making it not only a keepsake but also a tool for future prayer.  Its eye catching cover would help entice those students to return to Pope Francis' wisdom time and time again. 

Into the Sea, Out of the Tomb: Jonah and Jesus, Maura Roan McKeegan, {A+}

  • This book and its companion, The End of the Fiery Sword by the same author, have been my favorite new (to me) picture books this year.  I L-O-V-E Old Testament typology; digging into how the past events of the Bible pointed to Christ and the Church is fascinating and makes studying Scripture a bit like a rewarding detective hunt.
  • McKeegan has taken a couple of the biggest typology themes and turned them into accessible, reverent, and beautiful children's books. The End of the Fiery Sword compares Adam and Eve to Jesus and Mary.  This book, Into the Sea, Out of the Tomb, compares Jonah and Jesus.  Both books use vivid, lovely illustrations and lyrical language to draw connections between the Old and New Testament on side by side pages.  These books would make a wonderful addition to libraries in Catholic homes and Classrooms.
  • As St. Augustine said, "The New Testament lies hidden in the Old, and the Old is unveiled in the New."  What better way to unfold these truths with children- I hope that the author continues to add to the series!

Trials of the Earth, The True Story of a Pioneer Woman, Mary Mann Hamilton, {A}

  • Pioneer Lit has long been a favorite of mine (I've reviewed A Lantern in Her Hand and Giants in the Earth this year).  Trials of the Earth is a bit different because it is actually an autobiography even though it reads much like a novel.  Mary Mann Hamilton was one of the first pioneers to settle in the Mississippi Delta and wrote down the events of her life after decades of surviving hardship and adversity.  Her memoirs remained unpublished until the 1990s, but are now collected into this powerful book.  (Which probably has my favorite cover art of anything I've read this year!)
  • I thoroughly enjoyed reading the chronicle of her life.  The incredible struggles and circumstances she faced would break most modern Americans, but even though she was fairly ordinary, Mary was tough.  The "pioneer spirit" that can be romanticized in some novels manifests itself in her more as a gritty perseverance.  I was inspired to feel even more respect for the settlers of our country, as well as those around the world today in difficult refugee circumstances.  I think that anyone with a penchant for American history, Pioneer Lit, or interesting autobiographies would enjoy this book. 

Wonder, R.J. Palacio, {A+}

  • This is the "IT" book in middle school classrooms right now, and for good reason.  With the movie being released this fall, I wanted this at the top of my summer reading list and I was not disappointed.  Wonder tells the heartwarming story of Auggie, a 10 year old boy with facial abnormalities who is going to attend school for the first time.  Switching from Auggie's perspective to other characters like his new classmates and his older sister, the reader has a unique view of events in the book and the unfolding of the change Auggie brings to those around him.
  • As an educator who works with 10 and 11 year olds each day, this book really made me think about the lives led by my students and the depth of who they each are as a person.  Auggie's story and struggles were supposedly apparent, but who he was and what he had to offer the world ran much deeper than anything related to his appearance.  The same is true of my students- the talents, hurts, histories, and potential found in each of them lies well under the surface.  Just like Auggie, they deserve to be known and loved for who they are.
  • I'm hoping that I'll be able to get my hands on some affordable copies of this so that I can use it with my students this fall as a book study or read aloud.  I can't wait to hear what they think about it! 
  • (Note- there are a couple of references that I don't think are appropriate for my students- discussing girls being "flat" or not, for example.  I haven't decided yet if I will just skip those short sections as a read aloud or how I will handle it, but overall the content and theme of the book outweighs the small points that are a little too old for my students.  Parents and teachers, I would recommend you pre-read before sharing with students 12 and under.)

The Zookeeper's Wife, Diane Acherman, {A-}

  • Speaking of books and movies, a few friends and I "accidentally" saw the Zookeeper's Wife in theaters a couple months ago after missing the movie we came to see.  I didn't know anything about it, and in this case I'm actually glad I didn't read the book first.
  • The Zookeeper's Wife is the true story of Jan and Antonina Zabinski who owned the Warsaw Zoo before and after the invasion of Poland during WWII.  The family worked with the Polish resistance movement and also helped to hide and house Polish Jews and resistance workers in the almost empty zoo. They ended up helping save at least 300 Jews from a city where few survived.  
  • While the movie is a clean, two hour narrative summary of all of the events of the war with a clear beginning, middle, and end, the book isn't as linear.  It does include biographical information about the Zabinskis, but it weaves in stories of some of the Jews they helped, the resistance workers they worked alongside (Irena Sendler and Janusz Korczak, for example), and Nazi idealogies.  While all of us know that the Nazis wanted to create a pure race of humans, the book outlines their plans to create pure races of animals and plants as well.  
  • If you've seen the movie first, don't expect the book to be the same.  It isn't quite a page turner.  I struggled a bit with the structure and lack of a clear narrative thread, but it is more realistic that way and I did learn a lot of new information about a subject frequently in my reading topics.  (Other Holocaust/WWII books I've reviewed include The Nightingale, Night, For Such a Time, and All the Light We Cannot See.)

Traces of Guilt, Dee Henderson, {A}

  • Dee Henderson has long been a favorite author of mine when I am looking for a page turning, suspenseful novel with intriguing characters and subtle Christian values.  The O'Malley series and Uncommon Heros series are among my favorite books.  I started to read them in early college and have reread them many times over the years.  
  • Henderson is now writing stand alone novels that continue to tie characters together like Unspoken and Full Disclosure.  These books showcase her talent for writing a complexly woven story that you often can't see the ending of until reaching the last page.  There are ties between her books most evident for someone who has been a long time reader, but they don't hinder a new reader from picking up a single book and being immersed in the story.
  • This new series about character Evie Blackwell centers around a cold case task force.  Her writing is intriguing and character driven.  I love that Dee Henderson can write crime fiction without being raunchy or gory like so many other novels in the genre.  
  • I won't tell you much else about this book so that I don't give away any spoilers, but I will say that I already have the second Evie Blackwell book Threads of Suspicion and am loving this new series as a perfect summer read.  I would recommend anything that she has written! 

Which of these books would you most like to read?  What is on your To-Be-Read Stack?

You might like these other Katie Reads posts:
Katie Reads {1} 
Katie Reads {2}  
Katie Reads {3} 
Katie Reads {4}
Katie Reads {5}
Katie Reads {6}

Friday, June 23, 2017

Studying Scripture: Adding Art to a Non-Journaling Bible

In my last post on Studying Scripture, I shared all the details about how I have been reading, color coding, studying, and filling my new Bible with notes.  Because there is not (yet) a journaling Bible with wide margins or interleaved pages in an approved Catholic translation, I had to get a bit creative about how to include everything.  I also wanted to be able to add in art and handlettering to my Bible as part of my prayer and study, so I thought I'd share some of the techniques that worked for me.
Here are the supplies that I have been using over the past year and half and am very, very happy with:
(My suggestions in this post contain affiliate links, meaning that if you decide to make a purchase through me, I make a small percentage at no cost to you.  Thanks for supporting my little blog!)
1. I have this version of the New American Standard Bible (mine is navy, also available in burgundywhitehunter green, brown, and black)
2. These colored pencils (supplemented with a few Crayola colors)
3. This pencil sharpener (sharpens both large and small colored pencils)
4. These pencils (the only kind worth having!)
5. This eraser
6. These fine tipped pens, brush pens, and bolder pens.  I also love these pens, but they are likely to bleed through Bible pages- I recommend them for art done separately
7. Washi Tape like this
8. Vellum like this or this or this
9. Various sizes of blue post it notes (I do not recommend Post-It brand Super Sticky notes- they can damage the delicate Bible pages if you try to move them)
10. And a pouch to hold it all in like this one or this one or this one.
(You can also see the whole supply list on Amazon here.)

*Holy Cards
Taping in my favorite holy cards with washi tape is a perfect way to add in holy art.  It does nothing to damage the page- you simply lift or turn the flap to access the text.  I love that it easily provides beautiful images to meditate on while reading corresponding Scripture:

*Post It Notes
In my other post, I mentioned that I use tons of post its to compile notes from talks, homilies, and books I've read that I want to have close at hand in my Bible.  Post its also work great for adding art to my pages. Little lettering on post its of various sizes also works great, and the post its can be lifted or removed:

Sometimes I'll create art over the footnotes.  They are still able to be read, but I have the added beauty of color, lettering, and sketches without covering the actual text.  I know that some people have created room for art and journaling in a non-journaling Bible by painting the footnotes with white paint or covering them with a large white label sticker.  If you are looking to create just a Bible for art, with another Bible available for study and prayer, that is a valid option.  My Bible however serves for studying as well, so I want to make sure the footnotes are still legible:

Probably my favorite way to add art in my Bible is using vellum.  Transparent paper that allows you to see Scripture behind it, using vellum is also super easy and fun because you can trace your designs from a pattern, prototype, or other work and then easy add them into your Bible.  Here are a couple of examples that I created by tracing verses that I had previously lettered in a notebook but wanted to add to my Bible:

*Tracing & Computer Fonts
This technique makes it easy to add lettering even if you don't consider yourself an artist or don't like your handwriting.  First, I highly recommend you go read my post called Your Handwriting Matters, because if there was ever place to use your handwriting, your Bible is it.

However, if you want to try a different lettering technique you can easily do that.  Using a program like Word or Publisher, type your verse in a font you like.  I recommend doing this as a piece of word art or in a text box so it is easier to manipulate.  You can set the text fill to white and the text outline to black creating a font that can be colored in.  Print to a size that you can trim and fit in your Bible.  Then color and decorate and add it to the matching page:

Or you could use that font as a template.  Here I printed the verse, taped a piece of vellum over it, and then used it as practice using a brush pen:

Then I taped the vellum art into my Bible.  This is a great technique to help you develop your own lettering style.

*Coloring Pages
There are a lot of really pretty adult coloring books with Scripture and Tradition as themes (like this and this and this).  You could put that beautiful coloring to good use by trimming your final art work and adding it into your Bible as a flap by taping it only on one side.  (Bonus- the back side can be used for notes or prayers!) Here, I added in one of my favorite coloring pages I've created, the Immaculate Heart of Mary.  You can find that coloring page here, and I have tons of other printables listed under the tabs above that could be used for the same purpose. 

Another option is to create your art or lettering in a separate, special notebook just for that purpose. I've been doing that with my Sunday Readings Scripture Doodle using these notebooks for the past two years.  They give me just enough room to letter a verse.  I add the reference in the corner, and I know some people also make a notation in their Bible as well (a great use of washi tape for example) that they have corresponding art in a journal:

There's a few of my ideas for adding art in your Bible!  You might also like this post with tips on adding notes, color coding, tabs, tools, and more:

So, how do you use your Bible for art and prayer?  What has worked for you?  What stumbling blocks or challenges have you faced? What new techniques would you like to try?  I'd love to hear from you in the comments!

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Studying Scripture: Tips, Tools, & Ideas

"In the sacred books, the Father who is in heaven comes lovingly to meet his children, and talks with them."  ~Catechism of the Catholic Church 104

How do you spend time with your Bible?  I am a tangible, visual, hands on kind of learner, so the main Bible that I have been using for almost fifteen years is covered in notes, filled with items stuck between the pages, and literally held together with duct tape.  I decided a couple of years ago to upgrade to a new Bible where I was a bit more systematic in my study and organized in the conversations and notes that it held.  I've been carrying this Bible around with me for a while now, and after lots of questions, thought it might be time to share some of the study techniques that have helped me spend more time in Scripture and gain a greater understanding of God's Word.

What: Last January, I finally got a new Bible, new supplies, and printed out a 365 day reading plan.  I spent the last days of my Christmas break and into January transferring alllllll of the notes in each book into the new Bible; notes in margins, on post its, underlining, etc.  I also started to transfer verses that I had underlined or highlighted, but realized I was underlining so much they tended to run together. I also wanted to keep myself from speed-reading, as well increase my comprehension.  I decided to color code my highlighting looking for themes.  What started as a few colors quickly evolved into twelve colors that symbolized Christian topics.  Using all those colors made me slow down and soak in Scripture as I read, and also acted as an accountability tool to keep moving forward.  Since then, I love going back and rereading and studying using the color coding that is already there.

Why: As people have seen my Bible in person or in pictures, some have commented that they have never felt comfortable (or even have been told not to) writing in their Bibles.  I totally understand; this is the inspired Word of God, after all.  So if this seems disrespectful to you or detracting, then don't use this technique.  I know that it has helped me learn and grow and spend more time in God's Word, so it is something I will continue to use, but this also isn't the only Bible I own.  I think a great compromise is to have one Bible for study- you can underline, highlight, cover it in post its, stick in notes and cards, etc.  Then have another Bible that is more for prayer and reverence in your home.

How: I would have loved to have been able to do all of this with a journaling Bible complete with wide margins or interleaved pages.  However, there is not currently a Catholic journaling Bible available in an approved translation.  (C'mon, publishers!) So until then, I've figured our some ways to get all of my notes (as well as some art- I'll have a followup post about that on Friday!) using a regular, non-journaling Bible.

Here are some of the ideas, tips, and techniques that have worked best for me:

Favorite Supplies:
First of all, here are the supplies that I have been using over the past year and half and am very, very happy with.  Having good materials to use that have been consistent as I work my way through the Bible has made a big difference in my continuity and how my Bible looks as a whole.
(Contains affiliate links)
1. This version of the New American Standard Bible (mine is navy, also available in burgundywhitehunter green, brown, and black)
2. These Bible Tabs (or if you know the Great Adventure Bible Study Program, you could also get this color coded version)
3. Bible Verse Cheat Sheet (not pictured above, but I have had this laminated sheet folded and taped in the back of my Bible for reference since college. It proves to be very useful!)
4. These colored pencils (supplemented with a few Crayola colors)
5. This pencil sharpener (sharpens both large and small colored pencils)
6. These pencils (the only kind worth having!) and this eraser
7. These pens (I used various sizes, but mostly the 01 when copying notes)
8. Washi Tape like this
9. Various sizes of blue post it notes (I do not recommend Post-It brand Super Sticky notes- they can damage the delicate Bible pages if you try to move them)
10. And a pouch to hold it all in.  My zipper pouch happened to be a free gift from Fossil that I totally reworked (it used to have large neon gems...I took it apart and added small metal brads.)  It happens to be the same color AND size as my Bible, so it is perfect to travel with.  If I needed to buy one myself, I might consider this one or this one or this one.
(You can also see the whole supply list on Amazon here.)

*Follow a reading plan.  I really like the reading plans Meg from Held By His Pierced Hands has created.  I printed off the One Year Chronological and taped it in the back of my Bible.  However, being honest, I kinda fell off the wagon and got behind.  I was able to keep up with the Psalms/Proverbs and the Gospels...but the Old Testament that I love so dearly was a little harder to maintain pace with.  That is what I am working on finishing up. :)  So even if you aren't able to finish in 365 days, it is still really nice to have a plan to keep you moving forward, as well as have some guidance in not reading Genesis straight through to Revelation.

*Create a way to "check off" books as you finish them.  Here you can see that I have been coloring in the name of the books as I complete them on the table of contents (above).  You also can see my original color coding list and symbol list.  This summer as I am trying to finish the last few books, I made a chapter checklist on graph paper (below) to keep me accountable.

*Color coding and notes: On this page, you can see that I've color coded sections of text using colored pencil and written short notes, symbols, and references in the margins using fine tipped pens.  The notes could be from Bible Studies, books I've read, talks I've listened to, sermons, personal reflection, etc.  I chose colored pencils for highlighting within the text because pen and highlighter can often bleed through either right way or over time.  Colored pencils are easy to work with, are semi-erasable if you make a mistake, and don't dry up, allowing you to use them for a long period of time for consistency throughout the entire Bible.

I used Staedtler Jumbo Colored Pencils for my main highlighting, and I cannot recommend them enough.  The lead is appropriately soft- I don't end up denting the page as I highlight, which happens with other colored pencils.  I'm able to shade in lightly so the text is easy legible through the color.  And, I seriously have never broken one of these colored pencils- after 18 months of use, including hauling them with me every where, letting my toddler niece and nephews play with them, etc. the lead has never broken.  How often do you pull other colored pencils out of the sharpener and the lead is already cracked and falls out?  That has never happened, and that alone makes them worth the price.  I also supplemented with a few colors from a box of Crayola colored pencils- lime green, pink, and dark red. (There's a free printable key at the end of the post that you can print and use if you want to start color coding your Bible by highlighting or underlining. One option follows the colors I used, but there is also a blank one where you can create your own color choices.)

*Post Its: I also consolidate notes from Bible Studies and talks onto post its and stick them on the corresponding passages.  Post it notes are great because you can lift them up and still read the text or remove them completely to see the whole page.

*Washi Tape: I've also added washi tape tabs to the top of pages I want to reference frequently by taking a 2" long piece of tape, taping it on the edge of the page, folding it over with about 1/2" hanging off, and then smoothing it down on the other side of the page.  I also ran tape along the side of a few pages for some of my very favorite stories.  I usually use wider washi tape for this purpose (the example on the above left page was 1" wide), run it along the edge of the page with half of the length of the tape hanging off, turn the page, and fold over flush with the edge.

A few places I add washi tape:
-favorite verses for encouragement and prayer
-favorite stories to reread
-verses that I have claimed and pray for specific people
-verses that I pray for my class and CCD program each year

*Post it tiers: Layered post it notes in staggered tiers can create a lot of space for information. Here I've layered 4"x4" post its on two facing pages creating a spot for references on each of the Sacraments.  I can lift up each layer and write without covering up any of the notes.

*Blank space: I also used the very few blank pages (ahem, publishers, more blank pages for notes please!) to organize collective notes about a topic- this page shows references about our Blessed Mother on one side and post its about covenants on the other.  I also add in notes from study, favorite quotes, and references wherever I can find room.  These pens were my favorite, and using the 01 size makes it easy to squeeze in lots of info and also doesn't bleed through the paper.

*A few ideas I have seen but did not use in my Bible:
-taping in full blank pages to copy notes.  I made do with large post its.
-using gesso/paint to cover up the foot notes to create an area for notes, journaling, or art.  I don't like this option because I frequently use the footnotes and cross references. 
-creating art over top of the Scripture text.  My whole purpose was to add to my experience of study and prayer with the text of the Bible, so I am not a fan of covering it up.  I could see maybe having an extra Bible dedicated just to art if you were going to try this method.

Click here to print your free Studying Scripture Bible Study Color Coding Guide:
It is only a half page in size, perfect to tape to the inside cover of your Bible.
The option on the left has the colors filled in based on the way I studied, and the option on the right lets you fill in the colors (or symbols) of your choice.

On Friday I'll be back with a second post about adding art into a non journaling Bible.  Check here for more ideas and tips!

You might also like:
Lectio Divina Bookmarks
Women of the Resurrection Bible Study
Way of Light Bible Study
Virtues and Saints Bible Study, Part One
Virtues and Saints Bible Study, Part Two 

So, how do you use your Bible for study and prayer?  What has worked for you?  What stumbling blocks or challenges have you faced? What new techniques would you like to try?  I'd love to hear from you in the comments!

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Learning Through Play: The Mass

Children have different learning styles- some learn through listening, some through seeing, some through music, and some through movement.  Even with specific strengths like these, I think we can agree that all children benefit from skills learned through doing, practicing, modeling, and acting out- in essence, through play.  Even though my students are 10 and 11, this is no less true for them as it is for their younger peers.  As I tweak things in my classroom over the summer and make room through growth in student centered instruction plans, I am on the look out for Catholic resources that allow for hands-on interaction and learning.

Meeting all of my expectations, I have fallen in love with these Mass play sets from Wee Believers.  Part of the Wee Discover series of faith filled toys, the My Little Church Magnet Set* and My Pop Out Mass Kit* have both received a Seal of Ecclesiastical Approval and are wonderful faith centered toys that help kids play, pray, and learn.  The Wee Believers Sr. Mary Clara and Fr. Juan Pablo dolls and Vocation books were among some of my first purchases as a new DRE years ago and they remain a favorite addition to my Faith Corner in our classroom, so I am excited to add these to our collection of resources.

After trying out these play sets (lots of pictures and details below), I can easily see how these could become a favorite toy for kids at home.  I wanted to think about some practical classroom adaptations as to how these sets could also be used as a resource in Catholic schools and CCD programs.  I love how they are child friendly while still being uniquely Catholic, accurate, and beautifully made.  Here are a few ideas:

For Younger Students (5-8 years old):
  • Practice setting up the church  or altar for Mass (maybe limiting the number of Mass articles at the beginning)
  • Playing Mass by moving the priest/people/Mass articles for each main part of the liturgy
  • Pray the parts of the Mass alone or with a "congregation" using a Mass book like this or this. (affiliate links)
  • Practice the steps and prayers during Mass, especially in preparation for receiving First Holy Communion 
  • Work on memorizing and using the correct names for the Mass articles and their use
For Older Students (9-11 years old):
  • Practice correctly setting up the church and altar
  • Know the names of each Mass article and their purpose
  • Match objects to name cards 
  • Understand the difference between setting up for Mass or Adoration or another liturgical celebration
  • Note differences inside the church during various liturgical seasons
  • Talk through the Mass parts and movement of people and things in the church 
  • Discuss prayers and responses from Mass and Adoration and their meanings
  • Tour church Sacristy or invite a Sacristan or Priest to join the class and show the students the parish's real Mass articles
I plan to use both of these sets in my classroom with some of the the above ideas during our Sacrament unit on the Eucharist.  They'll work great along with other content activities for stations as well as enrichment and choice work.  Wee Believers even offers lots of matching printables and activities for free download on their website here.

Here are some close up views of these two play sets along with what I like about each:

First up, the My Little Church Magnet Set- It comes with a tri-fold magnetic church interior, 38 magnetic pieces, and an instructional booklet:

The church tri-fold stands on its own and the magnets can be arranged in tons of different ways:

Different magnets feature the priest sitting and standing (and facing backwards for Latin Mass) as well as different colored chasubles.

It includes Mass articles:

And Sanctuary furniture:

And people for the congregation:

I love this little booklet that has pictures that match the magnets and great explanations about the Mass articles and their uses.

All the pieces of the magnetic set stick easily to the trifold board even when standing (no sliding!) and even with the pieces in place, it still folds easily for storage.  Everything fits perfectly in the clear storage pouch so no little magnets are lost for next time.

Next up, the Pop Out Mass Kit:

It comes with a heavy weight "altar", 14 Mass articles, and an explanation/set up sheet:

I popped out all the pieces and am super impressed with the heavy cardboard and sturdy stands that can be removed easily for storage and then reused again and again:

The set comes with an info sheet with instructions for how to set up for Mass:

And Adoration:

I really like how each item is clearly labeled on the back:

The other side of the info sheet also has matching pictures and short descriptions of the purpose and use of each item.  I'll definitely be laminating this sheet for longevity and keeping it with the set for student use:

All of the pieces easily store back in the clear storage case, or they fit well in  shoe box sized container which is how I'll store them in my classroom, eliminating the need to un-assemble and assemble each time.

While for younger children this set would be great for pretending and playing Mass, for my intermediate students this set will be very useful for emphasizing the names and purposes of Mass articles.  Instead of using just pictures, the students have the advantage of touching and interacting with the objects first, and then could use the same objects for an assessment.  I could definitely see setting up a table like this where the student have to match each number with the name of the Mass article and what it is used for, either on a recording sheet or using vocab cards.

I really love both the My Little Church Magnet Set and My Pop Out Mass Kit and know that they will make a great addition to my Sacrament focused curriculum.  My students will benefit from the hands-on method of these learning toys and the examples and explanations they can relate to.  I know that they would be a wonderful toy for any Catholic kid- whether at home or in a classroom.

Have you ever tried these products or other play Mass sets?  How have you used them with your children or students?

*Wee Believers provided me with a free set of My Little Church and My Pop Out Mass Kit in exchange for an honest review.  I only recommend things that I have used and love, and these opinions are entirely my own.