Friday, January 26, 2018

Lent: Ideas for 40 Days

Lent gives us 40 days of opportunities to grow closer to Christ. As you are planning for the upcoming season, here are some ideas for you to use in your home or classroom.  This round up post contains music, videos, art projects, or coloring pages, click on the images below to go to the original posts. If you are already thinking ahead to Easter, check out this post or the list under The Church Year tab.

The Sound of Lent: A Song Playlist (my personal go-to music during Lent, but great for a classroom as well)

Sunset & Shadow Stations of the Cross Project (one of my students' annual favorites!)

Resurrection Eggs (Tell the story of Holy Week with items in each egg)

The Gospel in an Eggshell (Object lesson connecting Advent, Lent, & Easter)

Lent Notes Foldable (notetaking device for the Season of Lent)

Lent Word Cloud Notes (print mine or use as an example to have students make their own)

Give Up, Take Up (Lent goals printable and ideas for Youth Group lesson)

I don't have a link for this one, but we will have a sacrifice crown of thorns in my classroom.  It's a simple grapevine wreath with large brown toothpicks.  When the students make a sacrifice, they can pull a thorn from the crowns and place it in the bowl.

Student created Lenten Acts of Mercy organized by the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy
(It's a great time of year to teach about the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy.  Find printable coloring pages and mini books here and here.)

Using the Stations of the Cross as Inspiration for Lenten acts of charity

What Lent Looks Like Coloring Page (Also available in the Liturgical Year Coloring Book)

What The Triduum Looks Like Coloring Page

Lent- Pray, Fast, Give Activity

Lent- Pray, Fast, Give Coloring Pages

Passion & Resurrection Peg Doll Set

Connecting the Passover and the Passion (Youth Bible Study, can use movie Prince of Egypt)

New Life Seeds Printable

Fulton Sheen Good Friday & Easter Sunday Quote

I pray you have a blessed and fruitful Lent!

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Feast Day! The Liturgical Board Game

High engagement, well made, quality content resources are a dream come true for teachers of all kinds, but unfortunately they sometimes can be hard to come by in Religious Education. When it comes to something as important as the Church Liturgical Year, it's crucial to both instruct about the Seasons as well as participate in them.  We use our Liturgical Coloring Book and Liturgical Calendars throughout the year in my classroom, but I'm excited to share with you another awesome way to work on knowledge about the Church Year with your students.

*I was provided with a free copy of Feast Day! The Liturgical Board Game in exchange for an honest review. I only recommend things that I have used and love, and these opinions are entirely my own.

This fall while speaking at a conference in Georgia, I fortunate enough to also participate in the day and chose to attend a workshop about teaching the Liturgical Year.  This workshop was a little different than the typical speaker/presentation you expect because it involved playing an awesome new board game called Feast Day!, which all the adult participants (catechists, DREs, and teachers) loved.  After talking with the creator of the game, I knew I had to share it with my students (and you, dear readers!), so I brought home a copy to try.

Before I tell you more about the game, let me give you the solid feedback of my 5th graders.  A small group was playing (they were playing with eight kids, using partner play- the game is traditionally set up for 2-4 players).  When it was time to clean up, they all actively groaned and asked if they could just have a few more minutes.  This isn't super surprising behavior from ten-year-olds, but it is surprising when the game they are playing is actually a learning game about the faith, the place they were heading next was PE, which is their favorite time of the day!  They told me that they loved that they knew most of the questions (or at least could work together to figure it out) and that they were always finding new symbols all over the game board to talk about.

Feast Day! takes its players through the entire Liturgical Year with 52 game spaces for the 52 Sundays of the year matched to corresponding Seasonal colors.  The path also features important Feast Days throughout the year, such as All Saints Day, Pentecost, etc.  As players move through the year starting in Advent, they advance Sundays by rolling dice and then have the chance to collect Feast Day! cards for each season.  Extra cards can be collected on Feast Day! spots.  

The cards contain important facts about the Life of Christ and teachings of the Church that are woven through the Liturgical Year.  They are filled with information that is not watered down, but is also attainable for younger learners or those new to the faith.  I could also totally see pulling just the cards out to use for fun trivia or a quick review.

The board game (and all the materials) is professionally printed with original illustrations of the Church year, Life of Christ, Bible stories, and Saints.  The images themselves could lend to great conversations and connections.  I loved how the symbols of the four Gospel writers frames each corner of the board, showing the Liturgical Year is wrapped in Scripture from beginning to end.

I'm so glad that I was introduced to Feast Day!- I know it is going to become a staple in my classroom.  It would be a great fit in a CCD class as well, and certainly could be played together as a family.  We need more products like this in Religious Education to help us pass on the faith in a fun and relevant way!  You can see more info and reviews or order your own copy of Feast Day! here.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Studying Scripture: Color and Creativity

(FYI- the links below 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've been spending lots of time in my new Catholic Journaling Bible- reading and studying and being creative.  This long awaited Bible from Blessed is She and Our Sunday Visitor features the NAB translation, complete footnotes, and wide margins for notes, prayer, and art.  It also has a beautiful handlettered verse in each book of the Bible from Be A Heart Design.  I've written before here and here about my desire for a Catholic Journaling Bible and how I used my current study Bible, and here about how my favorite pens held up in the pages of the journaling Bible.

I've been posting some of my margin doodles on Instagram and have gotten LOTS of comments and messages how different materials hold up in the Bible.  I'm happy to share a few ideas, tips, mistakes, and successes for you about adding color in this Bible using watercolor, acrylic paint, and stamping.  I reviewed colored pens in this post and wrote about other ways to add art, even in a non journaling Bible, here.

General Supplies I love for working in my Bible:
-These colored pencils (supplemented with a few Crayola colors)
-This pencil sharpener (sharpens both large and small colored pencils)
-These pencils (the only kind worth having!)
-This little ruler
-This eraser
-Washi Tape like this
-Vellum like this or this or this


 Stamping is a fun way for anyone to add art and lettering, no matter your comfort level with being creative.  Here I used a dark blue stamp pad and these stamps to add embellishment to Luke Chapter 1.  (The heart stamp is one I had made using my original drawing- head to the bottom of the post for how you can win one!) and the small letter stamps are from a dollar bin at Michaels a long time ago, but these are similar.)

I stamped directly on the page, and while it looks lovely, it definitely was problematic.  You can see here how the ink bled and ghosted straight through the page, making it totally visible on the reverse page.  It even bled a few pinpricks of color onto the next page.

So I tried a new technique the next time I stamped.  I took a full sized sheet of labels like this and cut it down to the size of the margins (about 2"x8.5").  While the labels are bright white and the pages of this Bible are off white, I actually didn't notice the contrast as much as I thought I might.  I think that it blends in quite nicely.

I then stamped onto it FIRST, which ended up saving my tail as I made my first big mistake.  You can see below all the blobs of ink and the spacing issues.  Since it was just on the label, I threw it away and started with a second label, grateful it wasn't in my Bible forever. :)

I then carefully stuck the label on the Bible page.  I only peeled off about an inch of one end, carefully placed that, making sure to line it up well, and then peeled off the rest of the backing. Here you can see that the label did a perfect job of protecting the page- no bleeding, very very minimal ghosting.  This is definitely a technique I will continue to use, and not just with stamping.  I think this would work great for pens and markers not only to prevent them being seen through the page, but also to eliminate the fear of making a mistake.  You also could print out verses in your favorite fonts, decorate, cut out, etc.  The possibilities are endless!

Watercolor and Acrylic Paint:

 Next up I tried watercolor paint. Watercolor in this Bible is nice because you can keep it light, both in color and weight, whereas the acrylic can be a little thick and heavy. For this FIAT page, I first drew the lettering with these pens (after making a sketch on grid paper and tracing it using this amazing light box- just to be clear that I am not freehanding all of these pages!  I'll have another post soon about tracing and transferring techniques).

I then added a small amount of watercolor paint (just an inexpensive set similar to this). The thin pages took the paint ok, but it definietly isn't going to accept paint like watercolor paper would.  You won't be able to do a lot of blending, layers of paint, or use lots of water.  I was very sparing with the amount of water & paint I used and it turned out ok.

The page has a little rippling, but it straightened out pretty well just from having the Bible closed.  There is a small amount of ghosting on the back of the page, but it isn't too bad. 

Next, I decided to try putting down a base before adding art.  I'd read that gesso or just white acrylic paint were recommended.  I don't have any gesso, so I tried some white paint I had and prepped the margin of one page. I did place a protective plastic sheet in between the pages for this technique.

Here you can see the paint dried fairly smoothly (this was just one thick coat, I didn't want to add too many layers). After it was totally dry, I tried decorating the page with watercolor and ink, and I did not like the result.  The combination was not a good fit for watercolor, and the surface wasn't smooth enough and had a residue that affected using a pen.  I probably won't be using this technique much, but I could see how with different materials it might be helpful.

The paint did do a good job of protecting the page.  Here you can see no ghosting or bleeding, but a little bit of wrinkling that did straighten out after the Bible was closed for a while.

So there are a few ideas for you if you are looking into using a journaling Bible for prayer and creativity.  What other questions, materials, or techniques are you trying or wondering more about?

Aaaannnnnnd, I have a fun giveaway going on over on Instagram where you could win one of my original Holy Family Heart Stamps, some of my favorite pens, a stamp pad, washi tape, some lovely holy cards, and more. The giveaway closes Sunday 1/14/18 at midnight, so go enter now!

You might like these other posts:
Pens for the Catholic Journaling Bible
Tips, Tools, and Ideas for Personal Bible Study
Adding Art to a Non-Journaling Bible
Sunday Readings Scripture Doodles 2015-2016
Sunday Readings Scripture Doodles 2016-2017
Why Your Handwriting Matters

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Katie Reads {9}

Time to chat about what I've been reading!  I've got a stack of faith-filled books for my students, including a few of their new favorite graphic novels.  I'm way behind on Katie Reads Posts, but I'd still I'd love to hear your thoughts on these books or suggestions of what I should read next in the comments!

(FYI- this post contains Amazon Affiliate links.  That means that if you click through and purchase something, I will receive a small commission at no cost to you.)

The Shadow of His Wings, A Graphic Biography of Fr. Gereon Goldmann, by Max Temesou, {A}

  • Fr. Goldmann was a seminarian in Germany at the beginning on WWII and was drafted into Hitler's SS.  This graphic novel biography (based on his autobiography by the same name) tells of dangerous and unbelievable events during the war that lead to his continued formation, secret ordination, and ministry to Catholics during a time when openly sharing one's faith often led to death.  
  • The first half of the book covers Goldmann's service during the war and imprisonment after.  It is followed by a text epilogue covering the events of the rest of his life as well as dozens of photographs and primary sources.  The novel also includes a section with the script and sketches for the making of the graphic novel, which would be awesome for aspiring little authors.
  • Graphic novels and WWII are both perpetually popular content in my classroom library, so I knew this would be a winner among my 5th graders.  I thoroughly enjoyed it as well, and now need to borrow the original book from my dad.  The life of Fr. Goldmann gives us a different perspective of the good that triumphed during a terrible time in world history, the profound power of prayer, and the guidance and protection found in the shadow of His wings.

The Plot to Kill Hitler: Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Pastor, Spy, Unlikely Hero, by Patricia McCormick, {A}

  • Following the above book, I was excited to see this biography about Dietrich Bonhoeffer in the Scholastic Book Order! Giving insight into the life and decisions made by Bonhoeffer as he and his companions quietly did all they could to undermine and reveal the evil of the Nazi regime, this page turner also contains personal photographs and info to give context to the time period.
  • Like The Shadow of His Wings, I think this book would make a solid addition to middle school library, helping promote critical thought and decision making about a time period where evil was prevalent but many desired peace and truth.   

Our Blessed Mother: The Story of Mary for Children, by Marlyn Evangelina Monge, FSP, {A}
Pauline Books & Media provided me with a copy of Our Blessed Mother: The Story of Mary for Children in exchange for an honest review.

  • This sweet but solid book about Mary is beautifully illustrated and filled with the story of the Blessed Virgin Mary's life, based on Scripture and Tradition.  Organized in chapters and over sixty pages long, this brand new book fills a need for content about Our Lady for older elementary students.  
  • Many picture books are written at a lower level and have smaller snippets of information.  I love that this book has more substantial information while still being illustrated and attainable.  Along with stories of Mary's life, also included are summaries of several Marian apparitions and information about how to pray the Rosary.

Be Yourself, A Journal for Catholic Girls, by Amy Brooks, {A}
The author provided me with a copy of Be Yourself, A Journal for Catholic Girls in exchange for an honest review.

  • Capturing the attention of young Catholics can be a difficult task, and helping them develop time and habits for personal prayer can be even more challenging.  The Be Yourself journal would be a perfect gift to encourage the prayer and devotion of any preteen or teenage girl.  The graphics and design are trendy and eye-catching, but they share solid content and faith-filled resources.  
  • The journal is filled with some full color text and illustrations, but also plenty of black and white space for coloring, doodling, and decorating by the user. It contains inspirational quotes and Scripture, coloring pages, journal starters, Q&A pages, list making pages, and reflections.  I think that my favorite feature is the Saint letters- written to the reader from the perspective of powerhouse Saints, they share biographical info, but also advice and encouragement that relates and connects to every day life.  
  • With plenty of space for creativity, the journal can be worked through in any order.  Even when it has been read and filled, I think Be Yourself would encourage the young lady to use journaling and study as part of her prayer.  It would also make a great gift- I plan to share mine with a former student who has asked me to be her Confirmation sponsor. :)

St. Francis of Assisi, St. Bernadette, and St. Joan of Arc Graphic Novels, {A}

  • The Saint graphic novels reviewed here remain the most passed around books in my classroom (they still go from kid to kid, rarely making it back on the shelf), so I decided to gift my class with a few new titles for Christmas.   I added two more manga style novels (St. Teresa of Avila and St. Philip Neri) to the set, as well as the books pictured above.  
  • These books are shorter in length but with larger pages and more traditional comic book style illustrations.  I like that they are a quick introduction to the most important aspects of that Saints life.  They are great for my students to read in small snippets throughout the day, and are enjoyed by all my students, but sometimes most especially by my lower or reluctant readers.  I'm glad to have these as a resource to share with them these inspiring and strong heroes of the faith.  

The Life of Jesus, by Alex Ben, {A+}
Pauline Books & Media provided me with a copy of The Life of Jesus in exchange for an honest review.

  • Hands down, this is the favorite book I've added to my classroom library this year.  The Life of Jesus is a Graphic Novel which is stunningly illustrated with impeccable detail.  Chronicling Jesus' Incarnation from Birth through Ascension, it helps make the stories of Scripture come to life in a way that is relatable and attainable for my students.
  • Including quotes and captions paired with colorful, comic book style stories, this book would be a memorable read for any intermediate or middle schooler.  Each page also lists the direct Scripture References to each story.  The book is broken into themed chapters and has a great table of contents to help you find just the story you'd like to read.  I'd love to see a companion graphic novel covering the Acts of the Apostles!

Good King Wenceslas, by John M. Neale, {B+}

  • This happy thrift store hardback find earned a place in our Christmas book basket.  It pairs the lyrics of the song Good King Wenceslas with beautiful illustrations bringing the story to life.  There is a bit of back story as to the history of this Saint, but I would have like to have seen more info about him paired alongside the song.  The pictures carry the story and remind us of the generosity, kindness, and selflessness that are so important not only at Christmas, but all throughout the year.

  • I do not know why it took me so long to add this book to my collection, but now that I've read it, the truly gorgeous illustrations and sweet storytelling melts my heart.  It captures a love for the life of our dear St. Pope John Paul II, showing how his unwavering devotion to God and the Church changed the world.  Sharing Karol's life from his birth until his election to the papacy, the author captures his wonder, hope, and love, even in the midst of the many tragedies of his young life. The rich details captured in her incredible illustrations carry the narrative as strongly as the actual text.  I'm so excited to share this book with my students and classes to come.
  • Maybe Fabiola Garza and Pauline Books and Media will be adding more collaborations like this one to their titles?  What Saints would you like to see them work together on?

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}
Katie Reads {7}
Katie Reads {8}