Wednesday, October 31, 2018

A Saint Scavenger Hunt

I may have lots and lots of activities about All Saints Day, but now that I am teaching Jr. High, I am tweaking and adapting ideas to make them a little more appropriate and challenging for older kids.  We also are working with my 8th graders to help them finalize their Saint for their Confirmation names, so learning about new Saints is an everyday part of my classroom right now. 

To help the students see connections between their lives and the Saints, I made this little activity we're going to use on All Saints Day.  It challenges them to research a Saint that shares their birthday/feast day, their name (or a derivation of), and a hobby/interest.  The printable has spots to record information, including facts about the Saint's life, and then a challenge to find something the student has in common with the Saint (hint= even if nothing else matches, they always have love of Jesus as a similarity!).

Many Saint books are organized either in alphabetical order by Saint name, or they are organized by feast day, so those will be useful resources in choosing a Saint for this activity.  I also have a handy book that includes a list of Saint names and their derivations, which is nice for students that don't have a more "traditional" Saint first or middle name.  Connecting to a hobby/interest might be a little harder with a book, but can be done.   Or, if every students has access to get online, I would recommend using the Saints & Angels Database, which is searchable as well as sorted by dates, names, and patronages.

This activity serves as a great reminder of the great variety of Saints in heaven, and that while we have the most important things in common, God's calling is for everyone- no matter their background, interests, vocation, or talents.  "Saints didn't set out to have everyone follow them.  Saints set out to follow Jesus, and others followed them in their pursuit of Him." ~Mark Hart

Click on either image below to get the 2 page  printable:

Saturday, October 27, 2018

New Resources for Advent

I can't believe it's time to start thinking about Advent, but the new Liturgical Year will be here before we know it.  I'll definitely be pulling out some favorite tools and activities (you can find all my Advent posts here) but it's also nice to bring some new resources into both my classroom and personal prayer time each year.  Here are a few things I'll be using once Advent begins that I thought you might enjoy too!

(All of these items are new to me and I'm using them for the first time this year.  I only recommend things I love and think my readers might like to use in their homes and classrooms.  I received the Mosaic Jesse Tree and the Wee Believers resources for free in exchange for an honest review.  I won the Christmas Crazies book in a giveaway and liked it enough to share.  I ordered the Rejoice pack as a parish leader to review.)

The Mosaic Jesse Tree by Sara Estabrooks of To Jesus, Sincerely

Sara sent me a copy of her updated Mosaic Jesse Tree and reflection booklet (which now has the Imprimatur!) and I thoroughly love it.  The Jesse Tree is a perfect way to help keep Christ at the center of your preparations during the Season of Advent. Her full color ornaments give an awesome impression of texture and depth through the mosaic symbols, and while I have seen many versions of the Jesse Tree, I am particularly excited that the images are simple, but not particularly childish, meaning that they will work for a K-8 display in my school and not be too complicated for the primary kiddos or dismissed by my junior high students. I also love that the daily reflections about those in Jesus' bloodline contain a Bible verse from both the Old and New Testament, making it a great resource for my upcoming unit on Salvation History.  The reflections are well written but brief, making them a doable addition to daily prayer. 

The booklet is printed in full color on high quality paper.  The ornaments are on heavy cardstock and the art pops in vivid color.  I will probably laminate the ornaments so that they will last for years of use, but you can decide the best way to display and preserve yours.  You can order your own set to assemble, or ready to use, or a printable version to color yourself.  AND Sara is generously offering my readers 15% off any option of the Mosaic Jesse Tree in her Etsy shop using the code KATIEBOGNER2018, good until December 1st!

 Rejoice! Advent Meditations with Mary from Ascension Press

I'm always on the look out for new (and affordable) resources to use in parish ministry, so when I heard about Ascension Press' Advent series I ordered a review pack.  This isn't their typical Bible Study series- instead it is meant to be used more as a parish mission.  Gather your people, show a 30 minute intro video to capture their attention, and give out affordable copies of a journal that lasts the rest of Advent.

Instead of requiring groups to meet during the inevitably busy season of Advent, the participants can sign up to receive weekly videos through email.  The videos bring together the talents of a few speakers you might have seen through Catholic social media- Fr. Mark Toups, Sr. Miriam James, and Fr. Josh Johnson.  The meditations seek to guide us to see Advent through the eyes of Mary.  Each day offers a reflection, a Psalm, a Scripture reading, a prompt, and room to journal.  The books are also full color and offer a weekly piece of art showing the experiences of the Holy Family.

At the link above you can get a review pack for your parish, order bulk sets of books at great prices, download free phone backgrounds of the beautiful art, and preview some of the content and videos.  Participants can sign up to receive a new video by email each week of Advent to go along with the companion journal.  I'm excited to use this for my personal prayer this Advent and to share it with my parish.

Advent and Nativity toys from Wee Believers

I've written multiple times before of my love for Wee Believers toys, especially their Vocation Dolls and Mass Kits.  Their series of Advent and Christmas resources continues their reputation for superior quality, lovely design, and rich educational value.  The Nativity Paper Chain, Advent Calendar Clings, and Pop Out Nativity all utilize the same art (which is a beautiful watercolor/cut paper style that reminds me of Eric Carle), making them perfect to use to "count down" and pray during Advent and then continue to use during the Season of Christmas, showing the connection between our time of preparation and celebration.
You can see all of their Advent and Christmas resources at the link above, AND they have a site wide 30% off sale running right now, so it's a great time to order for the coming Seasons!
The Advent Calendar Clings include a set of heavy weight wall stickers that you can hang on your windows, wall, fridge, etc. Starting on December 1st, there are 24 numbered stickers, one for each day leading up to Christmas, as well as lots of little accent pieces to decorate with.  The stickers are sturdy enough that if removed carefully they could definitely be reused again another year.  The set includes a full color insert with a short meditation for each piece, telling the story of Christmas as your little one adds one sticker each day, ending up with a whole Nativity on display for Jesus' birthday.

Another option for encouraging the meaning of waiting during Advent is the sweet 120 piece Nativity Paper Chain.  This easily could be used as a way to count good deeds during Advent, or allow each family member to add a link during the days leading up to Christmas (no fighting over which kid gets to add the singular daily piece!)  The variety of links includes twelve different designs, and again includes an educational insert telling the story of Christmas using the images.  No glue or adhesive is required, as each piece is cut and notched to fit together easily, meaning after the Christmas season you can disassemble and reuse another year.  This chain would be fun to decorate a Christmas tree with, or drape around the living room as a festive and child-like reminder of the story of the first Christmas.

And finally, they also offer this sweet Pop Out Nativity (full picture above) made of sturdy heavy cardboard pieces on their own little stands.  The set is great for little hands as there is nothing to worry about breaking.  There is another educational resource telling the story of Christmas, and the storage folder opens up into a trifold stable.  All the pieces can be easily disassembled and stored flat, folding down to the size of a children's book, so this also would also be perfect to tuck into a book basket during the Christmas season.

The Cure for the Christmas Crazies by April Hartmann

This vibrant picture book is exactly what you might be looking for to remind your kids (and yourself) of what we are really getting ready for during Advent.  The book features a series of letters between little elf Norbert and Santa Claus (with an included biography on the connection between the names St. Nicolas and Santa Claus).  Norbert observes some "crazy" behavior in his family during the days leading up to Christmas, including super long gift lists, overwhelming baking, tons of Christmas decorations, and stressful shopping.  Santa writes back with the cure for these "Christmas Crazies," pointing Norbert to stories from the Bible that remind his family about the real meaning of Christmas.  I think kids will really like the bright illustrations, fun back-and-forth letter format, and relatable holiday "craziness," and the messages of truth will be heard loud and clear.
Visit the link above to preview the pages inside, hear more about the storyline, get free matching printables, and order your own copy. And if you follow @cureforthechristmascrazies on Instagram, April is giving away more copies leading up to Advent- you can go enter and win your own signed copy!

So those are some of the new resources I'll be using this Advent.  What are you excited to implement in your home or classroom?

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Memento Mori {Activities for Halloween, All Souls, and All Saints}

My new students are chomping at the bit for the end of October to get here, but it is not actually (entirely) because of costumes and candy.  During our current units about the life and mission of Jesus, we have talked about the Four Last Things, the role of Jesus as Savior, and the presence of evil in the world.  I have promised them long sessions discussing these topics further as well as open Q & A about their remaining questions on good/evil, scary movies, demonic possession, youtube gamers faking scary things, how to become a Saint, why relics aren't weird and more.  They've been storing up some tough questions (pray for me!) and I know that we are going to have great discussions.

I'm so glad that I have a wealth of info and truth to pull on from the Catholic Church as I prepare for these conversations, and that my previous experience led me to create some Halloween, All Saints, and All Souls Day resources.  I've linked my favorites at the end of this post for you to use too! Don't pass this season by without using the opportunity to teach about deep truths of the faith found in the Liturgical Year.

To take it up a notch and to connect to our current unit, I'm going to incorporate the ancient teaching of Memento Mori- "Remember Your Death."  This idea is not dark or depressing, it is a call as Christians to remember that this life is a mere drop in the bucket compared to eternity.  The way we live now should always be with our death and heaven in mind.  Many (including 2000 years of Saints) have already written about Memento Mori, so check out these articles for more info:
Memento Mori- Five Benefits to Remembering Your Death
Memento Mori- How Religious Orders Remember Death
Memento Mori- How a Skull on Your Desk will Change Your Life

To bring a little Memento Mori into my classroom, as we study this topic and through the month of November (the Liturgical month to remember the Poor Souls in Purgatory), we'll keep this skull, memento mori sign, prayer for the faithful departed, and a book to record the names of the dead in the prayer corner of our classroom. If you'd like to create your own sign and book for the names of the faithful departed, you can click on the image below to get the printables.

FYI, typo (Momento vs Memento has been fixed in the actual printable, just not the pictures!)

And now here's a repost of my top 12 activities for Halloween, All Saints Day, and All Souls Day, which are some of my favorite celebrations of the year!

1. Tying All Hallows Eve in with All Saints and All Souls Day has been a part of my curriculum for several years.  This post has a mini coloring book and many coloring pages about those topics. Click on the image to go to the post:

In that post, there is an All Saints Day page with a list of great Saints who can be intercessors in kids lives.  I love to introduce them to new Saints and give them some heavenly heroes to look up to and be inspired by. They also love using the Saints Name Generator to learn about new Saints and chose patrons.  Click on the image to go to the post:

2. Litany of the Saints and All Souls prayer cards:
My students loved these.  I took the general opening/closing for most litanies and put it on one side of the prayer cards.  On the other side they get to create their own "All Star" cast. Oh, and we'll be listening to this song as well.

We will also use these prayer cards with the Eternal Rest prayer on one side and a place to list specific people on the back.  We plan to use this prayer card for the rest of the month as November is dedicated to praying for all souls in purgatory.  It would also be a great resource any time of the year to teach about the Spiritual Works of Mercy, or for kids who are experiencing a death and working through grief.  (You may be interested in my post on Helping Kids Grieve.)

3. We love this All Saints Day art project. Click on the image to go to a post with step-by-step instructions and ideas:

4. If a whole art project won't be in the works during your celebration, I have several Saints coloring pages you can use instead. The growing list of coloring pages can be found under this tab and then under the Saints heading.

 5. You could quickly make these easy Saint shrines.  This one features St. Joseph, but you could have each student pick a different Saint and then display them all together.  Click on the image for the post with details:

 6. Practice some writing skills and intercessory prayer with these All Saints and All Souls Day Letters.  Click on either image to go to the post:

 7. You could play this Beatitude and Modern Saints game, which is modeled after the idea of Old Maid, but introduces kids to facts about eight modern Saints and the Beatitude they exemplified.  And instead of the "Old Maid" card, there is a "Bad-Attitude" card in the mix.  (Get it? Be-attitude, bad-attitude...I know, groan.)  Click on the image to go to the post:

8. Here's a whole playlist of videos on YouTube about Saints or the Canonization process.  Click on the image to go to the post:

9. Here's a Happy All Saints Day coloring page: (Click on image for the file)

10. An easy and cool art project is to make giant Saint medal using tin foil and a coloring page of a Saint (or student drawing).  I always have the kids make Miraculous Medals like this during our St. Maximilian Kolbe unit, but I had several early finishers ask if they could make a Saint medal too.  Here we have St. Max:

Sts. George, Elizabeth Ann Seton, Hubert, and Christopher:

And St. John Paul II. Click on any of those images to read about our Miraculous Medals and you can use the same technique for Saints.

11. This post gives you seven ideas for celebrating a Patron Saint Day (ours is St. Joseph) but many of the ideas would transfer to All Saints Day as well.  Click on the image to go to the post:

12.  We aren't actually doing this on All Saints Day, but my class has made it a point to celebrate the specific patron Saints of each class with them throughout the school year.  So on St. Vincent de Paul's feast day, we sent 2nd Grade a card, and on St. John Paul II's feast day we sent one to 3rd grade, etc.  You wouldn't have to wait all year though- using a list of classroom Saints, have your class send each of them a card on All Saints Day.  You could also do this for name Saints or patron Saints of your friends and family members.

So there you have it!  Tons of options, so don't let this great Solemnity pass you by! :)
How will you be celebrating All the Saints with the kids in your life?  I'd love to hear from you in the comments!

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Mass Reflection Sheet Graphic Organizer

You all responded so enthusiastically to the Lectio Divina Graphic Organizer I posted last week, so it encouraged me to update or create some of the other graphic organizers I've been meaning to share.  Here's a new one to aid kids with paying attention and reflecting on the Mass.

This graphic organizer is general and can be used for any Sunday or weekday Mass.  I also kept the info boxes vague, so they could be used for a variety of types reflections for kids of different ages/interests/abilities.

A few ideas for how you could use these pages with your children or students:
-Use to prepare before Mass.  Read the Scripture readings and write about each, preparing to later hear them at Mass.
-Plan a personal intention to offer that Mass for
-Bring a copy to Mass (could have several blank copies in a binder, 3-prong folder, or clipboard) and take notes during Mass
-Use as a post Mass reflection.  After attending Mass, reread the Scripture readings, taking notes about what stood out.  Jot down a few things from the homily, and come up with an action item for the week.

***Just a note after some feedback about this tool- you have to know your kids/students and what resources will be a help and what will be a hindrance.  Some kids need the prep before Mass, some can do the follow up after.  I think that using a Mass journal when the kids are with their families on Sundays could be a great option (I know I love my Every Sacred Sunday Journal!).  But I also understand how we'd never want to remove the reverence from the Mass and attention to the beauty of the liturgy.  This is not meant to be treated like an assignment that is completed during the Mass.  You have to decide how you encourage rapt attention during and application after attending a weekday or Sunday Mass- and it is our privilege and responsibility as parents/teachers to determine the best way to do this.***

 A few ideas for things to write in the boxes for the readings:
(You could start by requiring students follow one way of recording thoughts, then introduce another option, and eventually let them choose what fits them and the particular Mass best)
-Write a favorite verse from the reading
-Create a summary of the reading
-List questions you still have about the reading
-Describe what this reading helps you understand about God
-Write a connecting topic you want to research
-Jot down any words or ideas you still want help understanding
-Connect the reading to your own life
-Name something different you will do this week because of this reading
-Draw a picture of what happened in the reading
-Summarize the message of the reading in one phrase
-Reflect on what theme connects all of the readings

I'm sure you'll think of lots of ways this graphic organizer could be useful in your classroom or home!

Click here to download the pdf of the Mass Reflection Page:
(If you have a specific idea or wording that you think would work better for your students, email me at looktohimandberadiant (at) gmail (dot) com and I'll send you an editable version!
P.S. I offered my Mass this morning for Look to Him and Be Radiant readers, their students, and their families.  Then, we got to the Communion Antiphon, and guess what it was... "Look toward the Lord and be radiant!" God is good, and be assured of my prayers for you!