Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Little Saints for Little (or Big!) Learners

Incorporating inspiration from the Saints into daily life is an important goal for all Catholic classrooms and homes.  Holy cards, artwork, statues, and books are a great way to keep the Saints present, but it is also nice to have things that are designed with kids in mind.  Little Drops of Water is a family company that started with a dream of their daughter Anna to learn and share the stories of the Saints with other kids.  Today the company offers a line of Catholic figurines and keychains with sweet, child friendly style.  Little Drops of Water sent me some of their figurines to try in my classroom, and I'm happy to share this great resource with you as well!

***Little Drops of Water, Pauline Books & Media, and TAN Books provided me with free items in exchange for an honest review. I only recommend things I use and love and want to share with you. All opinions are my own. :)
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.

And as you browse, make sure you check out the promos and sales available on their website here!

Each statue comes packaged in a giftable box which includes a great description of the statue, whether symbols on the image or a bio of the Saint or the history of an image.  That info is a great tool to add in that important catechetical piece along with each figurine.  They average about 3-3.5" in height and are made of a heavy resin material, painted with bright eye catching colors.

Let me show you some of the adorable statues offered by Little Drops of Water.  First up, figures of Jesus, including the Sacred Heart, the Holy Family, and Divine Mercy.  I love how the figures are such a friendly image for kids- they are perfect to hold and pray with, fitting just right in little hands.

These modern Saints are one of my very favorite thing they carry- here you can see Mother Teresa, John Bosco, Padre Pio, and Josephine Bakhita.  One of the best advantages of having figures like this around your home and classroom are that you are increasing the children's recognition of Jesus, Mary, and the Saints.  By helping them see the common symbols, color, and style of simple depictions like these, they are better able to recognize them in other Catholic art.

I love the variety of Marian titles and apparitions they've created, which also have companion Saints- there's a Juan Diego to go with Our Lady of Guadalupe, Bernadette for Lourdes, etc.

They also carry collections that are for special occasions like births, Baptisms, and First Communions.  And make sure you check out their Nativities and Last Supper set which are so adorable and would make such special gifts.

The statues have passed required safety testing, and while not completely UNbreakable, are appropriate for gentle play in my opinion. I shared some of these with my three and four year old nephews and niece and they are holding up pretty well.  I will be honest and tell you that we have broken one hand from the St. Nicolas figurine from a drop, but the rest look great.  They are intended for display as opposed to active play, so you'd have to decide based on your kids how to best use them.  The material is not as study as plastic, but certainly stronger than glass or ceramic.

I think that Little Drops of Water Saints pair perfectly with these Catholic books for gifts or Feast Days.  (More these books in my next Katie Reads post!) so I thought I'd share some of my favorite combos!
Father Ben Gets Ready for Mass by Katie Warner and little St. John Bosco are a perfect reminder to pray for priests and the youth in their parishes:

The Sacred Heart of Jesus and Immaculate Heart of Mary statues (my personal favorite ;) ) look so nice on display with Fulton Sheen's Jesus Son of Mary:

Anna Goes to a Party and Learns About the Mass by Gabriele Kramer-Kost pairs perfectly with the Jesus and First Communicant statue for a special Sacramental gift:
I love featuring these modern Saints in my classroom alongside the sweet book Saintly Rhymes for Modern Times on top of my Saint book shelf:

Go check out their site and think about all the possibilities- birthdays, First Communions, teacher gifts, graduations... so many great ways to bring these Saints into the lives of all the little (and big!) people in your life. :)

And helping fulfill their mission to educate Catholic kids, Little Drops of Water also offers some great FREE resources including coloring pages, posters, and printable activity books! Check those out here.  The coloring book is full of awesome Marian apparition pages that would pair perfectly to make this activity a multi age unit!

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Marian Apparition Investigation

We've reached the end of the school year, and my students are well, a little restless, as I can imagine yours are too. :) With the time that we have left, I've decided to try some high interest Catholic topics to keep them learning and (hopefully) engaged during our last classes- things like Eucharistic Miracles, incorrupt Saints, the Stigmata, etc.)

One group is going to be studying Marian Apparitions, a perfect topic for this month of May.  My hope is to help develop Marian devotion and understanding of the guidance Mary still gives to the Church.  I also want the students to more readily recognize different Marian titles and devotions and their symbols.

I used these Marian prayer cards to intro the lesson and talk about titles of Mary we know, as well as the symbols, etc. in the images.  (These lovely cards are from Avery & Co on Etsy.)

On the back of this booklet, I provided a list of Marian titles (certainly not exhaustive, but a good place to start) and a list of (what I think are) Vatican approved apparitions.  I talked with the students about the purpose of Marian Apparitions, and how they can be approved for devotion but that we are not required to believe private revelation- it does not (and cannot) change the content of our faith. I tried to find a reliable source that lists all the Vatican approved Marian apparitions, but couldn't locate a single exhaustive source.  This list is the best I could find by cross referencing several places.  If you know of a good, reliable website to check, please let me know!

Once the students chose a Marian Apparition, we got started on research.  They looked for basic facts like where, when, and to whom the apparition occurred.  We used the internet (again- would love to have a specific reliable site to have them use!) and my collection of Marian books.  (You can see some of them in this post). The students also had to summarize the message or purpose of the apparition.  On the front, there is space to draw an image of the apparition or list the symbols described.

Then, to work in a little more content no matter the apparition chosen, I had them read a few paragraphs in the Catechism and summarize some Marian facts.  And finally to develop some higher level thinking, I asked them to consider what we can learn from this apparition and the message shared for the Church today.

Finally, the students will share a little mini report on the apparition they chose with their classmates, so we are all learning more about these Marian devotions.  So far it's working great and been a high interest way to use some of our last days this school year. 

I hope that it might be a good resource for you as well!  Feel free to add in the comments or send me an email if you have any great books or websites that you think would be helpful for this project- I'd love your input!

Click here to download your copy of the student guide:

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Lovely Lady {Ideas for Honoring Mary in May}

In honor of this month of Our Lady, I've collected a whole series of posts with tons of ideas for teaching kids about Mary- and through her, modeling Christian life, prayer, generosity, and virtue.

Click on any of the pictures below to take you to a post with more info, ideas, printables, and pictures.

Marian Music Playlist:

Favorite Books About Mary:

Hail Mary Sort Cards:

Angelus Mini Book:

Regina Coeli Mini Book:

Holy Family Hearts Coloring Page and Prayer Cards:

Immaculate Heart of Mary Coloring Pages and Prayer Cards:

Immaculate Heart of Mary and Seven Sorrows Coloring Page:

Mary as the Moon Coloring Page:

Lovely Lady Dressed in Blue Coloring Page:

Lovely Lady Dressed in Blue Retreat:

My Soul Magnifies the Lord Theme:

Marian Bulletin Board:

Mary, Mother of the Church Feast Day

Mary Garden Plant Labels:

Mini Mary Flipbooks:

Notebook Marian Shrine:

Marian Prayers Flipbook:

Marian Typology Info Cards:

Mary & Discipleship Youth Bible Study:

Family Marian Shrine:

World Mission Rosary:

Brown Scapular Resources:

You might also like these Marian Stamps in my Etsy Shop:

Lovely Lady, dressed in blue, teach me how to pray.
God was just your little boy, and you know the way.

Monday, April 29, 2019

Where I've Been

After a two month absence from the blog, I thought I'd share a little about where I've been, why I haven't posted any new content, and the reason I've been terrible about answering your emails and inquiries.

In early March, my 57-year-old otherwise healthy mother developed a bad cough. After spiking a fever, she was diagnosed with bacteria pneumonia and sent home with antibiotics. Less than 48 hours later she was rushed to the ER and admitted to the ICU in full ARDS (Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome) due to H1N1 Influenza.

She fought hard for 24 days, and I and my family were with her every day. She celebrated her 58th birthday on March 29th, and welcomed her fourth grandchild on April 2nd. And the morning of April 6th, she peacefully passed away.

My family and I are coping, but are wrecked and still in shock from such a terrible loss. I've shared a little on Instagram if you follow me there, and was going to stay quiet here on the blog, but changed my mind. This blog isn't about me, it's about Religious Education for homes and classrooms, but along the way so many of you have become friends. I've met you in person, you've send the kindest emails, and we are united in this kinship of evangelization and catechesis.  I'd like to ask for your prayers for the repose of my mom's soul as well as your prayers for my family during this difficult time.  You can visit her Caring Bridge site here if you'd like to read more about our journey.

Thank you for your support.  I hope that you've been able to find activities for Easter and Divine Mercy in the archives, and I'll be back in May with some new ideas and reviews.  My Etsy Shop did reopen yesterday with some new products as well as some sales.  As always, I'm grateful for the community of believers united here.
~ ~ ~

Mom's Obituary:

Rebecca Sue Bogner, 58, of Sparland passed into eternal life on April 6, 2019 unexpectedly from a respiratory virus. Cherished wife, beloved mother, and adored Gigi to four grandchildren, she has left an indelible mark on the world that words would never do justice to.

Becky was blessed enough to always call the countryside her home. She was raised in Wyoming, IL, born to Harold and Betty Wilkinson on March 29, 1961, and was a 1979 graduate of Wyoming High. She attended Illinois Central College. She and her loving husband, Steve, were married in 1983 and resided on their family farm in Sparland for more than 35 wonderful years of marriage. Their love for each other and for their family is undoubtedly Becky’s most impactful legacy.

Becky devoted herself to raising her three daughters, instilling in them through her actions a love for radical hospitality, gracious generosity, and service to others above self.

As they grew, Becky was employed with the Midland School District as an administrative assistant. She worked for the district for 22 years, and greeted everyone with her kind smile and willingness to help without hesitation. She loved her daily interactions with her coworkers and the students. She was an involved parishioner at Immaculate Conception Catholic Church, where she and Steve attended their entire marriage and made many lifelong friends.

Becky was known to her friends, family, and community through countless ways. She was part of the Sparland Mothers Club when her girls were young, a 4-H leader and volunteer for many years, and a proud supporter of the Midland FFA. She baked cakes for every special occasion, from birthdays to weddings. She renovated and decorated their 140 year-old farm house, making it both beautiful and a place to call home for her girls and their friends. She was always elbow deep in craft projects and ankle deep in her garden. Her generosity could not be exceeded through her cooking and baking - there was always enough food for one (or five) more at her table. She would cook a several-course meal and still ask for requests for your favorite pie to whip up at the end of it.

She leaves behind the love of her life, husband Steve, her three daughters, Katie Bogner of Chillicothe, IL, Stephanie Zimmerman of Colchester, IL, and Emily Werner of Fort Riley, KS, beloved sons-in-law Steven Zimmerman and Luke Werner, and the little lights of her life - four grandchildren, Violet, Oliver, Evan, and Theodore. Out of the countless hats she wore throughout her life, Gigi was the one that brought her the most joy.

Services for Becky will take place at Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Lacon. The visitation will be held Thursday, April 11th from 5-7PM. The funeral Mass will be Friday, April 12th at 10:30AM with luncheon to follow. Memorials can be made to the Midland FFA or Immaculate Conception Catholic Church.

The joy and memories she leaves behind for those who loved her and were loved by her far surpass the great sorrow we feel. We rest in the hope that she is in Heaven in the presence of our Lord, and that she already knows what kind of pie to make for Him.

Eternal rest, grant unto her, O Lord and let perpetual light shine upon her.

~ ~ ~

And this is the letter we shared at the funeral:

Dear Family and Friends,

“...We boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we even boast of our afflictions, knowing that affliction produces endurance; endurance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit...”~Romans5:2-5

Hope- the word that has forged our path and guided our steps on this journey.

For much of these past weeks, the word hope has rung in our ears and pressed into our hearts. We rested in hope on the better days and clung to it on the hard ones. We lived in hope that mom would heal, be made well, and return home to us.

Instead, we walk this path, the one we would have never chosen but ultimately was God’s will. In such a time as this, it would be easy to question - what was the purpose of all that hope? What is the purpose of this suffering? And we have received this answer in Truth - our hope is not of this world, not of our own plans or desires, no matter how good. Our hope is in the Lord, ever gracious, ever merciful, ever loving. Our hope is in Heaven.

Our mom emulated this same hope and love in the way she lived each day of her life. She gave her time, her gifts, her kindness, and her smile to everyone she met and poured herself out in service to others. She loved as Christ loves us still - completely, selflessly, and unwavering.

Over the last few days, we have often spoken how people are grieving for us - losing a beloved wife, a cherished mom, and an adored Gigi too suddenly and much too soon has been the greatest tragedy we have ever faced. But also, there are so many who are grieving with us. Many of you feel your own loss of Becky so acutely. When you live the way she did, overflowing with love for others, it’s hard to not be touched by that love. We are all marked in some way by Becky’s life. We honor her by honoring you, her family and friends - thank you for sharing your stories, your memories, the places in your heart where she will live on forever.

In gratitude, we offer you the same thing that has been offered to us - hope through Christ. We do not despair. We rejoice in hope and persevere toward our ultimate goal - a life in Heaven with our Lord. We hope for happier days on earth, that the stories and memories we share will come with both laughter and tears, knowing they are made sweeter from the suffering. We hope for all of you who are hurting today to be comforted and for peace to wash over all of us, leaving only an ache for our true home, where there will be no more pain or sadness - only joy.

In mom’s kitchen, there is a sign that hangs on the wall stating, “Home is where your Mom is.” These words have never been truer. Our home is where our mom is. Our home is in Heaven. May we all one day be Home, together again once more.

With hope -
Steve, Katie, Steph, Steven, Violet, Oliver, Evan, Emily, Luke, & Teddy