Sunday, October 24, 2021

All About Relics, Q&A on Saints, and Tons of Activities for Halloween, All Saints, and All Souls

Through the upcoming celebration of All Hallows Eve, All Saints Day, and All Souls Day, we remember the close connection of the entire Mystical Body of Christ. On All Saints Day, we celebrate all the holy men and women who have gone before us, now gathered before the throne of God praying for us. All Souls Day then invites us to pray for those who have died, completing the connection between the Church Militant, Church Triumphant, and Church Suffering. These special days are so valuable to share with kids, and I have some activities to help!

All About Relics Activity Book

First up, a couple of new resources that I created in cooperation with the St. Frances Xavier Cabrini Shrine in New York. These two activity books are only available on their website, but are totally free for you to download and use! Both designed at a middle school level, they aim to help kids understand the important connection we have with the Saints.

Kids are typically fascinated by relics. Why do we have them? Is this just a weird Catholic tradition? Can they be found in the Bible? Discover all that and more in this All About Relics Activity Book: (Once at the site, click on the "download pdf" button in the gray bar at the bottom of the viewer.)

Q & A: Saints Activity Book

Why do we ask the Saints to pray for us? How can they hear us if they are dead? What's the difference between worship and veneration? All this and more is included in the Saint Activity Book. You can see a couple of sample pages below:

All Saints Day Pennants 

I originally made these Saint pennants for my students celebrating their Confirmation Saints, but then saved and tweaked the files, and printed them 1/4 the size to make the little mini Saint pennant banner pictured above. The collection has 50 pennants and there is more info below about how to make your own if a favorite Saint isn't included.

Click here for the full size pennants (2 per page), 

Click here for the medium size (4 per page),

And click here for the minis (8 per page):

If you would like a banner for a Saint you don't see, or would like to change colors, etc., I've also got this editable version:

And also black and white coloring pages:

If you are looking for some other resources for this weekend or going into the month of November, here are a few suggestions:

Catholic Connections to All Hallows Eve:

Saintly Friends Bingo:

Saint Scavenger Hunt
This Saint scavenger hunt is fun for all, but great research for kids preparing to choose their Confirmation Saint. It has lots of tasks for discovering Saints they have things in common with (name, birthday, interests) as well as getting to know "random" Saints. There are tons of links to sources to help with the search for different topics. My students really like this one! I have a similar version on paper here.

All Saints Day Art Project

One of my all time favorite art projects over the years! And it is super easy to adapt for various ages.

Make your own Litany of the Saints cards:

And Prayer for the Faithful Departed cards for All Souls Day:

And more! Just check under the Saints Tab above for tons of other ideas and printables. Happy All Saints Day!

Monday, October 11, 2021

Through the Year with Mary Preorder Bonuses

It's (almost) here! Through the Year with Mary: Ponder and Pray Together with Children, my second book, is ready for preorder! A stand alone book, but certainly a companion to Through the Year with Jesus, this book offers weekly readings, reflections, art, discussion questions, and prayers. Its topics include Marian devotions, feast days, traditions, apparitions, Bible stories, Saints, art, prayers, and hymns, all organized by themes that fit within the Church year. There are also a couple of great appendices with a Marian timeline, all the feast days in the book, and the full text of dozens of Marian prayers- making it easy to pray and learn about Our Blessed Mother all year long. (***Update based on lots of questions- the book is expected to start shipping in mid November, so even if a little delayed, will arrive in plenty of time for Christmas gift giving!)

Here's a look at the Table of Contents. Each weekly entry includes a quote (wisdom from Scripture, Saint, CCC, or author), an explanation of the tradition or devotion, a few discussion questions, a piece of sacred art including a reflection topic, a connection back to Jesus, and a prayer. (Click on the image to enlarge or zoom in to read the themes and topics)

And here's a sample week:

You can click here to preorder directly from my publisher. The St. Paul Center will also be offering a free ebook of bonus resources for all who preorder- it will include content on the monthly themes, prayers, art, and more. (***Update- the St. Paul Center free bonus ebook will be emailed out by the end of October to all those that preorder. It will have tons of content that supports but is unique from the actual book!)

Right now, the book currently only listed in hardback, but will also be available as an ebook on the release date. You can also find it here on Amazon (affiliate link).

If you like to shop local, now is a great time to ask your favorite bookstore to preorder the book for you. They can order the book for you to pick up locally, and they might also consider adding it to their shelves!

As a thank you for preordering, I'd like to offer you a free 20 page activity book, designed as a companion to the book and just a good set of tools for helping kids grow in devotion to Mary. Journaling pages, meaning of Marian symbols, a mini Marian shrine, Marian art scavenger hunt, quote coloring pages, and more! If you've preordered Through the Year with Maryjust fill out this form and the link to the all the activity pages is yours!

From all the entries in the preorder bonus form, I'll also choose one random winner to receive a free virtual workshop with a group of your choice! Entries must be submitted by 11/27/21 to be in the drawing. 

I can't wait for this book to be added to your collections in your homes and classrooms, helping children come to know the Blessed Virgin Mary, who always leads us closer to her Son!


From the back cover:

For two-thousand years, Christians around the world have sought the Blessed Virgin Mary as a guide to growing closer to her Son, Jesus. Through Scripture, Catholic teaching, devotions, and countless works of art, we come to see Mary as our Mother, too.

Through the Year with Mary by Katherine Bogner brings together the Church’s traditions in one place and provides a year-long plan for coming to know and love the Mother of God through:

  • Weekly passages from Scripture, saints, and scholars
  • Reflections to nurture your understanding of Marian teaching and devotion
  • Sacred art from around the world
  • Marian prayers to teach you to grow closer to Jesus through Mary

This comprehensive resource will help adults and children alike to entrust themselves to the most loving Mother of Jesus.

Through the Year with Mary has received the nihil obstat and imprimatur.
Nihil obstat:
Msgr. Philip D. Halfacre, V.G.
Censor Librorum 
Most Rev. Daniel R. Jenky, C.S.C.
Bishop of Peoria
September 15, 2021 

“In this companion volume to her wonderful book, Through the Year with Jesus, Katherine Bogner again hits all the right notes. Everything you’ve ever wondered about Mary is covered here, with quotes from saints and scholars, Church doctrine, Marian apparitions, Scripture from the Old and New Testaments, beautiful works of art, and prayers. It’s great for all ages, and would be useful in the home or classroom. Alongside your children, you’ll learn everything the Catholic Church has taught about Our Lady over the centuries, and how all of it, always, points us to a deeper understanding of her Son, Jesus.”

Kendra Tierney, Author and Blogger,

 “This book is an absolute must for families interested in deepening their devotion to Mary and honoring her in their homes and hearts all year long. In simple and compelling language, Katherine has made the wealth of the Church’s teachings on the Blessed Mother accessible without sacrificing depth. With easy-to-read reflections, beautiful art, and prayers from around the world, this book will easily become a cornerstone of your domestic church.”

Colleen Pressprich, Author of Marian Consecration for Families with Young Children

 “I am always looking for things to help us better communicate the faith to our daughters, who have lots of questions and an appetite to learn about Jesus. Who better to help us help them meet Jesus than His mother? Through the Year with Mary has been such a great resource for us to pray with on the way to school each morning, at the dinner table in the evening, and to try to grow our little domestic church with intentional focus on the person who knew Jesus best: His mom.”

Katie Prejean McGrady, Award-winning Author of Follow: Your Lifelong Adventure with Jesus and Host of The Katie McGrady Show on Sirius XM

 “Katie Bogner has done it again! Through the Year with Mary is an outstanding guide for children and adults as they grow in their love of God and His Church. Katie’s book offers a robust collection of Marian art, theology, prayers, and feast days to lead us to Jesus through Mary. Just like its companion book, Through the Year with Jesus, Through the Year with Mary is the perfect addition to any Catholic classroom or home. Buy this book!”

Bonnie Engstrom, Author of 61 Minutes to a Miracle

Friday, October 8, 2021

Book Review: Fulton Sheen and the Very Bad Week {Plus a free companion activity book!}

Do you know the story of when young Fulton Sheen was altar serving and dropped the wine cruet during Mass? He  happened to be in a cathedral (St. Mary's in Peoria) serving for a bishop (Bishop John Lancaster Spalding), making the mistake even more memorable. This is one of my students' favorite stories of Sheen, I think because it makes him so relatable- they all know what it is like to make a mistake. They also love that afterwards he didn't get in trouble, but instead received from the Bishop a prediction of the plans God might have in store for his future.

As they look to the Saints, kids can benefit from remembering that the saints were all once children themselves. Most didn't achieve heroic virtue immediately, and all give witness to how following God changed the course of their lives. However, biographies that contain real details from the childhood of Saints are pretty hard to come by.

That's one reason that I am so excited to share with you Bonnie Engstrom's brand new book Fulton Sheen and the Very Bad Week! Sharing true stories from the childhood of little Fulton, Bonnie created a collection of tales that are real and relatable for today's kids. Each of the stories is adapted from events Sheen wrote about in his autobiography Treasure in Clay. (affiliate links)

This book is super fun to read aloud. With a recognizable days-of-the-week format, the rhythm of events connects with wonderful storytelling. The full color watercolor illustrations on every spread enhance the book. They share rich details and are based on real locations and photographs. I also love the little hidden symbols and connections to Sheen, which are revealed in a key at the end- they are perfect for going back to search for!

Most importantly, the theme that God is with us, is so close to us, even in our "very bad" moments is taught to the reader. Fulton's mom and dad and the Afterward of the book reveal that His plans are far bigger than what we might see in our current circumstances. The Lord is calling us to Himself through our particular path to holiness, and that is a message I want every kid to hear.

I've taught about Fulton Sheen in my 5th-8th Grade classrooms over many years, and have collected those resources into the Teaching with Fulton Sheen Curriculum. However, there aren't as many resources available for our younger kiddos, which makes this book a perfect tool for Kindergarten through 4th graders. To help expand its impact in homes and classrooms, I had the honor of working with Bonnie and the illustrator Mari to create a companion activity book that we all are so excited to offer you for FREE!

The activities are intended to be a companion to Fulton Sheen and the Very Bad Week with matching fonts, illustrations, and topics. The pages start simple and easy and get more challenging, offering a range of activities for K-4th Grade. 

The activities work on basic skills like copywork and coloring, but also include reading strategies like matching, sequencing, and recalling facts. The pages for older kids include reflection prompts and room to write.

Within the activities, kids will come to know Fulton Sheen, but more importantly grow in understanding of the love that God has for each one of us. You can see a preview of the activity pages below, and the full pdf also includes a couple more coloring pages, a table of contents with recommended ages, a letter to teachers and parents, and an answer key for the necessary activities. :)

I hope you consider adding  Fulton Sheen and the Very Bad Week to your home or classroom library! It would also make a great Christmas gift for your nieces and nephews, godchildren, and grandchildren. Plus, you can print and include a copy of activity book too!

Venerable Fulton J. Sheen, pray for us!