Sunday, December 19, 2010

Advent Meditation with Children: The Visitation

In an earlier post, I mentioned the presentation on the Annunciation that we do with the children in our Catechesis of the Good Shepherd atrium. Even the smallest children, as young as three years old, are deeply touched by Infancy Narratives like the Annunciation. I think it's because the process becomes a hands-on experience when they are able to use the diorama and other materials to recreate the story.

We also present other Infancy Narratives in the atrium, like the Visitation presentation I gave to my daughter yesterday.  It is based on Luke 1:39-56, where Mary goes to visit her cousin Elizabeth, who is also pregnant despite her advanced age.

My diorama of Elizabeth's house is a work in progress, but we used it anyway. Like Mary's house for the Annunciation presentation, it is made from a photo storage box covered with plaster.  It hasn't been painted yet; I'm debating whether to leave it white or paint it. (By leaving it white, it will help the children differentiate between Mary's home and Elizabeth's home.)

The Mary and Elizabeth figures are made from 1" wide dowels, cut to a length of about 3".  Their veils are made from a plastic compound I found at a craft store.  Unfortunately, I don't remember what it was called but I think an air dry clay would work too. The clothing, hair, hands and facial features were painted on with acrylic paint or fine-tipped permanent markers.   As an alternative, you could use wooden pegs (available at many craft stores) instead of the wooden dowels. 

Unfortunately, it is a project that takes time but it's well worth the effort!  My son loved these dioramas and now my daughter is beginning to fall in love with them. Feel intimidated?  In the atrium, we have found that the children love the figures and dioramas best when they appear homemade and are less-than-perfect. The Fontanini figures are nice but they don't speak to the children as much as these little wooden doll figures do!

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