Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Favorite Find: Feast Day Learning Boxes

I've been fascinated by the Orthodox Christian faith since 2006, when my husband and I were in St. Petersburg, Russia on one of  trips to adopt our Russian daughter.  While there, we visited several Russian Orthodox churches and were able to experience Divine Liturgy.  The incense, the bells, the chanting and the reverence reminded me of my childhood Roman Catholic Church. Our pastor, Monsignor Lapinski, was slow to adapt to the changes of Vatican II, so I grew up with many of the church's older traditions. Church was an "other worldly" place; almost like a touch of heaven on earth.  You could not find that environment or ambiance anywhere else. The sole purpose of the Mass was to worship and glorify God, not to be entertained or amused or even "fed." (Not that there is anything wrong with being "fed" by the Word of God, but it seems that many people have lost their way -- they are most worried about what they will get out of Mass, not what they can give to God.)

The beauty of the Orthodox church and the reverence of the Divine Liturgy really touched my soul.  I decided that although we would raise our daughter as a Roman Catholic, I would try to expose her to the Orthodox faith occasionally.  It only seems right, since she spent her toddler years in a children's home sponsored by the Russian Orthodox church, and she was baptized in the Russian Orthodox faith.

Several months ago I discovered The Crafty Contemplative blog. Written by an Orthodox woman named Amy, the blog gives a wonderful insight into some of the feasts and traditions of the Orthodox faith. It's interesting to compare the similarities and differences between our two faiths.

I also discovered that Amy has a side business called Orthodox Christian Craft Supply. She specializes in "hands on learning for all ages."  She has put together a variety of inexpensive craft kits to help kids learn about their Orthodox faith.  (For my Roman Catholic friends: many of these can be adapted!) 

I purchased three of her "learning boxes" for these feast days: Ascension, Pentecost and the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul.  Thought I'd share a bit about the Saints. Peter and Paul box since their feast day is celebrated tomorrow (Wednesday, June 29).

Basically, the learning box includes a study guide and craft materials to make several different hands on projects related to the items in the study guide.  Amy's kits are wonderful -- they include everything you will need for the projects, except glue.  Each project is packaged in its own little plastic bag, too.  No need to sort through the materials and figure out which items go with which projects!  Here are some pictures of the Saints Peter and Paul kit contents:

Can you believe this kit only cost $8?  It would cost me alot more if I had to run around town to find all the components myself.  

The Saints Peter and Paul box has five different projects.  Each project is specifically detailed in the included study guide. The study guide gives you a Sacred Scripture passage to read with your children, then a meditation, then simple instructions for completing the related craft project. The five projects in the Saints Peter and Paul learning box include:

Project 1: Saints Peter and Paul -- read passages in Luke about Peter, then create little figures of the saints with the included wooden pegs.

Project 2: Rooster -- read about Paul in the Acts of the Apostles, then create a miniature 3-D rooster picture

Project 3: Great Light -- read about the early church in Corinthians then create a small sun

Project 4: Scroll -- discover how we can learn more about God in the Scriptures and create a small scroll

Project 5: Church -- create a small wooden church. (The church is an Orthodox one with the signature onion dome, but I think it could be adapted.) 

All of the completed items can be stored in the box, which can be used at home (perhaps on a home altar or in a prayer corner?).  Alternatively, the box is easy to transport to church, to keep little ones occupied in an appropriate way during Mass.

We have just started putting together our kit, so it probably won't be done by tomorrow.  So I'll share a photo of the finished kit from the Christian Orthodox Craft Supply website:

Isn't it an amazing little learning box?  I can't wait to finish ours and will post photos when we are done!


  1. wow, how wonderful! those crafts look great. how wonderful to find a site that teaches the faith through crafts. I'll definitely be checking it out. thanks for the tip, Cheryl.

  2. Don't forget...you can attend the Divine Liturgy AND stay in the Catholic church! ;-)

  3. What a great way to learn about feast days for children. Especially for children who are visual and like to make crafts.

  4. Hi Cheryl, Thanks so much for sharing your work and the tip about the Orthodox Christian Craft Company! My family is planning a trip to Russia in October and I might just have to order a kit like this for my kids beforehand. Thanks for dropping by my blog as well, and please tell your daughter "Privyet" from me! I hope she will always treasure her Russian heritage. Kudos to you for exposing her to the beauty of the Orthodox church!