Saturday, February 19, 2011

Printable Stations of the Cross cards

I'm starting to work on a few projects for Lent devotions (which I will be posting soon!)  While doing research, I ran across some beautiful Stations of the Cross cards that can be downloaded for free from Kathryn at The Bookworm Blog.  I think I will add them to our Lent lapbook, or make punch a small hole near the top and attach them to a ring, so my daughter can use them while we pray the Stations of the Cross.

Thank you, Kathryn, for providing us with this wonderful gift!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

"Love in the Bible" Game for St. Valentine's Day

I was searching for a way to encourage the eight- and nine-year-olds in my atrium (Sunday School class) to pull out the Bible and really look at it. We have a variety of beautiful Bibles in our room but they often sit forlornly alone on the shelf near the window, only to be cracked open briefly by the child who is doing the "Bible" reading of our morning prayer. 

I was also looking for a way to bring a Biblical perspective to Valentine's Day for my kids.   

I decided to create a Valentine's Day game that would encourage my students and kids to look up the various passages about love in the Bible. 

After a quick trip to the craft and dollar stores, I gathered together these materials to create the game:

Small notebooks, valentine-themed pencils, valentine stickers, a black permanent marker, white and pink paint pens (not shown), small wooden hearts and a box of Conversation candy hearts.

I originally planned to purchased plain wooden hearts (which I would paint red and paint), but Hobby Lobby had a 40% sale on all their valentine decorations so I was able to pick up pre-painted hearts and save a step.

Using the concordance in my Bible, I looked up age-appropriate passages about love in the Bible. I used a permanent marker or paint pen to write the citation for each verse on one heart.  I decorated the little notebooks with valentine stickers to make them a bit more festive.

To play the game, each child takes a small notebook and a valentine pencil. She picks a wooden heart and looks for the passage in the Bible.  When she has found it, she writes the passage in her notebook, then selects another heart verse and searches for it. If several children are playing, the one who finds (and writes down) the most passages within a set period of time (for example, eight minutes), wins the prize:  a box of Conversation hearts candy. If only one child is playing, then she "wins" the candy by finding a pre-determined number of verses.

I store everything in a discarded heart shaped candy box!  (A great way to repurpose those boxes!)

Friday, February 11, 2011

Litany of Our Lady of Lourdes Prayer Ring

I was surfing the internet for ideas on celebrating the Feast of Our Lady Of Lourdes (which is today, Friday, February 11) when I stumbled upon the beautiful "Litany of Our Lady of Lourdes" prayer on the Women For Faith & Family website. After reading it a couple of times I realized it would be a perfect prayer to share with my second grader. She is a struggling reader who quickly becomes frustrated when she doesn’t know every word in her easy reader. The repetition in this prayer would build her confidence while improving her vocabulary of faith words like "redeemer," "Holy Trinity" and "saviour." 

I knew that she would be quickly overwhelmed by the length of the prayer if I simply printed it out and suggested we read it together. I decided to give it to her in bite-sized pieces.  I divided the prayer into section of four to six lines then copied the document into my desktop publishing program. I created a set of cards and put each section on one page.  To encourage co-reading, some sections have light blue type while other sections have purple type. She picks the type color she would like to read.

Finally, I added some beautiful artwork of Our Lady of Lourdes, Jesus and the Trinity. I punched a hole at the top of each card and added a blue ring so we could flip through the prayer while we are reading it together.

We began using our "Litany" prayer ring on Monday and it has been a success!  We have had far better results than I was expecting.  She looks forwarding to reading it together as part of our morning prayer and has even asked to read the harder sections of the prayer by herself.  I can see that God has really touched her heart with this simple activity, and plan to adapt it to some of the other prayers that we will be learning. 

If you would like a printable of this litany prayer ring, please add a note to the comments section with your email address and I will email you the .pdf file. 

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Bernadette: The Little Girl from Lourdes

I was in our Catholic bookstore the other day looking for a book about St. Bernadette and Our Lady of Lourdes  that I could read to my daughter.  I planned to pick up a copy of Father Lovasik's classic Our Lady of Lourdes, but the store was out of them.  Instead, I ran across a wonderful picture book written by Sophie Maraval-Hutin titled Bernadette:  The Little Girl from Lourdes.

Published in 2010 by Ignatius Press and Magnificat, this delightful book will find a permanent place on our bookshelf!  I love its simple, watercolor-type illustrations.  The story, presented from a young girl's point of view, enchanted my eight-year-old daughter. That's no small feat since my daughter seldom sits still for more than five minutes. Yet this book, which has many words on its 32 pages, kept her still and interested for more than 30 minutes.  I tried to stop half way through the book but she begged me to continue!

It starts out in a beautiful storybook fashion:

"Perhaps you have already heard about Lourdes, a little town in the French Pyrenees Mountains famous all over the world. Thousands of Christians go there every year to pray. Sick people from all countries come in the hope of being cured.  And yet, a hundred and fifty years ago, Lourdes was a very little village, and Bernadette, the one who started it all, was just a very simple girl of fourteen.  This is her story..."

How can anyone put down a book with a beginning like that?

The book describes how Bernadette, while picking up branches to burn in her family's fireplace, experienced her first vision of a beautiful girl wearing a white veil and dress with a blue sash. It gives insight to the feelings a young girl might have if something like this would happen to her, which is why I think the book resonated with my daughter.  The story shows how Bernadette suffered through the anger of her parents, the disbelief of the villagers and the ridicule of the local judge.  Bernadette is a wonderful role model for girls because she remains calm despite the reactions of others. In addition, her faith in the "beautiful lady" is unwavering and steadfast even when everyone else doubts her and thinks she has gone mad.

The last two pages briefly describe her life after the apparitions ended in 1858 and how she later became a nun who devoted her life to caring for the sick before falling ill to tuberculosis. It then describes how she was declared a saint in 1933 and gently describes the incorrupt state of her body.  ("...her body has remainded untouched by death--Bernadette looks as if she is sleeping.")  I think this is a wonderful way to describe this miracle to children.
You can find out more about this book by clicking below: