Wednesday, February 13, 2013

3 Easy Lent Ideas

The Crown of Thorns Wreath idea came from two sources (Celebrating Faith in the Home:  The Forty Days of Lent for the Christian Family and A Treasure Chest of Traditions for Catholic Families).

We have children ranging in age from 3 to 15 living at home right now, so I've been on the lookout for easy Lenten ideas for them.  My friend Teresa gave me two:  a crown of thorns made of clay and toothpicks, and a simple Lenten calendar with spaces big enough that 3-year-old "Alleluia" can mark off the days with her dot markers.

This type of calendar is easily found or made.  Notice that Sundays are not included in the 40 days.

We picked a purple dot marker because it's the color for this season.
For the wreath Teresa gave us a hunk of clay (salt dough dries out), a sturdy plate and a bag of toothpicks.

Teenaged "Wasabi" rolled out the clay and braided it nicely while Alleluia and I counted out 40 toothpicks, enough so that she can remove one for each day of the 40 days of Lent.  When the wreath was complete we all stuck the toothpicks into the clay to represent thorns.  We explained that our sacrifices and good works during Lent can comfort our suffering Lord, and we can remove a "thorn" each time we offer something up out of love for Him.  We hope to remove all of the thorns by Easter!

The third idea is straight from the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd calligraphy materials.  We have lined paper, double-tipped calligraphy markers and verses for copying for 6- through 9-year-olds that is a normal part of a Level 2 CGS classroom.  Since our 9-year-old "Peel" has been learning cursive I suggested that she write out either one of the names of Jesus or copy a psalm each day during Lent.  She liked the idea!

By the end of Lent I guess we'll have to think of something clever to do with all of her calligraphy.  Any ideas?

Monday, February 4, 2013

"Purple and Green, Red and White......"

Last night my 3-year-old daughter "Alleluia" was singing the song we learned in our Catechesis of the Good Shepherd work that goes:
Purple and Green, Red and White
Are the Colors of the Year.
Purple and Green, Red and White
Remind Us of the Light.
Purple's for Preparation, White is for Celebration
Green is for the Growing Time, Red is for Pentecost........

If you want to keep things simple, just make small table runners for a child's prayer table in these colors.

So I decided to teach that song to two little friends who came over this morning.  Lent is just around the corner, and 2- and 3- year-olds (who may not notice much else at Mass) can surely be given this one assignment:  the next time you attend church, come back and tell me what color the priest was wearing!

If you're interested in making chasubles of your own, leave a comment and I'll try to describe how we made ours.  And if you'd like to order the song book that includes a CD, scroll down to Sing with Joy--this song is on it.

Montessori Monday

Friday, February 1, 2013

Mystery Bag with a Twist

The Mystery Bag is a Montessori work that falls under the "Sensorial" umbrella.  It's usually presented to children between 3 and 6 years old, and it requires them to make a mental picture of the objects (which they cannot see) in the bag.

The big buzz word we learned to go with this work (and which I've never heard at any other time!):  "stereognostic."  That's the 3-dimensional sense you get of an object when you can touch it or even lift it, giving you a good idea of what the shape of it may be and maybe what it's made of.

It's VERY easy and basically FREE to do this work!  As you can see in the photo above we just used a mat, random objects from around the house, and an opaque bag (this one is really pretty and has a drawstring at the neck, so it's harder for any little people to peek at what's inside!).

I stuck about a dozen random objects in the bag, all of which had different characteristics (how soft or hard, how cold or warm to the touch, how smooth or rough, how heavy or light, etc.).  Before we started the game I displayed the items on the mat, let "Alleluia" feel each one, and I told her its name. The new twist:  I used a lot of descriptive language.   For instance, "This is small and not very heavy.  It feels cold in my hands.... it's shaped like a's made of side has bumps and ridges, but the other side just has a bump in the center."  (this was a button)  At 3, Alleluia is very chatty and eager to add words to her vocabulary.

After the intro, I stuffed everything back in the bag and invited her to put her hand in (with eyes closed).  I told her to hold just one thing in her hand, describe it to me, and guess what it might be.  I was surprised that she didn't open her eyes!  Some kids would rather use a blindfold than keep their eyes closed, but she seemed to love this game.  She really wasn't very good at guessing the objects, but she enjoyed describing what she felt.

There are other ways to approach this work, but I like to keep it playful and simple.  If you like "album write-ups," then here's one you can check out.  Enjoy!

Mirror, Mirror on the Fridge?

I loved #5 in this post on getting your kids out the door.  It's so true that kids will happily wipe their own faces but hate to be "attacked" by a well-meaning Mommy trying to help!

I decided to hang a mirror close to the where "Alleluia" gets messy the most:  the kitchen.  It's also near the back door from which we leave the house, so it's a good "last chance" spot to check yourself out (spinach in the teeth?  honey on the forehead?  cream cheese cheeks?)

This locker mirror was the perfect solution.  I bought it at the beginning of the school year for one of our older kids, but she never used it.  It has magnets on the back, so it's easily moved.  And as you can see, it gets a lot of use!

Remember the Lowly Shoe Horn?

"To shoehorn" means to squeeze into an insufficient space.  As your toddler is learning to get dressed, does it sometimes seem like there's insufficient space for the pudgy little tootsies?

Our typical morning routine involves about 10-15 minutes of patient undressing (out of pajamas) and dressing (in something clean!).  "Alleluia" can handle most of that, but it's the socks and shoes that still present challenges.  I'm glad when it's raining and she can put on her rain boots with ease, but some of her other shoes are tricky.  Sounds like a job for (drum roll please) THE SHOEHORN!

I forgot we even had one and was WAY too impatient with the older kids to EVER wait while they got dressed by themselves.  It was kind of fun to see if I remembered how to use one.  And guess what?  They work!  I told Alleluia it was sort of like a little slide for her heel (That seemed to make perfect sense.).  Pick one up next time you're at the shoe store or buying more shoe polish!