My internet access was down the last few days, so I wasn't able to blog about our session on September 27. So today's update will cover the last two weeks.
September 27 session
We're continuing with our grace and courtesy lessons, and also some activities to build our coordination and calm ourselves. One of the things we've been doing is "walking on the line." There is a blue painter's tape line on the floor in our narthex/gathering room. Right now it is in the shape of a rectangle. Later on, we may change it to other shapes. One of our activities is to walk on it while we sign a little song:
"We are walking on the line, walking, walking on the line."
This is a basic activity developed by Maria Montessori to help children develop not only their coordination and balance, but also help them focus. This article briefly explains Dr. Montessori's reasoning behind the activity and how it is done.
The children really seem to love this simple activity. As they get more advanced in it, we may change the shape of the line (right now it is in a rectangle), we may carry things, skip or jump, etc.
We also use this activity to teach them how to walk in a processional line from our gathering room to our prayer room. Children love duplicating what they see happening at church (i.e., the processional when the priest, the deacon, the servers, the lectors and the Extraordinary Eucharistic Ministers process into church at the beginning and end of Mass). Next week, we will have them carry wooden crosses while walking the line. In a few weeks, they will begin taking turns carrying a miniature version of the processional cross while we walk the line and process into our prayer space.
In the prayer corner, we were introduced to the Holy Bible and talked about how special and sacred it is. It now has a special place on our prayer table.
We also learned a new goodbye song, which we will now use every week. After our time in the prayer room we had back to the gathering room and sing the "Shalom" song while walking on the line in a circle:
"Shalom, All My Friends; Shalom, Shalom. Until we meet again, till we meet again, shalom, shalom."
Last week I shared with the children that the word "Shalom" is Hebrew and means "peace." I told them that this is a traditional Hebrew song. Here is a Youtube video of the song:
October 4 session
"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 growing time....Red is for Pentecost."
Your child may be humming this new song, which we learned today! Today we talked about how there are four seasons in the year (fall, winter, spring and summer) and how the church also has four "seasons" or times of the year: preparation, celebration, growing time, and time of the Holy Spirit.
I showed them a mini chasuble, and we talked about how this is a small version of a garment that the priest wears when he says Mass. We learned the word "chasuble." Then we talked about how he wears a purple chasuble when we are preparing for the feast (like during Advent, when we prepare for Christmas; and during Lent, when we prepare for Easter.) We then looked at the white chasuble, and talked about how it is worn during the "feast" like during Christmas and Easter. Next we looked at the green chasuble, and discussed how it is worn during "growing time." And finally, the red chasuble, worn during the feast of the Holy Spirit.
Purple = preparing for the feast
White = the feast
Green = growing time
Then we learned the Liturgical Colors song, which is the song listed above ("Purple and green, red and white...") Here is a Youtube recording of the song that you can play for your children:
At our next session in two weeks, I will begin giving them individual work time. But before I could do that, I needed to show them the rugs and how to use them (how to get a rug, how to carry a rug, how to unroll a rug, and how to roll up a rug when finished.) The rugs are used by the children to define their individual work spaces. The children learned that we always walk around a rug (rather than stepping on it), when it is on the floor and a child is using it as a work space. So after demonstrating the use of rugs, each of the children had a chance to practice their rug rolling and unrolling skills.
We're now all set to begin offering individual work times. In two weeks, when we meet again, they will have a chance to work on a number of different activities that reinforce the concepts of the colors and times of the church year.
Up to this point, our gathering room has looked rather plain, with just a couple of rugs to sit on and a table that holds our snacks and hand wipes. This was done intentionally so we didn't overstimulate them with too many new things at one time. (New catechists, new friends, new room, new schedule, etc.) I can tell that most of them are becoming more comfortable with the room and the people (they are getting more talkative!) so now I can begin gradually itntroducing new materials that they can use individually. I will start bringing in some small shelves from which they can select their work. Materials are gradually unrolled after I have presented them to the majority of the class.
This is why it is important to attend every week! Occasionally missing a class isn't a big deal; the children will easily fall back into the routine. But when a child misses more than one week in a row, it will be harder for him/her to adjust to everything s/he missed. It is easy for him/her to become overwhelmed. We learn many new things every week! I and the other catechists will try to present missed material and presentations individually to a child, but even this will be hard if a child misses too many weeks in a row.
Also, the children are starting to form bonds and friendships with each other; those bonds are strengthened by regular attendance.
Our next session - October 18
Just a reminder that we WON'T have atrium next Sunday, October 11, because of the Columbus Day holiday weekend. We will meet again on Sunday, October 18. We will be working on how to make the Sign of the Cross and how to genuflect. And, we will have individual time to work on activities relating to the colors of the church year.
The following week's session - October 25: Celebrating All Saints Day
I originally planned to do this the following week, November 2, but decided it would be more beneficial to the children if we talk about All Saints Day before Halloween.
For this day, the children are invited to work with you to choose a saint, then come dressed as their saint, or bring a prop that represents their chosen saint. Here are some resources for inexpensive costume and prop ideas:
Dressing up is totally optional, but it is a fun activity for the children, and the saints costumes can often be used "as is" for Halloween. (Those scary costumes are too frightening for many young children anyway!) Also, I believe the parish is again holding an All Saints Celebration where your children could wear the costume, play saint themed games, etc. (I'll check with Ms. Brochmann to verify whether they are planning this event again this year, and whether we can attend.)
For our Sunday session, I'm thinking about having some free time where the children can play some saint-themed games, and maybe have a saint themed snack instead of our usual Goldfish. A few of you offered to help with this; I'll be contacting you soon for your ideas and input.
Our November 2 and November 8 sessions
During our early November sessions, we will be working with globes, topographical maps and a puzzle to learn a bit of Biblical geography. This will prepare us for Advent season, by helping the children realize that Jesus was a real person who was born in a real place on Earth.
So many exciting things, and I love sharing it with your children! Each of them are so special and unique!