Saturday, February 27, 2016

Recap from Sunday, February 21, 2016

I'm a bit behind on everything this week--not just the recap of last Sunday's CGS session!  My husband began a year-long field assignment out of state, so I now I'm playing the role of single mom to two very active teens (in other words, lots of chauffeuring to school, sports, dance and other activities).  We're all adjusting not to having husband and dad around the house!  

As usual, I have some photos to share from last week.  We've moved from the "white" season of the feast into the "purple" season of preparation for Easter.  I told the kids that this season is also called "Lent."  We have all new works for them, some which include matching wood letters to spell out the word "Lent" or copying the word "Lent."  

(Photo below) A six year old girl in the class did such a cute thing.  She made this sign for a three  year old girl in the class.  "It's a gift for her," she told me, as she put it down next to the three year old.  The "gift" was made so spontaneously and randomly; I just love the thoughtfulness of these children!

(Photo below).  These two boys proudly display the prayer table they are setting up for our prayer time.  They wanted to be sure that we put the "Lent" sign on the prayer table, along with a photo of little children standing by a mustard tree.  Right before this, they had heard Jesus' parable about the mustard seed, and we discussed how amazing it is that a seed no bigger than a speck of dust can become such a huge tree.    So the boys wanted to include this photo on the prayer table, as a reminder of the amazing things that God can do!

(Photo below) Such a look of intense concentration on her face!
(Photo above)  We introduced some new practical works this week, including ribbon weaving through a wire coated basket.  An activity that helps them build concentration skills.

(Photo below)  Busy at work on sorting purple items and drawing!

(Photo below)  He is so proud of his rainbow drawing!  After each presentation, I always encourage the children to take a little time to draw something we have talked about.

(Photo above)  Learning to spell the word "Lent."  He's matching the wood letters on a card to the wood letters that were in the little box.   He's one of our youngest children, yet spent quite a bit of focused time on this work.


This Sunday (tomorrow, February 28, 2016) I'll give another parable presentation -- The Good Shepherd -- using wood pieces of the Good Shepherd, sheep, and the sheepfold.  I bet you will hear about this on the way home!   

One suggestion, based on the recommendations of Sofia Cavalletti, the Roman Catholic Biblical scholar who created and perfected this program over the past 50+ years:  please do not tell the children that the Good Shepherd represents Jesus.  Let them discover it for themselves.  Some may get it right away; others may take a bit longer.  But the total joy that spreads over their whole being, when they realize this by themselves, is truly marvelous and remarkable! 


I'm revising the schedule of presentations a bit, to better reflect what we can reasonably do during our 50-60 minute class, and also based on the childrens' readiness for some of the presentations that are more lengthy.  For example, I originally planned to do the "City of Jerusalem" presentation recounting Jesus' last few days on earth.  However, it is a longer presentation that has to be handled slowly and carefully, since we're dealing with the subject of Jesus' death.  (A rather scary thing for a young child.)   I want to give them more time to absorb the happiness, comfort and love they will feel as they contemplate the Good Shepherd over the next few weeks.   So we'll hold off that presentation for another year, so we can spend a bit more time thinking about the Good Shepherd.

I'll email you a revised schedule of presentations for your reference, or you can find a copy of it in the "files" section of our Facebook Groups page:

Blessings to all of you, the world's greatest parents!


Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Sharing a video from our 2/7/16 CGS session

Hi everyone!

This week, thought I would share some insights into our schedule for each CGS session.

1) Singing faith-based songs while we wait for everyone to arrive.
 Ms. Mary leads us in singing songs like:  The Liturgical Colors Song, Rise and Shine, He's Got the Whole World in His Hands, Amen, and the Butterfly Song.  Our last song we sing together is Jesus Love is Bubbling Over.  Here is a short video of the children singing part of the song:

2) What we're doing today
I briefly share with the children what we are doing today.  We might also talk about the color of the liturgical season, if it is a feast or saint day, feast days that are coming up.   We select the child who will carry the processional cross today, and the two children who will help set  up our prayer table.

3) Silence Game
Ms. Christy leads us in playing the "Silence Game" where we sit very quiet and try to hear the smallest noises around the room.

4) Catechesis of the Good Shepherd faith Presentation
Depending on the specific presentation, I will sometimes give the presentation to the whole group, or to smaller groups.

5) Individual Work Time
The children are given the option to pick various works around the room.  Some of the works help them appreciate and understand Mass (like the articles of the Mass work), some help them reinforce various passages in the Bible (like the Annunciation diorama, where they work with a small diorama of Mary's home, a figure of Mary, and a figure of the Angel Gabriel, to "re-enact" the scene where Mary was visited by the Angel Gabriel.)  Other works help them develop small motor skills and concentration skills.  They also learn practical skills that help them keep our atrium beautiful -- like how to fold the prayer cloths, arrange flowers for our prayer table, etc.

During this time, two children help me set up our prayer table with the appropriately colored prayer cloth, the Good Shepherd statue, a Bible, candles, and a picture or two of their choosing.  As we move into spring, they will also add flowers to the prayer table.

6) Ring the Chime and Process to Prayer Corner
The two children who helped me set up the prayer table ring the chime, which signals that it is the end of our individual work time and time to clean up. After the children clean up, they find a place on the tape line that surrounds our rugs.  The child who is leading the line carries our processional cross at the beginning of the line.  We sing "We are Walking on the Line" to encourage the children to focus on the tape line while walking (building their concentration and large motor skills.)  Now that the children are familiar with this, we are transitioning away from this song, and singing "Christ is Light" as we walk the line and process into our prayer room.

7) Prayer Corner
We light the candles, dim the lights and begin our prayer corner time, which consists of a song to help us still our bodies (Be Still and Know That I am God).  Then we sing a song to thank God for the many gifts He has given us (Thank You Lord).  The children have an opportunity to suggest people and things they are thankful for during this period.  Eventually, as the children's level of concentration increases, we will add more time to our prayer corner, and different types of prayer.

8) Process back to Atrium Room, and Snack Time
After prayer time is over, we go back to our atrium room for Goldfish crackers.

About this time, you start arriving to pick up your children.  And that's our typical session!

A note about release times:
I generally try to finish up the session by 10:40-10:45 a.m.   I realize that sometimes Mass runs shorter, but we usually won't release the children until snack time. (It's very important that they participate in prayer corner.)  However, if there is a week when you need to take your child earlier than 10:40 (perhaps due to another commitment that morning), please let me know and we'll work with you to ensure your child is released earlier than 10:40 a.m.   Depending on the time, we will have your child meet you immediately after prayer corner, or before we start prayer corner (approximately 10:25-10:30).   I try to work out earlier releases so they don't distract the rest of the children.

Hope that gives you another peek inside our atrium.


P.S.  A reminder:  No Session This Sunday (2/14/16) due to the Presidents' Weekend Holiday.  We'll be back in session next week (2/21/16), and go every week through Palm Sunday.