Friday, October 28, 2016

Recap - 10/23/16 in the atrium -- learning about the articles of the Mass

Hi everyone,

Last Sunday, we continued learning about the various items that one finds in the sanctuary during Mass.  This was part II of the presentation; the final presentation on this topic, part III, will be this Sunday.

Before the children arrived, I set up our miniature sanctuary scene in our prayer room.  The sun shines so brightly beautiful in this room, that is difficult to capture a good photo, but this will give you an idea of the setup the children saw when they came into the room:  

Miniature Altar table, Ambo, Tabernacle

Close up of miniature altar table. We used the green altar cloth to begin a discussion on the colors of the church year.  I explained that in some churches, it is the custom to use different color altar cloths to match the church year, but that  here at St. Joan of Arc, we use a white cloth throughout the year.


Closeup of miniature Ambo, complete with a miniature Lectionary

Closeup of miniature Tabernacle. We talked about how the tabernacle is gold in many churches, like ours, although we are using a wooden box for our tabernacle.  (They all urged me to paint it gold!)  We talked about the sanctuary lamp, and how it is always lit when Jesus is present in the Tabernacle.  We are using a red votive cup for our sanctuary lamp, but I told them that in our church, the sanctuary lamp has clear glass and hangs right next to the Tabernacle.  (By the way, yes, there is a miniature Ciborium in that Tabernacle, but no consecrated hosts!)

A couple of photos from the actual presentation:

We did things a bit differently this week -- went to our prayer room first for the presentation and then prayer time, then back to rooms 1 & 2 for individual work time.  Both Ms. Alyce and I agreed that this seemed to work much more smoothly, so we will continue to follow this pattern from now on. In the past, prayer time was the last thing we did before snack.  But by putting prayer time first, we set the stage for quiet, meditative work during the individual work time. 

Here are a few photos of the children working with materials during the individual work time:

Cutting work to help the children develop patience and their small motor skills

Another shot of cutting work. Our junior helper Mairi is overseeing this activity.

One of the children is working with a puzzle that shows the various items we find in the sanctuary (the altar table, candles, paten, chalice.)  The other child is matching lids to various size containers.  This work helps children develop concentration as they try to figure out which lids match with which containers.  Such a simple thing for us adults, but a fascinating work for young children!

Ms. Alyce continues to work with small groups to teach them how to care for our environment by polishing our brass items, like the ciborium in this photo.

Junior helpers Lizzie and Maria help a group of children with a pasting work. They are creating a picture of a sanctuary, complete with altar table, candles, paten, chalice and crucifix.                     

This upcoming Sunday, we'll see our final presentation about the items we see on the altar during Mass.

Don't forget-- we'll also spend a bit of time talking about our favorite saints!  If your child would like to dress up as a saint, or bring a prop to represent his/her favorite saint, we will give him/her time to share with us.

There is also a Donut Feast after the 9:30 a.m. Mass, sponsored by the SJA Moms Group.  Enjoy donuts and juice for a small donation, and play a game of Saints Bingo with your children and other SJA families!

See you Sunday!

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Recap - 10/16/16 CGS Session

Hi everyone!

Last Sunday we learned "the articles of the Mass", or the items that we see when we look at the sanctuary area of the church.   We learned that the special table that the priest stands by during Mass is called an altar (or altar table), and the cloth on it is called an altar cloth.  We learned that in some parishes, the color of the altar cloth might change when the "church season" changes.  We also focused on the beautiful items we often see on the altar table itself:  candles, chalice and paten.  Then the children had an opportunity to set up the altar table by themselves during individual work time. 
We're starting to learn how to care for our materials and the CGS environment in general.  Here, Ms. Alyce is showing one of our young friends how to polish the brass miniature chalice.


Here are more photos shared by Ms. Christy.  (Thank you, Ms. Christy!)

During the presentation:  learning to identify the beautiful things we see on the altar:

Some shots during individual work time:

and Prayer Corner:

See you all on Sunday!


Recap from our 10/9/16 CGS session

Hi everyone,

Wow--I just realized that I did not post an update to the blog on Sunday.  Wish I could say it was because my family spent Sunday afternoon at a pumpkin farm, weaving our way through a corn maze, or doing something else as a family.  No, my husband was home from his field assignment for the weekend, so we spent the afternoon working on taxes.  (Yes, we are way behind on submitting this year's taxes, thanks to my surgery last spring.) 

We had a small group last week; not too surprising since it was a three-day weekend (and for some school districts, a four-day weekend).  I predicted that it might be a smaller group, which is why I designated it as "work day" on the presentation schedule.  Whenever you see "work day" on the schedule, it means that I generally do not give any new faith formation presentations to the children.  Instead, we give them a day to work with the various materials we have already showed them.  

This is important to do occasionally, because our individual work time never seems to be long enough for the children in the short time we have for our sessions.  So I try to offer "work days" every few weeks.  This is the true purpose of the CGS atrium--to give them time to build a personal, deep relationship with Christ by working with the materials in a quiet environment.

We did try a couple of new things. The children practiced learning how to carry the processional cross.  They also received their journals and learned how to place them in their folders in our work file.  (The rest of the children will get them this week.) We also began selecting children to help set up the prayer table, carry the processional cross and ring the bell.

We had a bit of time for individual work, and the catechists and I set out a variety of practical works for them to use.

I thought it would be fun to share this video of the children singing at the beginning of the session.  The singing was led by Ms. Kathy, our new catechist this year.  She is teaching them hand motions for
"The Butterfly Song," with help from Ms. Alyce and our junior helpers. 

The children learned how to do some of the various practical works that are available to them.  These are not "faith formation" works, but they are works that help the children develop small motor skills, and increase their concentration and ability to focus on work for longer periods of time.   They are integral to helping the children learn to focus during the faith formation work.  

Here are a few photos of the catechists and junior helpers demonstrating to the children on how to use the various practical works:

Ms. Alyce shows the children how to do pin-pushing (also called pin punching).  A very popular work with the children!

Junior helper Calista demonstrates how to do the cloth folding work. This is a precursor to "care of the environment" works, where they learn to take care of their atrium, the prayer cloths and the various materials we use.

Junior helper Maria shows the children how to weave with ribbons. .

Junior helper Mairi shows the children how to match lids to various sizes of containers.
They also learned how to use the light table for tracing.  (I just realized that I did not capture a photo of this!) We also had a few Biblical-themed puzzles with which they could work.

Here are a few photos of the children during individual work time:

This week, we will begin learning about the items on the altar that Father uses at Mass--specifically, the chalice, paten, altar table, altar cloth, candles and crucifix.  For last year's children, this week's lesson will be a review.  But we will extend that learning in the next two weeks, and the children will learn about more items on the altar/in front of the church, like the tabernacle, sanctuary light (and why it is always lit), the ambo/lectern, etc.  So many exciting things!

UPCOMING:  On October 30, we will be celebrating All Saints Day.  The children are invited to dress as a saint, or to bring a prop that represents a saint.  (For example,  shield to represent St. Joan of Arc, gold chocolate coins to represent St. Nicholas, a stuffed animal to represent St. Francis.)  They will have an opportunity to model their costume and/or show and tell us about their props.  This is optional, but the children really get a "kick" out of doing this.  So, please ask your child if s/he has a favorite saint, and then brainstorm some simple ways to dress up or a prop that you can bring.  If you do a search on the internet for "simple saints costumes" you will find many wonderful ideas.  Here are a couple of links to get you started:

See you tomorrow morning!


Sunday, October 2, 2016

Recap from the CGS Atrium, 10/2/16

Hello parents!

We were together for the first time as a full group today -- so nice to see so many familiar faces!  I know that the catechists, junior helpers and I really missed the children over the summer!

Today we continued to work on "grace and courtesy" lessons.  Our junior helpers did a wonderful job of demonstrating certain skills we always use in the atrium, such as:

- How to speak softly (we strive to only use soft tones in the atrium)
- How to form a line (we form a line to go over to our prayer room)
- How to sit on the carpet during prayer time
- How to throw away our hand wipes (they all receive hand wipes after prayer and before snack) 

Very soon, I will begin bringing out individual works.  But before we do that, we wanted to show the children how to designate their work space, using a rug or a tray.  So we demonstrated carrying a rug, unrolling a rug, putting our work on the rug, rolling up the rug and then returning it to the rug container.  Then we broke up into small groups and practiced these skills.

Finally, we learned how to carry and set up a breakfast tray (we use breakfast trays for work that requires drawing or writing, since it is difficult to write or draw on a rug.)   Right now, we have four breakfast trays that the children share, but eventually we will replace these with small portable work desks that high school sophomore Kevin Walsh is making for us as part of his Boy Scout Eagle project.   Then, we will have many more work surfaces for writing and drawing! 

Ms. Christy played the silence game with us, then it was time to practice walking on the line.  Such a simple exercise, but a vital one to use when learning to process correctly!  Right now, we sing a song "we are walking on the line" while we walk, but soon, we will switch to the song "Christ is Light."  We will also begin carrying a small processional cross.  Then, our next step will be to sing and carry the cross into our prayer room.  The children really love this activity; they love imitating what they see Father do every week when he comes into the church!

Ms Christy also led us in prayer time this morning.   The children expressed thanks for so many things, from trains, to friends, to planes, to superheroes!  

After we came back to our atrium room, Ms. Alyce led us in prayer before we enjoyed our snack.
Then, it was time to go!


Here are a few photos from prayer time today.  The room isn't very conducive to photos (because of the light shining from the window), but this will give you a glimpse into our prayer time:

Unfortunately, I don't have many photos today; I was distracted and forgot to take them!  Will have more next week!

Wanted to mention something about when we end our session, since there may be confusion, especially with our new parents.

We finish at approximately 10:40 a.m. (never earlier).  Even this is challenging; we do a lot in the hour the children are with us.  So,  if Mass gets out really early (like it did this morning), please feel free to take your time coming downstairs. No need to rush. Stay in church a bit longer and savor the quiet; visit with friends, or just relax a bit.  You are parents of young children -- you deserve a break, even if it is short! 

Here's a peek at part of our schedule:  at around 10:20-10:25, we go into the prayer room (the Spanish Room, across the hall.)  We sing our prayer songs, and will usually finish around 10:30-10:35.  Then we will come back across the hall and enjoy a snack while waiting for you. 

So, you will see us come out of the south door of the Spanish room in a line, then go into door 1 of the atrium rooms, where we will have our snack.  At that point, you can pick up your child's name card from the board and then line up by door 2.  A catechist will come to the door, take your name card, and then call your child to the door.

Please keep the area between the Spanish Room and Door #1 clear so we can process back into Rooms 1-2.

For last year's parents, this is a little different than last year's procedures.  We held prayer time in room 3, and we did not need to go into the hall to get back to rooms 1-2.  This year, we are using part of the Spanish Room as our permanent prayer room, so we don't need to move furniture in and out every week. So that's why we moved the prayer room from room 3 to the Spanish Room.

If you need to occasionally pick up your child quickly to make another activity, it's no problem!  Just let me or one of the catechists know when you drop off your child, and we'll release him/her right after prayer time and before snack.  The children love snack time, so you might hear a complaint, but you can always tell him/her "you can enjoy snack time again next week!"


We WILL have CGS atrium next week.  Generally, we take the weekend off since many go out of town for the three day weekend.  But because we started so late this year, thought it might be best if we held our session.  Next week, we will start introducing the practical life works to the children. So if you need to miss, it isn't too serious.   The following week, we begin our faith formation presentations, by learning about the items that the priest uses on the altar. That would be an important session for them to attend, especially the new children, who haven't yet seen the presentation.  But even the children who were with us last year will enjoy this presentation -- I have some new items to show them, including a dedicated miniature altar table!

As always, if you have questions, feel free to drop me a note!

Have a wonderful week!