Sunday, December 15, 2013

The Annunciation

 Today is the third week of Advent. Due to the snow and ice, we had only 8 children in the atrium this morning. They all went right to work when they entered the classroom. Many times the children work on their own while I give individual or small group lessons. Now that we've introduced more works it is so interesting to see what work the children return to over and over. 

This morning I introduced the Annunciation work to the whole group of children. I don't prefer to give these kinds of whole group lessons because, frankly, not all of the children are quite ready to sit for the whole lesson. Due to our time constraints, I chose to give the lesson to the whole group anyway. 

The Annunciation is part of the Infancy Narratives. We introduce these lessons during the season of Advent for obvious reasons. This year we will cover the birth of Jesus and adoration of the shepherds and the visit of the Magi (near Epiphany) in addition to today's work. Next year we will also cover Mary's visit with Elizabeth and the Presentation in the Temple. 

We always read the story directly from the Bible in the translation the children will hear at Mass. I gave a little background information about the Land of Israel and the cities we have been learning about (Bethlehem, Jerusalem and Nazareth) to help ground the children in the idea that Jesus was a real person born in a real place. We remember our reading from last week about the 'People who dwell in darkness shall see a great light." And remember how long they had to wait. 

After reading the story of the angel Gabriel and his visit with Mary, I re-read the scripture verses with the materials. We then take some time to ask some wondering questions after we remember all the key players (Mary, the angel Gabriel). I wonder how Mary felt when the angel appeared? I wonder what she did when the angel left. The children's answers and ideas are always so thoughtful. 

It opens up scripture for me in ways that are often new and exciting.

After the lesson we invite the children to use the materials whenever they would like. There is a scripture booklet that goes with the materials and we let them know that they just have to ask if they would like us to read the scripture with them. When the first child took the materials from the shelf I heard, "What's this Miss Beth?" Sometimes we let the children discover things instead of showing them right away. This child found the little red bag with the materials. I did not show it to them when I gave the lesson. 
We opened the bag and found a dove. We remembered that the dove is the symbol for the Holy Spirit. Eventually the children may remember that red is for the Holy Spirit as well (which is in our Liturgical Colors lesson). I don't mention it, it will come in time as the child makes these connections and works with the materials. We introduced the dove as a symbol for the Holy Spirit when we learned about the Land of Israel. In that work the dove is placed over the city of Nazareth......get it?

I love how the materials work together to help the child make connections over time, as they work with each material again and again.