Sunday, October 30, 2016

The Liturgical Colors and other Tales from the Atrium

Many of our students have worked with the Liturgical Colors this year. The top picture shows the work the children can do with the small chasubles and the the bottom work shows an art work that you may have seen your children bring home. Click here for more information about this beautiful work. 

This year our class does such an amazing job at working that I don't want to interrupt them to have circle. The 3-6 year old child is in a period of building him/herself as an individual. They often aren't ready for group lessons and so we do most of our work individually. I do my best to touch base with each child throughout the morning and to show them new things they may not have worked on before.

Today I worked individually with children on the Liturgical Colors lesson and and extension that adds the clothing the priest wears under his chasuble, the altar work, preparing the cruets and the chalice, lavabo (the hand washing of the priest), an altar gluing work, flower arranging, the nativity story and many more.

The joy of our work in this program is that we can see what draws the children and focus on their interests. Although they are often working individually, there is so much talking and caring for one another. They never cease to amaze me.

I hope you all enjoy this lovely, warm Sunday.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Ongoing Work

I continue to be amazed at the level of concentration and purposeful work that we have each week in the atrium. It is such a joy to be there with your children!

This week we talked about the Sign of Peace and practiced shaking hands while saying, "Peace be with you."  We also practiced saying "And with your Spirit" after the priest says, "The peace of the Lord be with you always." That one was a little harder to remember. Of course we know that everything we do with children at this age is in small steps. We shape knowledge and behavior slowly, one lesson or activity at a time. Often children learn things when we least expect it! They are always listening and watching, even when we don't think they are.

Thus by repeated lessons they slowly get the knowledge or skill that once eluded them. It is what I love about the Montessori environment. The children are free to choose their own work and work with joy and concentration. However, they are also hearing and seeing the lessons going on all around them. It is through this kind of meaningful activity and indirect learning that they learn so much! I could never teach them so much if I tried to do it directly during group lessons.

Although I do try to do one group lesson every week, there are lots of lessons that the children work on individually. The children use the materials shown in the above picture to learn about the gestures the priest uses during Mass to change the bread and wine into Jesus' body and blood. We show them how to make their hands to come down over the vessels (while another friend rings the bell). We make sure they know it isn't the priest who changes the bread and wine but the Holy Spirit. They then take the paper Host and chalice and lift it up in thanksgiving.

The children also enjoy learning how to prepare the cruets with wine and water and eventually how to add the wine and a drop of water into the chalice. They can also practice Lavabo (which is the washing of the priest's hands during Mass.) All of these lessons will enhance your child's understanding of the Mass as he or she grows up. 

What you can do: Sit up front during Mass so your child has more opportunity to see what is happening. Point out the moments they have been learning about and the vessels used during Mass. Make sure they know where the Tabernacle and Sanctuary Candle are located in the church. Ask your child what color Fr. Leo's vestments are and see if they know what the color means (green/growing time; purple/preparation; white/celebration; red/Holy Spirit). Don't expect them to know all the answers or necessarily want to tell them if they do but give them the opportunity to see all the amazing things we have in our church that bring us closer to God.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Biblical Geography

Notice the small red dot.
I am writing this post on Saturday night as I prepare for tomorrow's CGS class. Tomorrow, in addition to the lessons I give throughout the day with individual children across the curriculum, I will talk to the whole group about a Biblical Geography lesson about the world. We use what is called 'The Montessori Land and Water Globe' to show the children a model of our great big earth. We let them find the very small red dot that shows where God chose His son, Jesus, to be born. The children often get lost in their own wonderings as they look at the globe (Where do I live? Where is Hawaii? etc.) which I find delightful. It is by following their lead that I often bring in the lesson.

The reason I am writing on Saturday night instead of Sunday afternoon after our class is that tomorrow I will be taking my youngest son back to college, in western PA. I will be on the road for seven and a half hours to get him there and return home, a trip I just took yesterday! Of course, what we won't do to see our children. It makes me think of the love God had for Jesus, His son. Of course He chose a special, important place for his son to be born. We will continue to learn about how God chose not just special places, but special people to care for His son on this earth.

We will also sing a song that some of the children will have learned last year called This is Holy Ground. Here are the words:
This is holy ground
God's given us holy ground
God is in this place and so this ground is holy
This is holy ground
God's given us holy ground
God is in the place and so this ground is holy

We also have some hand movements to help us with the words. The children usually love this song. Ask them about it when they get home tomorrow.

What you can do at home: Talk about places - where you were born, where your children were born, etc. If you've been to far away places, show pictures and tell stories about the places you've been. I love the book (available in the public library) called Children Just Like Me. In it are photos and information about children from around the world. It is so important to show our children that not everyone is the same as we are. Other children wear different clothes, live in different houses, eat different foods and may go to different kinds of schools but deep down we are mostly the same. God made us that way. The more we can teach our children about those who are different yet the same the more peaceful our world will be.