The geography works are an important part of the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd because they help us to remember that Jesus was a real person who lived in a particular place at a particular time in history. In the True Vine Atrium, the geography work is extensive, and children explore the regions, cities, and topographical features of the land of Israel using pin maps and booklets. In preparation for Christ Church's pilgrimage to Israel, many of the children have been making their own maps and researching and highlighting places our group will visit. These have been really lovely and I thought I'd share a few pictures here for you to enjoy. To learn more about geography in the atrium, check out this post on Geography.
Twenty two members of Christ Church will be heading out on October 19th for a 12 day pilgrimage to Israel, and I am lucky enough to be one of them! I am so excited, and am busily preparing my family for my first extended absence, and Church for my two Sundays away! So much to do, but in less than a week I'll be exploring the Holy Land. What an incredible gift!
In preparation, children in the True Vine Atrium have been creating their own maps of the Land of Israel and plotting our trip. I'm really looking forward to sharing our experiences with the children and youth of the parish when we return.
If you've been to Israel before, I would love to hear any advice you have about sites to see, souvenirs to buy, and pictures to take, particularly those that you think may support our work in the atrium.
Our priest, Rev. Peter, will be posting pictures and writing about our trip daily. You can follow along on our web page under Peter + and if you are a member of Facebook on the Christ Episcopal Church Page. Please pray for me and for all the members of our group in the weeks ahead!
Today while I was cleaning in the True Vine Atrium I kept happening upon little vases of flowers that had been lovingly placed around the room. Sunday was our first session with flowers, and the children (and the catechists!) enjoyed them so much! Flower arranging is a great practical life exercise, and excellent preparation for future members of the altar guild! :)
Thank you parents for bringing us fresh flowers each week! I'm working on a new flower schedule, and will mail it to you soon. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy seeing some of Sunday's creations as much as I did!
Below is a re-post about practical life from over a year ago. (I've just celebrated my one year anniversary of blogging!). I though it might be helpful to our new families and to others who want to know more about practical life to post this information again.
When we first began our atrium, I was skeptical about Montessori's Practical Life Exercises. Don't get me wrong - I could see their value in a Montessori setting but I wasn't convinced that we needed them in the atrium. We began with just a few basic activities, but I quickly discovered the spiritual dimensions of practical life, and now we can't get enough of it! In fact, I first became interested in blogs as a way of hearing from some of the wonderful Montessorians on the web who write about their practical life exercises. Setting up practical life, and changing it to meet the needs of the children as their skills develop over the year requires a good deal of observation and creativity, and I have come to enjoy it as much as the kids!
We have practical life activities in all of our atria, but by far the most can be found in the Good Shepherd Atrium (for 3-6 year olds). Over the years, I have observed a strong connection between handwork and spirituality. Pouring beans from one pitcher to another, moving water with an eye dropper, arranging flowers in a vase -- one only needs to observe a young child engaged in these activities to recognize the deep concentration, peacefulness and contentment that they can elicit. Concentration, peace, and contentment are key attributes of prayer and meditation, and practical life builds up these attributes in the children better than anything else. As the child's capacity for concentration and joy in the presence of God grows, so does his or her ability to listen to presentations and mediate on the aspects of the Bible and the liturgy of the Church that we are offering in the atrium.
In these first weeks, practical life will get quite a work out in our atria - and we catechists couldn't be happier!
For pictures of some of the practical life works featured on the blog this year, click here.