Saturday, July 30, 2011

Tour of the Atrium: Life of Christ~Christmas

It's a funny time of year for it, but I wanted to share a few photos of the shelves in the Good Shepherd Atrium that we use to meditate on the events surrounding Jesus' birth. These shelves hold prophecies, infancy narratives, and the geography materials.

On top of the first shelf from the left, you can see the prophecies. The prophecies give us insight into who Jesus is, and the children enjoy tracing and illustrating them in the Advent season. You can learn more about the prophecies in another post, called Advent Prophecies in the Atrium.

The infancy narratives are kept on the first and second shelves from the left. These include small 3-D people and furnishings, along with environments (such as a house or stable) to place them into, and a booklet which isolates the specific scripture being considered. Children love to work with these materials year round and wonder about Mary's visit to Elizabeth, or the appearance of the angels to the shepherds in the fields. You can read more about this work in another post called The Infancy Narratives.

The third shelf from the left holds the geography materials, which help us to know that Jesus was a real person, who lived in a particular place and time. These are favorites with the children who love to run their fingers over the topographical map of the Land of Israel and find the three cities which meant so much to Jesus. You can read more about these materials in the post Geography.
In addition to these materials, there are several extensions on top of the second and third shelves from the left, including packets of images for tracing that correspond with the infancy narratives, and maps to trace, label with the city names, and color. Advent is always a joyful time in the atrium!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Tour of the Atrium: Parables

These are the parable shelves in the Good Shepherd Atrium. We present five parables to the 3-6 year old children, each focusing with wonder on the Kingdom of God. You can read more about the beauty of sharing parables with children in this post, called Parables in the Atrium.  Some parable materials include 3D environments, such as a house and courtyard, with baskets of pearls and a 2D figure of a man, to explore and meditate on the Parable of the Pearl of Great Price.  Others include images to ponder, seeds to touch, and even the ingredients needed to prepare and watch yeast rise! In addition to these primary materials, the parable area has line drawings of each parable that we explore on laminated cards, which can be traced, colored and put together into booklets.

The first parable we present is the mustard seed, and you can read more about it in this post called The Kingdom of God and the Mustard Seed.

The parable shelves are very popular year round, but particularly so when we present parables in the Season after Epiphany.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Summer Plans

Summer is well underway! I am planning to step back a bit from blogging, as I rest with my family and begin preparing for next year. I'll be posting once a week, sharing some pictures of the Good Shepherd Atrium for you to see. I began a tour of the atrium last year with a look at the liturgical works, but never found the time to continue it during the busy school year. Keep reading this summer to see pictures of the different areas of the room, and learn more about what we do in atrium. 

Some of my summer posts will be scheduled to go live while I am away on vacation, so I may be delayed in replying to comments, but I hope you will still share your thoughts and questions! I promise to respond as soon as I return.

Peace and blessings to you this summer!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Being a 'Dayenu' People

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about Rev. Peter's invitation to us to enter into a spiritual practice of gratitude, and I mentioned his sermon on "Being a 'Dayenu' People." One thing I didn't mention is that the song "Dayenu" that Rev. Peter preached about may be well known to your children!

'Dayenu' is a joyful song from the Jewish celebration of the Passover. Each year in atrium, we remember Jesus' last Passover supper with his friends with the Last Supper Celebration.  Each of us takes on the role of a disciple and we reenact that special meal together. Afterward we sit around the table singing some of our favorite atrium songs, always ending with the song "Dayenu!"

In Hebrew, Dayenu means "it would have been enough." After singing an energetic rendition of the chorus of Dayenu we pause for someone to share an "it would have been enough" blessing before jumping into the chorus again. It is always wonderful to see the older children take the lead as they figure out what dayenu means and how the song works! One of my favorites contributions this year was "It would have been enough if God had let us have communion one time, but we get to have communion every Sunday!"

Dai, da-ye-nu
Dai, da-ye-nu
Dai, da-ye-nu
Da-ye-nu, da-ye-nu, da-ye-nu!

Friday, July 1, 2011

Resources for Worship

Activities for children can be found in
the Narthex, just before you enter Church.
So you are ready to bring the children to Church this summer! Here are a few tips!
  • Sit near the front! Parents are always inclined to sit towards the back to make quick exits if needed, but I encourage you to sit where children can actually see the altar and all of the activity of the service. This lets them know that what is happening relates to them and gives them the opportunity to participate. 
  • Be easy on yourself and your children. We don't expect silence in worship. The sounds of children giggling and asking questions helps us to know that our entire family is present at God's table! Take time in worship to snuggle a little one or hold a child's hand.
  • Developmentally, young children will not be able to follow the entire service, but they can tune in to particular moments and they can participate more and more as they grow. Whisper a question about something you see happening on the altar. Point out something in the bulletin. Have your child join in on an easy hymn or a simple response. Children can follow the service with the yellow "We Go To Church" cards (below) and older children can follow along in the bulletin. Remember, when children are engaged in quiet activity they still absorb so much! 
  • The Nursery is open during the summer months from 10:15-11:45 am for infants and toddlers, and the occasional preschooler who needs a break from worship.
  • Take advantage of the quiet activities I have put together for children in the Narthex. Here are some of the things you will find:
I've just added this beautiful finger labyrinth to our shelves. Children have used
 labyrinths in atrium for meditation and prayer and they enjoy them.
These from-your-seat scavenger hunts include pictures from
around the Sanctuary and can be done more than once!

There are three 3-part card material packets featuring pictures of the people and sites in our Church for the children to identify. Have them lay the pictures out on the pew. Then whisper the word cards one at a time to your non-reading child so he or she can find the match. Older children can also match the definition cards to the pictures. Also, pick up a yellow "We Go To Church" card and have your child follow the service using the clothes pin attached. Non readers can follow along using the pictures! Flip the card over for more advanced readers.
Books, clip boards, and crayons are always available and popular!

Do you have ideas for other activities that we could add to our shelves? I would love to hear from you! Leave a comment below! You could also put together a special bag of books and activities at home that your child would enjoy, and save it to bring to Church on Sunday mornings.

See you in Church!