Wednesday, November 30, 2011

One More Map!

Geography materials are an important part of our Advent preparation in the atrium. Click on geography works in the atrium to read more about why we teach geography and the map work that we do in the Good Shepherd and True Vine Atria at this time of year.

In October, I posted pictures of the beautiful map work that the children in the True Vine Atrium were doing in anticipation of our Church pilgrimage to Israel. Since we've been back, Sarah and I have had a great time finding the places we visited on our maps and sharing stories about them with the children. Recently another child applied himself to map-making and did an amazing  job! I just had to share a few photos of him and his beautiful map with you here. Enjoy!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Advent Blessings

Are you ready for Advent? It all begins tomorrow, November 27th! I love Advent - it encourages me to focus on the spiritual meaning of Christmas, and it allows me to find peace in the midst of a very busy month. Of course, this helps me to help my family to do the same! Learn more about Advent with this short video from Busted Halo.

If you have an advent wreath it's time to pull it out! If not, stop by the Advent table in the Great Hall at Church and pick up a ring and a new set of candles. Just the simple act of having the wreath on the kitchen table and lighting it each evening at dinner or at bedtime makes Advent special. I know it isn't a great use of resources, but I have to admit that I am a firm believer in using new candles every year (rather than continuing to use old ones). Having never-been-lit candles in the wreath conveys exactly where we are in the season of Advent. Stop by the table to pick up a flyer about using an Advent wreath and about observing Advent in your home.

From Holidays to Holy Days: A Benedictine Walk through AdventRev. Peter is offering an online Advent book reflection on our Christ Church Facebook page this year! We are reading From Holidays to Holy Days: A Benedictine Walk through Advent by Albert Holtz, OSB. Each morning, beginning Sunday, November 27th, Rev. Peter will post a reflection on the reading for the day on Christ Church's Facebook page. Everyone is welcome to read along, and join the conversation by adding your own thoughts and reflections on our page. You can buy the book from Church Publishing or from Amazon. You can even download it for Kindle if you have one!

Booklets with daily meditations for children, adults, and families are also available at the Advent table at Church. Stop by and find something to help you mark the days as we prepare for Christmas! You'll be glad you did!

Peace and blessings to you this Advent!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

"Thank you" is at the center of so many of the prayers that we hear (and say!) in the atrium. Young children in particular are quick to thank God for good things in their lives.

Take a look at this beautiful set of gratitude cards that I came across in my blog reading this week. Included in this post is a great idea for using the cards in your family's celebration of Thanksgiving this year. What an easy and fun way to make the holiday more meaningful for people of all ages!

Wishing you many blessings this Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

First Grade Bible Presentation

Last Sunday Rev. Peter and I had the joy of blessing and presenting Bibles to our first graders and to two children new to the atrium! These are working Bibles that the children will keep in the atrium (after exploring them at home). Each child (first grade and above) has his or her own Bible, and it travels with them throughout their time in Christian Formation at Christ Church.

Children in the True Vine Atrium are in a sensitive period for language, and many are learning to read. Although we have explored scripture frequently with the younger children, we take advantage of this sensitivity to language by giving each child a Bible of his or her own to explore, and we present materials to the children that describe how the Bible was written and how it is organized. We also present lessons on how to find a passage in the Bible.

In the True Vine and Golden Thread Atria we have supplies for making bookmarks with ribbons or with card stock to mark favorite passages or to note the passage we are working with more easily, and each person can write in his or her Bible.

We look forward to giving the children their Bibles each year.  I hope you enjoy seeing a few pictures of this lovely moment in our parish!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

The Presentation Schedule

Because the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd is an approach to the religious formation of children rather than a set curriculum, there isn't a specific schedule to follow week by week. Instead, over the course of our Catechesis training, we see and discuss every presentation. Ultimately we have a written 'album page' which describes the theological points, materials needed, and procedures for each presentation. Included with each album page is a recommendation for the age of the child to receive the presentation, the time in the liturgical year to present it, and presentations that should be seen prior to it.

At the beginning of each year, we look over the presentation lists, the records for children in the room, and the calendar, and map out our plans. Catechist Deb Schelling and I generally get together to create the schedule for the Good Shepherd Atrium, and I look forward to it every year. Tea, scones, and sitting outside in gorgeous fall weather are always important parts of our meetings!!

One of the real benefits of the atrium is the flexibility of the schedule. Catechists can change the direction of the group based upon the interest or understanding of the children at any time. In fact, because the materials are always present in the room, the catechist can choose to show a presentation in the moment if a particular child or group of children are pondering a theological question or appear drawn to a material. Our desire is always to follow the spiritual and developmental needs of the child in the atrium and the flexibility of our environment and schedule help tremendously!