Saturday, June 22, 2013

Resources for Worship

Activities for children can be found in the
Narthex, to the right just before you enter Church.

So after reading my last post, "Time to Worship," I bet you are looking forward to bringing your children to Church this summer! Here are a few suggestions - originally posted a few years back, but they are still helpful I hope!
  • 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 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!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Time to Worship!

A child creating a collage of all of the articles
we see at the altar.
Summer is here, and with it comes the opportunity for your children to participate in full worship services at Christ Church. During the school year, children who are preschool-aged through sixth grade join our 10:30 service already in progress. This is helpful because it gives us a full two hours together for Christian formation in the atrium, and it allows parents to listen to the readings and sermon without having to attend to children. This also works well with what we know about children and worship - that young children can participate in Holy Communion and find it meaningful. I believe our school year schedule is a nice one.

A child working with the Last Supper Material.
Our summer schedule is different. Without atrium, children attend the entire service. This can be daunting, but there are several reasons why summer is a great time to bring your children to Church. For one thing our service is usually shorter in summer. For another, children come to Church specifically for worship and haven't already spent two hours in atrium. Thus they have more patience for the parts of the service that are less exciting to them. Finally, summer is a great chance for children to experience parts of the service that they have pondered in atrium but usually miss.

Children exploring the parts of the
Service of Holy Eucharist.
In atrium we are always learning about our worship service with the goal of helping children to grow into full participation in the liturgy. Beginning at age three we explore some of the most important moments of our service in isolation. In the early elementary years we begin to synthesize these moments and understand our worship as one great prayer made up of many prayers. In the older elementary years, children make their own prayer books, and learn in great detail about the service - they often know things that adults never even suspected! Summer services give children the chance to know the service in its entirety and integrate some of the learning they have done this year.

Check back soon to learn about resources we have available to help your children as they participate in worship this summer!

**I hope you enjoy this post from a few years back! We all need a little motivation to get our children out the door on these pretty summer Sunday mornings!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Year's End!

On Sunday another program year came to a close at Christ Church. It was a busy day, with our final week of atrium and promotion for children who will be moving up next year. We thanked out teachers and catechists in Church and each received a gift. And we acknowledged two wonderful young men who are graduating this month and who will be moving on to college in the fall. It was so busy, I couldn't take many pictures but here are just a few snapshots of the day.

During our last atrium session, many children decorated an envelope to take home the art work they have completed this year. It is always exciting to look over and enjoy the art work together. I hope you had fun exploring these little gems when they came home! Of course art work is meant to be an extension of our work with the materials in atrium and no art work is proscribed or required.  Some children have made many things while others have not. This isn't a concern for us!

Children moving out of the Golden Thread Atrium received prayer crosses this year. Children moving up from the Good Shepherd Atrium received a mustard seed of their very own, and children moving up from the True Vine Atrium received a small lantern. More about promotion and pictures of these gifts can be seen in a post from last year called Moving Day.

As a gift to thank our teachers this year, I took photos of our Church gardens and made them into 100 blank cards. 

Each teacher received a little bundle of Christ Church note cards with our thanks for their ministry this year.

And as always we enjoyed a special cake at Coffee Hour after Church on Sunday! Thank you to everyone participated in Christian Formation at Christ Church this year! Thanks to our parents and grandparents for bringing their children early on Sunday mornings. And a special thank you to all of our catechists, teachers, and substitutes for a great year of learning and growing together at Christ Church!