Saturday, July 30, 2016

Vocations + Blessed Trinity Activity

This Sunday we celebrate the glory and the mystery of the Most Holy Trinity.  

A few weeks ago as I was teaching about the Sacrament of Marriage, I realized that I was missing something.  We had read the chapter in our textbook, had completed a good class discussion and filled in these notes, but they needed more.  With the current attack on marriage in pop culture, media, and politics, my 5th graders needed more depth to explain the meaning of marriage.

As I planned the lesson, I thought about some of the things that I have taught and explained to students I have had in Youth Group over the years.  I thought about how I could bring more of this lesson into a 5th grade classroom.  I thought about my emphasis with the kids this year that they are all called to a Vocation, and those vocations are about love (the real kind) and service.

And then I had a duh! moment.  While trying to bring the lofty topics of vocation and marriage down to their level, I had unintentionally watered it down a bit.  I didn't want to make it too confrontational, or introduce them to mis-truths about these Sacraments.  And it hit me that I could use a simple but profound model that I have used with both teens and adults- it would work with ten-year-olds, too.

"We love because He first loved us." ~1 John 4:19

A love is modeled after the Trinity.  The complete gift of self between the Father and the Son yields the Holy Spirit.  This union is founded on love- true communion- and we are made in the image and likeness of this model.  That means that our Vocations are called to be life giving unions that bear fruit and are created by self-sacrificing love.

Incredibly theological? Yes.  A mystery that can't fully be understood this side of heaven? Yes.

But something that can't be shared with children?  I think not. CCC 237

So I decided to try a new activity and see how they responded, if it helped them understand the Sacraments of Matrimony and Holy Orders, as well as the call to be a Religious Sister.  CCC 260

  • We started with each student taking four blank triangles.  I asked them to name the Three Persons of the Blessed Trinity.  We wrote their names in each corner of one triangle.  I then asked them how the Trinity was united and we were able to summarize it as a communion of love.  We drew a heart in the center and drew the arrows between each person.  I told them that it was a great mystery, but that the love between the Father and the Son is so strong and so real that it actually revealed by a third Person, the Holy Spirit. CCC 243-248
  • I then asked if they could represent the Sacrament of Matrimony on the next triangle.  They wrote husband and wife in two of the corners.  I then asked them to draw a heart in the center and arrows between the couple.  I asked what would be revealed if the couple shared self sacrificial love, and they said "children!" We wrote that down, but also talked about how some couples are unable to have children, so together they are able to become spiritual fathers and mothers and share their gifts with the Church. CCC 1601-1620
  • Next up was the Priesthood.  We wrote down the priest, and following the model of marriage, the kids figured out that the other corner would be the Church, the Bride of Christ.  (this is also a great example to talk about why men are called to be priests and not women).  I asked what the fruit of this Vocation was, and the kids named things like the gift of the Sacraments, grace, and Spiritual fruit. CCC 1544-1553, 1577-1585
  • Finally, we included the vocation of consecrated single life, specifically nuns and sisters.  The kids were quickly able to figure out that the sister's Bridegroom is Christ.  They mentioned again things like grace and Spiritual fruit as the revelation of this Vocation. CCC 922-933
  • We then glued the four triangles onto a notebook page and added the title "All Vocations are Modeled After the Trinity."  I also had them add the Fulton Sheen quote "All love tends to become like that which it loves."
By using the model of the Trinity, I think I was able to show the kids that Vocations are not something that humans make up the rules for.  It helps show why marriage is between one man and one woman.  It explains why couples must be open to having children.  It reminds us how real love really requires sacrifice.

It was a great discussion, and a memorable teaching lesson for me.  I hope to continually find ways to share great and glorious and mysterious truths in meaningful ways with the students in my classroom.

The students had the freedom to arrange their notebook page however it made sense, so we had some different set ups, like this one:

And this one:

You can get the quote cards by clicking on the image below:

If you don't want to do the cut-and-glue thing, you could also use these printable notes and have the same discussion.

Click here for a blank version of the notes:

And click here for a filled in version of the notes:

What do you think?  Do you have any great resources or lessons about sharing the truths of marriage and vocations with kids?  I'd love to hear about them!

(originally posted May 25, 2015 here)

Matrimony Graphic Organizer

 How do you teach kids about the Sacrament of Marriage?  It isn't easy, trust me.  The best education that they can receive is from the holy model of their parents' marriages, lived out in faith.  However, not all kids are blessed with that.  As the world bombards them with messages contrary to God's institution for man and woman, we have to speak truth into their lives.

This can be a touchy subject when talking with kids, because if they don't come from a home with some kind of brokenness, they certainly have a family member or friend who does.  When I talk with kids about the Sacrament of Marriage, I am always sure to do it with much love, but also with much honesty.

As I planned on how I was going to review the Sacrament with my 5th grade students, I debated with several possibilities.  Finally I decided to have a discussion.  I had a very inquisitive, honest, and open class, so we just cleared off our desks, and I opened up the floor with the topic.  What is marriage?  Who created it?  Why?  What should a marriage be like?  Who is called to marriage?  What are some lies that we hear about marriage? etc.  It was interesting, and probably could have lasted all afternoon.

As we wound down in the discussion, I passed out the graphic organizers (printable below) and asked the kids to help me fill them with words that helped define a holy, Sacramental, Catholic marriage.  Here is some of what they came up with:

We included these notes in our Fulton Sheen Notebook, to help remind the kids of the key ideas.
Was this the only or best way to talk about the Sacrament?  Nope.  But it seemed to work for these kids.  What are some resources that you use to talk about Marriage with kids?

Click here for the printable:

And here is an example of some items that could be listed inside:

(originally posted June 21, 2013 here)

Anointing of the Sick

In continuing the series of how my class reviewed the Sacraments while we studied the life of Fulton Sheen, this was our notebooking activity for the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick.

We connected Anointing of the Sick to the idea that Jesus is our Divine Physician, so I used a doctor's bag as the basis for the notes.
Inside the doctor's bag we drew and labeled the items that a priest would typically use or take with him to an anointing, including a stole, oil oleum, Book of Prayers, aspergillum, crucifix, and a pyx.

Using our textbook as a resource, we took notes on an index card about the basic steps involved in the Sacrament, and we also wrote out the text of James 5:14-15 on another index card.
Click below for a printable of our Anointing of the Sick notes.  You could just give the kids the outline of the doctor's bag and have them draw the items inside like we did, or you can print the document two sided so the items are already in the bag.  I also included the steps of the Sacrament notes and the verse from James in the printable.

(originally posted July 29, 2013 here)

My Hands Can Serve Vocation Activity

When teaching kids about Vocations, I think that prayer is a critical part.  We can't just talk about what Vocations are without teaching that each individual child has a specific Vocation planned by God and that they should be praying to have the wisdom to know their Vocation and the courage to live it out.

This prayer activity was part of our Fulton Sheen Notebook, but it could be used as an individual project.

First, fold a piece of construction paper in half bathtub style. (short ends together).
place the pinky side of your hand up against the fold and trace.
Cut out along the lines, but do not sever the folded side.  You will end up with two hands that open up, symbolic of us opening up our hands in prayer and us opening up our hands in service, which is what a Vocation is about.

Color and cut out the My Hands Can Serve printable- link below.
On one palm, glue one of the scripture verses.  All can be included if you staple them together like a flip book.
On the other palm, glue the vocation prayer.
On the outside, glue the My Hands Can Serve title.
Ta-Da!  All done, and your kiddos have a quick little reminder to pray to tuck away in a book or on the family fridge.

Click here for the printable:

(originally posted June 19, 2013 here)

Holy Orders & Origami Miter

Continuing on my series on Vocations, this is the activity that I used to teach my students about the Sacrament of Holy Orders.  It is more note than activity based, and the content is drawn from our textbook, but the kids enjoyed and retained more from this notebooking activity than they would have from plain old lecture/discussion. This was included in our Fulton Sheen Notebook.

On the left is a set of notes about the Sacrament of Holy Orders.  Most was done by me, but the students had some fill-ins to do.  You can print the notes and my key at the end of the post.
On the right was a set of notes about what a Bishop is.  Since Fulton Sheen was a Bishop and then Archbishop, we learned a little more about this step of Holy Orders.

The kids copied their own notes for this one, but there is a printable you could use as a master at the end of the post. We also made cute and easy origami miters to add to the page- definitely the highlight of the lesson.  For steps on making origami miters, go here.

For a copy of the Holy Orders printable, click on the thumbnail:

For a copy of the key I made, click here.

For a printable of the notes about Bishops, click on the thumbnail:

(originally posted June 20, 2013 here)

Sheen as Minister of the Sacraments

In celebration of Sheen's birthday, we made these mini books with my kids for their Sheen Notebooks, remembering that as a priest, Sheen played an integral role as a minster of the sacraments for thousands of people.

A picture is worth a thousand words, so I found a photo of Sheen that either demonstrated or personified each sacrament, as well as one of his quotes (we do love Sheen's quotes) that could help us understand each.  Here is what we found:

“I don’t want my life to be mine, I want it to be Christ’s.”

 “As a man must be born before he can begin to lead his physical life, so he must be born to lead a Divine Life. That birth occurs in the Sacrament of Baptism. To survive, he must be nourished by Divine Life; that is done in the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist."

 "It does not take much time to make us saints. 
It only requires much love.”

 “Sometimes the only way the good Lord can get into some hearts is to break them.” 
“Unless there is a cross in our lives, there will never be an empty tomb; unless there is a crown of thorns, there will never be the halo of light; unless there is a Good Friday, there will never be an Easter Sunday.”

 "In every friendship hearts grow and entwine themselves together, so that the two hearts seem to make only one heart with only a common thought. That is why separation is so painful; it is not so much two hearts separating, but one being torn asunder.”

“Show me your hands. Do they have scars from giving?
Show me your feet. Are they wounded in service? 
Show me your heart. Have you left a place for divine love?”

Click here for a printable of the mini book complete with pictures and quotes:
(originally posted May 9, 2013 here)