Sunday of the Paralytic Story Set

 

On this Sunday, the Sunday of the Paralytic, we commemorate the miracle of Christ healing a man who had been paralyzed for thirty-eight years, as told in the Gospel of John 5:1-15. I wanted to create another little set to tell the story to my daughter, so I dug around in my supply box and this is what I came up with!

 

These are 3.5 inch peg dolls, larger than those I have used for the CGS presentations, that I had purchased a long time ago for another project but never made (you can find them here, 4 for $5). The clothes are once again simple felt rectangles with a slit cut in the middle, tied with belts of felt or trim.  Because I wanted the paralytic to be able to pick up his pallet, I added pipe cleaner arms, and made the pallet out of a cereal box (Christ’s halo is the same cardboard painted with gold acrylic paint). Since the cardboard is so light, the pipe cleaners can hold it up; I had wanted to make the pallet out of wood but soon realized that would have required more substantial arms! Finally, the pool is just a piece of blue felt cut in a free-form shape.

 

Hopefully my little gal will enjoy retelling the story with this little set. It is so neat to see her beginning to use these materials to internalize the Gospels.  At our evening prayers the other evening, she chose to set up the Last Supper (Cenacle) presentation and the scene of her sitting in front of it was so beautiful I couldn’t resist snapping a quick picture.

(Don’t worry, we were right there to monitor the lit candles!)

Crafting with the Daily Readings: Rainbows!

We are headed out of town so this will be a quick post!  Since one of  today’s daily readings is Genesis 9:8-17, I thought it would be fun to find some rainbow-related crafts/ideas to share. Here are some that caught my eye ..

How about some yummy fruit kebabs? If you don’t have any kebab sticks, you can instead put the fruit on a plate in a rainbow shape.  Idea here.

Or how about a paper plate rainbow? You could add rain drops with Scripture verses, too.

 

And here’s a simple coloring sheet for the youngest ones 🙂

 

Fun Food for St. Patrick’s Day!

This is my last post on St. Patrick’s Day, I promise! I’m working on an almsgiving activity that I am excited to share soon.  Until then, I found some fun green foods I wanted to share with you (i didn’t find any particularly easy, kid-friendly Irish fare that is fasting, though soda bread would be the classic option)..

How cute are these shamrock chips? They are made from spinach tortillas using a shamrock cookie cutter (I got mine for 99 cents from Michael’s).  You could dip them in hummus, salsa, white bean dip, etc..

Or how about a green fruit salad? Granny Smith apples, kiwis, avocado, and pistachios combine with a little mint, lime juice and agave (or maple) syrup for a refreshing snack. If there are picky eaters around, you could always put each ingredient in separate bowls and let everyone make their own. Recipe here.

To drink, how about  a green smoothie, made from grape juice, apple, avocado and a little spinach?  I haven’t tried it but I’m guessing you could sweeten it up with a little more juice or honey if needed.  See recipe here.  Another option could be limeade, homemade or store-bought.

And lastly, though not food-related, a cute little poem to add to your shamrock activities:

Just like the leaves on each shamrock I see,

there are three persons of the Holy Trinity.

First is God the Father,

then Jesus His only Son,

and the Holy Spirit,

Together as One.

Ok, that’s all for St. Patrick. More lenten activites, coming soon!

A St. Patrick “Treasure” Hunt

Here is another fun idea that we may do for our Hope & Joy meeting on Saturday – a shamrock/pot of gold treasure hunt!

Since most kids will be familiar with the idea of leprechauns and a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow, it is a nice opportunity to take the  idea of “treasure” and reframe it by teaching Matthew 6:19-21.  I found small fun-foam shamrocks from Michael’s, that I plan on writing simple clues on (check out here to get your juices flowing.  For older children, you could write out questions relating to lent/Easter that have to be answered before they get the next clue.)  I plan on hiding the shamrocks around the church hall, and the final clue will lead to the “pot of gold”, a pot full of these little Scripture cards, with a gold token shamrock attached, to remind them of the lessons they learned today  (I also found the gold coins at Michael’s-I like them because they depict only a shamrock, and not a four lead clover and references to luck). I hope they enjoy it!

St. Patrick’s Day Trinity “Muffins”!

I ran across the idea of “Trinity” muffins here and just knew I had to try them and share this great idea with you!  We plan on making these for a snack for our Hope & Joy meeting this Saturday, after learning about St. Patrick and talking about the three Persons of the Holy Trinity.  I think kids of all ages would really enjoy these!

The original recipe called for using biscuit dough,  but I found that pizza dough works just as well. I tested this recipe using vegan pre-made dough from Trader Joe’s, but it does still have a little oil in it, so for an oil-free option you could try making this recipe (though I haven’t tried it).  If you have lots of time you could make the dough with the kids as well, and use the rise time for another activity.  Since we have a lot we are trying to cover, I will probably just bring the dough pre-made.

The only ingredients you need are your bread dough, cinnamon, and sugar.  The children can help mix together the cinnamon and sugar in a large bowl first ( I just eyeballed this).  Then each child gets three small pieces of dough, about the size of small meatballs, and a cupcake liner.  You can explain that the three balls represent the 3 persons (God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit) of our one God.

The children can roll each piece of dough into a ball and then in the cinnamon sugar, and put them touching inside their muffin liners.

After baking in a muffin pan at 350 degrees for 14-18 minutes, they should be ready  (I confess I lost track of how long I left them in, so watch them).  When they come out of the oven the 3 balls of dough are now, of course, one “muffin”!

When they had cooled, my daughter immediately asked for sprinkles on top, so we added some green sugar crystals as well, which settled into the cracks and highlighted the three parts nicely!  I was especially surprised when I pointed out the three parts to my daughter and she remarked that they looked like pretzels.  What a great theological tie-in! We made pretzels for lent last year to talk about fasting (i’ll do a post for that soon), and that would be another fun option for a snack as well. Here is a shamrock version you could try as well.

Hopefully this little cooking project will be a great illustration of the Holy Trinity and a nice conversation starter for a group discussion.  If you would prefer to not make a sweet treat, they would probably be equally yummy sprinkled with kosher salt and fresh herbs like rosemary, for a focaccia-esque muffin.

Stay tuned for more St. Patrick’s day ideas, coming soon..

Celebrating St. Patrick

(Troparion, Tone 3)

O holy hierarch Patrick, wonderworker and equal of the apostles, enlightener of the Irish land, entreat the merciful God, that He grant our souls remission of transgressions.

***

Our Joy and Hope meeting is set for March 17 this month, which is of course St. Patrick’s Day! It will be a great opportunity to take this day back from all the  “leprechauns and luck” and use it to teach our children about not only a well-loved saint but also the Holy Trinity.  I’m excited to share some fun ideas over the coming days that you can use to celebrate the real St. Patrick as well!

First up, resources. We plan on reading St. Patrick’s Day by Gail Gibbons, for a brief introduction to the saint’s life that will appeal to our different ages. (Patrick: Patron Saint of Ireland by Tomie dePaola is another option). We are also considering reading Three in One: A Book about God, to enhance our discussion of the Holy Trinity (which will begin with a real three leaf clover/shamrock, of course!)  While not written by an Orthodox Christian, the book presents a  tangible metaphor (a tree) for the Holy Trinity without straying from Scripture. (I ran it by my husband, a seminary grad, who gave it his OK, which means a lot to me!)  We will do some fun cooking/craft projects relating to the Holy Trinity & symbolism of the shamrock, and end with learning/singing the hymns “Father Son and Holy Spirit, Trinity One in Essence, and Undivided” and  “One is Holy.  (We’ll also talk about where these hymns fall during the Divine Liturgy, to encourage participation at what will be the next day’s service).

Crafts/Games/Cooking Projects coming up next-stay tuned!

P.S. Did you know that Orthodox Christian Fellowship has some great resources on their website about “the real St. Patrick”? Included are the icon above (from the hand of Michael Kapeluck) , a supplication service from which the above Troparion is taken from, and Irish recipes. Though we often think of St. Patrick as a western saint, he was  born in 387 and died in 461. For more information about St. Patrick, a great resource is orthodoxwiki.

A few Ideas for the Sunday of Orthodoxy

Icon from Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church, Raleigh, NC

This Sunday is, of course, the first Sunday of Great Lent and the Sunday of Orthodoxy.  On Orthodox blogs and websites, there are so many wonderful icon activities.  I especially like this idea for an Icon family tree on Orthodox Education Blogspot:

Isn’t that beautiful? I will have to try it soon!  Another idea for your parish or Sunday school setting could be modeled after the following:

“At St. Andrew’s, in Boston, the children make and decorate icons.  They will procession (sic) around the church after Liturgy and Father will bless the icons.  These are saved, by the priest, who will give them to sick or shut-in parishioners during the coming year. – “monkvasy”,  posted on orthodoxchristianity.net.
What a neat idea! Another wonderful way for children to give alms during the first week of lent.

Our Prayer Corner

Please excuse these photos.  I am not the most talented of photographers, and the light in our little hallway leaves something to be desired!  But I wanted to share with you the little spot that my family and I have carved out for our prayer corner.  It is both figuratively and literally the center of our home, part of a small, square hallway that leads to every room in the house.  One of the jobs we give our three year old before we pray is to close all 5 doors surrounding us!

It was important to me to make this area work for all members of the family.  So that meant icons hung high, for my six foot three husband, and down low, to touch, for our baby and three ear old.

I picked up this little cabinet at a thrift store, years before having children, and loved that it looked like it had been handmade for a child, probably by a grandparent or uncle.  Its’ size and features have made it perfect for housing everything we need.

Though it can be hard to convince my daughter to abandon her play to join us for morning prayers, she does enjoy helping my husband light the candles and open her little cabinet.  We used to have little battery operated candles for her to place in front of the icons below, but need to replace the bulbs (hence the pink flashlight!)

Also pictured is a little tray with icons to look at, prayer cards like those used in Catechesis atriums (more on that soon), a few books, and a Montessori land & water globe we used when reading the creation story.  On the doors are icons of the Nativity and Christ Blessing the children.  I still need to get a little rug, to make the floor a little less cold in the winter!

Throughout the year, you can find different things tucked away in the cabinet, from palm crosses to art work made in Sunday School.  Now that my daughter is getting a little older, I plan on changing out the materials more often. I have lots of ideas for this, and hope to share them with you soon. It is a work in progress, that is for sure!

Why ‘Sprinkled with Joy’ ? Part 1

My three year old daughter loves sprinkles. LOVES them.  On cakes and cupcakes? Of course! But really on anything.  They have even become my secret weapon in getting her to eat healthier things, like tart Greek yogurt, for example. Most kids love sprinkles (and let’s face it, so do I!)  As I started to brainstorm ideas for making our HOPE and JOY meetings not only spiritually-centered but also fun, I found sprinkles were a great tool. You’ll see them mentioned here a lot, among other things!  And in some ways I’ve found they have become a bit of a metaphor for my approach to youth activities at our church.  Sprinkles are the fun, extra touch, to the sweet treat.  They can never replace the cupcake or cookie-they simply add some sparkle that can make the treat that much more enticing.  Just as there is only One teacher, Whose ways are Scripture and the sacraments, our teachings and efforts outside of this are the “extra” on top.  An important extra, of course! But sometimes I fear we can fall into the trap of taking ourselves a bit too seriously and spend too much of our time talking “at” our youth, using words that often go above their heads (or in one ear and out the other!) And I’ve found that attention spans on Saturday afternoons (when our Hope/Joy group meets) can be quite short!  So I’m striving to find and create easy, fun, projects, that a variety of ages can do, that correspond with a brief, but essential Orthodox truth.  I’m learning as I go, and making plenty of mistakes! But it is a joy to work with our Orthodox youth, and I hope this little blog can be of service to others doing the same:)

More Valentine’s Fun…

Here are a few more pictures of Valentine’s day celebrations at our house.

First, we made valentines for all of my daughter’s classmates at preschool.  It was a great opportunity to bring out the glitter glue (so much less messy!) and talk about how we can show love to our friends and family.

We opted for some simple collage work, using paper doilies from the Target dollar spot, hearts cut from red cardstock, torn up tissue paper, paper punched hearts, ribbon, string and rick-rack.  Basically any pink and red scraps I could find around the house.

Easy and fun!  We also read The Story of Valentine’s Day by Nancy Skarmeas, a great little book for  both younger and older children that tells a brief story of St. Valentine.  For Valentine’s breakfast, we had bacon and eggs (greatly enjoyed before Lent!), pink “milkshakes” (strawberries, a little sugar, & milk in the blender) and (canned) cinnamon rolls with-what else?-heart sprinkles on top!

And for those of you who are doing a bit of Montessori homeschooling/Catechesis work, here are a few little Valentine-themed practical life activities as well:

Thonging Heart-shaped "ice" cubes into empy candy box

Spooning pink & purple beads

We also practiced pouring purple water, stringing heart beads on pink pipe cleaners, and placing heart cupcake picks (toothpicks) into a cheese shaker.  Last but not least, pink playdough was made, to use with heart cookie cutters, of course!