Sunday, November 10, 2013

Martinmas Memory Verse

Matthew 5:16
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Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Martinmas Playset

Next Monday is Martinmas.  The legend is that St. Martin was riding through cold wintery weather on his way to join the army when he came across a beggar, shivering out in the cold.  He drew his sword while the beggar flinched away, thinking he'd met his end.  Instead, St. Martin cut his cloak in two and used one half to wrap around the beggar.  Later in a dream St. Martin discovered that it was Christ he had put the cloak around.

Whether this story is true or a legend, I don't really know.  But the principle is Biblical--Jesus says that what we do for the least of these we are also doing for him.  So Martinmas is a holiday we happily celebrate in our home!  

We'll spend the  week focusing on the story of St. Martin and of Jesus' admonitions to be a light in the world.  Our memory verse for the week is MATTHEW 5:16.  We practice this each day and spend a little time talking about what this means.  We've also talked about many of the stories from the gospels where we saw Jesus' followers being lights in the world.  Quinn has been pointing out things she and her brother have done to be lights.  

Traditions that surround Martinmas are lanterns and participating in a lantern walk.  For my little family, as Christ-followers, the purpose of this is to remind us of our callings--to let the light of Christ shine through us and to be His lights in a dark world.  

Seasonally, with the time change and the approach of winter solstace, the days are getting much shorter and it is dark by the time we are eating dinner.  My children are discovering this and commenting on it.  We are eating dinner by lanternlight this week!

I made each of the kids a little basket filled with playset materials to tell the story of St. Martin.  We have some little figures from a Royality playset (I think it's Melissa and Doug) that was an awesome Christmas gift last year.  Each kiddo chose one figure to be their "St. Martin."  They each chose a horse from that set, too.  You could use any play figures you have at home, or even make one from a clothespin or peg doll. 

 I also put out some wood rounds in varying sizes.  Little Man got to work putting one candle on each round!  Great pre-math skill of one-to-one correspondence.  As you can see, I also got out our stash of LED candles.  These are a hit during the fall/winter season in our home.  Great fine motor turning them on and off using the little switch. 
 You can see one of the lanterns we made last year on the table.  We have 3 from last year that we light each night while we eat dinner. 

 I also made each kiddo a cloak.  It's just felt--I cut it in half and put some velcro so it could be put back together. 
St. Martin can either wear it whole or it can be "cut" in half and put on the beggar.  For beggars we are using some plain peg people. 
 My kids had a wonderful time playing and exploring with the materials yesterday.  Quinn went and got a little leaf baby from her nature shelf and started a whole new story of St. Martin taking care of his baby.  So fun to see her dramatic play! 

Stay tuned for more post on our week of celebration of Martinmas, and our lantern walk on Friday night!

Monday, November 4, 2013

Preparing their hearts for worship--directed drawing during communion

Sunday I knew I wanted to try something new with my kiddos during communion meditation time.

I brought some paper and some markers.

When communion began, I asked them to trace their hands.  Well, Beck was far too interested in playing with the markers to comply.  And that's fine.  He'll be ready next week or a few weeks down the road when the markers lose their novelty.  :)

Quinn happily traced her hand.  I told her we were going to pretend this was Jesus' hand and asked her to draw nails and blood.  She did so, then I spelled "Jesus' Hands" and she wrote it on her paper.  She knows the verse "Jesus' hands were pierced and he was crushed for our sins, but by his wounds we are healed." (Is 53:5) I reminded her of this verse while we quietly whispered about her illustration.

Then I wanted a little time for my own meditation, so on the other side of the paper I told her to draw Jesus on the cross with as many details as she could.  She spent a good 5 minutes working on her illustration.

She seemed to really respond well to this directed drawing time.  We were able to meditate (in a simple, child-appropriate way) and reflect on scripture and she got to explore the concepts and images through her own art.

I want to do this again occasionally.  I'll have a "drawing assignment" in mind as well as a verse to go with it.  Q is able to find passages in the Bible with a little help, so I can even include her in finding the verses.  The more we practice this activity together the more she'll be able to do.

Other concepts to draw:
Crown of Thorns
Empty tomb with Angel
Jesus Ascending to Heaven
Jesus breaking bread and wine with disciples

Really it's limitless!  You just need to do a little mental prep ahead of time to have a topic and verse ready!  You could even have a pre-made list ready in your Bible to last for a few weeks.....

It's so precious to see the drawings kids produce regarding spiritual things.  You can really see a lot of what they understand/don't understand by analyzing their drawings.  So cool!

 I mailed the cross one to one of our ministers that my kids are especially close to with a note that said, "Thanks for teaching us about Jesus."  Of course I took a picture, first. 

Communion with Preschoolers/Young Elementary Kiddos

I mentioned some ideas I use with Little Man during communion time and wanted to share what I do with barely 5 year-old Q, as well.

To begin with, we often look through the Jesus Storybook Bible (I've referred to it a lot on this blog), specifically the pictures of the passion story.  There's a great illustration of Jesus at the last supper with the disciples that we look at.  During communion I put her in my lap and we quietly thumb through the pages and I talk to her about the stories and the meaning behind communion.

Then I also bring her "Stations of the Cross" set (linked up here) for her to work through.  I love that this helps focus her attention on Jesus' sacrifice and see some visuals.  I did make a couple changes--I replaced the rope with a tiny crown of thorns (the rope caused too much ruckus during worship as both my kids wanted it and fought over it).  I also traced around the backs of the manipulatives on the cards so she could check herself.  I wanted this activity to be something she could do independently while I had my own communion meditation.  We keep the set in a little marker bag with two zipping sides--repurposed and works awesome.  One side for cards and the other for manipulatives.

Often she still needs a little guidance from Matt or I to get started, but many weeks she can complete the matching by herself.  Some weeks I point out details in the illustrations--the crowns on Jesus' head, etc.

There are also some great "Stations of the Resurrection" cards out there that would work equally well.  Or you could make your own!

The first couple weeks we got out the cards she was a little hesitant to work with them.  That's okay, I know that new materials take a little time for familiarity.  Now she loves them and asks for them each week when communion time starts.  And 2 year old Little Brother can even do the cards with my help!

I really feel like the cards/manipulatives help focus Quinn's attention on Jesus and his sacrifice.  I love that they are getting more use than just during the lent season!

Also--another tip--our church uses a projector screen and often during communion they put up different images of the cross, Jesus' hands, etc.  I try to point these out to Quinn and we quietly talk about the meaning behind them.  Quiet whispering is totally allowed in our pew!