Our atrium has been running sessions for a term and a half now and we’re slowly managing to get ourselves organised and have a better idea of where to go next. We’re still tinkering with the structure of our sessions to meet the needs of the different children, but that’s ok. For example, we’re going to have our prayer table time in the middle of the session instead of at the end, make it optional, and use one sung phrase as a starting point for a few moments of meditation/praise/thanksgiving. Our prayer time has been… interesting so far. Hopefully this will help. It will also allow the children to finish their work cycle earlier or later, as they are ready to. Nothing like a bit of trial and error, right?
So, other than “interesting” prayer time, what sorts of things have we been doing during our sessions?
We started off with a tour of the atrium and an introduction to the prayer table, and to the Bible.
We then introduced a variety of practical life works – basically things that either prepare the children for future works (eg learning to pour with a funnel leads to learning to prepare cruets) or are related to something liturgical (eg polishing brass – chalice, paten etc need to be kept in good condition), or are just great for developing fine motor skills and learning to care for the child’s environment. These included plant care, brass polishing, pouring, washing hands, preparing flowers for the prayer table.
After we had built up a repertoire of these practical life activities and the children were very familiar with their environment, we introduced some more overtly religious works and concepts – liturgical colours via the mini chasubles (and pasting and tracing works as extensions), the parable of the Good Shepherd with its diorama, and the basic articles used at Mass.
We also had two ceremonies – one for Easter, which is based on the Easter Vigil’s Liturgy of the Light, and one for Pentecost, where the children “observe” the disciple at prayer (in a diorama), hear the words from Scripture, and then learn about the 7 gifts of the Holy Spirit.
There are extension works for many of these presentations also (pasting, tracing, card matching etc).
This term, the main focus will be liturgical life. Our planned sessions are:
July 25 – Sign of the Cross
August 1 – Genuflection
August 8 – Altar II (introducing more items used in Mass)
August 15 – Visit to the church
August 22 – Parable of the Mustard Seed
August 29 – Practical life – dusting
Sep 5 – Baptism I
Sep 12 – Preparation of the cruets
Sep 19 – Epiclesis
Sep 26 – Parable of the Pearl of Great Price
We’re certainly on a steep learning curve and it can be exhausting, but so worthwhile at the same time!
(PS do check out our information on training if you think you might like to get involved with this wonderful work, at our parish or your own.)