In honor of St. Thomas' appearance in today's Gospel, I thought I'd repost this activity from a couple of years ago. Poor Thomas gets a bad rep for his "doubt," but there is more to Thomas than this one story. Don't forget that when Jesus told the apostles that Lazarus had died, and it had happened so that they would believe, Thomas said, "Let us also go, that we may die with him." He was eager, that guy, to follow Jesus, but sometimes put his foot in his mouth, a lot like Peter. Let's remember Thomas as the one that believed that Jesus had risen and called Him, "My Lord and My God." We all have to move from doubt to belief, and he gave us a model to follow.
fall, I was asked to present at a workshop for CCD and Catholic School
teachers. The theme for the evening was "Making the Secular Holy."
spent the summer thinking about ways that we can use the secular
resources around us in our classrooms and our home to deliver a message
of Truth to the kids that we love. Now don't get me wrong, there are
some wonderful books and movies out there that teach directly about
Christ and His Church. However, they might not be as readily available,
might be more expensive, might not be as attractive, etc. Let's be
honest- most American homes have a copy of The Cat in the Hat, but few
have The Weight of a Mass.
let's teach our kids to find meaning in all things around them, that
God can be found in the movies they watch and the books they read, even
if they don't have an obvious tie.
This and following
posts will have links to a one page sheet with questions, activities,
and prayers that show the connection between a well loved secular
children's book and a story from the Bible.
Included are questions to ask for each story, ways to bring them together, and connections to the Sacraments and Saints.
First up: The Kissing Hand & Doubting Thomas, a lesson in believing when you can't see.
Click on the document for a link to the real thing.
Celebrating Divine Mercy with kids can be a great way to teach about God's forgiveness and love. I especially like to work it in while talking about or preparing for the Sacrament of Reconciliation, giving kids a model of the forgiveness that Christ wants to extend to them.
Visuals are always good, so I created this watercolor craft project to help kids remember the strong symbolism found in the image of Divine Mercy. Here's how I have used this activity in my classroom:
1. Print the coloring page at the bottom of this post:
2. Color the heart and the globe, but leave space in the "scribbles."
3. Using the often sad & neglected white crayon, draw lines from the heart to the bottom corners of the paper...
kind of like this:
...only you won't be able to see them yet.
4. Grab some cheapo water colors:
5. First paint the globe and the heart with their appropriate colors. Note the texture even a monochromatic crayon/paint combo can show. (If you are working with littles or with a limited amount of time, you can skip this step and just have them color in the globe and heart.)
Here we are so far:
6. Now for the big reveal. Here is where you really want to talk about the meaning of Divine Mercy and the symbolism found in the image of Divine Mercy revealed to St. Faustina. Check out the link at the very top of the post if you need more information.
Remember where those white crayon lines were? Remind the kids that the Blood that flowed from Christ's side at His Passion is the Blood that washes us clean and atones for our sin. You should also talk about the connection to the Sacrament of the Eucharist. Have them use red watercolor paint and go over the white lines on the left side of the picture. See how the rays show through? A great object lesson to remind the kids that God's mercy is there even when we can't see or feel it.
7. Do the same thing with blue paint on the right side, symbolizing the cleansing power of the Sacrament of Baptism. The white rays shine through again, reminding us that the mark of our Baptism is strong and important, even though we can't see it.
The Blood and water flowing from the Heart of Christ is given to everyone, and we are reminded of the main response in the Divine Mercy Chaplet, "Have mercy on us and on the whole world."
8. Want your art to match the Image of Divine Mercy even more? Paint or color the background of the page black, reminding us of the darkness of life without Christ.
Click here for the coloring page printable:
Here are some other activities that have connections to Divine Mercy-
What more wonderful way is there to end the Octave of Easter
than to gain two new Saints for the Church
who once led us as Popes!
To help kids get to know these two holy men, I made a set of cards with interesting facts about each new Saint. The cards could simply be printed and sorted, used as tools for research, or even a trivia game.
Or you could attach all of the cards on a display board like this...
and create a lift-the-flap-and-check-your-facts game. I just attached each clue on the outside of a piece of cardstock folded in half. On the inside I glued a card with the answer to which Pope that fact matched.
I will have this set up at church this weekend and in my classroom next week. I think that it will be a great no instruction necessary way to introduce people to these two great men.
We've got the official canonization pictures at the top of the board:
And lots of new information to learn:
Click here for the free printable of Which Pope is Which? This document includes the title, name of each Pope, and twelve fact cards for each Saint. The first three pages of facts are all about John XXIII and the last three pages are all about John Paul II.
If you want to do a lift-the-flap kind of game, here is a printable you can use to reveal the answer inside:
"God who made the sun, also made the moon. The moon does not take away from the brilliance of the sun. All its light is reflected from the sun. The Blessed Mother reflects her Divine Son; without Him, she is nothing. With Him, she is the Mother of men."
~Venerable Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen
Click on the image below for this Fulton Sheen Quote Coloring page:
It would make a great journal starter!
Now that we have spent so much time focusing on Lent, it is time to remember and live the message of Easter. One way to do that is to learn the stories from the Gospels about the 40 days Jesus spent on earth after His Resurrection. That is where the Way of Light comes in. You can read more about why I have created activities for the fourteen stations of the Way of Light here.
For this activity, I wanted to promote story telling as a learning tool. We all love and learn through stories. They help us remember, internalize, and act on important information. This activity throws fourteen objects into a bag, and each object can then become the vehicle or memory tool for telling one of the stories surrounding the Easter season.
These objects tie in closely with the symbols used in The Way of Light Resurrection Eggs, but are a bit different and they aren't choking hazards if you are working with littles ;)
Here are the Stations of Light and an example of an object to go along with each. I tried to get objects that were cheap and easy to find (or gave an example of a substitute). You certainly can use your creative bone to come up with your own symbols for each story!
Station 1. Jesus rises from the dead
Print out and color this Alleluia! coloring page with the traditional Paschal Greeting on it. (One of my students colored this one- isn't it lovely!) Link for the coloring page is at the bottom of the post.
Station 2. Women find the empty tomb
An empty Easter egg. Or you could even fill it with Easter candy to show how good it was that Jesus had risen from the dead.
Station 3. The risen Lord appears to Mary Magdalene
A jar of holy water, reminding us of the tears she shed when she thought Jesus was gone as well as the waters of Baptism that allow us to be a part of the resurrection of the dead..
Station 4. The risen Lord appears on the road to Emmaus
A magnifying glass to remind us of the way Jesus showed the disciples things they had never "seen" or understood in the Scriptures about the Messiah.
Station 5. The risen Lord is recognized in the breaking of the bread
You could make this Monstrance Craft, or another project relating the Eucharist to the True Presence of Jesus.
Station 6. The risen Lord appears to the disciples in Jerusalem
Throw your favorite Saint books into the bag, especially any that include stories of the twelve Apostles or early disciples.
Station 7. The risen Lord gives the disciples the power to forgive
A strip of 2" wide purple makes a great priestly stole, reminding us of the Sacrament of Confession.
Station 8. The risen Lord strengthens the faith of Thomas
Got an extra glove or stray flip flop? Use those to remind them of the hands and feet of Jesus that St. Thomas wanted to see and touch after His Resurrection.
Station 9. The risen Lord meets the disciples on the shore of Lake Tiberius
Pipe cleaner Jesus fish! Go here for more on its symbolism.
Station 10. The risen Lord confers primacy on Peter
You need a rock for this one. Easy and free.
Station 11. The risen Lord sends the disciples into the whole world
I happen to have this awesome wooden globe from a project a few years ago-
...and it even opens up to reveal little people from around the world. Perfect to explain how Jesus sent the Apostles to tell everyone everywhere the Good News. I got it through Oriental Trading, but I don't think that it is available anymore.
If you can't find something like that, you could make a cheap and easy "globe" using a small green ball.
Take a blue Sharpie and create some oceans, leaving green behind as the land, and whhaallaa, you've got the whole world in your hand.
Station 12. The risen Lord ascends into heaven
I love this one. Jesus ascends to heaven on a cloud, right? So buy a 99cent white bath-net-sponge-thing, cut the cord off, and you have a cloud.
Station 13. Waiting with Mary in the Upper Room Best way to wait with Mary? The Rosary, of course.
Station 14. The risen Lord sends the Holy Spirit
And for the coming of the Holy Spirit, I threw in a battery operated candle.
Include a Way of Light mini book with each station, symbol, and Scripture listed in order to help tell the story. (Link at the bottom of post)
Throw it all in a tote bag- I used five minutes and some puff paint to label the blank side of a freebie tote bag.
Now as you read or tell the stories about the Easter season, associate each one with an object in the bag. As you go, have the kids pull out the objects and relate each with the stories they know. Eventually, you can use the objects to have the kids tell the story in their own words.
Here you go! A great way to promote active story telling and memorization of the stories surrounding the season of Easter.
Click here for the Paschal Greeting coloring page:
You can find my other Way of Light Activities by clicking on these images: