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Our All Saints Day looked a little different than your average school day- it is a Solemnity after all!
My students were greeted by this message on the homework board and they were a little excited. (maybe more than a little). But what did we do all day if we weren't doing regular classwork?
-Went to Mass (of course)
-Had extra time to work on our service project (which they love) while listening to some great Saint stories like those from Glory Stories and Hobo for Christ
-Prayed our Litany of the Saints
-Finished our discussion of All Hallows Eve, All Saints Day, and All Souls Day
-Checked out the final display of our All Saints Art (picture below- didn't they turn out great?)
Can you guess all these Saints?
And we spent a chunk of our day reading awesome books about the Saints. We have quite the classroom collection of Saint books (check out some of my favorites here), but our days are busy and the kids don't often get time to explore our little Saint library. On All Saints Day, I set aside two big chunks of time for the students to self select and independently read any of the Saint books they wanted to. They enjoyed spreading out all over the room and getting to discover some new info and new heavenly friends. Many of them brought along a saintly reading buddy, like our mini statues, or Fr. Juan Pablo and Sr. Mary Clara. They also had the opportunity to read with St. Joan of Arc, a beautiful doll I brought in to share with them for just this occasion.
Dolls from Heaven is a small family owned company that is striving to create holy dolls for families. They currently offer two 18" dolls, St. Therese of Lisieux and St. Joan of Arc, along with books, clothes, and accessories. Dolls from Heaven kindly sent me their new Joan of Arc doll and book to try out with my students.
When Joan arrived, I was so impressed. After hearing about Dolls from Heaven, I was already excited, so my expectations were set pretty high. I wasn't disappointed- everything was beautifully done and very high quality. The Joan doll is lovely and made to last. She has vinyl arms, legs, and head and a soft body, and she can be posed and stand on her own. All of her clothing, the pieces of her armor, and boots were very well made and the velcro closures would make easy to change her outfits.
Joan came with a very nice soft cover book which is an adapted version of Mark Twain's Joan of Arc biography. Because of the sophisticated language and length, I would place the reading level of the book around 7th grade, but it could certainly be enjoyed by younger children as a read aloud or when paired with discussion while reading independently. I love the idea of giving the book with the doll so that the child can get to know the life and characteristics of the person who inspired their new toy.
And that's really why I think Dolls from Heaven is such a good idea and such a wonderful gift; they have created toys that kids will love AND that will inspire them to holy play. Children learn through action and imitation, so we need to give them opportunities to play, create, think, and try elements of the faith in a way they will understand. A beautiful doll inspired by someone like St. Joan of Arc is the perfect companion for a little girl who is learning to emulate qualities of virtue, strength, and prayer.
So what did my students think of Joan? They all agreed she was pretty cool! :) They assumed I had purchased a doll and then dressed her up myself to look like Joan of Arc, so they were impressed to discover that there was a company specially making Saint dolls like her. They loved her outfit, and she was a frequent reading companion throughout the week with boys and girls alike. Personally, I know that my six-seven-eight-nine-year-old self would have been ridiculously excited to receive a doll like her.
Joan is leaving my classroom today, and she is on to her next adventure. I plan to use her as a gift for my goddaughter who just happens to be a big fan of St. Joan of Arc. As a godmother, I try to take my role of praying for and guiding my godchild seriously, and I think that good gift giving can be part of my job. :) Well intentioned spiritual gifts that inspire holy play and learning are a wonderful way for a godparent (or aunt or grandparent...) to help develop the faith life of the kids we care the most about. This is a doll set you can feel good about giving a child, knowing that you are inspiring them to grow into the person they were born to become, just like the Saints before us.
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We all know that it's gift shopping season, so Dolls from Heaven is offering a discount code for their Joan doll, book, and accessories exclusively for Look to Him and Be Radiant readers.
Use code RADIANT for 10% off from now until November 19, 2016. Happy shopping!
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