Catechesis of the Good Shepherd

My Atrium~ 2013

Well today was the first day of our Atrium time for the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd for the year! It went really well. It turns out that I have a lot of little one (2-3) this year, so I am  interested to see how my toddler area works out. This area is not a traditional Atrium area, but with the wide ages of littler ones we have, I wanted something that they could work with easily! We also have a whole new set up from last year and so far the traffic flow seems better. I am really excited to start this new year with a new plan. If you want a quick peek at what it looked like last year, you can see it here. Do you want to see how it looks like this year? Well here is a tour!

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We have lots of traditional Montessori work here. The goal is to make sure that the materials help the children think about God and his creation. I think it works!

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I placed pictures of Mary under the puzzle pieces to add a bit of surprise!

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Flower arranging for the little ones. The put the flower stems in the holes of the shaker.

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I found this awesome tower on amazon. It has these sweet animals and add a nice element to our work area. I think that it will be a good one!

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Here are our Practical Life shelves for the older kids. Right now they are FULL! As the weeks move on and we have more presentation, I will be adding more prayer work on the other shelves. For the first few times, we are trying to learn where things are, how to complete a work cycle, and what is expected. So having lots of practical life work to help with concentration, control of movement, and sharing is a great place to start! We also have some prayer time together for reflection and we sing some songs.

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This work is alphabet block that spell out a word. The child needs to match the right sides to spell the word. Pup really like this and it was pretty challenging!

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Sweeping

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Matching big and little

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Clipping flowers

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Hmmmm…sorry about that picture.

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Dry Pouring

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Wet Pouring

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Spooning

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Tonging. These are small wood pieces that are moved from side to side. What I love about these buckets is that the kids cant pour this work!

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Tracing

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Hand washing station

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Geography Area. There are more works that will be added to this as time goes on, but for now this is a fun puzzle!

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This is our prayer table!

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The Cenacle
(Here is a past post if you want to know more about this one)!

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This wall of shelves is really emply right now, but I promise it will fill up! These will have Infancy works (Jesus Childhood) and parables. Right now they have puzzles!

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I made this puzzle about the parables from a simple wooden shape puzzle! I love to repurpose these puzzles!

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I made this one from a shape puzzle too! This one has matching picture underneath!

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This puzzle here was a blank one that you can buy at the craft store! It matches the alter pasting work that we have.

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This is our alter area and baptism areal. I love that it is in a little nook!

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Finally we have our Good Shepherd! I try to keep him front and center since it is such a favorite work for everyone!

So there you have it! This is our atrium at our church! I think it is going to be a great place for the kids and I to learn from the spirit together! So far it looks like it is working so far and I cant wait to see how it goes with my next group on Tuesday! If you want more information on the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd, make sure you stop here. You can find an atrium near you and find a training course if you are interested in that! Happy Prayer Time!

 

Montessori Holy Week~ Monday

 
It is the beginning of Holy Week and many Christians are preparing to think about and reflect on the sacrifice of Jesus. However, when you are thinking about it with small children, its hard to know what to say so they can appreciate it and yet not much that they are disturbed or scard! Sofia Cavalletti came up with a brilliant idea that allows the children to think about the story. We have in the Atrium we have a city of Jerusalem map. The map has a main board, a control map, and movable pieces. The work is out only during lent and the Easter season. Here are a few tips on using a work like this at home. I have adapted the traditional presentation for home use. Please know that going to an Atrium and seeing the work first hand can never be substitute and many Atriums are more then happy to have you stop by for a visit or even join! If you want to find an Atrium near your, you can visit http://www.cgsusa.org/. Now on to the practical points of the presentation.
 
Preparation:
This presentation require a small map of the city of Jerusalem. In the atrium, we have a city on a board with a control chart to move the pieces to. There is a wall around the city, the Tower of Antonio (where Pilate lived), the Temple with a wall around it, Herod’s Palace, the House of Caiaphas, the Cenecle (or upper room), Garden of Olives, Calvary, and the Tomb of the Resurrection. Now I figure that you are all not going to have this work laying around your house. So it is more then possible to make it up with whatever you may have! Use building blocks, Legos, wood scraps, heck, even use the red rods! What you want to to create the walls of the city like the ones in the pictures above. Then you will need some buildings. The Tower of Antonio is part of the  top right of the wall. The temple is across from the Garden of Olives and the Cenecle is at the far end of the city. Just set it up according to the pictures above. Then you are ready to tell the story.
 
Presentation:
1. Using the sandpaper globe, point out where the Land of Israel is to the child. “This is the land of Israel. This is where Jesus lived when he was on earth. Now we cont see all the mountains and roads and towns can we? No, So here is a map of the city of Jerusalem. This was a very important city because Jesus came here to teach and pray. It is also where he died and rose again.”
 
2. Next start to point out the different pieces of city and walk the child through the city following Jesus. If you have a control chart, move the pieces after you mention each piece. Here is an idea of what to say.
“Why do you think that the city is surrounded by walls? Yes it helps to protect it from bad things. There was a big wall around Jerusalem to keep it safe. There is also a wall around the temple. The temple was a really important place for the Jewish people to come pray. The wall protects the temple too.”
“On plan Sunday, Jesus came into the city. Maybe he came in on one of these road. On Holy Thursday, Jesus went to the cenecle with his disciples to celebrate the Passover. While there were there he blessed the bread and told his disciples that this was his body. Then he took the wine and gave it to his disciples saying this is my blood. After singing a song of praise to God, they left for the Garden of Olives”
“At the Garden of Olives, Jesus prayed. While he was praying, the soldiers came and arrested Jesus. They thought he was a bad man.”
“So they took him to the House of Caiaphas. Caiaphas was the priest who was a leader in Jerusalem. He asked Jesus alot of questions, but Jesus didnt answer them. Since Pilate was in charge, Caiaphas sent Jesus to him.
“Pilate lived in the Tower of Antonio. It is the tallest building in the city and build into the wall so he can look down and see everything. When they brought Jesus to the Pilate, Pilate talked to Jesus and realized that there was nothing bad about him. So he decided to send Jesus to King Herod who was in charge of land where Jesus lived.”
“So off to King Herod’s Palace they went. King Herod had always wanted to meet Jesus and see one of his miracles. But when King Herod asked Jesus questions, Jesus didnt say anything, so Herod told the people that he saw nothing wrong with Jesus. So he sent him back to Pilate.”
“Pilate told all the people again that He saw nothing wrong with Jesus. The people didnt like that. So Pilate gave Jesus the cross to carry to Calvary.”
“Jesus walked the road to Calvary with his cross. When he got there, he was put on the cross and died.”
“When Jesus died, they took his body and buried it in the tomb. It looked like the light went out of the world forever. But did Jesus stay dead? No! That’s right, he rose again! (Light a candle) and the light came back into the world! What a wonderful thing. What do you think we can say to Jesus while we think about this? (allow time for the child to offer a prayer or thanks to God). This is why Easter is a celebration, a happy time! You can use the map to think more about the story. You could draw your own city or you can write a prayer.”
 
This is a simple version of what we do in the Atrium with the children. I love this because there are things to do, things to touch and see, and the children can connect with the story of salvation without worrying about the pain of death. I hope that this will give you a way to live the story of Jesus with your children this week! It is amazing to me that each time this work is done, I can see the story come alive for the children and their little tiny prayers are always ones of thanks and love for Jesus! It is a beautiful thing! Again, if you have the opportunity, go to your local Atrium and see the work that allows the Lord to speak to their hearts!
 
If you want to see more amazing Montessori fun, be sure to stop by the Montessori Monday link up! I am there partying, so you should to! Happy Holy Week!

Parables in the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd

Parable of the Leaven


This time of year we are focusing on some of the parables of Jesus in the Atrium. With the year one children (ages 3-6) we start with the Parable of the Mustard Seed and then we do the Parable of Pearl of Great Price, the Hidden Treasure, the Parable of the Leaven, and the Parable of the Wheat Seed. These parables were chosen out of the many Jesus told because they speak to the children on a deep and spiritual level. They were chosen after careful observation of many children, from many different countries and social backgrounds, over many years. Every time I present them, I am amazed at how deep the children think about them! As they get older, more parables are presented. The Parable of the Good Samaritan, the Parable of the Lost Coin, the Parable of the Insistent Friend, and the Parable of 10 Virgins. Each one of these parables speaks to the child about an element of the Kingdom of God.



Today Bunny was presented with the Parable of the Lost coin. I read her the parable from the Bible and she then moved the figure around to recreate the story. After we moved the figured around I asked her some basic reflection questions. I asked her since this was a parable, what did she think Jesus was trying to tell us about the Kingdom of God. She said that Maybe he wanted us to find things we lost. I said, “Well Jesus is talking about the Kingdom, I wonder what things we could loose of the Kingdom”> She told me that we could loose God. I asked her how we could loose him. She said by not listening and praying. I said “hmmm that is a true. I heard in the parable, the woman searched for her lost coin until she found it. How do you think we can find God if we have lost him.” Bunny told me, “Well we could re-love him and pray again.” After that she wanted me to go away so she could work with the material more! I was blown away her insight. It is such a great foundation for Reconciliation and First Communion next year. We can find God by re-loving him. I love it! These are the moments that make all the work worth while. I am privileged to be able to witness the stirring of their souls as they begin to recognize their relationship with God.

Christmas Fun and Traditions

Yesterday we had a breakfast at our Church after Mass called Breakfast in Bethlehem! The kids all dressed up as their favorite character from the Nativity and we ate a breakfast together! After breakfast, the kids all sat around for a story of the Nativity told by our priest. My friend, a fellow Catechises of the Good Shepherd catechist, gave an introduction to the story by using the relief map of Israel and the sandpaper globe “show” the kids where the story too place and help the get into the story. Then Father read the story. After the story, the kids got to make a sticker nativity poster, and work with some of the Christmas works in the Atrium! We also had a parishioner in our parish who weaves. He was there to show the kids how weaving works! The kids had a great time and there are alot of great ideas swirling around for next year! Here are some pictures!

Today we got to decorate the tree! In our house, each ornament has a story and a memory attached to it! We love to pull them all out and try to fit them all on the tree! I am looking into finding a great way to make our tree decorating a more tradition type event too! Maybe we will have cookies or some Christmas movie afterwards. What are your Christmas Traditions?
 

Not the best pictures! Sorry. I will try to get some better ones tomorrow! I hope you are having lots of holiday fun! If you have some great traditions, share them in the comments! I would love to hear them! Happy Sunday!


Hands are a gift!

 
 
“The hands are the instruments of man’s intelligence.”
 Maria Montessori

Today I was in our Atrium working with the kids. As always it was a true experience and I love watching everyone work, think, and even pray! With all the different kids, there is always something or someone doing something that is amazing to watch. To watch God stirring their little souls and revealing his love to them is a gift for me! You can see it in their art work, in their prayers, and in what they happen to “mention”. During our closing prayer, we were all thanking God for all the wonderful things we have. One little girl, who is two, thanked God for her hands. This really struck me today. She was thanking God for things that we take from granted every moment of everyday. Hands. You never even think about them, unless there was a problem with them, yet what would we do without them? We couldn’t learn as well, do things as well, or express ourselves as well! What a gift those hands are! Another thing that Maria Montessori discovered was that those hand are the one thing that children use to bring ideas and knowledge into their minds. They pray with their hands, learn with their hands, and become who they are with their hands! So I really can think of a better thing to thank God for! What do you think? What a great, and often overlooked gift! Thank you God for my hands.

 

“The human hand allows the mind to reveal itself.”
 Maria Montessori

Great Lessons in the Atrium

Today I took pictures of the amazing cosmic work that has been happening in the Atrium we attend each week. Since the entire Catechises of the Good Shepherd program is based on the Montessori Method, the level 2 work is all about the cosmic education. The first works of the year are big, and impressionistic. We start with creation and the Fettuccia. The Fettuccia is like the Montessori black strip, but it has three colors. Blue for the first part of the creation of the earth, tan for the coming of life and man, and then white for Parousia (when Jesus will come again). When it unrolls, it is 50 yards long! It is very cool and the kids love it!



The follow up work is the Unity Strip, which is a smaller strip with labels and pictures that tell the story of Creation, Redemption, and the coming of Parousia! This work is much like the Time Line of Life in that there is a must chart that hangs on the wall, and there is a chart with movable pieces that child can work with! Bunny didnt do much work with it at this time, and the little time she did work with it was on a day I forget the camera! So I only have pictures of the mute chart for you to see!



This work all leads the child to really see the work of God in the universe and to see how it connects with the words written in the Bible! What I also love, is that it fits right into the work we have done in our classroom and it is so easy to tie together! It is so amazing to how the beauty of the universe all about the creativity of God! I think it is such a great way to learn about science, geography, history…well everything! If you would like more info on the Catechises of the Good Shepherd, visit their website here! You can even find an Atrium near you!

My Atrium Space 2012

Well this week has been a really busy one, so instead of my Taking Time Tuesday post, today I will be sharing what has been taking up quite a bit of time here! Our Catechisis of the Good Shepherd Atrium has started up again, and I have been busy making sure that the environment is all ready for the little souls who will be deepening their relationship with the Lord there. Since we have been moved to a new room this year, so everything was a new experience and took a bit of work to figure out. The room we use is still being used for a great many other things when it is not an Atrium, so I needed to make sure that it was still functional for everyone else! It was a bit of a challenge, but I think that the results were really good! Let me know what you think!

Prayer Table Area

Alter Area

Practical Life Area
(Some of these shelves will hold our Infancy Narratives as we get closer to Christmas.)

 
 

Art Area and Tracing Work

Our Cenacle

Parable Area
( AS you can see, the shelves are empty. New parable work is added as they are presented.)
 
 

Geography Area
(These are purely sensorial right now, but I will present more in couple of months.)
 
I have so many new kids that I really had limit the number of works that were out that needed longer presentations. As the kids get used to the environment and how we work in the Atrium, I will add more and do more presentations. Right now we are all getting used to how things work! So I have quite alot of Practical Life work out to help them gain concentration, coordination, and to learn how to care for the space. Here is some of the trays we have right now.
 
Pouring Beads
(In an effort to tie our trays into the liturgy to help the kids connect with it, I made the beads purple like the wine, and I added on clear bead. The clear bead represents the one drop of water the priest put in the wine when he prepares the Chalice at Mass. I am not telling the kids. My hope is that they discover it as we do more work with the gestures of Mass.)

Pouring Water
(This is our only water work this year due to our distance from the bathroom where we got water before. However, the kids love water work so much I knew we needed something!)

Chopstick Transfer
(This is a very hard work and I think I need to find a new tool for it. They transfer the small wooden disks to the container with the lid. I thought that this looked alot like a ciborium and I am hoping that the kids will find that too!)

Spooning Beads
(These I made small pearls because the kids LOVE the parable of the Pearl of Great Price. I am sure the the kids will figure this out, and until then they love the pretty beads!)

Matching Birds
(This is a work you will recognize from our classroom. I thought it would be good for the atrium since we have a lot of small kids. The bird of course are a reminder of God’s Creation.)
 
Matching Large to Small
(Here is a work of matching large natural materials to small ones. This is a big hit with the littles right now! Again, it reminds then of God’s Creation.)

Tweezing Feathers
( Simple and really exciting for the kids. This one was a big hit last year and I thought I would bring it back. They love to use the clothes pin to transfer the feathers and the feathers are so fun to feel too!)

Matching Rocks
( This is also a work from last year that everyone liked. It is cool to see the kids look at the rocks with wonder. Since they are minerals and crystals, they arent something that they see very much. I hope that they see the beauty of God!)
 
So there you have it! This is our space for year to love God in, pray to God in, and to learn more about his love! I truly love program that was based on the Montessori Method. It really just the perfect way to allow kids to bask and grow in the love of the Good Shepherd! If you want to know more about the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd, you can click on the link! If you search Catechisis of the Good Shepherd on my blog, you will find my past posts all about it! Peace and Blessings to you all!


The Parable of the Yeast

Today I wanted to share with you what the girls did today at the Atrium. In the Catechises of the Good Shepherd Program, the children are introduced to 5 parables about the Kingdom of God. These parables are the Mustard Seed, The Pearl of Great Price, The Parable of the Yeast, The Parable of the Buried Treasure, and the Parable of the Wheat. The first two are presented in the first year. In year two the children learn about the next two. I love the parable because they offer so much to think about in such a small amount of words. Today the girl learned a about a new parable that all the kids love to do~ The Parable of the Yeast.



He spoke to them another parable, “The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed with three measures of wheat flour until the whole batch was leavened.”” Matt. 13: 33

With this parable, we talk a bit about what yeast is and then we work! The work is rather complex and takes some time, but it well worth the wait. The children mix together 3 measures of flour (tablespoons) with 1 measure of yeast (1/4 teaspoon), and mix that with an ounce of water. Then then mix another cup without the yeast. We look at the colors, we smell the yeast, we see the dry turn wet and notice the changes. Then we sit these on the shelf and wait (for a while).



While they work, the yeast rises and and the children can see what Jesus was talking about when he talked about the kingdom of heaven being like yeast. I love the hands on way this parable speaks to them and helps them see it! What a way to connect to the words of the Lord. Yet another reason I love this program! The look of wonder on the kids faces is priceless!

Bunny’s Advent Reflection



I wanted to share with you the thoughts that Bunny had this morning while working on the Prophecy Card for this week! The Prophecy of the Names is the second one presented in the Catechises of the Good Shepherd program. It is Isaiah 9:5
“For a child is born to us, a son is given us; upon his shoulders dominion rests. They call him Wonder-Counsel, God-Hero, Father-Forever, Prince of Peace.”
I read it to her and then she started tracing the prayer cards words while I asked her what she thought about all of the names. We reflected a bit on nick names and how she has many names that I call her. I then asked her what her favorite one was that Isaiah had mentioned. She said Father Forever right away! She then decorated the card with a picture of baby Jesus. So I asked her why she thought that Jesus had such big names when he was just a baby. She told me this:
“Jesus is God. He has no beginning and no end. So he can be big when he is small, and small when he is big.”
Wow! She blew me away!She has such deep thoughts for such a small person., and I am constantly amazed! I feel blessed to be able to witness God working quietly in her soul! Not everyone is blessed with the opportunity to see a childlike faith, and some dont see the blessing it is.

Do your children amaze you with their faith?

Catechesis of the Good Shepherd!

Well everyone it has been a very long and full weekend! Whew! On Friday my dear hubbie got into a car accident. He is just fine, but his truck is not. Since he is a contractor, this is an issue that we are still working on! Until then I will be without a car! On Saturday I had my first Catechises of the Good Shepherd training day and it was amazing (my friend drove me)! We learned so much and we were able to learn the presentations that weekend to give to the kids at our church the next day! 🙂 Another highlight was being able to see another atrium! I love to see other people’s work spaces, Montessori or otherwise. We had a chance to really look around at all the things that they had in their atrium. So I thought I’d show you the pictures in case you wanted to see how awesome the atrium was! 🙂

Here is the atrium

Here is the practical life area where the kids can get water for their work and rags to clean up spills

Here are the practical life works

Here are the parables

More parables (this atrium is for level 1 and 2)

Good Shepherd area

Here is the pascal works

I love the people that they have. These are large peg people with clothes. Their arms are made of Popsicle stick! Perfect! I will be making a bunch of these for my atrium!

Here is the alter

Here is the alter work area with all the guestures

This is the bottom half of the sacristy cabinet with the work for alter 2 and 3.

The top half has the work for alter 1. I love their handmade chalice and patten. One of their parents did pottery and thew them one!

More practical life work!

Art Area.

Liturgical colors art area.

Here is some of the infancy narratives. I took pics of these since I need to make them next!


I will post more about my training as I go. I hope you enjoyed the pictures!
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