Friday, July 27, 2012

Be Wise Owls

I have to give kuddos for this craft project to my friend Kayla, who is the only other person I know who is excited to receive a bag full of toilet paper rolls. The cute owl idea was hers to start with.  I took the owl, threw in my need for activities on the Creed, and ran with it.

"Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom." ~Proverbs 1:7

Very often we try to teach kids things that are way too hard for them.  This can be true with subjects like math and history, but can also very often be true with faith.  Our faith is full of mysteries that cannot be understood this side of heaven, but we grasp at glimpses of understanding and try to pass them on to new generations.  Too often we think that wisdom comes from hours of study, listening to speakers, and endless reading, where real wisdom only comes from the Holy Spirit.  I think that we need to set kids up with that knowledge from the start.  This is going to be hard.  You might not understand it all right now.   But we are going to ask the Holy Spirit to help us.  And because we fear our awesome God, His wisdom will rest in us.

The Creed is definitely one of those too-hard-to-get-it-all parts of our faith.  So much is packed into those words.  I was thinking about the lessons that I have been creating about the Creed, and how intimidating it might look at first to kids.  So, I thought I would back up the truck and make something to start us off right- to give the kids the confidence of knowing the Holy Spirit has their back when the learning gets tough.

Notes: This craft might take some explaining in two areas.
1. Owls are a symbol of wisdom- I know, I know, adults get this, but sometimes symbolism is lost on kids.
2. The term "fear of the Lord" does not mean that we tremble and quake in the presence of God.  Fear of the Lord is a gift of the Holy Spirit that means that we recognize the we are small and God is AWEsome.  He fills us with awe and wonder.

Ok, let's get to making this craft.

First, start saving empty toilet paper rolls.  I love when people bring these to me at church.  They hand me the bag with a look of slight bewilderment on their faces, and say something like, "Umm, I heard that you wanted these?  It was in the church newsletter... is that right?"  Meanwhile, I am squealing with delight at all of the possibilities.  It is ok, my fellow parishioners already know that I am a little different.

Next, have the kids paint them a solid color.  Or, if you are working with younger kids or in a time crunch, prepaint so that they are dry.

Then, push down the top of the tubes on one side and then the other like this-
Do you see the owlness yet?
 Next cut a little triangle for the beak, add some dots (or googly eyes if you prefer), and glue on the wings.  There are patterns included in the document below.

Also included in the document is the verse "Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom" in several different fonts.  Cut one out and glue it around the bottom.

Finally, take the text of the Creed, roll it loosely and tuck it inside the owl.  It should expand and fit tightly, just peeking out and making the owl a little taller.  This is the time to ask your students to invoke the Holy Spirit to bring them wisdom and understanding as they study the Creed.  The owl can sit on their desk or table as they work to remind them that their learning is a gift from God and they can be wise through him. 

The same craft could be used with another concept- a new math unit, a tough history lesson, etc.  You could even make the owl once and the have the kids tuck a paper inside with a list of the topics they think are tough.  I think it would be a great way to take what could become frustration and turn it into prayer.

Here is a link to the document with the patterns and text.
Happy crafting!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Nightmares

Recently, a friend asked me if I was going to see the new Dark Knight movie.  I said something to the effect of, "Um, yes, eventually...but I don't know if I really want to."
This was practically blasphemy to my superhero-comic-movie-loving friend, so I had to explain.
I am afraid the new Dark Knight movie...will give me nightmares.
No joke, people.
I have had more nightmares in the past few years than I ever remember being plagued with as a kid.

They are vivid.  They are freaky.  They are realistic.  And I remember them.
There was the demonic possession of someone that I knew.
There were the mind altering drugs pumped into the air of the local community.
There was the prowler that broke into my home.
There were the modern day Nazi's out to kill Christians.
And there were the zombies-

Unlike most Americans under the age of 30, I have not subjected myself to any zombiefied pop culture.  However, they keep finding their way into my dreams.  One time I had to be saved from zombies by a Bishop.  Another time the zombies could morph into animals and back again.  Last time the zombies were made by a strange series of weather events that created a nuclear holocaust which spawned shape shifting evolving zombies reminiscent of I Am Legend.  And I was trying to protect a classroom of children from them, go figure.  I told you they were vivid.

So considering that I live alone, I sometimes have a hard time waking myself up from these dreams.  Prayer usually does the trick. calling on St. Michael and my Guardian Angel, and sometimes even saying out loud something like, "God is good.  Everything He created is good."  Not fun in the middle of the night.

Hence, I don't think that I need to give my brain more material to work with by seeing scary movies like The Dark Knight Rises. 

However, this post was really inspired by stumbling across this video:
Material for Youth Group, you think?


Monday, July 16, 2012

There is a First Time for Everything

There is a first time for everything, so here are some stories from the past few weeks of my life:

1.  The first time I lost a bet with actual consequences- 
A couple of weeks ago I was on a retreat with kids from my youth group.  One of them came up to me very seriously at the beginning and said "I brought something with me, and I don't know if I should have..."  I, of course, figured it was contraband like alcohol, cigars, fireworks, or an ipod.  Turns out it was a deck of playing cards.  I told him that it was fine, as long as there was no gambling.  I should have taken my own advice.  Over the course of the weekend, they started playing  competitive games of speed.  The kids found out that I knew how to play, and wanted to play against me.  We took turns for a while, and I decided to make things a little more interesting.  I told the kids that if they played against me and I won, I would get to challenge them to do something on the weekend retreat.  If they won, they would get to challenge me to something.  All challenges would have to be run by the other chaperone to keep them fair.  I was looking for an opportunity to push the kids to grow while on the retreat, so this was a chance for me to challenge them.  They were very excited, and all wanted to try.
Katie vs. J- Kicked her butt, won a challenge.
Katie vs. T- Kicked butt and took names, won a challenge.
Katie vs. A- ...lost...by a lot.  She took her sweet time thinking of my challenge. 
So what do I have to do?  Sing.  In a public setting.  In the near future.  I am not giving any more details , because I do not need an even bigger audience when I make my debut.
Remind me to never trust teenagers again.

2. The first time that my mom yelled at me over the phone-
The setting: My mom had baked a new recipe for this delicious apple/butterscotch cake.  She gave me a chunk, and I put it into a container, apparently saying something about how it was just enough for four pieces, so it was perfect- I was planning on taking it to my friend's house for dinner the next night.
Fast forward to later that evening, around 11:30, when my cell phone rang.  It was my mother, and for your reference, she is a very polite person.  No conversation ever starts or ends without all of the basic sentiments (and then some).  So, when I answered the phone (at 11:30 p.m.), I was a little surprised when she yelled into my ear, "FOUR!?! What do you mean FOUR!?!"
I had no idea what she was talking about, so she had to rewind the conversation a couple of hours and ask why I was so insistent that four pieces of cake was perfect.
"What is going on? Are they setting you up with someone tomorrow night?"
It still took me a couple of seconds to register what she was talking about (she was certain that I was actually going on a date and not telling her), at which time I explained.  I was going to see my friends, who have four kids.  One is an infant, and their boys would be allergic to the cake, but their daughter might eat a piece.  Me + couple + daughter = 4 pieces of cake.
"Oh, ok.  Goodnight, then." she said.

3. The first time that I entered my home through a window-
I am not the best with keys, many people would tell you.  Yesterday, I was rushing from the church office to the 4-H office after a stop at my apartment, and walked out with my purse, sunglasses, phone and coffee...but no keys.  Usually, I have a spare key in my purse, but this summer that is the key ring that I have been taking with me when I walk or bike, so it was with my mp3 player.  Inside my apartment. 
Choices:
A. Walk to work.  Not a big deal, but I would be late, and I would still have to call my mom or sister to come and give me their key sometime throughout the day so I could get back in.
B. Call my landlord.  Didn't even consider this one.
C. Call my mom to come and let me in.  Didn't consider this one either.  She was at work, and I still had option D.
D. Take advantage of my ground level apartment and crawl in through the window.
I chose option D.  Fortunately, I live in a very safe town, so ground level windows has never bothered me before.  In fact, I frequently leave the windows open and they are always unlocked.  So, I set down my stuff, and went around outside to my bedroom.  There, I could pop open a window, crawl in, and land on my bed.  However, I discovered that the window was locked.  Then I remembered that as I have been cleaning & packing, I started locking the windows... Next choice, craft room.  Locked.  Living room windows are much smaller than the others with no furniture to step down onto, but it didn't matter.  Locked.  Last option, which was a long shot, was the window into my laundry room.  It was a long shot because I rarely open that window, so I assumed that it would be locked too.  However, amazingly enough, it was unlocked, so I proceeded to start jimmying the screen off, all the while praying that if anyone saw me, it would be one of my neighbors and they would not call the cops on me.  Actually I was praying that no one would see me, let's be honest.  The screen was rusted and stuck, so it took quite some wrestling to get it off.  I then got the window open. pulled up the shade, moved the flower pots on the sill, and crawled awkwardly though the window, landing on top of my dryer.  I had to jump over my recycling to get down, knocking it all over the floor in the process.  Regardless, I was inside, and I didn't hear sirens, so I considered it a success.  So, I turned to clean up the mess that I had made outside so that I could get to work...and found...that my back door was unlocked.  It had been the whole time.  I am just that awesome.


Saturday, July 14, 2012

Youth Group Skits

One of my jobs on the high school retreat I was just on was to come up with the Saturday night skits for the fifty-ish kids.  Knowing that improv can be fun, but is obviously hard to control, especially when I only knew five of the fifty kids, I came up with a plan.

We had six skits to be performed.  All of them had a scenario, characters, and a Bible verse that had to be included.  This allowed the kids some creative leverage and room to be funny, but gave them some structure (and the other youth group leaders and I some control over content).  The skits all need at least four people, but easily have room for up to ten depending on how they spread the characters out.

Click here for the six skits:
They all have a verse as a basis.  For example, Skit 1 is about the multiplication of loaves and fish, except it happens to take place in modern times in a McDonald's.  The group that performed this one, did a great job including both humor and the lesson- Jesus multiplied 5 hamburger buns and 2 filet-o-fish.

We told the groups that the could take liberty with the story and could perform it however they want- but that they had to emphasize the verse as if it were the only thing that everyone needed to remember.

I copied each of the skits on to a different color of paper (just so if the pieces got separated, they could easily be sorted), cut them out, and put them each in their own envelope.  Amazingly enough, I got them all back, without anything missing, after the performances.  However, you can see that the envelopes are a little wrinkled :)
For the kids who wanted a little more of a challenge, I also included about ten random improv lines from another skit we had done in Youth Group.  They could include them if they wanted to mix things up, or could stick them in their pockets and pull them out randomly. 
Click on the document below for those 75ish random lines.  You could use those for a whole other skit game if you wanted.

And to make it a little more fun, I brought along a "Skit Kit," with all kinds of random things to use as props.  Scarves, hats, toys, puppets- just stuff I had laying around my office.  Pack it in a tote, and watch things get interesting.
We had so many kids that we performed all of the skits back to back, but this would be fun to do once a week in a classroom or to have multiple groups perform the same skit to see what they can come up with. Enjoy!



Thursday, July 12, 2012

Hike Photo Scavenger Hunt

Scavenger Hunts seem to be a theme this summer with Youth Group.  This one is meant to be used while on a hike in some kind of a park.  I was faced with turning fifty-ish teenagers loose in a state park...and decided we needed a little more structure. 

Enter a photo scavenger hunt-
Making it a photo scavenger hunt solved the dilemma of sending chaperones with each group. The adult was responsible for the camera, but could not help with the tasks in any way.  This ensured that an adult was with each group of kids and that the camera was safe from water and/or being dropped down a cliff.

The scavenger hunt sheet contains all of the rules, and you could decide to set a time limit, make them complete all of the tasks, or for a speedy version, have them play "bingo" and complete any four in a row.


Tuesday, July 10, 2012

A Wedding Intervention

Tonight my mom staged a wedding intervention.

Her original plan for the wedding intervention was three days with her three girls, no phones, no internet and locked doors.  The mission: hammer out details for Bogner Girl Wedding #1. (aka Steph and Steve's nuptials).

What she got was three girls, three hours, four phones, Chinese food, and two laptops. And a lot of distractions.

Amidst the flowers, photos, caterers, cakes, place cards, and bachelorette party details, these were some of the priceless quotes:

(My mom has some kind of secret that she is not telling us.  None of us- and I mean NONE- like secrets.  We tried all night to get it out of her.)
What is the surprise?!? ~Katie, Steph, Emily
Did you get Katie a mail order Russian husband? ~Emily
No, he would be Irish, because I love the language. ~Mom
I love the language, too.  I speak it. ~Emily

I just had a vision of oompa loopas and West Side Story. ~Emily 
*snap *snap ~Mom

Katie’s morals are going to get in the way of our fun. ~Steph and Em

We sometimes strayed off topic into Bogner Girl Wedding #2 (aka Emily and Luke)
(Speaking about how all of Emily’s groomsmen will be in uniform.)
Everyone but Steven will be. ~Emily
Well, he…may…be… ~Steph
Joining the Army!?! ~Emily

I hate you.  I hate you and your hair.  You two just sucked up all of the good hair genes in the womb.  And I got crap left to work with. ~Emily

I want german chocolate cake at my wedding.  You know, the red kind. ~Emily
That is red velvet cake.  ~Katie

We are now three hours into this meeting- Mom and Steph and going strong. Emily and my heads keep getting closer and closer to the table...and I am more and more convinced that Bogner Girl Wedding #3 might be an elopement.

Spiritual Adoption Update Postcards

Back on the Feast of the Annunciation, I posted about how my parish's Pro-Life Coordinator and I were organizing a spiritual adoption to help the kids understand more about the importance of being pro-life.  My hopes for this nine month long project are to increase the education of the kids (and their parents) of prenatal development, to open up their hearts and minds to the need to talk about being pro-life, and to increase their prayers for the unborn.  It also seemed a timely project with the current attack on the pro-life stance through the HHS mandate.


On March 25th, we shared with the kids about spiritual adoption and had them spiritually adopt a baby.  They got to chose to adopt a boy or a girl and named the baby.  Under the "Sharing the Faith" tab above, there are Spiritual Adoption Cards and Bookmarks with the prayer written by Fulton Sheen. (Note, I have since edited them to add the title Venerable instead of Servant of God.  Hopefully someday soon I'll have to edit them to say Blessed, and then Saint...)

Each month on the 25th, we visited the classrooms with cool full color posters of a baby at that month of development and shared with them what milestones the baby has passed.  Since month three, four, and five all happen over the summer when CCD is not in session, I wanted to still be able update them and remind them to keep praying for their babies.  So, we have taken over the pro-life bulletin board in the vestibule of the church, and I am mailing these postcards to each family around the 25th of each month.  (Unfortunately, I made these last month, and had already printed, cut, and addressed the year's worth of cards, all with "Servant of God" Sheen's prayer on them. However, I have fixed them for you!)

Each postcard has the Spiritual Adoption prayer, updates on the length and weight of the baby, milestones that the baby has reached, and a picture of a baby at that stage of development.  There are cards for the start of the adoption, the nine months of updates, a card with a spot to fill out the baby's name and sex, and a card with just the adoption prayer.  The last page is a sheet that can be copied on the back of each to make them a mailable postcard.

This set of cards is already set up if you are doing a spiritual adoption from the Feast of the Annunciation (March 25th) to Christmas, celebrating the nine months that Christ was in the womb.  The dates are already filled in.
This set of cards has blanks for a spiritual adoption starting at anytime.  You fill in the milestone date and due date.
Hope that you can use these to help encourage a whole new generation of Pro-Lifers!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

I Believe Mobile

"…They called the church together and reported what God had done with them and how he had opened the door of faith..." ~Acts 14:27

Last October, Pope Benedict declared that a "Year of Faith" will be celebrated from October 11, 2012 to November 24, 2013.  With this overarching theme, some fellow DREs and I decided to run with the idea by providing resources surrounding the Creed at our upcoming training night.  So, I am working on creating some activities that emphasize what we believe based on the Nicene Creed.

Project One: A mobile that draws attention to the Trinity in the structure of the Creed.  It contains the entire text, and shows what we believe about God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.

 Directions:
1. Print out the document linked below on cardstock, one set for each child.
2. It is easier to copy the circles back to back, but if you can't do that, cut them out and glue them together.
3.  Color all of the pieces.  The top piece gets folded in half.
4. Then use a small hole punch to add a hole everywhere there is an X.
5.  Cut out the center circle of a paper plate and punch five holes in it according to this diagram:

6. Two holes equally spaced along the inner circle are where you attach the top triangle:

7. Three holes spaced like an equilateral triangle along the outside circle are where you attach the three circles.  It should balanced when you hang it.

 Here are the links to the printables:



Saturday, July 7, 2012

What's Up?

Sorry to the twelve or so of my friends and family who actually read this to keep up with my life.  I'm back, and I'm writing lots today which I will schedule to post all this week, so stay tuned :)

Here's what's up with me lately:

1. I am moving.  Ugh.  I moved 5 times in 3 years during college, so I have gotten quite comfortable during my four years in this apartment in Oh-Henry.  And by quite comfortable, I mean "How-can-one-person-possibly-own-this-much-stuff" comfortable.  I am immersed in a world of boxes and Goodwill runs.  More on that to come.  Oh, and if you are looking for the opportunity to carry lots and lots of heavy boxes and furniture up a full flight of stairs in 100 degree heat the last Saturday, of this month, let me know.  Don't all jump at once, now.

2.  I was on an awesome retreat this past weekend.  Well, I really wasn't on the retreat, I was chaperoning the retreat for 40 some high schoolers, but it was still awesome.  The perfect mix of prayer, worship, teaching, games, and social.  It was so good to be away from it all, to be with the kids for an extended amount of time, and to get to witness their walls coming down.  I know that the weekend had an impact on them, and have seen some of its results already.  The topic of the retreat was Blessed John Paul II's teaching called the Theology of the Body.  Incredible material, given to the kids at such a critical time in their lives.  I was blessed to be a part of it.

3.  This isn't really news about me, but while I was on the retreat I got a phone call from my dear friends with some exciting news.  If you are from central Illinois or follow Catholic news, you may have heard that last week the Pope declared El Paso native Archbishop Fulton Sheen Venerable.  This is a really big deal, meaning that he is one step closer to being recognized a Saint.  The phone call that I got was my friends letting me know that now that Sheen is Venerable, the Diocese will be submitting the story of their son's (alleged) miraculous healing after having no heartbeat for the first 61 minutes of his life.  If approved, James Fulton's "miracle" could advance Sheen to the next step of Beatification. Awesome does not even begin to describe the privilege of witnessing this experience through their family.

4.  Completely unrelated, and incredibly more vapid- I should tell you all that my life is officially over.  I gave in.  And joined Pinterest.  I am in big trouble.