Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Monday, July 28, 2014

Friday, July 25, 2014

Fulton Sheen Family Day

A couple of weekends ago, I got to spend the day celebrating Fulton Sheen.  Planned together with the Sheen Foundation & Museum, Bonnie Engstrom, and me, the day included tours and activities relating to the life of Sheen, the things he taught, and his connections to Peoria.  The Sheen Museum was available for families to wander, special Sheen centered tours of St. Mary's Cathedral were offered, and kids crafts and activities were set up in the Spalding Pastoral Center.
It's probably not shocking to hear that I was in charge of the crafts and activities.  :)  All of the activities that we had are crafts that I have done in my classroom and posted about here on this blog, but this time, I needed to have other people doing the teaching.  I made a handout for each station which includes directions, supply lists, and teaching points.  The crafts themselves are great, but it is the conversation that you can have with the kids while they are working that makes the real impact.  I chose three crafts focusing on three important aspects of our faith that were all huge parts of Sheen's teachings: the Eucharist, Mary, and the Priesthood. 
We ended up with a crowd of about 150 people, approximately 70 of which were kids who did the crafts. The only way that an event like this works is if you make it easy for parents and volunteers to help.  Here are a few suggestions for making activity stations go smoother:
1.  Have written directions.  Even if it is easy, and even if you show the volunteer(s) how to do it, there is a good chance that a new volunteer or a parent or an older kid will want to jump in and help.  Especially during busy times, having directions to reference will make things go smoother.
2.  Have teaching points for each station.  The craft is a means to an end- it eventually will be thrown away, but hopefully knowledge soaks in from the experience.  If the only conversation going on is about where to cut or glue, an opportunity is lost.  Leave some questions, facts, talking points, or conversation starters for the volunteers or parents to use.
3.  Have the supplies organized.  Especially if the craft is for younger kids, do as much assembly ahead of time as possible.  Have items set up in the order that they will be used.  Make sure there are enough of the tools needed for the more labor intensive steps- scissors, glue, etc.
4.  Have an example, or two or three different versions.  It give the kids something to model their work after and gives the adults something to help as they look at the directions. 
5.  Have something for them to do with the craft when they get home.  Send them with discussion questions to talk about with their families.  Challenge them to so something specific with their craft- hang it in their bedroom, place it on the family dinner table, mail it to grandma, etc.  Give them a purpose and a reason to keep learning.
 
On to the crafts-

The kids could do more than one craft, but we had them set up to be easier to do with certain age levels.  For the preschool-1st grade crowd, we made these gold Monstrances, remembering that Sheen made a Holy Hour every day.
Supplies all set up:
 Two different versions, one a little easier and one a little more challenging:
I originally posted about these activities here:
Praying a Holy Hour
ACTS Prayer Lapbook

Click here for the printable instruction sheet:
https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B5ETRkL51fhMZlF4dGdLQnRvTFU/edit?usp=sharing
Click here for the printable quote sheet:
https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B5ETRkL51fhMSzRLMTlJQWZLRlE/edit?usp=sharing

Next up was another version of the Marian Shrines that have been so popular with my students.  We set this one up for 2nd-4th graders, but we had kids of all ages at this one.

Supplies read to go:
One of the finished products:
I originally posted about these activities here: 
Notebook Pop Up Marian Shrine
Marian Shrine in a Lapbook
Lovely Lady Dressed in Blue
Mary Flip Books
Children's Book Jesus, Son of Mary- written by Sheen
Mary as the Moon coloring page/journal starter
For other Mary activities that I have posts about, go here.


Click here for the printable instruction sheet:
https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B5ETRkL51fhMN2FBR1FkQ3IyN2c/edit?usp=sharing
Click here for the printable quote sheet:
https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B5ETRkL51fhMS0JXbm4ydncxVTA/edit?usp=sharing

And for the biggest kids, an activity about bishops and vocations:
Supplies:
Finished project:
I originally posted about these activities here: 

Vocations, Part Four (Holy Orders Printables and Origami Miter)
Vocations, Part Three  (My Hands Can Serve Notebooking Activity)

Click here for the printable instruction sheet:
https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B5ETRkL51fhMMGNDSVZZemR2S28/edit?usp=sharing
Click here for the printable quote sheet:
https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B5ETRkL51fhMSzRLMTlJQWZLRlE/edit?usp=sharing

All of the crafts were set up in the same room, and families could hang out, eat snacks, etc.  We also put some of my Sheen Quote Coloring pages out for early finishers who were waiting, or let's be honest, adults who like to color. (Doesn't everybody?)  A lot of the kids went around and made sure that they took home one of each page to color later.
Here are the posts that have the Sheen Quote Coloring Pages:
The Quotable Sheen- Coloring Pages and Quote Cards
Sheen Quote Coloring Page- Good and Evil
Sheen Quote Coloring Page- Books
Sheen Quote Coloring Page- Humility
Sheen Quote Coloring Page- Charity 
Sheen Quote Coloring Page- Happiness
Sheen Quote Coloring Page- Mary as the Moon

My favorite station was this one:
Seriously, isn't that cool!  The Sheen Foundation had this special full sized cut out made, and then staged it a bit.  Families got their photos taken with Sheen, and it looked super realistic.  Christmas card picture, anyone?

Bonnie made these great cards to hand out so the attendees could find more information on Sheen once they got home.  Included are my blog for more crafts and activities, the Sheen Foundation for more info on the Cause for his canonization, and Bonnie's blog for more on the alleged miracle of James Fulton.


The kids also got a pretty awesome goodie bag to take home, too.
It included some great items to help them continue learning about Sheen including a Fulton Sheen Timeline,  a Fulton Sheen Graphic Novel , a World Mission Rosary, and info on the Spiritual Adoption Prayer and the Lovely Lady Dressed in Blue poem.

It was a very successful day, and several joked that it was "The First Annual Sheen Family Day," implying that we need to start planning for next year! I hope that you are encouraged to teach the kids in your life about Sheen and the faith that he loved.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Seven Quick Takes: Seven Books You Might Like




Summer has enabled me to keep working my way through the endless stack of books that I am always meaning to read.  On my trip to Colorado, I had a bag dedicated just for books.  My brother-in-law teased me about my daily book consumption, and my sister says that I should get a Kindle so that there is more room in the car next time.  I was just glad to get to read to my heart’s content. I also have been working on a few books that are more study related, but here are seven of the “lighter” books that I have enjoyed recently.  Starting at the bottom of the stack in the picture above:

If you are fan of The Pioneer Woman, you are familiar with her story of going from a jet-setting city girl to the wife of a rancher.  This memoir tells of her courtship and marriage in typical honest, funny, and intriguing Pioneer Woman style.  If you are looking for a light romantic read, I highly recommend it.

I do love Austen’s books, and I don’t mind an adaptation here and there either.  The Lizzie Bennet Diaries was an interesting and successful social media experiment that modernized the story of Pride & Prejudice.  This book is a companion for the video series and can be read independently or alongside the YouTube videos.  This is by far the best thought out modernization of any of Austen’s books that I have read.  The creators really thought through what life would be like for the Bennets, Bingleys, and Darcys in 2014.  It was creative and well done, and also very fun.

You’d have to be living under a rock to have not heard about this one or the movie adaptation that came out earlier this summer.  I was persuaded by my youth group girls to read it, and I didn’t mind.  I think that it is what A Walk to Remember was to my generation.  My favorite part?  The Fr. Robert Barron commentary I read about it and the connection to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

Again, another Austen spinoff.  This one was a $0.50 thrift store find, and it was worth the gamble.  A modern day Jane Austen expert “finds herself” after a bit of a midlife crisis.  She explores the landmarks of Austen throughout England while traversing on a scavenger hunt of sorts.  Plausible? No.  Enjoyable? Yes.

I was asked to review this book after visiting another youth group in my area.  That church had been offered to host a concert and event, during which this book would be passed out to any youth in attendance “of dating age.”  I read it and I don’t think I quite agree with "dating age," but I suppose that varies from person to person.  I would recommend it for older high schoolers and college students.  Sex, drugs, and rock & roll have a strong presence, but so do forgiveness, sacrifice, redemption, and truth.  This book reminded me of other Catholic fiction like Pierced by a Sword, but for a teen audience.

I have already mentioned this book here, but I am loving it more and more as time goes on.  I am already rereading it with a group of my college students from youth group, and the quality of the content and the awesome writing style are quickly making this one of my favorite books.  This book gives an intimate look into the life of St. John Paul II through the eyes of people that knew him well, as well as a summary of five of his most important devotions/teachings.  It is not comprehensive, but it sure is mighty, and I think that it would be a great book for people at any part of their spiritual walk.  If you are not already a JP2 fan, you will be by the time you finish this book.

Biblical fiction can sometimes make me cringe.  Reading the real story straight from the Bible is always better, and sometimes the fictionalizations just stray too far into the imagination for me to be comfortable.  This book caught my attention though, and I am glad that I gave it a chance.  Telling the story of Ruth, starting before her marriage to Naomi’s son and ending after the birth of her and Boaz’s son, it exhibits beautiful story telling.  It was easy to enter in and get lost in the world of Ruth, to contemplate her decisions, and to see God’s hand in her life.  Just a few hours after finishing it, I passed it off to my sister, and I don’t think she looked up again until she was almost halfway through it.  I loved it and will be looking for more of Tessa Afshar’s books. 

So what have you been reading this summer?  Got any recommendations for me? :)

Go visit Conversion Diary for more Quick Takes!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Youth Bible Study- The Moral Virtues

This past spring, my young adult Bible Study explored the seven virtues.  This study also connected the lives of the Saints and challenges to evangelize.  We thought these tied in so well because the Saints give us the example of heroic virtue, and our call to evangelize is one way to live the virtues out.

The leaders of the Bible Study and I worked together to gather the material and choose the scripture verses and Saints to discuss.  I think that we were able to create a pretty unique look at the virtues, and with the their permission, I plan on using a slightly adapted version of the study with my Youth Group kids this fall.  (Thanks J, H, & J!)  I simplified the outlines a bit and changed the wording to make it more teen friendly.  I'd like to share those outlines here so that someone else might get some use out of them as well.

This post contains the outlines (two pages each, booklet style) for each of the Moral Virtues- temperance, fortitude, prudence, and justice.  The other three outlines for the Theological Virtues (meant to be taught first) can be found here.

Click here for the Bible Study guide on the virtue of temperance:
https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B5ETRkL51fhMY0hBVlZOY3c3REE/edit?usp=sharing
Click here for the Bible Study guide on the virtue of fortitude:
https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B5ETRkL51fhMMDFfb3dkZXhnUU0/edit?usp=sharing
Click here for the Bible Study guide on the virtue of prudence:
Click here for the Bible Study guide on the virtue of justice:
https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B5ETRkL51fhMNjQ1elJkVzhPRTA/edit?usp=sharing


You might also like these activities on virtue formation:
Virtue Graphic Organizer Notes
The Moral Virtues: Printable coloring notes for the 4 moral virtues
The Theological Virtues: Printable coloring notes for the 3 theological virtues
Theological Virtue Symbols Coloring Page
Act of Faith, Act of Hope, Act of Love Printables
You are a Treasure in Clay

Monday, July 14, 2014

Youth Bible Study- The Theological Virtues

This past spring, my young adult Bible Study explored the seven virtues.  This study also connected the lives of the Saints and challenges to evangelize.  We thought these tied in so well because the Saints give us the example of heroic virtue, and our call to evangelize is one way to live the virtues out.

The leaders of the Bible Study and I worked together to gather the material and choose the scripture verses and Saints to discuss.  I think that we were able to create a pretty unique look at the virtues, and with the their permission, I plan on using a slightly adapted version of the study with my Youth Group kids this fall.  (Thanks J, H, & J!)  I simplified the outlines a bit and changed the wording to make it more teen friendly.  I'd like to share those outlines here so that someone else might get some use out of them as well.

This post contains the outlines (two pages each, booklet style) for each of the Theological Virtues- faith, hope, and charity.  The other four outlines for the Moral Virtues are posted here.

Click here for the Bible Study guide on the virtue of faith:
https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B5ETRkL51fhMRGMtT1dxOS1JQnc/edit?usp=sharing
 Click here for the Bible Study guide on the virtue of hope:
https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B5ETRkL51fhMU2dRS0tkMldsbFk/edit?usp=sharing
 Click here for the Bible Study guide on the virtue of charity:
https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B5ETRkL51fhMTlc0OVFXZ25BMjg/edit?usp=sharing

Visit this post for the next four Bible Studies on the Moral Virtues.


You might also like these activities on virtue formation:
Virtue Graphic Organizer Notes
The Moral Virtues: Printable coloring notes for the 4 moral virtues
The Theological Virtues: Printable coloring notes for the 3 theological virtues
Theological Virtue Symbols Coloring Page
Act of Faith, Act of Hope, Act of Love Printables
You are a Treasure in Clay

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Who Do You Follow? Youth Group Lesson

I had the privilege of speaking to a newly formed youth group at a nearby parish a few weeks ago.  After consulting with their leaders, I presented a talk called "Who Do You Follow" focusing on using social media as a young Catholic.  It was an adaptation of a couple of other lessons I had given to my own youth group in the past.

I was inspired by this great video, portraying what social media networks might have looked like if they were around during the time of Jesus's ministry, death, and resurrection.

Follow from Igniter Media on Vimeo.

The basic idea of this lesson:
-Technology is a huge part of our world.
-We are meant to know, love, and serve God.
-We can use technology to follow Christ in every aspect of our lives.

Click here for the leader discussion guide:
https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B5ETRkL51fhMUmxodGUzUElMVFE/edit?usp=sharing

I also made a card to handout to the kids with the verse and main idea of the lesson.  Click on either picture for the two page printable:
https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B5ETRkL51fhMdjBTNExHYUVOd00/edit?usp=sharinghttps://drive.google.com/file/d/0B5ETRkL51fhMdjBTNExHYUVOd00/edit?usp=sharing

I also had a powerpoint with the key points (and the embedded video to make the presentation easier).  It is a little harder to share a power point through Google Drive, so if you download this, be aware that the fonts and images will probably be messed up, and the embedded video will not work.  I decided to go ahead and share it because you can easily reformat it, re link the video, and adapt it to the needs of your group.  Click here for the power point:
https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B5ETRkL51fhMLXRadTlZb3BscmM/edit?usp=sharing

Also, this is another version of this lesson that I used during Lent as we neared Holy Week.  We did not focus on technology and its use so much, but instead watched this video and talked about the people who followed Jesus and then turned on him.  We used this handout, which can be folded in half vertically and flipped back and forth to show the contrast of faith vs. betrayal. Click here for that handout:
https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B5ETRkL51fhMTXowVGJiSTNTWFE/edit?usp=sharing

Monday, July 7, 2014

Shrinking Summaries Writing Strategy



Summarizing is a very important reading and writing strategy for kids to learn, especially when working with non fiction.

Here are few things that my students work on developing throughout their year in 5th grade:
1.  Summaries should contain only the most important information.  We use the 5Ws (Who, What, When, Where, Why) as a guide for pulling out those most important things to focus on.
2.  Summaries should cut out unnecessary details.  Including too much information defeats the purpose of the summary.  All included info should be critical to the topic.
3.  Summaries should be written in your own words.  Plagiarism can be difficult to understand at 5th grade, but we work on originality and rewording.
4.  Summaries should be fact and not opinion.
5.  Summaries should contain a beginning, middle, and end, just like other forms of writing.


One strategy I use with my students to develop their summary writing is called Shrinking Summaries.  The idea is to write successively shorter summaries about the same topic, eventually reaching the most important information and identifying the main idea.

We put this strategy into use after reading the chapter in our religion textbooks about the Easter Season.  After our normal class discussion, I asked the kids to write a solid paragraph about what we had learned relating to Easter.  Their paragraph had to follow the five guidelines above, and it had to fit in half a page in their writing notebooks.
After completing that paragraph, the students were then handed a 3"x5" index card.  They had to take their first summary, cut out more information, and write a new summary paragraph containing only the most important details.  This was a challenge for some of them.
We attached their index card with a single piece of tape under the summary in their notebooks, flipped it up, and stuck a post it note underneath.  They then had to summarize the content in a single sentence.
Finally, under the post it note, the kids had to write a word or two that stated the main idea of all of the information.
Shrinking summaries!  A great notebooking activity to stretch students' writing skills.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Seven Quick Takes- What I've Been Up To

1. I've been MIA from this blog for a bit...but for good reason I suppose.  Rest.  Recovery from the end of the school year.  Summer busyness.  And VACATION!

I actually still in the beautiful state of Colorado...
...visiting with all of these lovely people.  My sister and brother-in-law S&S and I roadtripped out to CO to see our other sister and brother-in-law E&L.  This pic was the first time we had all been together in six months.

2.  We have had plenty of adventures and also plenty of rest and relaxation time, which has been awesome.  Many of our adventures have involved driving in the mountains.  This fun road had Steph a little nervous, but had a beautiful view:
3. We did some shopping in everything from touristy-small-mountainside towns to a giant outlet mall.  All of us came home with some great new clothes, even the guys :).

4. I got to celebrate my birthday in CO.  (We also celebrated Steven's birthday, the 4th of July, and E&L's anniversary, all on this trip!)  My birthday was capped with our only trip for ice cream.  We have eaten out a few times, but actually have done a lot of cooking and had some pretty delicious meals, if I say so myself.  Emily suggested we all cook dinner together once a week, but the almost 1000 mile drive might be a deterrent.

5. We visited some of the beautiful parks, including Garden of the Gods.  Steph, our resident photographer, always had at least one and sometimes three cameras with her. 
The result is:
a. She has all of the good shots on her camera, and the rest of us have to be patient while we wait for her to edit them.
b. She is often behind and not in front of the camera.  I thought this one was cute of her, though :)
Here are the boys doing some climbing and seeing the landscape.  The boys were more adventurous than the girls, and even did the Incline, a challenging mile long, 2000 foot elevation climb comprised of all steps.  Yay for them, the girls stayed home and watched a romantic comedy in our pjs.

6.  We also made a day trip to Estes Park, which was everyone's favorite event.  We enjoyed visiting the shops, loved our coffee which we drank next to a rushing mountain stream, and then drove up into Rocky Mountain National Park.

 Beautiful doesn't even begin to describe it.
 
 It was also pretty crazy to go from a hot summer day to super chilly temps.  At the top, there was still tons of snow, but right next to it were cute little mountain flowers.  God is pretty original!

7. One of our last adventures was to visit Holy Cross Abbey in Canon City.  It is not a functioning Abbey any longer, but has been reopened as an event center, office space, museum, etc.  There is also a winery on the grounds.  It was so cool to see how they are taking a holy space and beautiful historic building and using it in a new way.
 I also wanted to steal some of their "historic" furniture.  Take these chairs for example.  They would look great outside of my apartment.
And this hutch.  It is fabulous.  I am sure that it wouldn't be missed from the former Abbey Sacristy, right?  Unfortunately, it won't fit in the car on the return trip.  Darn.
The trip isn't over yet, so I am sure that I will have more stories and more picture to share.  Hope your summer is off to a fabulous start!

Thanks to Jen for hosting! Go visit Conversion Diary for more quick takes!