Monday, September 3, 2012

First Grade in Our Home: Religion


I posted an overview of our first-grade plans last time, and now I want to discuss a bit about our religion plans for this year.  AmblesideOnline's religion suggestions consist of daily Bible reading (of parents' choice) and Trial and Triumph, which is listed as a history book but is also a book of the lives of early Christians.  I knew I wanted to substitute Trial and Triumph with a Catholic resource, and that for our Bible reading, I wanted to focus on Old Testament stories, which I hadn't formally read with my children yet.  We're also starting First Communion preparation, so I wanted catechism study to make up a portion of our religion curriculum, and I wanted to continue our study of the Mass with some new resources.  That's a lot to cover!  So our religion plan evolved to contain all these various threads, each handled about once a week:

Bible - After reading A Child's Life of Christ last year, I decided we should go through the Old Testament this year.  I actually hadn't really covered the OT stories with my littles other than Adam and Eve, Noah and the Ark, and a few others--I have been "saving" them to study together in a formal way once they were school-aged.  And now here we are! :)  So I chose Knecht's Child's Bible History as our main text.  I like how it contains the stories into short chapters while still maintaining the literary quality of the Douay-Rheims.  We read a chapter each week, which will allow us to cover all the Old Testament stories over the course of this year, including a few weeks on the Psalms and Proverbs.  We supplement this with Old Testament picture books; each week, I request from the library some picture books that correspond to the story we're reading and put them on the children's independent reading shelf.

Saints - Our main saints' reading for this year is Amy Steedman's Our Island Saints, which, as I have mentioned before, happens to correspond nicely with the historical period we're studying (Roman Britian) .  We read each story over two weeks, as they are rather long and the writing is fairly challenging.  There are twelve stories in the book, so that takes up our first two terms.  For the third and last term of the year, we'll be moving on to another Amy Steedman book, In God's Garden, which is a compilation of saints' lives from various times and places.

Catechism - I'm starting First Holy Communion preparation with my two oldest (6 and almost-6) this year.  We don't have a date for their FHC in mind yet (they are handled on an individual basis at our small traditional chapel), so we're working at a slow pace, just taking it as they're ready.  We're covering the New St. Joseph's First Communion Catechism over the course of this year, one lesson every other week.  The first week, I read the whole chapter with the children and we casually discuss.  Then for the following week, we work on memorizing the questions and answers from that lesson, as well as reviewing the lessons we have already covered.  We could definitely work more quickly through the book, but I am liking the leisurely pace so far.

Stories - Jennifer at Wildflowers and Marbles has a wonderful spreadsheet connecting the Angel Food series (four volumes by Father Brennan, reprinted by Neumann Press) with the Catechism by theme--a wonderful resource!  So I pull two corresponding stories for each "lesson" from the FHC Catechism, and we read one per week.  If you're not familiar with the Angel Food books, they were originally published as a series of talks directed at elementary-aged children in the 1940s--children's sermons on various topics related to the spiritual life.  They are sweetly written and have added a lively addition to our catechism studies.  I will likely incorporate some more specifically-FHC stories later in the year in lieu of the Angel Food tales, depending on when we decide to move forward with their First Communions.

Study of the Mass - We have been attending the Traditional Latin Mass exclusively for several years, so it is the only Mass the children know and they are thus pretty comfortable with it.  Part of this is just familiarity, but part of this is an ongoing study we have been doing on the parts of the Mass and their meaning.  In the past, that has meant using images to put the parts of the Mass in order, learning the common prayers and hymns, practicing proper church postures and actions, and so on.  This year, I adapted this schedule from Summer at 4Real that studies the Mass using Maria Montessori's The Mass Explained to Children as the main text with some readings from Patmos' A Child Missal.  We're not doing the activities listed--just the readings.  We read a selection from Montessori's book each week.  In the first part of the book, she discusses the church, the altar, the vestments, and so on.  The second part of the book leads the reader through the parts of the Mass, and at that point, we will begin to follow along in the Patmos book as well.  We're combining this with the FSSP training video on the TLM (this is my children's Sunday "treat" during quiet time and they love watching this!) and Montessori cards for learning the kinds of vestments and vessels.

And that's that!  :)

Although I do hope the religion studies we do for "school" inspire the children to true piety and help them to grow in holiness and a love of Christ and His Church, there is in my mind a distinction between these more schoolish "assignments" and the devotional practices we practice in our home and at church as faithful Catholics.  Both are important to the education of a Catholic child.  So in addition to this "schedule," we of course have morning and evening prayers, weekly Mass, readings and celebrations for special feast days, and all the rest--and those are to me, more important in developing the spiritual life of my little ones.  But I hope that our formal studies build on these family practices and that, conversely, the practices give meaning to our studies.

9 comments:

  1. Hi Celeste
    We are just about to start AO yr 1 and I love your Amy Steedman recommendations as Trial and Triumph replacement. How did you do In God's Garden in term 3, with 14 saints? Did you skip some, or just double up?
    Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We took our time with it and just continued it over the summer. :)

      Delete
  2. Hello again, Celeste!

    We are wrapping up term 1 and have been enjoying Steedman's _Our Island Saints_ as per you recommendation. Today, however, we read the story of St Molios. What a strange chapter! My dd wasn't able to narrate much from it. And I had to sort of translate the grandmother's talking, on the spot. Very odd. The rest of it has been really great though.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Hi Celeste,
    I'm so glad I came across your beautiful and inspiring blog at AO Forum a little while ago! I'm planing Y1 and, like yours, my family is Catholic too. The resources and information on your blog are wonderful! Thank you so much for sharing them. God bless you and your family.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks so much for your kind comment, Mariana! Blessings to your family as well!

      Delete
  4. Hi Celeste, I'm back :) I was wondering if you have a resource to point me to to get "images to put the parts of the Mass in order." Anything to save me some time creating something that is already out there! Thank you so much

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi there! I got the images here: http://acatholiclife.blogspot.com/2005/07/mass.html I had them printed in 8.5 x 11, so we have a set of large prints that the kids can look at and put in order. And thanks for the reminder -- I need to pull these out again! My Big Kids used them a lot but my Middles haven't had the chance yet. :)

      Delete