Homegrown Catholics is an excellent resource for religious education teachers, homeschoolers, and parents. Here you'll see all my lesson plans and project ideas on many Catholic subjects as well as school topics. If you would like to read about my adventures as a Home Educator, click on the St. Brigid's Academy tab above.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Mary’s Little Crowns

Our daughter is part of a Schoenstatt Girls’ group called Mary’s Little Crowns (similar to Little Flowers). I had the pleasure of leading the activities with my friend in May. It’s our last meeting of the year, and it’s the Month of Mary. Here are my notes to sparkle your imagination!

We Become Mary’s Little Crowns: May 2010

Open with Ceremony
· Hand out cards with prayers and responses.

· Procession: Crowning the girls.
· Sing: “Immaculate Mary” or “Hail Holy Queen” - I had these and other songs playing from my ipod. I went to ITunes and got a great selection of kids songs about Mary.

I found this princess table cloth at Target for just over $1.

· “We can be her little crown, even when we’re not wearing a crown.”

The Crown:
CrownsSchoenstatt May Projects

Found these tiaras at Party City for less than $1 per crown. Add this Mary “Mother Thrice Admirable” Sticker if you’d like. Just print on a full sheet label paper and cut out to fit front of crowns. I used a hexagon punch.

Schoenstatt Girls’ Youth in Germany crown Mary at a large gathering of girls like yourselves . The original crown had been lost or stolen, so they decided to be MARY’S LIVING CROWN. 500 girls formed a crown with their bodies. Mary wants us to be her Crown and bring her love for God and for all people into the world.
We want to give our heart to Mary, become her Little Crown - glimmering in every thought, word and action. To help us get started, we are going to make a Mary’s May Basket which we will fill full of good thoughts and deeds.

Mary’s May Basket
Schoenstatt May Projects· 8 inch paper doily, curl into a cone shape and tape/staple.
· Write RTA in the middle and/or add sticker
    *Regina = Queen *Thrice = Three *Admirablis = Admirable
· Add a ribbon loop for hanging.
· Give each girl a small baggie/envelope full of paper hearts, jewel shapes OR silk rose petals.

Instructions: Over the next week, write on your [hearts] what you have said, done or thought that was a beautiful jewel to add to Mary’s crown – and put them in your basket.

[Click here for an alternative printout for girls to track deeds. Can’t remember which website I found it at??]
This basket for Mary would be best put by a Mary statue or shrine in your home. So today, we are going to make a Mary statue!

2010 03 11_Lent-Easter_00062010 03 11_Lent-Easter_0007

Mary Statue
CLICK HERE for Mary coloring sheet. Print onto cardstock. You MAY WANT to cut these ahead of time.
Mary Statue
Note: I designed this coloring sheet with text for this project, but can't take credit for the beautiful image of Mary and the medals. If you know the original artist, please contact me so I can give him or her proper recognition! :)

> Color, cut and tape/staple Mary into a cylinder-style statue.
>We used 3 glue dots. Just tear off sets of 3 from the roll (of 200) for each girl, stick down and peel the backing off.
> Add 12 shiny star stickers for a crown.

Schoenstatt Rosary-colorpage1
Mary taught us to pray the Rosary. It’s the chains that bind satan down, and our prayer intentions are lifted to Heaven for the good of all souls.

Color this Rosary and pray a Hail Mary or Decade (if time allows).

TREAT: Some very tasty Rosary Cupcakes or Rosary Cookies


GAME: I had three small gifts for prizes. I had some beaded strtchy bracelets which I attatched a holy medal onto. I asked these questions, and whoever was first to answer got a prize. Trouble is, all the girls wanted a prize - so I suggest not doing as I did - instead bring some small treat to hand out to everyone else or not do prizes at all.

>What does RTA stand for?
.....Regina Thrice Admirabilis
>How many girls formed the Mary's Living Crown?
.....500 girls
>What country were they from?
>Can anyone spell Schoenstatt? (just kidding)
>How many stars are on Mary's crown?
.....12 stars
>What are the three ways you can add jewels to Mary's crown?
.....what you have said, done or thought  (kind words and good deeds and thoughts)

For Moms: I found a wonderful document about Exploring Mary and Motherhood (tips for moms and daughters) at Domestic-Church.com and recommend checking it out!


Saturday, April 10, 2010

First Communion Ideas

First Holy Communion is such a special time in a child's faith journey. It's important that we as parents make it a memorable occasion by preparing them with the right books, picking the right outfit, planning the celebration, and taking them to Mass as often as possible. Here are some ideas to inspire you make it the best and first of many times they'll receive Jesus in the Eucharist.

All our children use the Faith & Life 2 books. In addition to that, we like to read from a variety of books we have about the Eucharist. Reading to our children “Patron Saint of First Communicants” was an incredible start. Sharing a story of a child's desire to receive. This story of Blessed Imelda is also illustrated in the Brother Francis DVD series, "The Bread of Life." There are coloring books to go along with the DVD.
Blessed Imelda

The children in my faith formation class, as well as my own, loved these books:
The Weight of a Mass by Nobisso
Eucharistic Miracles by Happy Saints

We also enjoy pulling out our Mass Kit. There are a few for purchase as well as tutorials to make your own Mass Kit. For young gentlemen, you may decide to sew a chasuble for them to wear while they role play the priest.
This would be a fun project to do with your first communicant. I have finally been able to design my own wood Mass Kit. I hope to sew costume style chasubles to go along with it! I also plan to sell a few on My Etsy Shop: Homegrown Catholics. Please contact me if you would like dibs on one of two I am in the process of making for sale. Allow 2 weeks.

While teaching class, I came up with some wonderful worksheets. The children really liked them, so here they are free for you to print and use in your home or classroom. We studied all the parts of the Mass. This is a simple booklet they can bring with them to Mass to remember the prayers.
Print on front of cardstock.

 Print on back of cardstock.
Then fold in until church image matches up in the center.
An additional coloring sheet for the "Lord Have Mercy" prayer.

If you really want your kids to pay attention at Mass, might I suggest my post about KEEPING QUIET IN THE PEW. My featured activity is a Catholic Mass Seek and Find Card set that you can can purchase at the link on that page, or right here below the images! It is also on my Etsy Shop.

 Each set of 30 colorful and child-friendly cards comes as a Digital (PDF) File for you to print as many times as needed. It also includes a Bingo Game! 14 pages to use as you desire.

Catholic Seek & Find Cards 14pg PDF File

The Outfit
Little ladies and gentlemen in the church. Each family does this different, so don't worry if your idea is not what you've been seeing. 
  My daughter wore a dress I found on clearance a few years before at a retail store. Her veil was my wedding veil. The second daughter will also get a new lace veil/mantilla to wear and keep wearing at Mass. I hoped to sew one from my wedding gown, but ran out of time. It would have been an heirloom dress to pass on. Still a third daughter to pass the dress on to!
  My sons are all different body types, so it's hard to say what'll fit again. My second son will be sporting a royal blue dress shirt for that white tie to pop out, along with a black suit jacket. It's really sharp and I cannot wait to post the updates!

 1st Communion Boy: White Shirt Blue Tie Black Suit

For my daughters, I made a memorable apron to wear over their dress while getting ready and at the reception. I would love to sew one for you if you are interested? I have the praying children fabric available now, but can make a custom project for you as well.
   Of course, don't forget to take pictures with family, guests, priests, near the tabernacle, candles, etc. What I forget is the opportunity to take the pictures of them getting ready, perhaps by a mirror. Google and Pinterest have a large resource of ideas.

Remember, that this is an occasion similar to a wedding and a formal invitation would be appreciated. The invitations made it all the more real that my child is growing up. The first occasion, I wanted a reverent and traditional invitation. Our guests have commented on their beauty and display them in their homes.

Recently I have a First Communicant and Confirmation Candidate at the same time. 
So their invitation was created to show both. I created this using MS Publisher.

Don’t forget to send Thank You notes! I decided to make my own. I also have handed out thank you gifts for guests who come to the reception.

Children's Gifts
Wrapping gifts is just as traditional with this Communion wrapping paper I found at Leaflet Missal online. Whether from parents, godparents or grandparents, we make sure they get a statue of their patron saint on their First Holy Communion. Girls might get a lovely rosary or a necklace with a miraculous medal or saint medal. Boys might get a cross pin or necklace, a crucifix for their room, or perhaps a new set of ties to wear to church. You can find a lot of my compiled ideas on my Pinterest board. www.pinterest.com/HGCatholics/sacraments-eucharist/


I made my son an embroidered scapular, which he still occasionally wears at age 13. These were time consuming, but worth the while to make. If you're not crafty, I've seen similar on Etsy.com

I've recently been painting wood peg dolls. Here are the dolls I made for my daughter and her friends. As well as a selection of holy men and women dolls.

Decorating the Table
I kept this simple and put the cost of decorations into other things like the cake and a gift. I found some beautiful paper plates and 1st Communion napkins to help with the theme. First time, I bought clear plastic cups and drew images and quotes from the Mass/Bible on them.

 It may be nice enough to grill outside! Maybe you're just having time for dessert. I always love a good salad and veggies. Perhaps an Overnight Floret Salad or Chicken Salad Croissants is to your taste? Overall, don't stress on the meal. Whatever works for your budget, tastes, guests, etc.

Coffee bar, punch, fruit water, juice pouches, etc.
I loved how this turned out with mason jar cups. Each was tied with a tag for the guests' names.

The Cake
When the Mass was at 1:30, we came back to our home for cake and ice cream. No meal. I was considering baking my easy recipe for Sweet Communion Bread as an appetizer along with grapes.


After becoming a fan of TLC’s show The Cake Boss, I resolved to have a professional specialty cake baker make her cake. But then I realized only about 4-6 people would be eating this giant cake, due to diets and diabetics in the family. So though I wanted to have a unique cake for her First Communion celebration, I made one myself. I went to the cake supply store and after a few trips, I’ve spent more than the $40…. BUT I have reusable supplies for many more cakes.

I chose a white cake mix, flavoring on the top round is champagne with pink food coloring in the batter. The bottom cake will be white cake with a milk chocolate ganache between two layers. Frosted over with butter cream icing, it’s sure to be scrumptious! Not sure I want to cut it. It was soooooo fun to make. A good creative outlet after a stressful day.

This is a picture of my TEST CAKE:
It has butter cream icing, but the filling between layers is a chocolate mousse-like Ganache that will melt in your mouth! Recipes here.

For the second child, I took a step back and made a CUPCAKE ROSARY and

This year I am hopefully going to pull off a cupcake that has red icing and two different toppers. For my first communicant - a red frosted cupcake with a Necco Wafer host. For my Confirmation candidate - a red frosted cupcake with yellow "fire" sprinkles and mini plastic doves.

FOR THE DIETERS???  I made  GELATIN CHALICES as inspired by other bloggers.

and at another time, Strawberry Delight Jell-o Salad from a recipe my mom uses a lot.

Well, I am certain that is a plateful of ideas, but if you need more you should visit my Pinterest board!

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