I've seen one too many children in church holding onto portable gaming devices, having a picnic in the pew spilling juice boxes and snacks, crawling under and over the pews, and tearing apart missals. I've watched too many parents walk out of Mass and never come back with their unruly children. On occasion, I've been that parent! There are too many children in the crying room with parents holding loud conversations. There are too many children in the nursery who don't know how to behave in the church when it's time to receive their First Communion. In some cases, that was us. Something needs to change!
With 7 children of our own, it has been obvious that some productive entertainment is necessary for many families to have along in the church pew at Mass, weddings, funerals and other services. In the past year I've been developing products that are great Catholic accessories to have in your own church bag - or "Quiet in the Pew" bags as I've named them. Items that will enrich their experience of the Mass, not deter from it.
"Why? Who's going to stop me?" Joel asked.
Angie pointed to the back of the church and said, "See those two men standing by the door? They're hushers."
If you've seen the amount of Catholic workbooks, books, toys, printable activities, etc on the market - you understand that it's tempting to buy it all because you want every chance to enrich your children's faith life. Right? These next few items I've created for my own children and am glad to share them with you.
Catholic Seek and Find Card Set
ABCs of our Catholic Faith
4x6 Cards to print of these brilliant images, scriptures, prayer, traditions and more. Add to a photo sleeve book, or laminate, hole punch and add a ring.
The Soul Diet: For Kids
Free Printable Booklet about having a satisfying faith life. Children can match, write and color about prayer, virtues, scripture and Sacraments.
Every young, challenging, or disabled child has a point when they can't sit quietly any longer. Here are more ideas to help engage them in the Mass. If you have other ideas - please share in the comments!
Sometimes the little ones need something to hold onto. I lean towards plush objects for my toddlers. Nothing that will make a noise or zoom from one end of the pew into another parishioner's purse.
My Mass Kit by Wee Believers when it first came out. It's spendy, but a great soft toy for them to use in role playing.
CATHOLIC MAGAZINES and BOOKS
I have a few versions of books for my children to follow along with the Mass, and multiple other Catholic Readers of sorts. The trick is letting them know ahead of time you cannot read it to them during Mass. Books I carry in my bag are full of pictures, and some have a handle. They like that. You can find my favorites on my Amazon Church Wish List!
Our Little Catholic Corner shows how to make your own soft book.
We have used MagnifiKid's missal, and it was nice but they are specific to that year, so we cannot reuse them. They do not have as many activities as the St. Mary's Messenger magazine as I've seen on their website.
- St. Mary's Messenger Magazine for ages 7-12
- Magnificat's - MagnifiKid Sunday Missal for ages 7-12
LAPBOOKS or FAITH FOLDERS
FREE PRINTABLE MASS WORKSHEETS
Catholic Kids Bulletin by Is There Zucchini in This (blog)
Today's Gospel Activity Sheets by CatholicMom.com
Mass Worksheets for ages 7-14 by CatholicMom.com
Catholic Focused Printables
Celebrating the Mass Lesson Plans by The Catholic Toolbox (1st Gr+)
Plenty of Enrichment Ideas at Catholic Icing
Many links also found at ReligiousResources.org
One Sunday morning, the pastor noticed little Alex was staring up at the large plaque that hung in the foyer of the church. The plaque was covered with names, and small American flags were mounted on either side of it.
The seven-year old had been staring at the plaque for some time, so the pastor walked up, stood beside the boy, and said quietly, "Good morning Alex."
"Good morning pastor," replied the young man, still focused on the plaque.
"Pastor McGhee, what is this?" Alex asked.
"Well, son, it's a memorial to all the young men and women who died in the service."
Soberly, they stood together, staring at the large plaque. Little Alex's voice was barely audible when he asked, "Which service, the 8:30 or the 11:00?"
Where coloring may be allowed…
Divine Mercy Jesus by TheDivineMercy.org
Great Saints Coloring Book by Relevant Radio
Saint Coloring Pages by Waltzing Matilda
First Communion Coloring Pages by Elite Dresses.
>> Many more coloring pages at the website.
First Communion prayer by FatimaKids.com
>> They also have a delightful collection of Catholic Comics.
For at a Funeral Unknown artist.
Or just search online "Precious Moments Coloring" or "Catholic Coloring" "Saints to Color"
STORES - Visit one near you, or shop online!
The Catholic Company
St. Patrick's Guild
Catholic Family Gifts
WHERE DO I PUT IT ALL?
If you got all the stuff and are wondering how to put it together for your kids, or perhaps as a project for the church - check out my home business blog post about what I made for our parish!
CHURCH ETIQUETTE FOR CHILDREN
If you go online, there is much to be said about this subject. Here's a printable list of hints I found at King of Peace. Rather well said.
Fr. Saunders comments on Appropriate Behavior in Church. He writes "Jesus loves and welcomes children, but they do need our help." This is an excellent article for all ages of churchgoers. After all "Manners, whether at Mass or in other situations, reveal the value we place on each other and God. "
You might read this article about "Avoiding Mass Hysteria." She approaches the situation by not "packing their picnic baskets-activity bags for church" but helping the children focus on each part of the Mass. "Children are fast learners. The key is consistency." I agree that too many parents are allowing handheld games, tempting snacks and other ridiculous options to enter The Lord's House! She suggests:
*Until a child is 3 years old, he is a lap-sitter. His feet simply do not touch the ground. The child is held lovingly, but firmly, with no exceptions. If he puts up a struggle, he is promptly removed.Thanks to Catholic Icing's post, I found a worksheet at TheDivineMercy.org website. You can print a chart for children about Behavior at Mass.
There is a beautiful article on the subject at FaithandLeadership.com that says "A challenging child in church forces everyone -- parents and other parishioners -- to confront whether we value compliance over compassion." She has a son with attention disorder, but her parish saw him as an opportunity to spread Christ's love.
All these wonderful resources! I teach them their religion well, but their focus is easily strayed. This research has really given me a second chance to start over in this area of discipline. I hope you've found it helpful too!
Send me more ideas, links, articles…