The Mass I attend with my two children on Sundays is anywhere from 1 hour to an hour and 15 minutes. Parents of any faith or denomination bring their children to church and hope that they will not be disruptive and learn about our faith. I love to bring my own because not only do I feel like we are participating as a family together but they also taking in information through all of their senses. They see the colors, artwork, and progression of our Mass. They hear the sounds of the music and our prayers. The smell the incense. We also use our taste when we receive communion.
The hard part of course...is that it lasts for over an hour. Portraying this special celebration as important and not boring can be difficult and it can take hard work on our part to have our little ones interested even with their level of curiosity.
The first part of our Mass, the Liturgy of the Word can be the most difficult for us as parents to hear and take in information. Older reading children can follow along but our version of the readings can be complicated to understand.Little toddlers and pre-schoolers can focus well on a single activity for roughly 10 minutes give or take a little (Early Intervention Support). So this requires bringing six different activities/books/items or getting them interested in the parts of the Mass that they can. We know that children learn best from hands on activities so I have been constantly searching for ideas to incorporate into our Sunday Mass. It takes work to prepare some of the things ahead of time but it has been so worth it in seeing them learn and having my own peace during Sunday worship.
I have learned through this that Noah's Ark is SOOO overdone in the toy industry. Animals are cute and great to learn about and Noah is a story but our center at church is not Noah, it's Christ. I would love to see more toys that have to do with the Gospel stories. I would love to see a Wedding Feast of Cana set. My aunt also suggested Zaccheus in the tree. So many options! My mother in law is making us felt characters to go along with some of those stories that will be posted in the future!
Below are things we use during Mass and also some things I look forward to getting. I have a lot of books and pictures currently but I really want to get more manipulative type items.
Order of the Mass
Order of the Mass coloring book.
This has been wonderful in helping the kids to know what is coming next and get a grasp on the structure of the Mass.
To teach the story being heard on a particular Sunday I look for the story on Google images. I paste them into word and print them for church. Crayons spilling can be a problem but bringing just a few crayons helps with that.
For older kids their is the option of bringing their age appropriate bible and finding the story for them to read if it is in there.
We also bring books associated with the particular season we are currently celebrating such as The Easter Story and The Three Trees during Lent and Easter.
This book has pictures that go along with the Apostles creed so we use this during our creed to help them follow along.
Prayers of the Faithful
I ask Zachary to pick at least two things he wants to pray for. Also as the prayers are being read I explain them to him.
Liturgy of the Eucharist
To prepare for this part we play with an olive wood paten and chalice at home. We sit very close to the front each week and I point out the paten and chalice used during the Mass. Sitting close makes a HUGE difference. They love to be able to see also.
The 12 Apostles!
I just saw that these action figures are coming out!