Friday, May 17, 2013

Fiesta Wreaths

Adelyn's wreath! She picked the colors and glued them herself.

San Antonio celebrated the annual Fiesta in April!  If you are not familiar with Fiesta here, I'll just tell you it's like Mardi Gras but Texas style.  It's a huge celebration to honor the battles of the Alamo and San Jacinto.  We got parades, costumes, and big ol' parties.  It started out as a single event but now there are about 100 events during Fiesta week.  I saw Fiesta wreaths similar to these one in one of the schools where I see a client so Adelyn and I made these one Monday morning for our craft.  We used tissue paper and glued it to a poster board circle cut out.  Last we attached the ribbon. 

That was our little Fiesta celebration this year!

Monday, May 13, 2013

Vegetable Bouquet

This past week was teacher appreciate week!!  Several children in Zachary's class came with adorable and unique ideas.  I remember when my mom was a teacher and she came home with bundles of chocolate and goodies.  It was very exciting for my brother and I!  We always offered to help her eat it and it took a while! We loved it and Mom liked the gifts but I found myself wondering this week if maybe I should come up with something else that would be cute, very useful, healthy, and would not clutter the house.  Especially if any teachers are trying to limit sugar or cholesterol intake.

When Scott did his very first half marathon he was on a big salad and vegetable kick.  I made him a vegetable bouquet for the race so that triggered the idea to do this one.  I looked on Pinterest because I was sure that other people would have done something like this and figured it would have looked much more gorgeous and creative than the one I had given Scott.  I definitely found some...and yes... they were much too fancy for me to throw together quickly so what you see here was what I came up with.  We brought this one to Adelyn's Mom's Day Out teacher.  She ended up loving it and said she would be eating it for lunch that day!

This one is complete with:

  • Lettuce
  • Spinach
  • Broccoli
  • Green beans
  • carrots
  • yellow sunburst tomatoes
  • a clementine orange (which I added later after the picture)

We also brought a bowl, a fork and olive oil vinegar dressing.

It definitely made me more excited about eating veggies! What are your creative gift ideas?  

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Teaching the Mass to Kindergarteners

This year I have had the privilege of teaching Zachary's kindergarten faith formation class this past year.  I had a fantastic partner, Denise.  One of my favorite weeks we taught about last month was the Mass.  I really wanted them to have a greater appreciate for the Mass, however I knew it would be tough because right now with the short attention spans they have, it is hard for them to understand what is going on and appreciate it in the moment.

We did a couple of things to engage them.

We decided we would act out the Mass and have the children be a different part.  We had a priest, a deacon, 2 readers, gift bearers and the choir.  The picture above shows the altar that we used.  The choir enjoyed using egg shakers and rhythm sticks when it was their turn.  We have 10 kids in the class so this set up worked very well.

Visual Mass Parts
We printed off each detailed step of the Mass. For example, the greeting, Penitential Act, First reading, etc. Each child got 2 of these papers and when we got to that part of the pretend Mass we asked who had that part.  They had to look at their papers and figure it out for themselves.  

Hanging the papers up allowed them to see the entire Mass in front of them which helped them make sense of the order.  The kids also agreed that they would be less confused at Mass if they had something like this to follow along with.  

Here are the steps we did.

  • Greeting
  • Penitential Act
  • Kyrie
  • Gloria
  • Liturgy of the Word Begins-First Reading-Old Testament
  • Psalm- Old
  • Second Reading- New Testament
  • Gospel/Homily- New
  • Creed
  • Prayers of the Faithful
  • Offertory
  • Liturgy of the Eucharist
  • Holy Holy Holy
  • Calling of the Holy Spirit
  • Consecration of Bread
  • Consecration of Wine
  • Great Amen
  • Our Father
  • Sign of Peace
  • Lamb of God
  • Communion
  • Final Blessing
  • Recessional 

Picture Missals for Purchase
There are some picture missals for sale at Catholic bookstores or online through Pauline Books and Media, St. Josephs, etc.  You have to decide for yourself which one fits your child. Some are not as detailed as others and some of the pictures may reach your child more than others. 

We started with St. Joseph's Coloring Book of the Mass. It worked well for ages 3-4 or even 5.

We also used one called My Picture Missal when Zachary turned 5. It has more words but still has pictures.

Making Your Own
I personally wanted something very detailed so last weekend I made a book out of these papers we used for class.  I wanted to have something for every little step of the Mass and not all of the books get that detailed.  I found some images on google.  A lot of bloggers allow readers to print the pictures for educational use in your family or in church.  One great resources that I got some of the pictures from was  If you are an artist and can make the pictures yourself, you have one up on the rest of us. I'm sure your children will appreciate having their own parent's art work. 

What's the Point?
I very much agree that the more you use visuals and hands on teaching tools at home or during Mass, the more they will understand and hopefully appreciate it.  You can make your old testament page look like an older book or something creative like that. It's okay to explain things that are happening during the Mass.  I tell my son what we are praying for after the reader reads off each prayer of the faithful so he feels like he is involved.

So how do you teach your children? What have you found that works for you?

Denise, quizzing the kids at the end to review what we learned.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Picture Schedules and Children with Autism

In the previous post I had information about why the blue pocket organizer was so great for teaching routines whether at home or in sessions with clients.  There are several ways it can be helpful when working with children with autism.  

Just to review, I mentioned before that the pocket schedules are great for:

  • Children who are not yet reading
  • Quick processing- the brain processes pictures rather than learned skills (language/reading) more quickly
  • lowering anxiety by allowing children to know what is coming next and feel like they have control
I also believe that it can be good for some children with autism in helping them to be comfortable with changing a routine. All children are different but it may be helpful.  I began thinking more about this when another music therapist was telling a group of us about a client who will not move on to another activity if the activities are out of order or something new has been added to the routine.  One of the clients I have was at one time, not okay with changing the order of our activities/interventions.   Let me just call her, Jesse.  Over time Jess became more comfortable with changing the order of these activities and adding new things to the routine both of which had to do with the pocket schedule, setting out ALL of the activities in a line, and a reward.

  1. Changing the Order-  Since Jesse could see the order of activities and what was coming next every session for several weeks she became very comfortable with our session.  When I swapped two of the activities she could still see that everything else was the same and also that I still had the same activities planned which were in the line she saw every week.  This helped to eliminate any anxiety she might have had from lack of control and unpredictability.  
  2. Adding new activities/interventions- These same ideas can be applied to adding new activities.  Jesse could still see that the rest of the routine was still the same which gave her a sense of control and predictability.  
  3. Rewards-To assist with number 1 and 2, Jesse got a token put on her token chart. These tokens earn her extra time with favorite activities in the classroom.  For each activity she participated in, she got a token.   With that in mind the transition to new or swapped activities went more smoothly.  
It will be interesting to find out how this works for others with similar struggles.  All children respond differently but it is something else to try!