Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Prayer Pegs - Breakfast and Morning Circle Time

<-- Jack's first Morning Circle with us nearly one month ago.  Nina, of course, couldn't stay at the table because she wanted to be near him...

Whoo hoo!  Making time to pre-write a blog post and taking time to pray unceasingly each day work for my family!  As such, today, I am continuing our Prayer Peg series.  (You can find Part One here and Part Two here.)  I hope it helps others find ways to include a little extra focus on God in their own lives as well as encourages folks to leave a comment to share new ideas and inspiration for our little family to explore.

So, here is Part Three:

Like many folks, a natural Prayer Peg at our Breakfast/Morning Circle Time is grace.  Luke and Nina choose to “fold or hold” (folding their hands together or holding hands as a family – sometimes a combo of both, depending on the kids’ preferences of the moment) and, then, one or both of them lead us in prayer.  Sometimes this is a formal grace:

“Bless us, dear Lord, for these thy gifts, which we are about to receive from they bounty, through Christ our Lord.  Amen.”

Sometimes, it is the “Hail Mary”, a spontaneous prayer or even Grampy’s silly, fun prayer:

“Good food.  Good meat.  Good God.  Let’s eat.  Yea-ea-ea, God!”

(So what if we rarely eat, especially at breakfast time!  The kids just love the blessing.)

Then, we eat.  Or, I should say, I eat, while Nina and Luke switch off between eating, coddling Jack and simply getting distracted.  To keep them at the table, and, hopefully, finishing their breakfasts, it has become a habit for us to incorporate a book or two into our Breakfast and Morning Circle Time. 

Basically, as we start eating, I ask the kids what day it is and we consult a book we were given for one of the kid’s Baptisms, Give Me Grace by Cynthia Rylant, for our daily prayer.  This entails us flipping through the pages with me asking, “Is it Monday?” and the kids answering, “No...”  “Is it Tuesday?”  “No-o-o...” until we get to the page for the day it really is.  Then, we read the prayer for the weekday and think of ways we might apply it.  (For example, when it says, “…make me good and kind to all the creatures that I find”, we talk about ways we can be kind to ants, birds, spiders and other creatures we come across that day.)  Then, we sing two songs about the day:

“Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, a week!”


“Today is ~day.  Today is ~day.  All day long.  All day long.  Yesterday was ~day.  Yesterday was ~day.  We had fun.  We had fun.”  (sung to the tune of 3 Blind Mice)

I ask them what they had fun doing yesterday and we say a little prayer of thanks for whatever comes to mind.  They also enjoy finding the animals in the drawings of whatever prayer page we read in Give Me Grace, counting the everyday objects depicted, etc.  (I must say we find Give Me Grace, though very simple, a good baby to toddler and beyond book which not only works well for keeping our prayer time going throughout breakfast, but also helps us with some typical a Circle Time objectives – think calendar, counting, etc.)

Then, when I finish eating, while the kids are still pecking away at their food, distracted by wanting to hug and kiss Jack or wishing to leave the table for sundry reasons, I lure them back through reading to them.  In our stack of books at this time, along with whatever the kids’ current favorite secular picture books are, we almost always include faith-inspired ones, particularly Bible stories.  (Our aim is to familiarize the kids with God’s Word through Bible stories, now, and reading more of the actual Bible to them as time goes on.)  We often make up an impromptu game, rhyme or song to go along with these readings or simply talk about its themes.  Then, Breakfast and Circle Time winds down, but the day – and our pegging of prayers throughout it – continues.

Now, in case you wonder what some of the Bible story books are that rotate through our Morning Circle reading basket, here are a few:

My Favorite Bible Storybook for Toddlers (Spirit Press) – We were given this small board book as a Baptism present for one of my children.  They both love it.  The stories are brief and the pictures are colorful (albeit cartoonish).  Each one-page Bible story in the book is followed by questions and activity suggestions, which provide a jumping off point for discussion and fun.  Often I draw extension activity inspiration from these.  Also, each story’s illustration has a lift-the-flap part with a “surprise” picture portion and scripture quote beneath it.  My children love lifting these flaps when we are reading the book together as well as when they are paging through the book “reading” it to themselves. They also have fun making up impromptu songs with me which include the scripture passages.  Truly, I would recommend this book as a great first Bible stories book.  It retells many of the main stories of the Bible in an age-appealing and appropriate way.

My First Picture Bible Stories: Catholic Edition (Kenneth N. Taylor) – This book was given to us as a gift for one of my children’s Baptism and has proved a favorite.  The kids enjoy the short stories and colorful illustrations and respond well to the questions each story ends with, which can be a starting point for devotions and reflections.  I think this book is a great first (or second, really, as my kids preferred the aforementioned lift-the-flap board book Bible as their first Bible stories book) for any child!  It’s great for preschoolers, but not quite sturdy enough for the youngest of children.  (Our copy’s binding is taped together!)

Hooked On Bible Stories Series – Santa brought this for me one Christmas.  Both the kids and I love it!  The kids ask for the stories often, and I don’t mind reading them over and over.  They are appropriate for the kids’ ages, have engaging pictures and hold the kids’ interest.  We also enjoy the CD’s that came with the set and are waiting for the kids to get a bit bigger before using the game and scripture cards that also came with it.

The Children’s Bible (Juan Surinach) – This book was suggested on Mater Amabilis.  Our local library network carries it, so we borrowed it as a breakfast Bible reading book.  Each page presents a brief Bible story with a simple picture as well as a thought/challenge/devotional focus of the day.  Unlike many of the other Christian books we are able to get through our library network, this one is actually Catholic-based, which I love!  Plus, the kids enjoy it, often asking for more than one story at a sitting.  The only drawback I have discovered is that the stories and pictures in the book are sometimes too “old” for my children.  These, I read, but think the kids will better understand and glean benefits from as they mature.  Others, I have to be careful to skip altogether since Luke, immediately notes any violence in the words and pictures, inquires about it and, all too often, later tries to dramatize similar scenarios in play.  Thus, this book while is one I may wait a few more months, or even a couple years, to revisit again.  But, I will definitely be revisiting it!

The Bible Story (Arthur S. Maxwell) – At 3 ½, Luke had been wanting me to read him more and more chapter books.  It was challenging to find age-appropriate ones.  So, when we were given this 10-volume set by a fellow homeschooler and he begged me to begin reading it to him as a chapter book, I complied.  As Luke, Nina and I cuddled up to read the stories in the first volume at bedtime one night, I decided right from the start that I liked the way familiar Bible stories were retold with a true storyteller’s voice, engaging readers.  However, as we read more during Breakfast and Morning Circle time, I quickly discovered that some of the stories’ concepts and illustrations were a bit too “old” for my children due to their violence-quotient, etc.  Thus, I only continued reading the stories for a several weeks, skipping/editing as I saw fit, until I was able to draw the kids’ attention elsewhere.  That being said, in a few years, we will revisit this series.

Of course, there are more Bible books we rotate through, but, to be honest, they are currently in a box tucked in a difficult-to-reach corner.  Since I cannot get to them to get author names and browse to give a fair, albeit quick, review, I think I will leave this list here.

Now, I am wondering:  What are some of your favorite Bible storybooks for children, young and old?  In what ways do you share Scripture with your wee ones?  Do you do a Morning Circle, a Book Basket or a Family Time each morning?  If so, what does it look like?  Please share!  And, of course, check back next Weds. as we continue this Prayer Peg series.


'Becca said...

We found a wonderful Bible story book this past Lent called My Own Book of Bible Stories by Pat Alexander. I'm thinking about it now relative to what you said about your son fixating on violence, and I don't recall much violence except as necessary in the stories, for example Abraham's plan to kill his son or the Israelites' conquering cities--it doesn't use any euphemisms, but it doesn't dwell on those parts or give salacious details or anything.

We aren't as thorough as you are, but we do read at least a short devotional at bedtime and usually some Bible. My son and I also watch Christian children's TV every Saturday morning. Have you ever seen "Kingsley's Meadow"? It's a very sweet little program done by the American Bible Society. Each episode is about a virtue, with some animal characters discussing it, Kingsley telling the others a Bible story (acted out by kids), and a couple of songs. I feel it's very good at sticking to the story and to universal virtues, rather than pushing any agenda. And the costumes are so cute!

Martianne said...

We are hardly thorough, Becca. But, we aim to be!

Thank you for the Bible book recommendation you made. Sounds like a good one for our family.

And, we don't have TV services, but I will have to look into the show you recommended when we are at family and friends homes. Thanks! Love that it connects to virtues.

Thank you so much for taking the time to comment.



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