Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Prayer Pegs - Snack Time and Turning “Twaddle” into a Tool for Faith Formation and Early Learning Concepts

At a recent Snack Time, a happy Luke thanks God for "going to the concert and seeing the firetrucks".
Charlotte Mason (CM) aficionados know all about “twaddle” and try to avoid it. Montessorians recognize the value of fine literature and often shun things like talking animals. As someone influenced by both CM and Montessori, I try to purge “twaddle” books as soon as they come into our home. But, sometimes, for one reason or another, I don’t. And, this works here at Jammies School.

Indeed, as I think about our Snack Time Prayer Peg, I am reminded of this. For, where our Wake Up Prayer Peg and our Breakfast/Morning Circle one are comparatively elaborate, our Snack Time one is pretty basic: Grace!

That grace, of late, often comes from a page of a “twaddle book” called My Favorite Mealtime Prayers, and includes the words, “Thank you for the birds that sing. Thank you God for everything.” Well, thanking God for nature and “everything” at about 10 o’clock in the morning seems perfect. It helps us quickly reflect on what we see and hear around our picnic blanket or snack table, what we’ve been doing so far in the day and who we have on our minds providing a prayerful pause to our day. Not so twaddle-y after all!

In fact, this makes me glad I kept My Favorite Mealtime Prayers, upon the kids’ request, when a neighbor gave it to us some time back. For even with its personified bunnies and predictable rhyming prayers, the book has proven a useful tool, not only at Snack Time, but in support of our Core Four, Plus, too!

Reading and Early Learning Concepts
When My Favorite Mealtime Prayers came into our home, Nina asked if she could put it in our Morning Reading Basket. The following day, at breakfast, she requested to read it. That morning and every morning for a while thereafter, I asked the kids which prayer from it they wanted me to read and help them say, sometimes in addition to our regular grace and sometimes as the grace itself. At first, they were only interested in reading the page that depicted two bunnies eating an ice cream (Great – perhaps I should have passed it on with other twaddle!), but, soon, they decided to ask for one of the other four prayers in this simple prayer board book.

As they listened to each prayer and inspected the illustration that went with them, I was able to capitalize on their attraction to the bright, if trite, bunny-family pictures while throwing some early learning concepts in:

What in the picture is (color)? How many bunnies on this page? How are the children being kind and helping? Which food is a healthy food that makes your body feel good and which is just a treat?

With this, we focused more on each page and began talking more about the words in the prayers themselves – expanding on their simple concepts with observations and thoughts of our own.

Math Concepts

Then, one day, as Luke was paging through the book picking a prayer for me to read, he counted the prayers – “One…two… three… four…five. Mommy, what times do we eat again?”

Luke had realized that we usually eat five times a day – breakfast, snack, lunch, tea time and dinner. Connection made, he determined that we should read the first prayer for breakfast times, the second for snacks and so on. One-to-one concepts sinking in there… Love it! And, more math concepts, too:

How many __ do you see? Is there something that is a circle on this page? Is there a rectangle? How many plates do the bunny- kids have to set so the whole bunny family can eat?

Even twaddle can expand mathematical thinking, it seems!

Faith Formation

And, it can lead to questioning and discussion for further faith formation for the kids, too. Yes, we have taken to using Our Favorite Mealtime Prayers “twaddle” as a tool to deepen the kids’ prayers. Basically, we read the simple rhyming prayers in it, pausing to reflect on certain words and phrases.

For example, one recent morning, the prayer said “we bow our heads” and we talked about why we bow our heads to pray, showing respect to God. Later in the day, when we spoke of God, we tried to remember to bow our heads.

Another time, when a prayer read, “we ask your help in all we face,” I asked the kids what they might need to ask God for help with that morning. Luke said, “being kind to Nina” and prayed aloud with this intention. Ooo - evidence that he is beginning to recognize his own weaknesses and to ask God for help with them. Yay!

Still later, the same prayer talked about “every blessing sent our way” and Nina interjected that Jack is a blessing and thanked God for him. (It makes me so happy when my pro-life preschoolers continually talk about, thank God for and even talk to –first, through my belly, and, now, live and in person– their baby brother!)

And so on… From a simple prayer in an equally simple book, we are able to explore prayer concepts of adoration, confession, thanksgiving and supplication. Twaddle has definitely become a tool.

Now, I am not suggesting here that you should run out and buy a copy of My Favorite Mealtime Prayers. I am simply sharing how sometimes twaddle has its purpose, too. In fact, almost anything does, when seen through the eyes of prayer – a truth for which I am thankful!

So, I am wondering: Do you keep any twaddle in your collection? Book or toys? Why? How do you use it as a tool for meeting your own family’s goals? Or, it is just brain candy? Do share in a comment or with a link. And, do come back next Wednesday to continue sharing with this Prayer Peg series.

works for me wednesday at we are that familyThis post is linked to Works for Me Wednesday at We Are THAT Family.

1 comment:

The Sunshine Crew said...

Nice post.
We enjoy using more classical books, as well as nonfiction, but like you, we also enjoy ones that may have been considered twaddle, such as Curious George, Brown Bear, Brown Bear, and the like...but as far as prayer books being twaddle, to me, anything that has a lovely prayer in it works great, regardless if the book has little animals that can sa something sweet to their moms in it or not.
So glad that you shared this concept.
Like you, we are a bit eclectic in our approach to learning.
we also include prayer in our day-to-day, but it is something I have never felt fully comfortable with blogging thanks for sharing.


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