Sunday, March 3, 2013

Count, Pray and Give (with a Free Printable!)

Let's Count, Pray and Give.

You have got to love a simple Lenten activity that promotes:

  • Almsgiving
  • Prayer
  • Fasting
  • Addition
  • Coin Identification
  • Counting
  • Handwriting
  • Problem Solving
  • Pincer Grasp
  • Proprioceptive Input

Our tweak of an idea that I found some years ago, in Guiding Your Catholic Preschooler does just that!

The basic premise of the idea is that children love to play with coins and to drop them into piggy banks, so why not have children count a different category of items in your home each day during Lent and, then, drop a corresponding amount of coins into a Lenten Rice Bowl to share with those in need.  Our tweak is to layer prayer and handwriting into the activity, while also donning our Sensory Savvy Lenses to see if we cannot add a little extra input to the experience.

Our Count, Pray and Give Routine

Sounding Out "Fruit in a Bowl"
The children and I pick an item in our home to count, for example, upstairs windows.  Then, the kids run around the house to count the item.  If their count comes up differently than mine – as it did when we actually counted windows – we count again, noting how many of the specific item are in each room of our home and, then, having Luke and Nina use their budding addition skills to add the sums up.  Through this we are blessed with a fun way to incorporate counting and addition skills into our days as well as an opportunity for proprioceptive input as the children get heavy work in by moving around the house to count things.

Once we have checked and re-checked our count, either Luke or Nina records the count and the item of the day on our Count, Pray and Give sheet (which you can find a free printable of at the bottom of this post.) 

At this point, we usually pause for prayer. I ask the children how the item we have counted might relate to those in need.  Based on their response, we say an impromptu prayer together, such as the one the children and I came up with for  candles:

Lord, some people have no electricity.  They have to use candles to read and do stuff when it is dark out.  Please bless these people and their efforts to work and learn even in the dark.  Also, Lord, let us all be lights onto the world.  Thank you. 

(Obviously, I sometimes help the children with the language of the prayers we say.  However, as I do, I always base what we pray on the children’s shared ideas.)

Dropping Coins Into the Box
Then, I break out our coins, and the children work together to count out enough coins to equal the number of items that we counted.  The children can choose any combination of pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters, so long as the total they choose adds up to the right amount.  Needless to say, this encourages the children to use their counting, addition, subtraction, coin identification and problem solving skills, as well as their pincer grasps!

At this point, the children are always very eager to drop the coins in our rice bowl.  I don’t let them...yet.

First, I encourage Luke, Nina and Jack to decide whose turn it is to put the day’s coins into our Rice Bowl, while also considering who might want to drop the coins in even if it is not his or her turn.  Inevitably, this leads to an opportunity for one child to fast from a “me, me, me”-only attitude about being the day’s coin dropper, and instead, to “give” his or her turn to another – or, at the very least, to figure out a mix of coin denominations that will allow for everyone to drop at least one coin into the bowl.

The First Seven Days

So it is that we incorporate a number of skills into one easy activity, which serves as a tool that helps us to pray, fast, give, love and learn throughout Lent.  The children pray daily in connection with whatever items we count up to determine how many coins we will put in our rice bowl; they sometimes “fast” from their “me, me, me” desire to be the sole coin dropper; and, they give coins to help those less fortunate than us.

Free Printable

If you’d like use our Count, Pray and Give sheets to do similarly at your home, please feel free to download free a free 2-page printable here.  It is purposefully simple and uncluttered (so as not to distract young writers), with fairly wide boxes for writing in (so as to provide enough space for little ones to practice handwriting in.)  

(If you receive this post via email and cannot see the linky, be sure to actually click over to the blog to read browse the rich catalog of ideas there.)

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1 comment:

Elisa said...

Such a great idea. I'm going to get my kids started on this one soon.


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