Sunday, September 29, 2013

5 Easy Steps to Enjoying Faith and Life at the Kitchen Table

Faith and Life is a religious studies series for children that many local friends of ours highly recommend.  So, a couple of years ago, I borrowed a copy of the Our Heavenly Father student book (which is the first book in the series), its Teachers Manual, and its Activity Book from someone and tried it out with the kids.  Although the materials were well laid out and the information in them solid, the curriculum just didn't work for us.  So, we did not continue to use it at that time.

This fall, however, we have picked the series back up and are finding it a great fit for our family!

Since Luke is preparing for First Holy Communion this year -- and Nina is but a year behind him -- I thought giving Faith and Life a second try would be a good idea.  So, at the beginning of the month, I decided to make Our Heavenly Father our family's Sunday breakfast reading.  No teacher's book.  No Activity Book.  Just our family, one copy of the student book and a five step routine for enjoying each chapter.

Our 5-Step Routine for Reading Faith and Life Together

  1. Do a quick picture study.  Each chapter begins with a full page reproduction of a beautiful piece of fine art.  We study these, Charlotte Mason style, discussing what we see in the images and sharing our thought about them.  To get the children really looking at the pictures, I often challenge them to look at  them for 15-30 seconds, trying to remember x number of details about it.  Then, I hide the picture and they narrate back what they saw.  From there, we chat a little about what the picture might mean, thoughts about its composition or whatever else strikes our fancy
  2. Read the text in a conversational way.  Since Our Heavenly Father is written for children in first grade, it is an easy read that lends itself to reading conversationally, which is exactly what we do, pausing to let the children answer its rhetorical questions and dialoguing with the presented information.
  3. Enjoy a playful quiz.  We use the Words to Know and Catechism Question sections as the basis for oral quizzes.  (Our children actually like these!  If they did not, I would make them into a hands-on game.)
  4. Pray!  Of course, we practice and pray the prayers at the end of each chapter.
  5. Play a game or do a movement activity. When we have time, or at any point when the children are getting to antsy, I make up movements or games related to topics in the chapters that we can play around the breakfast table pp or even one that get us up and about moving around.  For example, with Chapter One, we played God Made-Man Made, a game I will post about in coming weeks.
And that's that.  Our succinct, effective and enjoyable approach to using  the Faith and Life series as a family around the kitchen table.

How do you approach using Faith and Life or other religious education books as a family?  Are there any particular books or series you'd highly recommend, particularly for families with children of First Communion age and younger?

(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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