Sunday, September 15, 2013

An Easy Way to Teach Young Children about Baptism

Last month, Nina’s baptism anniversary arrived before I had made time to plan for it.  Determined not to let another year go by without honoring the occasion, I decided to make the anniversary the primary focus of our day.  So, we reminisced over photos, read about John the Baptist and Jesus, visited Jesus in the tabernacle, prayed special prayers, enjoyed a family meal together and even centered some of our learning time on exploring the signs and significance of Baptism.

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After consulting Moira Farrell's Home Catechesis Manual and Google for ideas, I was able to put together an easy Baptism tray with found materials from our home, which was a hit with my kiddoes.

Our Montessori-Inspired Baptism Tray
A Sacraments-Based Tray with Practical Life, Story Telling and, of course, Faith Formation Connections

  • a bowl with water
  • a small pitcher
  • a small container of scented oil
  • a basket
  • a doll (in the basket)
  • a white garment (for the doll)
  • a cloth
  • a white candle
  • a smaller candle (or several)
  • 3 white paper (or cloth) circles
  • matches

Main Goals 

Nina blessing "Baby Nina" with the Sign of the Cross on her Baptism Anniversary Day

  1. To explore the Sacrament of Baptism in a concrete way.
  2. To describe the signs and symbols of Baptism.
  3. To recall our own baptisms and discuss the meaning of it

Set Up

Place a bowl with water, a small pitcher, a small vial of oil, three white circle, matches, a small white candle, a larger white candle, a cloth and a basket with a baby doll and a white garment on a tray as pictured above.


Luke Taking a Turn with the Tray
  1. Invite children to gather around the tray you have put together.
  2. Briefly introduce the Sacrament of Baptism by recalling the children’s own baptisms, a recent or upcoming baptism you’ll attend, Baptism stories in the Bible or similar.
  3. Present the tray by tweaking scripts found in Moira Farrell's Home Catechesis Manual or through online sources to suit you and your children.  (A helpful online source is the Baptism pdf found when scrolling down this page or the youtube video found here.)
  4. Put all the materials back carefully on the tray, just as they were when you began your presentation.
  5. Invite children to explore with the tray, listening to them present as you did if they wish you to.
  6. Place the tray in a “home” and allow children to explore it further.
  7. Extend learning with other activities if you wish.

Skills, Learning and Concepts
  • Faith (role playing what happens during the Sacrament of Baptism; understanding symbols and significance of Baptism)
  • Early Literacy (storytelling, sequencing)
  • Practical Life (filling, pouring, dressing, undressing, etc.)
  • Focus (concentrating on pouring and on remembering sequence)

Nina Anointing Baby with Oil
  • Of course, open flame can be dangerous around young children.  Use matches and candles with caution.  Do not leave the matches out to be used without supervision.  Depending on the children you are working with, you may wish to use battery-operated “candles”.
  • The paper circles we used got wet and had to be recycled fairly quickly.  You may wish to use cloth ones or to have another tray nearby for tracing and cutting paper circles, which would be a great go-along for fine motor work.

Homeschool Method/Approaches Connections
  • Montessori:  Our tray was directly inspired by Catechesis of the Good Shepherd and Godly Play, which are both Montessori-influenced faith formation programs

  • Unschooling:  When/if children ask about Baptism – its significance, what actually happens at it, etc., you could easily put together a tray like this to help them discover answers.

  • Reggio:  Skip the demonstration, leave the tray out at as a provocation/invitation and see where the children take things.

  • Sensory Smart:  This tray inherently contains strong tactile and olfactory input.  Depending on how a particular child reacts to the sensation of getting wet, or to the scent you choose for the oil oil, this activity can be used as a calming and focusing one or as an alerting one.

Jack Concentrating on Pouring the Baptismal Waters Three Times.
  • Moira Farrell's Home Catechesis Manual
  • a wonderful Godly Play Baptism Script pdf that I found after scrolling though this page
  • various online images and blogs; some of which I pinned for my future reference and for yours, if you like.
  • a helpful pdf on Baptism from the Sacred Heart of Jesus parish in Hopedale, MA which I can no longer find online

How do you teach little ones about the Sacrament of Baptism?
I’d love to hear about it or to have you share links in the comments here.

Want to be inspired with others' Montessori ideas and work?  Click on over to Montessori Monday and enjoy.


(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.)


Deb Chitwood said...

What a lovely post, Martianne! Thanks so much for sharing the details of your baptism tray. I featured your post at the Living Montessori Now Facebook page and pinned it to my Godly Play and Catechesis of the Good Shepherd Pinterest Board.

Unknown said...

I used this activity for our Children's Liturgy group at mass this morning. They loved it!!! My kids have been baptizing all the princesses and Star wars figures in our house....Everyone needs Jesus!! LOL!!Such a great idea...Thanks for sharing!


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