Sunday, September 29, 2019

Celebrate St Francis of Assisi through Art, Music, and Poetry

If you're looking for a way to include the riches of art, music, and poetry into your day on October 4th, feel free to borrow ideas from the plans I've made for our
AMP Club meeting. 

When I realized meeting was schedules for St. Francis of Assisi's feast day, I decided to connect all of our activities to Saint Francis.

Invite Children to Share What They Know about St. Francis

{Some links which follow may be affiliate links.}
St. Francis images, statues, books, a candle, and some Little Ducks gummies,  K-Kritter animal crackers (due to St. Francis' connection with animals) honey-almond cookies (said to be a favorite of St. Francis), or another treat can make a wonderful invitation to welcome children to the feast day celebration.

Once everyone has gathered, you might ask whose feast day it is and what children know about St. Francis.

Share about St. Francis and the Birds

File:St Francis Statue 2.JPG
Source: Wikimedia Commons

During the sharing, if no one pipes up with the story of St. Francis and the Birds, wonder aloud about how many St. Francis statues and images include birds and why that could be... Then, wait for the children to chime in.

If a child can retell the story of St. Francis and the Birds, encourage that child to do so, adding details as seems fitting. You may even wish to read or listen to the words of the Sermon to the Birds:

My little sisters, the birds, much bounden are ye unto God, your Creator, and always in every place ought ye to praise Him, for that He hath given you liberty to fly about everywhere, and hath also given you double and triple raiment; moreover He preserved your seed in the ark of Noah, that your race might not perish out of the world; still more are ye beholden to Him for the element of the air which He hath appointed for you; beyond all this, ye sow not, neither do you reap; and God feedeth you, and giveth you the streams and fountains for your drink; the mountains and valleys for your refuge and the high trees whereon to make your nests; and because ye know not how to spin or sow, God clotheth you, you and your children; wherefore your Creator loveth you much, seeing that He hath bestowed on you so many benefits; and therefore, my little sisters, beware of the sin of ingratitude, and study always to give praises unto God.
Saint Francis of Assisi - c1220

The Song of Francis by [dePaola, Tomie]
Source: Amazon

You might also wish to read a picture book related to St. Francis and the Birds, such as The Song of Saint Francis or Saint Francis Preaches to the Birds.

Source: Amazon

You could also listen to a story on YouTube.

St. Francis and the Birds Art Appreciation

St. Francis Preaching to the Birds, 1297 - 1299 - Giotto
Source: WikiArt

Next, introduce Giotti's image of Saint Francis Preaching to the Birdsthe fresco of St. Francis Preaching to the Birds, or another great artwork on the same theme.

File:Francis preaching the birds.fresco. master of st francis. Assisi.jpg
Source: Wikimedia

Encourage the children to study the image for 30-60 seconds.  Then, turn it over and ask the children what they recall from the image.

(If you've never done a picture study before, Simply Charlotte Mason has a good explanation with a demo video, Well-Trained Mind explains how to lead with simple questions, and Mater Amabilis offers an approach. A Humble Place also offers a FREE Giotti Picture Study Resource!)

Source: Amazon

You might also wish to share The Story of St. Francis or The Message of Saint Francis for browsing.

Source: Amazon

St. Francis and the Birds Music Appreciation and Creation

Share that many musical compositions have been inspired by birds and ask children to name some famous composers.

Vivaldi Handel, Beethoven, Saint-Saens, or others may come up. (If they don't, you can cue such names.) As they do, share clips of classical music that these famous classic composers created with the inspiration of birds.  Squilt, Spinditty, and all have curated some with YouTube videos.

While listening, you may wish to do some "musical sketching" by  "drawing what they hear". Or, you could simply listen to one piece, and, then, play the others while children create their own bird artworks.

My children and I may also try our hand at creating pencil drawings of owls with Creating a Masterpiece. You might enjoy that too.  Or use one of many free online tutorials for creating bird art, such as this one:

Share and Write Poetry

Finally, invite children to share any poems they might know about birds and share Robert Louis Stevenson's "Time To Rise":

A birdie with a yellow bill
Hopped upon my window sill,
Cocked his shining eye and said:
"Ain't you 'shamed, you sleepy-head!"

Notice how in the poem, the bird addresses someone. Recall how St. Francis addressed the birds. Chat about how there are different types of poetry and one is "Direct Address", or a poem that talks directly to another person or thing, such as a bird!

Source: Amazon

If desired, read a bit more about Direct Address poems in Poetry from A to Z and suggest at the end of reading about them that the poems can also be written to inspire! Much like St. Francis' Sermon to the Birds inspires us to be grateful and praise God.

Then, challenge children to write a direct address poem to a bird or other animal that has a faith-inspired message.

More Feasting, Fun, and Learning with St. Francis

You might also consider adding other. St. Francis feast day fun, leading, and food to your day:

Celebrate with St. Francis

Go on a St. Francis Nature Hunt

Enjoy a Game

I'd love to hear if you use any of these ideas and how your feast day celebrations go. Please do pop back to comment here or on our Facebook page to let me know.  I also, of course, welcome your ideas, inspiration, and links for celebrating!

 St. Francis of Assisi, pray for us!


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