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!

Saturday, September 28, 2019

There's Still Time to Get to King Richard's Faire!

If you are in the Massachusetts area, now's the time to plan a fabulous fall day to escape your reality at THE New England Renaissance Faire.

King Richard's Faire - New England's largest and longest-running Renaissance festival- is now in its 38th season and makes such a merry outing filled with engaging e
ntertainment, enjoyable rides, exciting games of skill, a royal zoo, amiable artisans, and more amidst an enchanting 80-acre wooded site.

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My family has been enjoying the Faire for years and always counts down to going.

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Again, this year we were not disappointed by the enchanting experience of visiting many of the eight vibrant stages of live entertainment...

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...strolling through Carvershire enjoying the traveling talent...

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...and visiting all three of the jousts.

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This meant we were entertained by hundreds of actors, singers, dancers, minstrels, stage combat pros, acrobats, aerialists,  puppeteers, and more 
- all free and included with admission.

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We, of course, visited artisans, walked through the Gaming Glen, and partook in some of the Faire food, too, making a full day of family fun!

Fun for All Ages!

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After this year's visit my husband said:

Our family enjoys going to King Richard's Faire with its variety of entertainers.
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This year, I particularly enjoyed GoGaucho, a fresh new act with extreme talent and a dash of humor. 

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Of course, Jacques Ze Whippeur is an old family favorite of ours...

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...and the joust was entertaining despite its modern-day twist. 

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My favorite part of going every year is watching my children's reaction to the entertainment and seeing even my teenager laughing and cheering.

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Then, when I asked my 12-year-old what she'd like to share.

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 She said:

King Richard's Faire has draws for many people: shows, jousting, food, and more! 
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My favorite shows this year were: 
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 ...Jaques Ze Whippeur ...
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...The Mis-Adventurers ...
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...The Accidental Acrobats ...
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I also enjoyed the joust!"

My 9-year-old said:

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King Richard's Faire is a medieval renaissance Faire with many shows that play multiple times.  
My three favorite parts were: 

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The food.  The King Dog was delicious! 
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Jaques Ze Whippeur's show! 
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The jousts!

And my 13-year-old said:
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I enjoy King Richard's Faire. 
Jacques Ze Whippeaur is a performer there that is extremely talented and charismatic. He has different acts and bits. Some of my favorites are: 
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... when he asks, "Why don't I have any real facial hair?"while whipping a flaming whip around himself...
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...when he whips dry spaghetti from his mouth... 
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... and when he sticks a needle through a balloon without popping it. 
If you go to King Richard's Faire, be sure to watch Jacques Whippeur. 
 Obviously, my family enjoys one of their old favorite entertainers - Jacques Ze Whippeur the most and, although we all missed some of our other old favorites that were not at the fair this year, we also enjoyed the some of the new acts, to include the Accidental Acrobats, a duo of contortionists...

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Sir Guy, a comedian...

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... and GoGaucho, a dynamic blend of dance, music, comedy and other tricks.

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The overall atmosphere of the Faire is always one filled with merriment and adventure and the entertainment is fabulous!

Helpful Tips

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Whether you are a first-time or returning visitor to King Richard's Faire, it's helpful to remember that when you are in the King's domain:

  • No outside food or beverage is allowed; however, there are gluten-free, vegan, and lactose-free menu selections available for sale among the many tasty menu items offered at the Faire. Also, you may bring an EMPTY water bottle to fill at water bubblers.
  • Carvershire is in the woods, which means that both the beauty of the great outdoors and the challenges are present.  In other words, there may be bees, tree roots, hot and cold weather, and even rain to contend with, but there are also sunshine, shade woodsy areas, and field areas to enjoy. Be prepared, dress and plan accordingly, and expect well-maintained port-o-potties should you need to use the privy.
  • Guests wearing costumes are welcome and appreciated. You can come in costume or rent costumes for all ages and sizes right inside the front gate at Seams Like A Dream! Also, since this is a"Fantasy Faire" not a medieval re-enactment, be aware that anything goes. You might see traditional re-enactment gear, but you'll also see anything from Monty Python to Harry Potter to Game of Thrones to DC/Marvel superheroes to, yep, a man in a barrel! Indeed, things are more comic con than reenactment as far as guest costuming goes.
  • Cash is a good idea since box office and food tickets are cash only and performers welcome cash tips. Vredit cards can be helpful, too, since most artisans, accept Lady Visa, Master Card and AMEX.
  • The Faire is open unless safety is compromised; then the Faire makes announcements on their Facebook page as soon as a rare decision for closure is made.
  • Carvershire has no wifi due to it being a big site with not enough signal, so plan accordingly to be on our date plan. Also, know that the signal is better near the entrance and at the joust and bring a battery if you think you will need one.

Plan Your Visit

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The Faire is at 235 Main Street, Carver, MA, 02330.

You can visit weekends and Monday holidays through October 20, 2019. Be sure to check out the schedule for special events and themed days!

You can purchase tickets at the gates or purchase them in advance online. Adults are $34, children ages 4-11 are $17, and children under 3 are free.

Group discounts are available.

You might also like to see our past King Richard's Faire posts - all of which give a flavor of how enduring the fun of the Faire is.

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I hope you enjoy the Faire as much as my family always does!

Disclaimer:We received free promotional tickets in exchange for this honest review.  We were not required to write a positive review nor were we compensated in any other way.  All opinions we have expressed are our own family's.  We are disclosing this in accordance with the FTC Regulations.

Sunday, September 22, 2019

Sometimes, You Find Lovely Places when Looking for Masses While Traveling...

For years now, when traveling to different areas, I've consulted to find times and locations for daily and Sunday Masses. Similarly, I sometimes click through The Real Presence to find churches and chapels that have Eucharistic Adoration.

Doing so has brought me to some lovely little chapels, beautiful churches, and peaceful shrines, the most recent of which was St. Anne's Shrine in Sturbridge, MA, where pilgrims have been traveling for over 100 years to seek solace, peace, and healing from God through the intercession of St. Anne.

At the Shrine, you will find both indoor and outdoor spaces to inspire prayer, contemplation, and peace.

Be sure to stop at the Hall of Saints...

and walk about to enjoy the picturesque grounds...

Throughout the Shrine grounds, you'll find statues...


A Stations of the Cross walk...


Sacra Santa (Holy Stairs)

Outdoor prayer spots...

Churches, chapels, an outdoor worship space under the pastoral care of the Assumptionists.

A picnic area...

(Yes, my crew were all hungry, a bit tired, and not wanting to smile for a picture. ;) )

Plus, there is a gift shop and Russian icons display, which we, unfortunately, missed since we got there after 5 p.m. in order to go to a 6 p.m. Mass. (The gift shop and icon display close at 5 p.m. daily.)

However, just outside the gift shop and Russian Icon display area, we found a favorite sculpture, the Generations Statue, a moving depiction of the Holy Family embraced by Saints Anne and Joachim, the  parents of the Blessed Virgin and grandparents of Jesus.

And, nearby, was a striking sculpture of St. Micheal...

And and older, sweet statue of St. Anne and St. Mary.

Truly, the Shrine is a serene and holy place...

Nearly every turn there brings you to another place to contemplate and pray...

To be reminded of miracles...

To recall the saints...

To remember the simple power and beauty of prayer...

The pray for the intercession of the Holy Family...

For our own families and for the whole world.

To remember, as St. Therese de Lisiueux says that "prayer is a surge of the heart; it is a simple look turned toward heaven, it is a cry of recognition and of love, embracing both trial and joy.”

If you are ever in the area of Sturbridge, MA, I encourage you to stop at St. Anne's Shrine. It is simply lovely.

St. Anne, pray for us.


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