Tuesday, July 24, 2012

A Church Bag

Our church doesn't have a Sunday school program that runs during mass, so James sits with us. He's behaves well - he doesn't fidget (too much), he's quiet, he joins in on the calisthenics of mass :), and he enjoys the singing. But I can see that James sort of tunes out whenever a reading or the sermon is taking place. I think it all just goes WAY over his head.

So, I put together this "church bag" for him to bring along to mass every Sunday. I found this wonderfully nerdy little tote here. It has a handle and is just the right size for James.

Inside of the bag are various religious items to hold James' attention and more importantly to remind him about *why* we are at church in the first place.

Now, I know there are some who would scoff at my decision to give James something to do during mass (the nuns from my elementary school would demand full attention, whether you "get it" or not). : ) And I'll admit I thought that way for a long time, too, but I decided that - while James is still so young - there's no harm in providing useful and relevant materials.

Here's a sample of what I might include in our bag. Note: not ALL of these things go in the bag each Sunday. I rotate them out and provide just a book or two, a prayer card, his favorite bible, and an activity sheet of some sort. I found the Catholic books at our local thrift shop (imagine my surprise!), the prayer cards on Ebay (they are from the 1940's and are so special, I just love these), and the Early Readers books are from here

~Thank you for your comments!~

22 comments:

Jeni @ Project Wonder Woman said...

I think this is just a WONDERFUL idea! Especially when much of the material is over the child's head, this is a great way to keep them involved and on the same topic!

Stephanie said...

Awesome idea! I always have books for my little ones if they need them. Have you looked into the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd? It is basically Christian Montessori. Lots of great ideas about learning the gestures of the priest at mass. It helps them understand and look for something special while they are there! Just a thought! Thanks for sharing all your ideas! I have been popping by here for a long time!

Simmons Family said...

We have a "church bag" too. It has some of the same books you have pictured and a lot more.I have 4 small kids to keep quiet during Mass so we bring quite a few books to share. This year we started getting "Magnifikid". It is a weekly pamphlet with the readings for that Sunday and responses to the Mass. It is geared for kids and has explanations for the hard words they may not know or understand. It also has a puzzle, stories about saints, or other religious things.

Michele said...

My Picture Missal is AWESOME and I don't know what we'd do without it. What a great Mass bag!

www.welcometomydomesticmonastery.blogspot.com

Counting Coconuts said...

Stephanie & Simmons Family - thank you for those suggestions - I can't wait to check them out! We're always on the look out for Catholic materials for our little ones. :)

Jennie and Adam said...

I think this is a wonderful idea.I find my kids actually get more out of church than I think they do when they have something to help keep them busy. I love that you use religious-themed materials.Great post.

Anja said...

I'm a catechists for The Good Shepherd Catechesis for children 3-6. My son is just 18m so I leave him to walk and climb around me (we always go to evening mass because there is much less people). I don't allow him to bring other things. I like your idea of bringing "church" things into a church (and your bag, oh, it is fabulous!). I heard catechists (I'm talking about GSC) in Germany (after priest's blessing at the beginning of a mass) take young children out of church (or just to sacristy, chapel, some distant part of church...) to a place where they can hear the mass and also have enough space for moving and drawing. They encourage them to draw about things they hear and see at that moment. They bring them back just before eucharist. I would recommend you to tell him more about eucharist (you should read http://www.amazon.com/Religious-Potential-Child-Experiencing-Scripture/dp/0929650670 , really good book) and leave him to wonder. "Liturgy of words" is too complicated for young children - children should be reading/listening the Bible in the original version (not in stories like fairytales, "child language", etc.) but in really short pieces (I could talk with "my" children about line psalm 23:1 for a whole year). It's impossible to expect children would listen to it and just sit. It's often too complicated even for adults. Long story short: allow him to do other things during liturgy of words, try to make him interested in eucharist and give him space to wonder. I hope you understood and that you find it useful. Love your blog even if I don't comment your posts ;) Greetings from Slovenia! Anja

Counting Coconuts said...

Hi Anja,

Thanks very much for stopping by to comment. :) It sounds like your mass is defined differently and perhaps runs a bit differently than ours does? We've been quite happy with how this church bag is working out us. We have A LOT of religious books for kids (I only photographed a few as an example) and a few of them discuss the Eucharist, so it is something we've talked about already, although James will be attending CCD in the fall (and I'll be teaching 3rd grade) and it's at that time we delve more into that (and other) subjects.

Stephanie said...

In reply to what Anja thought, I too am a trianed Catechesis of the Good Shpeherd Catechesis and I agree that letting kids expirience the mass is important. However, I do know that sometimes its hard to stay focused that long (I have hard time sometimes) and having materials and books there allows the child to stay in the moments of the mass, while offering a differnt veiw. Just like the practical life work in the atrium is used to allow children to meditate while their hands are busy, I think books allow kids time in mass to meditate too! It sounds like you have a lovely church in Slovenia! Many blessings!

Anja said...

We are Roman-Catholics, don't know for you ;) GSC is "translated" to all Catholics churches, so it could be still useful. German practice is not familiar with our (it's just very interesting for me), but I also never saw children with their "church bags", only with toys, unfortunately. Author of book I recommended to you (Sofia Cavaletti) "created" GSC together with Gianna Gobbi (probably heard about her or her infant mobile, right?), one of the first Maria Montessori's students. So it's "very Montessori" in all aspects, it really respects child. The book is really worth of reading. I hope you don't find me too intrusive but I'm not confident in my English and prefer telling things twice to assure it was said at the right way :P

Rosie said...

I second the suggestion for MagnifiKid - it REALLY helps my 3-year-old follow along with the prayers and the readings, and usually I help him read along and it helps ME focus as well! Especially with the new translation, it's nice to have an extra copy of the Creed so that I can pretend I'm reading it to my child when really I don't know all the words yet! And you can look over the readings with him before Mass or earlier in the week so that he's prepared and more interested and engaged during the liturgy of the word. There are also nice evening and morning prayers that our kids love to use, and it's especially helpful during Advent and Lent.

For some reason a 2013 calendar with lists of feast days has been a big hit during Mass for the past few weeks, as well... My son likes to look for various feast days and my 18-month-old daughter likes looking at all the pictures of Mary!

Veronica Velazquez said...

Hi Mari-Ann!
I have been reading your blog for a little while, and have come to think of you as "Mama Coconut" - I hope you don't mind. I like this post as I have been thinking of doing something similar... but my son is a year and a half younger than yours. When did you start having him sit with you in mass? We have been using the church "nursery" up until now, but I want him to start sitting with us. Any tips?

Shannon (gidgetnfroggi) said...

I'm a catholic reviewer and have links on my sidebar if your interested my youngest is 6 so not much older then your boy.

Counting Coconuts said...

Hi Veronica,

I love the nickname "Mama Coconut"!! Thank you!

James has been sitting with us during mass since he was a week and a half old! We've never used any of the crying rooms available at any of the churches we've attended. We didn't want to get him used to playing during mass. As soon as he was able to sit on his own and understand instructions, he learned to be still and quiet during mass. Now that he has that foundation, we wouldn't mind if he attended a Sunday school program, but for those first years (ages 1-4) we really wanted him to be with us, and for all of us to sit in the church together. :)

Thanks for stopping by!

Mama Coconut :)

Kellie said...

Please share the name of the store you found the cute tote.

My five year old loves chemistry. He would love this!

Counting Coconuts said...

I had to do some searching, but I found it! You can now find a direct link in my post. The bag I purchased isn't available via their online store, though.

Nicky said...

Just this past week at Mass I was thinking I needed to find some new material for out "mass bag". The link to early reader books for our 6 year old is perfect! Thanks! I saw in the comments you are teaching 3rd grade religious ed...i hope you will share some of your ideas for that on this blog too! Thanks! Nicky

sweetmommytog said...

oohhh i should start assembling our church bag too! my DD has the same Bible but being 3 and like other kids, gets bored during the sermon/readings. hope this will make her "behave" more during the mass. thanks so much for the ideas mommies!!! :)

sweetmommytog said...

by the way, have you all heard about the Seton Home Studay (sunday) school materials? They're nice materials to add to the sunday school bag too. :)

The girl who painted trees said...

I just noticed others have recommended Magnifikid. This is what Bear reads during Mass. It allows her to follow along to everything but the homily.

Beach Mom said...

Where did you find that great bag?

Growing A Green Family said...

Mariann - Thank you for providing this wonderful resource. I was raised agnostic and my husband was raised (lapsed) catholic, but we have been discussing starting to go to church. We have been nervous about how our son (15 months) will handle it, and I am definitely going to have to put together a bag like this to help keep our very active boy quiet and focused.

LinkWithin

Related Posts with Thumbnails