Start a Family Program!

by Carole Asselin

I enjoy visiting your site and I used it to start a program in our parish.

Last fall, I began dreaming of a parish program that would include whole families and not only kids of a certain age. As a speech pathologist I do have to work with kids of all ages and I thought such a program would be possible. I thought it wold make a good contrast to the actual cat├ęchese program that separates kids by grade, from 1 to 6.

I suggested that program, with some activities from your site, to our diocese people but they thought it was not needed! They thought there was enough information available for whoever wanted to learn more about faith, (which was not the case as I could not find much when I needed it.) Finally, I decided to drop the idea of going through that route and decided (with the permission of the local priest) to start a "personal" program, reaching families by word of mouth.

We started in May, with 3 families (4 adults and 7 kids) plaaning to meet every second Sunday after Mass. We all made mission rosaries (cord and bead rosaries.) Everyone made at least one. Since I had a lot of beads, they could choose between 10 colors. While we were making the rosaries, everyone learned the origin of the words "chaplet" and "rosary." We handed out a little booklet listing all the prayers, the mysteries, and how to recite a rosary. And the kids remembered.

Next time we made a Group Rosary. We had prepared the patterns to cut out and distributed them to the families at the previous meeting. They had to cut them out and assemble them before this meeting. We had 120 flowers in five different colors. This time, on a LOOOOOONG golden string, we attached the flowers, two by two, to make 3-D flowers for each bead. Each decade was a different color. The resulting rosary measures an impressive 21 feet long! It looks great and is now displayed in the church.

The next meeting happened to be on Father's Day. We didn't want to start changing our schedule (every two Sundays) every time there would be something special so we decided to make an activity about the fathers mentioned in the Bible.

Some names were familiar (Adam, Abraham, etc.)others were absolutely new for most of us (Amoq, Booz, Buzi, etc.) (To introduce the names, put up a large poster with all the names on it.) We made word games; wheel of fortune, hidden words, and a cooperative card game. The most fun was our relay races where each participant had to run their race to collect letters to spell out a name. The races included an obstacle course holding a ball under the chin, a slalom with a balloon on a spoon, a slalom with a penny between the knees and another obstacle course including skipping rope, throwing a penny in a bucket, making a "card castle". We had so much fun that after over an hour and a half the kids still didn't want to stop!

The next week, we had a treasure hunt. The theme for the treasure hunt was the 10 commandments. There were 10 courses, described on 10 sheets of "badly written and badly damaged" sheets. Each course included about 10 things to do (find X, walk until Y, Sit on Z, etc.) and there were 3 envelopes to find (all matching color) along each course.

In the envelopes there were words that, put together, spelled out one of the 10 commandments (in terms understandable to kids). In addition, the third envelope, contained a treasure: a small prayer card (our budget is under $10!)

This activity is related to the ten commandments a bit like the Fridge Art activity about Ice Cream : We need directions to find our treasure but sometimes, the directions could be hard to understand, or easy to understand but hard to follow. In any case, if we decide not to follow one or more directions, we will get lost, whichever direction we want to skip. And sometimes, we need other people to help us understand or follow the rules (as in team work).

The theme was well used: one child misunderstood one word and could not go anywhere, another turned the wrong way and neglected one important word and got lost in the directions. They really had fun and learned the parts of the commandments.

Among other activities we carried out were a picnic to a local sanctuary, our bishop's visit (that was not easy to get!), a collective clean-up to explain that God never makes junk, and a rally for back to school about the Bible, a book unknown to many.

Several people have heard of our program and want to join: it is far from academic and kids are playing (and grown ups too!) so they don't realize they are really learning something. And the adults are learning almost as much since I find that, sadly, we never learned that much about our faith (me included).

Other activities of our group include:

Return to Fridge Art Page.