These ideas were developed by me for my local group and are not a part of the official Little Flowers Girls Club ® created by Rachel Watkins. To purchase the excellent materials and begin your own local group, please visit www.beholdpublications.com
Now, for this meeting, I really felt right away when I prepared the first Love of Neighbor meeting (April 17) that the Lord wanted me to somehow incorporate the Spiritual and Corporal Works of Mercy in this second Love of Neighbor meeting. Honestly, I was pretty stumped on how to do this with girls ages 4-12, though. The works of mercy are pretty heavy, in my opinion.
A few years ago, I did a relay with my little homeschool class where they did one symbolic action for each corporal work of mercy - dress a baby doll, give a mom a drink of water, say a prayer for the sick, etc... But, I have too many Little Flowers for that to work well. It would work with a smaller group.
While researching, I came upon this lapbook from Faith Folders for Catholics. I bought it, hoping it would give me the inspiration I needed to make the works of mercy accessible for the girls. Maybe we would even make part of the lapbook, I thought. Unfortunately, once I saw it, I knew it was too complicated for the little girls to make, and aside from making it for them, I could not think of a way to adapt it.
So, instead, I begged the Lord for inspiration. That was when I realized we needed to do skits to act out the works of mercy, so the girls would be able to see them in action. After that, the idea came to have the girls make books where they would illustrate the works of mercy as they watched the skits. Making the book was easy with the ideas in the lapbook! They helped me focus and put it in words children would understand. I just typed the work of mercy on each page with a brief explanation and went to FedEx Kinko's!
So, our meeting began in prayer, as always. We are still singing the St. Therese song put to "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star" and praying an offering and Hail Mary to start our meetings. Then, I did a quick review with the girls. I asked them who the saint is - St. Jane Frances de Chantal - and allowed several of the girls to tell us about her. Then, I explained that I forgot last meeting to tell them that the flower for this virtue is the rose, because it is the most real and recognized perfect flower that everyone sees and wants in their garden.
Next, I explained what the works of mercy are: specific things the Catholic Church has identified that are wonderful examples of loving your neighbor. We talked about how there are Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy, and I had them tell me that Corporal means body and Spiritual means soul. The works of mercy are about taking care of your neighbor's body and soul.
I briefly read the corporal works of mercy in a list - feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, visit the imprisoned, shelter the homeless, visit the sick, and bury the dead - and then the spiritual works of mercy - admonish the sinner, instruct the ignorant, counsel the doubtful, comfort the sorrowful, bear wrongs patiently, forgive all injuries, and pray for the living and the dead.
This presentation was deliberately brief. I explained that, since 14 works of mercy are a lot to remember and understand, we are going to make a book for them to remember them. Then, we are going to put on little plays or skits to demonstrate what the works of mercy really mean.
They went into their rose groups, and I passed out the booklets. I had already copied them and folded them in half. Their job, at this point, was to make a cover. I just had construction paper available for them to fold in half and staple over the top of the booklets. I provided pictures of St. Jane Frances de Chantal for them to glue on the cover if they wished, as well. Here are photos of the booklets before the cover and after.
Then, we took a short snack break, while I briefed my moms/helpers on what to do for the skits. After snack, I divided the girls into seven groups with mixed ages. I did this by having the girls gather together and sent girls to the seven moms in charge by height. First, I sent one or two tall girls to each mom. Then, I sent one or two medium girls to each mom. Then, I sent one or two small girls to each mom. Then, I sent one or two tiny girls to each mom. This gave me mixed age groups with 4-5 girls in each group very easily.
Each small group received a list of ideas for one corporal work of mercy and one spiritual work of mercy (thus the seven groups), some of which I got from the lapbook files. The ideas were ways children could perform the works of mercy. The group was to choose one idea for their corporal work of mercy and one idea for their spiritual work of mercy to act out. They did not need props, and I told the moms they could explain as much as they wanted (since I knew we had many quiet, shy girls). I am not going to post these lists, because so many of the ideas came from the lapbook. If you are looking for the ideas, I suggest buying the lapbook files; they are very well done and have a lot of information suitable for young children and even pre-Confirmation age!
Once we came back into the pavilion, the girls got their booklets and something with which to color. Their instructions were: as the groups are performing their skits, each girl should draw a picture on the page in their booklet for that work of mercy that will help them remember what it means. We did the skits in order of the works of mercy in the booklets and paused between each one for the girls to finish their illustrations.
This was a huge hit! The girls had a great time acting, even if they were a bit timid, and we enjoyed watching the skits. They were only about 2-3 minutes each, which was ideal, and the girls drew some great pictures in their books. A few examples: for feed the hungry, they acted out helping their mother take a meal to another mother who just had a baby; for visit the sick, they visited a sick friend in the hospital; for bury the dead, of course, they attended a funeral; for instruct the ignorant, they acted out one teaching a catechism class; for comfort the sorrowful, they invited a friend to play who looked sad; for bear wrongs patiently, when two girls disobeyed their mother and all four were punished, the two who obeyed did not get angry.
I wish I had pictures of these, because they were precious! Some of the mothers were wary of whether or not the girls could do this, but we were all so impressed. After they finished drawing in their booklets, we practiced our Scripture song for Love of Neighbor and I explained a little homework project I had for them.
This idea came directly from Fr. Lasance's book on which the entire Little Flowers program is based. I invited the girls to participate in a Charity War. They are to choose one day where they try to do as many acts of loving their neighbor as possible from when they wake up in the morning to when they go to bed at night and record these acts on a list. My Little Flowers are encouraged to turn in their lists at the next meeting, and at the following meeting I will present a winner from each rose group with a prize. They were also told to invite their family members to join them and work out a prize for the family member who does the most charitable acts in one day. I tried to give them some simple examples like helping mom and sharing with sister. We will see how it works.
Finally, we prayed our closing prayers. We are still praying the St. Therese prayer from the Little Flowers manual, and I read all of the prayer intentions the girls write down during the meeting. Those are pretty precious, too! I closed by asking for the intercession of each of the saints we have studied, with the girls responding, "Pray for us!"
This was another great meeting. I am always in awe at what the girls grasp, and I am always flattered by the ones who want to tell me all about their lives since our last meeting. Our next two meetings in May will be about Obedience and St. Joan of Arc! Then, due to the heat, in June, July, and August, we are changing our meeting time and location to the morning indoors. Some of the girls are taking the summer off, but most of them will be at most of the meetings. We should even have a few new girls joining us!
As always, please email me via the link in my sidebar if you have questions or want more information about what we did!