I keep meaning to post about how some of my Catholic homeschooling mama friends and I are celebrating the Garden of the Good Shepherd with our children! When we heard that Jessica and Charlotte were doing once-a-week parties instead of every day activities, we were elated at the prospect of simplification!
If you have no idea of what I write, you can visit Shower of Roses or Waltzing Matilda to learn more! The calendar is available for purchase hereand here, but you can print your own stickers and follow the directions to make your own poster here, too.
What We're Doing
We took the ideas from these two blogs from previous years and this year's recipes and are rotating homes hosting our very own Good Shepherd Garden Parties every Monday afternoon (the day that worked best for everyone because our children all take gymnastics together that day). Each party includes snacks, stories, crafts, etc... corresponding to the symbols for the coming week's stickers. Each mom only has to plan and host one party, because there are seven families participating (how cool is that?)!
We have the LTP poster, but the stickers are beginning to tear after two years of use, so I printed our own for this year. Each day with my children, I am still putting the symbol stickers on the poster, reading the reflection that comes with the store-bought calendar, and reading the Scripture. Inspired by Charlotte's idea to put the reflection and stickers in plastic eggs, each morning I hide an egg in our schoolroom for the children to find (or two or three, since we sometimes get behind like after the weekend). They take turns coloring the stickers while I read the reflection and Scripture and put it on our homemade poster. This has been very popular! And, I just don't have a good place to hang the eggs like she did, although it looks beautiful!
I hosted our first garden party. First, I welcomed everyone and wished the children a Merry Christmas (it was the day after Easter Sunday), confusing them even more by pulling out and reading The Legend of the Candy Cane. We talked about the candy cane representing a shepherd's crook, which led nicely into that day's symbol. I shared a little bit more about Jesus as the Good Shepherd and how the calendar works. Before the meeting, I had made prayer cards with a picture of our archbishop for the families to take home and remember our bishops are our shepherds, too.
Then, we popped some popcorn with our air popper and used the same discussion Jessica had last year about keeping the sheep (us) in the sheepfold (the bowl) and how the ones that fly across the kitchen (many of the children had never seen an air popper do this, so it was quite entertaining) are like when we wander away and sin. We used the Jerusalem's Gate craft from Little Saints (basically the children decorated a coloring page of heaven's gate with crayons, glitter, and cotton) and this quilling activity of a Sheep Notecard holder as our crafts. Each child chose one to complete, eating popcorn as they worked. Some took their quilling home to finish.
Next, I gathered the children for the story of Saint Francis and the Wolf and talked about keeping the sheep safe. Since it was common knowledge that wolves eat sheep, we closed by passing out lamb cupcakes for the children to devour like hungry wolves!
Everything was kept very simple and worked very well. It was easy to plan and easy to do!
This week, another mom hosted. I am pretty sure she won't mind if I post what she did. She started out by showing the children her completed sticker poster focusing on the Lord's Table. She talked about how to demonstrate hospitality by setting the table and sharing a meal with guests. She had a handout of a place setting to give the children to take home and practice setting the table. She also read the adorable poem "Hey Diddle, Diddle! The Plate's in the Middle!" from Everyday Graces: A Child's Book Of Good Manners.
After demonstrating good hospitality by offering the children each a chair, she served yummy biscuits with butter and honey. She took croissant rolls and biscuits and split them in two, putting in honey and butter before baking. While the children ate, she read It Looked Like Spilt Milk by Charles Shaw which is a favorite, demonstrated by the accompanying recitation she had (and appears to be out of print :( so check your library).
Next, the children used purple paint to make fingerprint bunches of grapes. She gave them a Scripture verse to glue on the page when they were done. This was great! After a little break, she pulled out huge trays of fruit for the children to enjoy and wowed them with the old presliced banana trick! While they devoured the fruit, she asked them questions from a fruit quiz she had found on Enchanted Learning. Very fun!
Not Too Late!
As you can see, we are keeping it easy like Jessica and Charlotte, but we modified their idea to include more than just food but still only one thing for each symbol. I'll try to post photos if any of my cohorts have some. As you may have figured out by now, one of my blogging faults is forgetting to use my camera to capture such fun moments!
It's not too late to join the fun! We've only just begun the second week of Easter, and there are seven whole weeks. Check out the links and see what will work for your children! This is such a fun way to remember all 50 days of Easter!