Archive for the ‘Sue's Suggestions’ category

Lesson Notes: God’s Covenant with Abraham

February 18, 2018

Covenant with Abraham.png

Next up in our salvation history study is Abraham and his story is filled with drama, most of it basically proving that God is first in his life, above all else and this leads us to think about how we are succeeding or failing in that area.

This is the first week of Lent, and and critically examining your conscience is one of the Lent-iest things you can do.  To help, we suggest you do a little preparation and then lead your family through the questions on page five.  As you go through the questions, make some notes on the altar cards, and bring them (along with your family) to the Sacrament of Reconciliation sometime soon.

Younger Saints iconEven if your kids are too young for this sacrament, you can still help them to evaluate their choices (perhaps using a simplified version of the questions on page five) and then bring it all to Jesus in prayer.  Even very small children have a sense of right and wrong, and that is certainly a quality you want to help them develop.


Do Sundays Count?

February 17, 2018

Family Formation teaches in many places that each Sunday is a celebration of the resurrection, but how ’bout all that stuff I gave up for Lent?  Do I need to give it up on Sundays too?


For a well-thought-out argument looking at both sides, click over here.

Both the “I don’t cheat on Sundays” people and the “Sundays don’t count” people believe that Church teaching is on their side. Or perhaps they just think there isn’t a formal Church teaching on it, so it is a matter on which good Catholics are allowed to disagree.

But we can’t ALL be right, right?
Personally, my philosophy is that if I’ve struggled all week to develop a good habit or to give up a bad one, why would I lose all that good progress by back-pedaling on Sunday?  On the other hand, there is nothing intrinsically evil about a piece of chocolate, and having one after Mass is likely just adding one more good thing to a good day!  (But, on the third hand, I always remember someone I know who would give up chocolate but then eat an obviously gluttonous amount on Sundays.  Ugh.)  Look at your motivation and the big picture of gains and losses, and know the Church is behind you in your decision.

Hear, O Israel!

February 14, 2018

Leading With Beauty: The Ten Commandments

The classroom topic for March is the Ten Commandments and this work by Philippe de Champaigne (1648 AD) would be a perfect piece for classroom prayer tables.

The interesting thing about this piece is that everything is so clear; almost photograph-like!  Moses looks like someone you’d meet in real life and the tablet is clear enough to easily read.  In fact, this French artist painted the text of the Commandments in French, so those who saw the painting could also understand the language. That sends the message that reading/knowing the Commandments is every bit as valuable as the beauty of the art itself.

Thanks, as always, to the amazing Web Gallery of Art!  It’s one of my favorite online resources.

More suggestions for Noah

February 13, 2018

Earlier this month I suggested some outside-the-box ideas for shaking up this month’s lessons, and I want to add one more here while you’re learning about Noah.

Noah’s Ark by Peter Spier is one of my favorite picture books ever.  It’s perfect for those who are at least somewhat familiar with the story because it’s told here only through the pictures.  But what amazing pictures!  There is so much detail on every page; I can practically guarantee it will hold your kids’ attention for hours, and they will be able to retell the story to you with all sorts of unexpected twists and details before you know it.




Check your local library for a loaner, or you can buy it in your favorite format.


February 12, 2018

Lesson Notes: Ash Wednesday and Lenten Activities

Ash Wednesday

135px-Purple_flag_waving.svgSometimes the seasonal activities packets are assigned to a specific week, and sometimes they’re just a bonus in with the rest of your month’s lesson packet.  This is your purple flag warning that, despite its place at the end of the Month Outline, you should not wait until the end of this month to pull out this lesson.

In advance, peek through it today or tomorrow and decide which activities are going to be just right for your family this Lent.  Some of them require a little preparation, so plan some time for it.  Some can easily be prepared by your kids – coloring and cutting and building a paper chain.

My Plan For Lenten Growth should be a pre-Wednesday family discussion topic.  There are definitely things you can do (or give up) as a family, and there are other things that you might want to do (or give up) as individuals.

No matter what you decide, planning ahead will give you a strong start!

Lesson Notes: God’s Covenent with Noah

February 10, 2018

Covenant with Noah


This month, we’re focusing on salvation history and some of the Big Splash steps God took to prepare His people for the coming of Jesus.  We’re going to start with taking a closer look at the nature of promises.  When you or I make a promise, no matter how good our intentions, sometimes things just get in the way and prevent us from keeping the promise.  It’s good for us to remember that will NEVER happen with God!  No matter how dire the circumstances, He is always in complete control.


God made a very famous promise as part of Noah’s story,  and that leads us to an activity looking at a lot of other promises we can find in the Bible.  To do this, simply color and assemble the treasure chest, cut apart the scripture promises, and place them inside.  Come up with some routine to pull one out randomly and read it together – mealtime or bedtime (or both) might work well.

Younger Saints icon


We’ve included a version of Noah’s story in the lesson, but feel free to substitute it with any storybook or picture Bible version you may have. Younger kids especially may appreciate an illustrated version.  It’s also fun with the littlest ones to gather all the animal toys you have and tell the story to your child who is sitting in a box/laundry basket/ark with the menagerie.  Believe me, it leads to lots of imaginative play in the following days. 🙂

Also, if all your kids are younger you may want to sort through the promises ahead of time and only add the ones you like best to the treasure chest.  There are three pages of them, and it’s not likely your youngest kids will still be interested in the project a couple of months later after you’ve used up all the verses we provide.

Older Saints Icon

If your kids are older and are already familiar with Noah’s story, try challenging them to retell it from memory.  With this age group, it’s quite likely that some of the Promise verses will strike them as particularly meaningful.  When that happens, encourage your kid to keep the verse someplace where they can read it over and over.  (tape it to the bathroom mirror, tuck in into a Bible, copy it onto a larger sheet of paper and decorate it … there are lots of possibilities)

And for everyone, I really, really hope that sometime in your Family Formation career you do the activity on page 6 where your family actually measures out how big the ark was. Scripture gives us pretty specific dimensions, and it’s an impressive visual image.  You’ll need a wide open space, a long tape measure (25+ feet would be best), and some kind of very visible landmark like a parked car or a tree.  Start there and measure 450 feet and you’ll see what I mean.  That was an amazingly big boat!

Right now, in Minnesota, we seem to be on our 10,000th day of sub-zero winter but I think it’s supposed to warm up a little bit soon so your family may be ready for an outdoor activity.  If so, this one is perfect!


Planning for Lent

February 5, 2018

We’re thinking about Lent and want to use this forum to share some of the great advice we find.  Today’s comes from Kendra at the Catholic All Year blog where you’ll find a helpful list of ways to improve your spiritual life, with each suggestion offering a beginner, intermediate, and advanced level.  You may also appreciate her family’s view of Lent as an increased focus on God rather than simply pushing through a list of resolutions.  Click over here to learn more.



In our house, we now view Lent as a time to try adding or taking away things from our personal and family lives to see if we are improved. We make it a time, not of suffering (necessarily) but rather of increased focus on God and others and decreased focus on self and personal comfort. I have found that I can take up or give up just about anything, no matter how big or small, and use it as a reminder to pray more and love more. With that in mind, here are 66 ideas of things to consider giving up or taking up, in beginning, intermediate, and advanced levels, for beginning, intermediate, and advanced Lents.

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