Posted tagged ‘What Worked Well?’

In Our In-box: “I needed to create a space for all the beautiful materials that guide us through this journey.”

November 29, 2016

We have two small girls one in Little Lambs and one in Kindergarten. This is our first experience with the WOG logs and trying to manage two packets, so far so good. G marks hers and M adds fur to the WOG picture, I keep the cut up felt in a dish, a glue stick and other supplies close so they can independently manage.


Tithing envelopes and the beautiful pink slips to fill out right in the envelope box, ready for Saturday night preparation. ( I cried like a baby after G put her first envelope in the offering basket. Cried harder and harder as the basket made its way to the altar). Stewardship was such a beautiful lesson for me to share with all the children in our house.

I have included a picture of our space and have a few other funny pictures to add. My personal favorite lesson so far, Christ the King!



I have nothing on the board from the previous week Saints lesson. Didn’t get to it: (maybe in July). I do save them for those rainy days or when we have time in the weeks ahead. I have even completed a Christ the King packet in July when G was a Little Lamb. True story!

Thanks, Tricia, for sharing how Family Formation works for your family!

What are you doing with your flashcards?

October 25, 2016

Here is another idea of what you can do with the Church Year Flash Cards.  Tape them up somewhere in your home and refer to it throughout the year!  “Where are we NOW in the liturgical calendar?”


(Thanks, Laura!)

Try it and see!

December 2, 2014

Advent has begun and that means it’s time to open up the next edition of Our Sabbath Scripture Book.  Our Sabbath Scripture Book follows the Pauline family as they prepare for the Sunday Gospel in fun and creative ways.   By using this simple tool, you and your family will learn how to incorporate the Gospel into your daily life by bringing it to an easily understandable level.

To give you a little taste, here is the story for this coming Sunday, the 2nd Sunday in Advent.  (Practical Hint: If your kids have a shorter attention span, it’s okay to just read the Gospel reading.)  Try it with your family and we are fairly confident in predicting that this little bit of preparation will help all of you to get more out of this Sunday’s readings.

Read aloud:         

  • Isaiah 40:1-5, 9-11
  • 2 Peter 3:8-14
  • Mark 1:1-8

It was a crisp Sunday morning.  The Pauline family looked out their picture window at the snow that had piled up overnight.  It was a huge, white blanket of snow covering everything they could see.  There must have been 14 inches!

“Are we going to be able to make it to Mass today, Dad?” Lucy asked.

“I sure hope we can,” Dad answered.  He looked again at all the snow and wondered to himself if the car could get through.  The streets looked pretty congested and snow-packed.

Mom came back from the kitchen and said, “It looks like we might be stuck.  But I think that we should prepare ourselves for Sunday Mass by reading today’s Scriptures.  We’ll see if the snowplow comes in time to get us to church this morning.  If it does, we will be ready to go!”

The Paulines gathered around the kitchen table, and Dad read from Mark, Chapter l.  The reading told of John the Baptist who foretold the coming of Jesus by quoting the words of Isaiah, a great prophet of the Old Testament.  John spoke loudly, saying, Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths.” (Mark 1:3b)  John went ahead of Jesus, telling people to remove any obstacles that would prevent them from entering into the full life God wants for them.

“Okay now, Kids,” Mr. Pauline said.  “Who can give me an example of how something goes ahead of something else to prepare the way?”

The kids looked around the room.  Nothing was coming to them.  Mom and Dad looked from one blank face to the next.

Just then they heard a sharp, grinding noise.  The noise was growing louder and louder.  It was coming with power and might.  It was the snowplow coming down the street!

Suddenly Vincent’s eyes brightened, and he leaped to his feet.

“That’s it!”  Vincent exclaimed.  “John the Baptist was like the snowplow!  He prepared the way for Jesus, like the snowplow is going ahead of us so we can get to church this morning!”

“Yeah!” said Mary Clare.  “The obstacles have been removed, and the path is now clear for us.”

John said, “I have baptized you with water; he will baptize you with the holy Spirit.”  (Mark 1:8)


We just started Cycle B and you can purchase a copy on our website, or by stopping in the Family Formation office any time during regular office hours.

Tips and Tricks for Working with Younger Family Formation Students

October 26, 2014

Now that you’ve done a couple lessons in our first official month, it’s a good time to check in and issue some reminders, especially if this is your first year with Family Formation.  Some of these things apply to students of all ages, but if you are teaching younger kids you may find these suggestions to be particularly useful.

Be prepared.

  1.  Read through the lesson ahead of time and edit for your needs.  To begin with, each Home Lesson has a section labeled “for older saints.”  You can automatically assume that those topics are at a slightly more advanced subject matter, at a somewhat deeper level (appropriate for 3rd grade and older).  We absolutely want you to read the entire lesson as you prepare, but this may be one section you save to teach next time around.  (This is a good place to remind you thatFamily Formation lessons rotate on a three year cycle.  The lessons you’re doing with your 1st grader this year will come around again when he’s a 4th grader.)
  2. You’ll also want to consider your child’s learning style.  Younger students tend to be very concrete thinkers who see things at face value.  For example, in the lessons you just did on the Mass, your 5th grader can understand the big picture of flow and order, but your kindergartner just needs to know that this is something you do every Sunday and we meet Jesus there.  Seeing her parents paying attention and praying is the best concrete reinforcement for this lesson.
  3. Have your supplies ready to go before you call everyone together to begin.  Imagine your 5-year-old as having an Attention Span Countdown Clock on his head.  Do you really want to spend some of that precious time searching your office for a scissor and the right colored crayons?

Consider their skills and prepare stuff you know will be frustrating to them.

  1. Next week’s Vessels and Vestments lesson is a perfect example.  If you know the cutting will be too difficult or too time consuming for your squirmy 1st grader, cut and assemble those pieces before the lesson begins so you can spend more time talking about the Mass and less time in a melt-down over cutting on the lines.

Watch the time.

  1. If experience is telling you that 15 minutes is the amount of time you can hold your little one’s attention, simply plan your lesson for that long.  The advantage of this is that you can fit a 15 minute lesson in just about anywhere!clock
  2. You may want to consider breaking a longer lesson up into two times per week.
  3. There may be elements you can use in your bedtime routine.
  4. You may want to re-play popular games at another time to reinforce what you’ve learned.
  5. The whole point of Family Formation is to make passing on the Faith an integral part of your family life.  If setting aside an hour each week isn’t working for you, try some of these ideas to figure out another format.

Tips from the Field

February 2, 2014

We’re always glad to hear ideas from Family Formation DREs and families!  This one comes from a veteran DRE who has found an easy way to help her program’s parents build community and get more out of the monthly talks.

I believe Family Formation is firmly rooted in the minds and hearts of our families. We continue to make small changes with the hopes of improving the program each year. One of the bigger changes in the past couple of years is to break off into small group after the adult sharing with questions about what they just heard from the presenter. This has been a challenge for many because sharing about faith matters is difficult. The more we do it the better it becomes. We feel it is creating an environment for our parents to get to know each other a bit more outside of the Sunday liturgy with the hopes of building community within the church and most importantly to help people talk about their faith so it becomes easier for them. Hearing what others do in their homes to grow in their faith also gives them encouragement and sometimes the push they need to do the same. Changes takes time…..just plain hard for most!

heart mind

Parent Idea Exchange: Advent Edition

December 7, 2013

We had a little extra time near the end of this month’s parent meetings and used the opportunity to share ideas for celebrating Advent with our families.  It’s still close enough to the beginning of the season for you to pick up on some of these great ideas from our parents:

  • “Our family uses a traditional Advent wreath during our daily prayer time.  Kids are fascinated by fire and the chance to either light or blow out the candle each day holds their attention through the prayer time.”
  • We saved the Jesse Tree we made in a different cycle of Family Formation and reuse it each year.  It reminds us of the big picture of salvation history in little daily bite-sized pieces.”
  • “We like to gather together each evening to read a book like Jotham’s Journey.  It’s an exciting story with a chapter for each day of Advent.”
  • “Our family likes to set up for Christmas in stages.  We start with a few simple things like a strand of lights here and there, setting up the undecorated tree on the 2nd Sunday of Advent, and then decorating it on the 3rd Sunday, etc.  It helps to build excitement as the visible presence of Christmas grows and grows throughout Advent.”
  • One mom likes to begin her decorating at the fabric store.  “If you can even find one, buying a purple tablecloth would be expensive, but I can go to JoAnn Fabrics and buy a big piece of purple fabric for much less.  I also buy some extra fabric for decorating in other places.  For example, some purple strips on a wreath or under a candle remind us that it’s still Advent, but I can easily remove all signs of purple on Christmas Eve and we’re all ready for Christmas!”
  • “Our nativity set goes up right away at the beginning of Advent, but the figures are set up in different places in the house.  All during Advent, they gradually move closer and closer to ‘Bethlehem’ set up on our prayer table.”
  • “We set up a little, empty crib and throughout Advent the children have opportunities to add a piece of straw to it each time they go out of their way to do something kind for someone else.  By the end of Advent, we say their kindness has helped prepare a more comfortable, welcome bed for the baby Jesus’ birth.”
  • One dad told us about his ban on Christmas music until Christmas actually arrives.  “Usually I’m the Advent Music  Police, but this year I tried to sneak a few songs in and it was the kids who insisted we wait!”

Yet another great idea from Anne

November 15, 2013

This one has all sorts of fun possibilities!

minute to win it

Our evaluations last spring had the request that we do activities where the people get to know other people at the sessions. Another request was that we cover a little bit on the Mass each month since the Mass is central to our faith.

I took those two requests and combined them into one activity. Each month we now begin with “A Minute to Win It“. Everyone gets a partner (not a family member and someone they have not partnered with on previous months). They learn each other’s name.

Then we do some activity for one minute — first one partner and then the other. The activity is then connected to a part of the Mass and that part of the Mass is explained. The Minute to Win It activity is then repeated.

A couple of the Minute to Win It activities we have done: 

  • How many drops of water can you get on a penny without the water running off (the priest pouring a small amount of water into the wine)
  • Sucking up on a straw, how many bean could they move from a plate to a sheet of paper with the outline of a “3”. (What does the priest do with his mouth 3 times at Mass? kiss the altar (twice) and kiss the Book of the Gospels)

Minute to Win It has become a fun way to meet other people and to learn about the Mass.

NOTE: If you’d like a little more Minute to Win It inspiration, just google “Minute to Win It games” for lots of great ideas.

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