This past Saturday I gave a workshop at the annual Spring Training event for the Episcopal Church in Connecticut. My presentation involved sharing ideas of how we can make worship more formational for children as well as how we can help parents make faith conversations and practices part of every day life at home. It occurred to me as I was putting some materials together for a “show & tell” that my process (and examples) make a great example of how to do both.
Basically, I gathered up all the supplies that I would put together in a “quiet bag” that I might bring to church with me if I had a preschooler or 8-year-old sitting alongside me in the pew for an entire worship service. What if we made such bags available to children to pick up before they entered our worship spaces? What if some of these objects were put into a “home box” and given to families for their use in at home or in the car?
And here’s what I collected, starting with objects for a toddler and increasing with complexity for an older child (note that some objects should not be given to very small children due to choking hazards):
- A board book about prayer: Anne Kitch’s Bless This Day: Toddler Prayers
- A butterfly teether (that can also be used as a lacing toy) from MammaMadeThem
- A soft-stuffed animal, such as this EpiscoBear
- A small baggie with crayons or colored pencils
- A worship bulletin (for children). Check out the variety that are listed here
- The Communion Cube
- A lacing cross from itsthesmallthings (who has some other great soft toys)
- A book to follow along with during worship such as: Let Us Pray (Jennie Turrell), Alleluia! Amen. (Gretchen Wolff-Pritchard – scroll down on the link), or Holy Communion for Children (Forward Movement)
- A page from any of these books for coloring: Water of Baptism, Water for Life (Anne Kitch), What We Do in Church (Anne Kitch), What We Do in Advent (Anne Kitch), What We Do in Lent (Anne Kitch), or When the Bishop Comes to Visit (Brook Packard)
- Flat Jesus (or make your own “flat” saint in which your church is named after)
- A prayer cube
- Prayer beads (with simple instructions on how to use them)
- A finger labyrinth – make a small one and laminate it
- Laminated pictures of objects from your church’s sanctuary, with the word written on the reverse side, held together on a key ring
- Laminated images of portions of the worship service, with words written on the reverse side, held together on a key ring (examples can be made from Get Ready! Get Set! Worship!)
Cloth bags can be decorated with your church’s logo or each child’s name to use week after week. These can be placed in a basket in the narthex, on a low child’s coat rack (reachable for young children), or in a low book rack, such as used in nursery schools. The book rack can have a variety of children’s literature, picture books, and bibles on them for borrowing – in the pew or for home. Books for parents can also be placed there, such as Anne Kitch’s The Anglican Family Prayer Book, Wendy Claire Barrie’s forthcoming book Faith at Home: A Handbook for Cautiously Christian Parents, or any number of booklets from Candle Press.
What would you add?