How To Make a Resurrection Garden

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It’s that time of year, folks. Lent is upon us once again! While this is certainly considered a somber season as us Christians prepare for the death, and ultimately the resurrection of our Lord, I’ve found it is also an abundant time of learning in Sunday school.

Compared to the season of advent which yields (at most) four classes to learn about and prepare for the birth of Jesus Christ, this year we will have five or six classes during Lent (including Palm Sunday, which is always a lot of fun!)

There are so many great crafts and activities to engage kids with during Lent. A great craft to begin the Lenten season with is a Resurrection Garden.

No doubt you’ve seen this idea on Pinterest in the last couple of years, and the good news is they appear to be increasing in popularity! I found this idea three years ago when I was teaching my first year of Sunday school. This was during a time when I was still adjusting to teaching kindergarten and was desperate to find activities to fill class time. I have kept this activity around ever since because it works so well with my lesson plans and the kids absolutely love it!

Now, while watching grass grow is exciting, planting grass seeds is inarguably more exciting for six year olds. Not only is planting the garden fun, it relates directly to our lesson for the first week of Lent: The Parable of the Sower.

Remember the story about the farmer, and while he’s planting some of his seeds fall on the road and are eaten by birds, some fall on rocks and dry up, and some fall on rich soil and grow big and strong. The lesson is that, just like seeds, we grow in God’s love. And Lent helps us to grow just like good soil, water, and sunlight helps seeds to grow into plants. This is our main lesson for Lent and it could not work more perfectly with the Resurrection garden.

So with that, let’s turn to the hands-on aspect of making a Resurrection garden of your very own!

Supplies:

Medium/Large terra cotta plant saucer

Small terra cotta pot

Potting soil

Pebbles (for the path to the tomb)

Flat stone

Fast growing grass seed or cat grass (we used a mix of both in ours)

Spray bottle (for watering)

For more detailed instructions I recommend checking out We Are That Family. However, if you’re interested in making a garden that will look nice immediately Catholic Icing has a great resurrection garden that uses moss instead of grass seed.

As for making a resurrection garden in a catechism class setting, I have some specific recommendations. (I teach kindergarten, so I often try to make my crafts as simple and mess-free in the classroom as possible.)

I put most of the garden together ahead of time- as in I put in the tomb, dirt, and gravel path before going to class. The only thing left is to plant the seeds which, as I said before, is the main lesson of the day anyway.

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After assembling the class resurrection garden, all we need now are some seeds!

In class after reading the parable of the sower, my students and I head over to the resurrection garden where I have a small bag of grass seed, a small ziploc bag of potting soil (to sprinkle over the seeds), and a spray bottle filled with water.

The kids each take a handful of seeds and sprinkle them over the garden. We discuss whether the seeds will grow better in the dirt or on the rocks, just like in the story. Once we’ve sprinkled our grass seed, everyone takes a handful of dirt and sprinkles it on top as well. Then the kids take turns spraying water on the garden.

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Our resurrection garden is now ready to grow!

That sounds like it goes really smoothly, but if you’ve ever been around kindergartners you know that’s not how it goes at all. Dirt and seeds will be flying everywhere. By the time my students were done, I couldn’t even see the rock path anymore. But that’s part of the fun of it. (Besides, after class I can just take it home and dig the rock path out again…)

I also recommend taking the kids outside to look for twigs to make crosses out of, and making those in class as well!

My students have a lot of fun getting their hands dirty with this activity and I think it really helps reinforce the parable of the sower.

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After just one week, this is what our resurrection garden looks like! My students and I could not be more excited about how fast it’s growing!

I must admit, I was quite surprised to see how fast our resurrection garden has grown. After just one week it is already in full bloom! I’m glad I bought the fast-growing grass seed, it was clearly worth the investment. My students were thrilled to come back to class this Sunday to see their garden growing so well. Seeing their eyes light up with wonder when they saw all the grass reminded me once again of why I love teaching Sunday school. Kindergartners find joy in everything, even watching grass grow!

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Stay tuned for updates on our Sunday school resurrection garden!

 

Saint Nicholas Day Craft

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Happy Second Week of Advent! For this week’s craft my students made their own miniature Saint Nicholas!

St. Nick’s Day is December 6 and there are plenty of ways to celebrate with your little ones. The most popular way you may have heard of is setting your shoes out for St. Nicholas to leave candy in. I’ve been doing this the last two years with my students, and of course they love it. I think having class with no shoes on is the most entertaining part for them, but when they find that St. Nicholas (or a fellow teacher) has left candy canes or chocolate coins in their shoes, it’s an added bonus.

A new activity we tried this year was making this St. Nicholas figure. You can get the printout here -much thanks to stnicholascenter.org  and Catholic Icing for this one. It’s absolutely adorable!

I noticed when I printed it out that it was not recommended for young elementary students, but I do love a challenge.

This was not very challenging, though. I had the kids color their St. Nicholas and his various accessories (a staff and bag of gold) first. Then I cut out the smaller parts for them, while they cut out St. Nick.

Next, you have to roll St. Nick into his charming cone shape. Adults should do this part, as it’s the most challenging part for little hands. You can use either tape or a glue stick to keep him together. 

After that, I just helped the students glue the accessories to St. Nick’s hands and showed them how to glue his arms on. Some students needed more assistance with this than others, but all in all the craft went quite smoothly!

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A couple examples of my students’ St. Nicks. I printed theirs bigger than my example to make it easier to work with.

Once they’d finished putting their St. Nicholas together, I let them decorate him with glitter glue. This was definitely their favorite part.  

I thought this craft turned out so well and was a great way to celebrate St. Nicholas Day! My kindergarten students seemed to enjoy it as well- especially the boys who discovered when they threw their St. Nicks in the air they became the equivalent of paper airplanes… 

Advent Wreath Craft

First things first, happy first week of Advent! To celebrate, it’s time for our first official craft post! This week in Sunday school my students and I made Advent wreaths! The idea for this came completely from Catholic Icing (which I am a big fan of!) They had great instructions for how to make this  (far better than I could ever explain, trust me…) 

This was my first year making these with students and I must admit, they turned out far better than expected! Keep in mind, I have a small class this year so I was able to help each child individually for specific parts that can be pretty tricky for 5-6 year olds. But if you’re doing this craft with just a handful of students or your own kids at home this craft is a lot of fun!

Making these can be a little time consuming (depending on how fast and focused your kids are- about half my students focused really well, while the other half.. did not- so it took a little under an hour to completely finish them. (Trust me, I know you can make these a lot faster than that…)

Since the directions for making these are on Catholic Icing, I’m going to focus on what I did differently.

First, instead of using yellow pipecleaners for the candles, we used green (we had a lot of green pipecleaners to spare). This meant I had to attach the little candle flames (we used sparkly yellow pipecleaners, which looked so cute!) Attaching them can be a little tricky, even for me, so make sure to do this part for the kids.

To attach the flame, I just left some space at the top of the green pipecleaner after putting on the beads, then looped the green around the yellow flame, tucking it back into the bead.

Once we finished making the candles, we looped pieces of tulle around the wreath to make it look fuller. In class, I just tied the piece to the base pipecleaner and the kids were able to wrap the tulle around it. Sometimes the tulle would get tangled with the candles but untangling it is pretty easy, and for the most part the kids handled this themselves. We wrapped two long pieces of tulle around our wreaths, wrapping the second one a little bit looser to make it look fuller.

Also, if you’re having trouble keeping your candles standing up straight (I know we sure did) focusing on wrapping the tulle tighter around the candles helps them stay up.

Another helpful hint: if there’s any parts of the tulle that are sticking out too much or parts that look a little bare, just cut a small piece (maybe three inches wide) and tie it anywhere on the wreath you see fit. We did this on a couple places on our wreaths and it helps add texture as well!

Once you’ve tied the ends of your tulle to the wreath, you can call it good! Or, if you want to make it look even more “wreath-like” you can glue some small red and green pom-poms to the wreath, like berries. My students enjoyed this part immensely!

And that’s about it! Like I said, this craft went better than I could have hoped for our first try, and it looked so cute when we were done!

*I will admit, the downside to this craft is that all four candles are lit, even though we’re only in the first week of Advent… But I don’t think my kindergartners were too concerned with this, since we discussed the order of lighting the candles, and had our own class Advent wreath to light.

Anyway, let me know if you have any questions or comments on our Advent wreath this week!

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Here’s a couple examples of the advent wreaths my students made!

Welcome to The Crafty Catechist!

Alright, time to kick off this blog with our first post!

I’ll start with some introductory stuff… My name’s Larysa and I’m in the midst of my third year of teaching a kindergarten catechism class. I was raised Catholic and graduated from a Catholic high school. I started volunteering in the Religious Education program as a project for school, but quickly fell in love with it!

Teaching kindergarten has been so fun for me, and I’ve enjoyed it more than I could have ever expected. I’m an only child, so getting to be around little kids is something I definitely don’t take for granted. These kids are a ton of fun and always keep me on my toes, but I must say I am truly blessed to be able to work with them every week!

My hope for this blog is to be able to share some of my crafts and ideas with other like-minded Christians. I plan to post ideas ranging from handmade advent wreaths, to “stained glass” crosses made with tissue paper, to Holy Spirit windsocks- not to mention all the various things you can do with glitter glue!- all made with kindergarten students in mind (and tested by them as well!)

So please stay tuned for crafts to come! (My hope is to blog weekly with different ideas for upcoming classes, but we’ll see where the year takes us!)