A friend of mine just pointed me towards this free K-8 curriculum from the Nashville Dominicans, Virtue in Practice. There is a parent guide, and then PDF workbooks for four age groups: preschool – kindergarten, grades 1-2, 3-5, and 6-8. The program works on a three-year cycle, with one class a month from September through May. All students study the same virtue, but with a different patron saint at each grade level.
How I’d like to use it: Over the summer, a group of families from our city has been meeting to discuss the book Forming Intentional Disciples, in conjunction with CatholicMom.com’s book club. We determined two important things at our most recent meeting:
1. The first thing we need to do is work on our own personal relationships with Jesus, before we can hope to share our faith with others.
2. Our kids make a lot of noise.
We wanted to continue meeting family-to-family, but were overwhelmed by the sheer quantity of young children not sitting quietly watching a DVD while we tried to talk. So we’ve decided to try a split-session format. One week the men will get to meet for serious discussion and study, while ladies occupy the kids. The following round, ladies will get the peace and quiet, men get the kids.
I have no idea what the guys have planned for their turn with the kids — I imagine it involves touch football. But what I’m going to propose to the ladies is that we put together a plan for the kids. I was thinking of music and a craft, and was looking for some kind of discipleship study for the kids. We’ve used Little Flowers materials in the past, but we needed something co-ed this round. The sisters’ virtues study looks like just the ticket. And the price is right.
I’ll propose that we start with opening prayers and music time, introduce the virtue to the whole group, then break into to age-groups for a short discussion time. We’ll pick one of the activity options that works well in cramped quarters.
In the past, we’ve had good luck with this group of children doing a repeating craft activity every month. I know that many of our families will be studying medieval history this year, so I may propose that we do an illuminated-manuscript type craft for the monthly activity. That tends to scale up well — each child can make his manuscript as simple or elaborate as he likes. (I like The Art of Calligraphy by David Harris for learning historic lettering techniques.) Some of the other moms may have better ideas — maybe mining some ideas from Catholic Icing.
And of course we’ll finish with playtime — kids need fellowship too!