In the summer, bring families to Church after Mass one Sunday or on a Monday evening. Gather to do an activity as a group and work together through the Church scavenger hunt in the summer issue of Take Out (see Pages 10-11).
Conduct the “church scavenger hunt” in groups. With parents and kids together, divide into as many groups as needed to allow about 5 families per group. Recruit other parish staff or older parishioners to help lead families on their Church tour. Walk through the Church and find the various sacramentals.
As you stand by the baptismal font, or “baptistery,” refer to another article in the summer issue of Take Out: “Splash! The Wonders of Water” (page 12). Invite the children to gently splash their fingers in the baptismal font while you talk about water. We are baptized in water, we drink water, we need water to live. Does this mean we need Jesus to live? Why is the water in the baptismal font different than other water? Because it is blessed! Talk about some of the ways we can use holy water in our homes and families.
What is the significance of the Paschal or Easter candle? What does this large candle represent? Talk with families about their baptism and how the candle is often placed near the font to remind us that, through our baptism, we put on the light of Christ.
Pause at the altar and notice the cross. Is the cross in your parish more contemporary or traditional? Is the crucified Jesus on the cross or the Risen Christ with arms outstretched? Is the altar made of wood or stone? Does it look like a table? Remind families that the altar is the “table of the Lord,” the place we are all invited to eat, drink and become more fully the Body of Christ.
If your parish has statues, talk about each of them and why they are special. This can lead into a discussion of the Communion of the Saints and how, as Catholics, we believe that we all the holy men and women living and dead are still members in the Body of Christ. If your parish has a statue of Mary, have families pluck fresh flowers and lay them at her feet.
Make sure the kids know to be quiet at the tabernacle because it contains the real presence of Jesus.
Expand the Tour
Now that it is summer and the weather is nice, take a walk around the outside of your parish and see if you have the following:
If your parish doesn’t have a reflection or tranquility garden, talk with your parish DRE or pastor about the possibility of putting one in. Plant the flowers and watch them grow through the summer.
Follow up the Church tour with the large groups gathering in the social hall for cookies, coffee and lemonade. Have families share stories about other churches they have visited and the differences from their home parish. Our Catholic tradition is rich in variety!
JUNE 1 — MATTHEW 7:21-27: THE TRUE DISCIPLE. Think about a difficulty in your life. How did you handle it? Who/what helped you? What is something in your life that you build on solid ground (your faith in God)? How would it be different if your life was sandy soil (didn’t have room for God)? When is it hardest to live and act like a follower of Jesus? Write a family Creed. Next to each statement write or draw how you can live that belief.
JUNE 8 — MATTHEW 9:9-13: THE CALL OF MATTHEW. Have you ever been rejected? How did you feel? When have you felt forgiven? How did that feel? Have you ever reached out to those who have been rejected? Is there someone who is rejected/outcast that we could reach out to this week? Jesus says to Matthew, “Follow me.” How does Jesus want you to follow Him this week?
JUNE 15 — MATTHEW 9:36—10:8: THE MISSION OF THE TWELVE. Who do you know today who are answering the call to serve others? Who are the people in your life who need God’s compassionate love? What gift have you received from God that you can share with others?
JUNE 22 — MATTHEW 10:26-33: COURAGE UNDER PERSECUTION. Who do you know who protects you? Describe a time that you felt cared for and protected by God. Have you ever been afraid of something that stopped you from being a follower of Jesus? Of helping others? Write a blessing prayer of protection for your family.
JUNE 29 — MATTHEW 16:13-19: PETER THE ROCK. When God calls me by name, what do I say to God? Jesus called Peter a rock. What would he call you? How would you answer Jesus’ question, “Who do you say that I am?” How would people describe you?
JULY 6 — MATTHEW 11:25-30: JESUS PRAYS TO HIS FATHER. When are you most worried or tired. What do you do to find rest and peace? What worry/burden does Jesus want to take off your shoulders? Do you tell Jesus what you’re worried about? Tell about a time that God helped you when you were worried. How will you show that you are gentle and have a humble heart like Jesus? How can our family make light the burdens of life for each other?
JULY 13 — MATTHEW 13:1-23: PARABLE OF THE SEED. What kind of soil do you think your heart is? How will God’s Word grow strong in your heart, in your actions? Have you ever been surprised by how God’s Word touched you, helped you, changed you? Have you ever heard God’s word spoken to you by someone else? How would you describe your heart?
JULY 20 — MATTHEW 13:24-43: PARABLE OF THE WEEDS. Wheat stands for the good that is done for God’s kingdom. What are two kinds of wheat in your field? What will you do to make your wheat even stronger? What might be a weed that gets in your way? What can you do to get rid of it? The sower tells his helpers not to pull out the weeds. We’re not to judge others, but to pray for all and be good examples. Think of a way we could do that. Where do we find the signs of God’s kingdom in our world?
JULY 27 — MATTHEW 13:44-52: TREASURE AND THE PEARL AND PARABLE OF THE NET. As you walk around your neighborhood, what signs of God’s hand at work do you see? What treasures of God’s love do you have inside you? Do you have a buried treasure God wants you to share? How can our family share God’s treasured love this week within our family or with someone else?
AUG. 3 — MATTHEW 14:13-21: JESUS FEEDS FIVE THOUSAND. Was there a time you felt you really needed God’s help? Can you remember a meal where the food was superabundant? Can you remember a time when you felt God’s superabundant love? What words in this reading remind you of Eucharist? Why are family meals important to you? Why is the Eucharist important to you? Write a meal blessing prayer that your family can use.
AUG. 10 — MATTHEW 14:22-33: JESUS WALKS ON WATER. Jesus said, “Do not be afraid.” How does that make you feel? What do you think about when you hear that? Where is the place (your mountain), where you go to pray? When you pray, do you tell God about everything? If you had been Peter in this story, what would you have said, felt and done? Has there been a time when God has surprised you? Watch for all the ways God is present in your life this week.
AUG. 17 — MATTHEW 15:21-28: THE CANAANITE WOMAN. Have we ever been embarrassed by someone? Why? How do we treat someone who is different? This woman had great faith. When has your faith in God been this trusting?
AUG. 24 — MATTHEW 16:13-20: PETER THE ROCK. Who are the leaders in our life? Our Church? How can we help them? Do we pray for them? When are you like a leader? What do you say and do? What are you teaching about God’s love by your words and actions? How would you answer Jesus question: “Who do you say that I am?” When do you feel God’s caring love for you?
AUG. 31 — MATTHEW 16:21-27: PROPHECY OF THE PASSION. What “cross” do you think you have to carry right now? Looking at others in your life (your family, friends), what are their crosses? How can you help them carry their crosses? Was there a time when you stood up for something that was right even when others had a different opinion? Is that carrying a cross?
Easy Prep: “Great Harvest Grain Chips and Glean Beans”
Distribute to each kid a serving size of chips and jelly beans. Read the story of Ruth and Boaz from Ruth 2:1-17. Encourage the kids to plant the jelly bean seeds in the rows of the wavy, grain chips. Ask them to re-tell each other the story of Ruth and Boaz as they glean the beans and munch on chips.
Kid-Made: “Multiplying Muffins”
Make Abundance Filling by whipping ingredients together with a mixer until fluffy.
Tell the children: As the muffins baked, they expanded, just as God multiplied the bread in the story of Elisha in 2 Kings 4:42-44. Not only was food enough to feed the 100 people, there were leftovers. God gives in abundance. These snacks aren’t just muffins, we are going to put sweet treasures inside.
Fill the decorating bags with filling. Push the small tip into the center of each muffin and squeeze to fill. Enjoy your muffin snack and leftover filling. Take extra muffins to give to others. As you share the leftovers, share how God provides more than we need.
Tree Top Treat: “Toucan Bill’s Bill”
Talk the toucan talk with this sweet treat. Prepare for this snack by pre-freezing the bananas. Cut off the ends of the bananas (about 1/2 inch), and insert a craft stick in the cut end, only halfway in to make a handle. Freeze for at least one hour.
Once the bananas are frozen, microwave the chocolate and butter in a large bowl for 30 seconds at a time, until melted. Stir to smooth. Dip each banana in the chocolate to look like the bill of a toucan. Flash freeze on wax paper to harden. Transfer the treats to freezer-safe airtight containers until serving time.
Use a black marker to draw a toucan eye on the outside of the index finger’s knuckle. Hold the banana’s stick near the marker “eye” to make a toucan puppet. Use the toucan puppets to sing the call of the toucan, “Dios te de!” as you eat your sweet treats. This means, “God gives to you!” Chat about the gifts that God has given to you, and the way you hope to give God to others.
Easy Prep: “Grapesicles of the True Vine”
Treat the Rainforest Adventurers to all-natural mini-popsicles, plucked from the True Vine.
Ahead of time, wash the grapes thoroughly and gently blot them dry with a clean dish towel. Place the bunches of grapes on a cookie sheet and freeze for two hours or until firm. Please note that you must freeze the grapes at least two hours ahead of time for this snack.
At snack time, lay out grapes, scissors, and gloves. Encourage participants to put on gardening gloves and use the scissors to “prune” the vine by cutting their own cluster of grapes. Pruning is significant in gardening for better growth and more fruit production.
Read the Bible story about the True Vine from John 15:1-5, 7-17. We are the grapes, and Jesus is the vine; what a sweet truth for the sweet tooth.
Tree Top Treat: “Tad’s Tongue and a Bug Buffet”
Sprinkle a serving size of raisin “bugs” on a plate. Unroll the fruit about two inches at the top, and place it atop the raisins. Tuck one raisin in the center of the coiled fruit, as if it is a trapped bug on a frog’s tongue.
Tell the children: Like a mustard seed, Tad’s tongue is small but mighty. A tree frog’s tongue is long, yet it fits inside its tiny mouth. What other things from God’s kingdom are small but powerful? (Mosquitos, salt, ants, and me!)
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