What do a cornucopia, a manger, the creation story, an ark, a cross, Mary’s life through pictures and trucks have in common? At some point in the past couple years, they have adorned my kitchen wall as part of our faith-through-arts-n-crafts explorations. So, this week, for those who want a quick tip for Works for Me Wednesday, here’s mine on a fun way to honor your faith in five simple steps:
Today, although our “God on the Kitchen Wall” kick, as I came to call it, has petered off while we concentrate on other explorations, I am reminded as I begin to brainstorm activity ideas for Lent. Why? Well, because a Lenten Cross was the focus of one of our wall creations. So, today, I take a look back — both for myself and, hopefully, to inspire some others, at the six months we spent putting God on our Kitchen Wall.
Praising God in November
Most would agree that gratitude is vital habit of a happy person. We certainly believe this is true! And so began the first of our kitchen “bulletin boards” two Novembers ago when Luke began to show an increased interest in coloring everything in sight – including the kitchen walls! Instead of letting frustration overcome me, I decided to shape his coloring interest into a lesson in gratitude. Thus, I made a paper bag cornucopia and printed out a bunch of fruit and vegetables pictures from various sources online. I then wrote, “We thank God for…” on the cornucopia, and each day, the kids colored a fruit or veggie picture to post on it. On each piece, we wrote something that the kids, Mike or I was grateful for, or simply whatever word popped rolled off the kids’ tongues. The art-in-progress that developed served almost like a Thanksgiving Advent calendar, and I was ever-grateful that coloring on the actual walls ceased (at least momentarily. Nina later passed through the same stage. Praise God for Magic Erasers!)
Waiting for Jesus in December
When the Thanksgiving bulletin came down, Luke wanted something else up. As joy and patience are two qualities we feel are key in happy people, as Christmas was just around the corner, our December bulletin idea was a no-brainer. We would celebrate the joy of baby Jesus’ arrival while practicing patience in waiting for Christmas day. So, again, we broke out the brown bags, this time to make a manger. Then, with the help of the DLKT website, we found enough easy to print and color pictures to have one for each day until Christmas. Luke and Nina thoroughly enjoyed not only coloring and posting these, but also playing with them, re-arranging them like paper dolls as they imagined their own versions of the Christmas Story.
In the Beginning in January
Luckily, the blessings of our Savior’s birth is something to dwell on! Why? Because we couldn’t bear to take down our December display right away. In fact, it did not come down until the New Year was upon us, and with it, thoughts of new beginnings… Since we had just started reading the Creation story in the Hooked on Bible Stories kit I got for Christmas ,and since I was wanting to ease myself into a more steady effort at home pre-schooling the kids, I decided to use the Creation story as our new bulletin theme. And since Creation invites creativity, the kids and I decided to move away from brown paper bags and simple coloring toward other mediums. Torn paper, chalk, cotton, paint, stickers, tissue paper, etc. all helped us bring the Creation story to life on our kitchen wall.
Who Built the Ark in February
As mid-February rolled around, and the kids’ cousin Briar came for a sleepover, we decided it was time to move on with our wall displays. Since the kids and I had been reading about Noah, the ark seemed a natural choice for the next one. Thus, out came the – Oh no, not again! – brown paper bags, as well as some scissors and cereal boxes. Before long, the four of us created our own 3-D ark, which we promptly filled with colored pictures of Noah and a variety of animals. What fun Nina and Luke had in the weeks that followed helping the animals go into and out of the ark as they recreated the story of how Noah listen and obeyed. (Hopefully, some of the listening and obeying message actually sunk in!)
Thanking Jesus During Lent in March and April
And, then, came Lent… I read a great idea in The Word Among Us, which led me to– drum roll please – cut up brown paper bags again! We used bag strips to make a cross on which we taped a picture of the St. Damio crucifix – one that is more kid-friendly than many other crucifixion depictions. Above that, we posted the words to a little ditty we had made up to sing during some of our prayer times throughout the season: “Thank you, Jesus, for going on the cross. Thank you for giving us our lives.” (The kids painted these words.) Our intention was to have the kids draw, color and write about one person in our lives each day for whom we were thankful for, posting these on the cross alongside Jesus. These intentions went the way that many do… We failed to get all 40 days worth of folks up on the cross . But, we did keep at least that many folks in our thoughts, prayers and hearts!
Learning About Mary in May
If I had thought of it in time, I would have taken down our cross on Easter eve as the kids were sleeping and replaced it with a gorgeous “He has Risen!” display. But, as reality stood, the cross didn’t come down until May. And, what took its place? Why the Queen of May, of course — Mary! When Luke wanted to color and post a picture of the Blessed Virgin Mary and baby Jesus one day, our new build-a-bulletin wall began. Each day with my help, Luke and Nina said, colored and posted a new phrase of the “Hail Mary”. We also read Just Like Mary (without looking at the pictures on pages 29 and 31, which some might feel are a bit too graphic for toddlers), as well as a host of other wonderful Mary-based library books. Then, we jumped online and Luke helped me find appropriate pictures related to Mary’s biography to print, color and caption. These, we hung on the wall, creating a storyboard of Mary’s life. As we looked at and talked about this story, we discovered new ways we can be like Mary – through loving and trusting God, saying “yes” to him, etc.
A Personal Blessing for Our Family in June– Nina
As May turned to June, did we continue to use our kitchen wall as a faith bulletin board? In a way… As usual, when I took down our May display, the kids wanted to replace it with something else. However, instead of creating a display based on a more universal faith-based theme, we decided to honor one of our own personal blessings: Nina! The ninth of June marked our little girl’s second birthday. So, we decorated the entire kitchen wall with ‘Happy 2nd Birthday, Nina!’ letters and – yes, although Nina is not a little boy- trucks. Indeed, our little girl was passing through an intense fascination with trucks last June and told us that “fwucks” was what she wanted to color with Brother for birthday decorations. And so it was – Nina, and her development as a unique child in God’s kingdom, is what we honored on our kitchen wall last June. As we did, we hoped that through prayer and, perhaps, further fun with faith on the kitchen wall, Nina would develop a strong relationship with God as she continues to grow. Likewise, we prayed that Luke would develop a growing relationship with God… Those prayers are answered daily (even though our wall creations are on pause at the moment) and we are so grateful for it!
Indeed, as parents, we know God so loved the world, that he gave us his only son. We also recognize that he so loves us that he has entrusted us with Luke and Nina, and now a new blessing on the way. That gift is awesome, inspiring, (sometimes, exhausting!) and always precious. We thank God for our children and the catalyst their faith formation has become in re-igniting our own. We also, of course, are grateful to have a big, open kitchen wall to share some of it all on! Although, granted, this year, I think our Lenten art might find a new home in our house – perhaps our liturgical table.
Stay tuned and I will share ideas as we are blessed by them…
And, if you want others Works for Me Wednesday tips, please see the links at We Are THAT Family.
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