We had our First Friday homeschool gathering at my house last week and our theme was the Stations of the Cross. For the younger children I wanted to use the 'Stations of the Cross Box' idea - presenting tangible symbols for each of the stations. This seemed like a wonderful way to help little ones learn the fourteen stations and also give them something to hold and think about as they 'meditate' on the Way of the Cross. This is not my idea but one I came across as seen here in this blog post at Growing With My Girls. In the comments there is a link to another post which gives credit to the original creators of this idea, and The Bookworm also has a link there for beautiful cards of the Stations that you can print out.
Since I had over a dozen little people to provide for I adapted the idea somewhat. Instead of the large picture cards I printed out a fold-out booklet of the stations for each child to color.
These can be found here: Catholicartworks. Scroll down to the images of the fold out booklet - I used the black and white images. Click on the image to bring up a printable pdf. I used card stock to make them sturdy. Print one page and then the other on the back of it. Be sure you have the pages lined up so that stations 3 & 4 are right on the reverse of stations 11 & 12. Then cut the cardstock in half lengthwise. Fold each piece in half twice to make the page folds. Place the two pieces next to each other and secure with scotch tape; flip it over and tape the seam on the other side as well. You should have stations 1 - 7 on the front side -
and 8 - 14 on the reverse. These are very nice little booklets and I printed out extras for some of the older children who like to color (and even one of the moms).
For something less expensive than boxes I purchased paper bags in purple at the craft store. I made labels for the bags that say 'My Stations of the Cross Bag' and the prayer: We adore You O Christ and we praise You, because by Your holy cross You have redeemed the world. (I actually just modified the prayer card printouts from this post.)
I spoke to the children a little bit about the stations, showing them each item that went with each station. My items are similar to those the other moms used with a few simplifications as this was for a group:
- Jesus is condemned to death - a piece of rough twine. I talked about how the rope used on Jesus was much thicker and how it must have cut His precious hands.
- Jesus takes up His cross - wooden cross
- Jesus falls the first time - bandaid How Our Lord must have hurt falling under that weight>
- Jesus meets his Mother - blue ribbon for Our Lady's mantle
- Simon helps to carry the cross - wooden heart
- Veronica wipes the Face of Jesus - Holy Face sketched in pencil on scrap of white fabric
- Jesus falls the second time - bandaid
- Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem - tissue for the weeping women
- Jesus falls the third time - bandaid
- Jesus is stripped of His garments - piece of purple felt for His purple cloak
- Jesus is nailed to the cross - nail Oh, how big their eyes got when I talked about much bigger nails.
- Jesus dies on the cross - plastic crucifix A good time to remind them of the devotion of kissing a crucifix.
- Jesus is taken down from the cross - a picture of the Pieta We talked about Our Lady's sorrow.
- Jesus is laid in the tomb - a rock Spoke about the big stone and how it was rolled away on Easter morn.
The cross and heart pieces can of course be painted, but again I was keeping it simple. As the children finished coloring I gave them the items for their bags.
Kateri just loves her bag and is always looking for someone to help her 'learn my stations'. The handle bags are just right for little ones who love to carry things around, and she loves that it is her very own. She is learning to match up the items with the stations, and is also working on what comes next. She talks about 'Jesus' boo boos' and the 'Blessed Mother's blue ribbon'. She can't possibly understand the enormity of Our Lord's suffering but she is taking little steps in learning our traditions and our beautiful Faith.
We also have a set of colored station prints inserted into a small photo album that she likes to use as well.
All of the little children seemed to enjoy this activity, and I hope their parents find it meaningful to use with them at home. (Obviously these items should be kept away from littles who still put things in their mouths.) I hope to post next about what the older children made for their craft...