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As we know, May is a month that the Catholic Church has traditionally dedicated to Our Blessed Mother Mary. But did you know that during the month of May, the Church’s Liturgical Calendar marks THREE solemnities? On May 16, we celebrate the Ascension of the Lord (except for the ecclesiastical provinces of Boston, Hartford, New York, Newark, Omaha, and Philadelphia, which celebrate the Ascension on May 13). Then, Easter comes to an end on May 23, Pentecost Sunday. Finally, on May 30, we celebrate the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity. Let’s take these opportunities our Mother Church gives us to rejoice and celebrate together the goodness of our Lord!
Every week in the GROW newsletter, you will find a helpful tip for teaching your Gospel Weeklies lesson, a reflection on the Sunday Gospel, and information about our online resources and seasonal activities. Here are tips for teaching the Gospel Weeklies lessons this week:
Lesson Theme: We grow to be like Jesus.
The YouTube address provided in the Teaching Guide on page TG4-30 is no longer working. To find a video for this week’s story, Swimmy, click here.
If you can, bring in a branch or plant to help illustrate the Gospel. Even a small twig you find on the way to class can be helpful!
After the children have cut out the squares on page 3, we suggest you get them started on the activity by asking, “Who can find Lucas the gardener?” Have the children put one finger by the image of Lucas while you read the brief story about him on page TG4-31 of the Teaching Guide. Invite the children to find the two tools Lucas needs. (Remind them to look on both sides of each square.) Continue in this manner for each of the workers.
Lesson Theme: We belong to a church family.
Before you distribute Promise to the children, show them the cover of your copy and ask them to identify what is happening in the picture. Explain that you are going to change everything about the picture without drawing or writing a single thing on it. Then make the folds and ask the children what’s different. (Note the dotted fold lines at the top showing where to make the folds.) Give the children time to fold their own copies and encourage them to share the picture—and how they can change it—with their families.
You’ll need a ball of yarn for the optional “Get Connected” activity on page TG4-30 of the Teaching Guide.
If you would like to bring in a visual to illustrate the Gospel, almost any small plant or even a broken branch will do.
Take your time with the booklet activity on pages 3-4. Show the children how to cut the heavy horizontal line to create two long rectangles. Demonstrate how to nest the pages. After discussing what is happening on each page, encourage the children to bring their booklets with them to Mass so they can follow along.
Lesson Theme: Jesus brings us together.
If you would like to draw your own family tree to share with the children, just as Miss Noble does in the story on page 2, don’t worry about making it too complex. Just keep it simple. Your parents and grandparents are all you need.
If weather permits and there are some plants or trees on the grounds of your parish or school, you might take the children outside to proclaim the Gospel together. If the church is open and you are able, you might further emphasize the lesson by taking the children inside to the baptismal font, to show how how we are connected to Jesus by our Baptism.
Lesson Theme: We belong to a church family.
Prepare for this session by bringing in a live plant—the bigger the better. If there is already a plant in your learning space, invite the students to observe it before proclaiming the Gospel on page 4. If you don’t have a plant to share, consider borrowing one. Or, if weather permits and there are large plants or trees on your church or school grounds, invite the students outside to enjoy them as you proclaim the Gospel.
For the nature drawing activity on page 5, pay attention to students who might be struggling. Be aware that some children may, for one reason or another, spend less time outdoors than you might have when you were the same age. Be prepared with some questions to help them notice the natural environment, or the ways nature is brought inside. For example, you might ask what the weather is like today, or about students’ pets. You might also invite students to look around the classroom for signs of nature, such a wooden table or cross, Holy Water, or even a lit candle.
Lesson Theme: Jesus is the vine. We are the branches.
If you use the suggested gathering prayer in the Teaching Guide (page TG4-30), you may choose not to have the students join hands.
The students can probably identify Pope Francis in the cover photo, but most might not be able to identify Patriarch Bartholomew I. You can explain that he is the leader of the Eastern Orthodox Church. He and Pope Francis often speak out to protect refugees and God’s Creation.
Help students understand that the Psalm writing activity on page 7 is not like a school writing assignment. It is meant to help them find new ways to talk to God and express love for God—something we can keep doing all our lives. Encourage students to relax and even have fun while completing the activity. Remind them that there is no “correct” or “wrong” way of doing this, as long as they honestly express how they feel. You might play some background music to set a peaceful tone while students complete the activity.
DON’T FORGET to check out our Unit 4 Overview Webinars. You can find them in English and in Spanish here.
Image credit: shutterstock.com/KieferPix