Last Wednesday, I volunteered to help Sam’s class with a Marian Activity in school. It’s something my Alma Mater does every September as part of their celebration for Mary’s birthday, and for this particular one they ask parents who are Alumna of the school to participate.
Actually even if I wanted to get out of the activity because of another engagement, I couldn’t. For one reason or another, Sam knew I was going to be the one in school that day. She’s been counting down the days for the last two weeks. “Is it September 25 yet Dad? Because Mom’s coming to my school on September 25,” is what she’d ask repeatedly on her way out the door.
My daughter loves it that I volunteer and show up in her classroom, it makes it hard not to want to be there too. I suppose I volunteer often enough because her classmates already know me and call me by my first name. Or they say, “Hi Sam’s Mom!” I won’t deny I like being involved in Sam’s school activities as well. It’s a good chance to see what she’s up to on a daily basis. I also get to meet my co-parents and get to know them better. And the teachers know that I’m never too far away (I don’t know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing, but yes I’m always there!). Especially for this particular theme, I do want Sam to physically see that I give importance to learning about our faith.
Our batch of parents chose mini-Rosary making for the girls’ activities. I got quite excited because at least Sam would get to make her very first Rosary too. It had to be easy enough for the little hands to do, but also memorable and meaningful (like all school activities are supposed to be!).
And so with the help of Maga’s Kitchen’s staff (Maga is also, incidentally an alumna – so it’s three generations of us in the family), I volunteered to purchase the materials for 130 children.
I’d never seen so many Mother Mary medallions on one table in my life I tell you!
I also didn’t realize that it would take several prototypes and experimental passes for us to confidently say that it’s simple enough for a 4 year old or a 5 year old to do by herself.
As I was making these piles, Sam would come up and toy with one pile or two and some of the beads would roll away from their original area. Gaaaah! But it was good practice; imagine a table of 5 or 6 girls with 6 neat piles. They could easily all get mixed up. Which told me that we had to already make pre-Rosary kits before handing it all out.
And then of course — as a precaution, we brought extra beads and ribbons too, just in case!
The classes that did this activity the day before tipped us to tape the edge of the ribbon so that it would be easier for the girls to slide the beads through. So that morning while waiting for our time in the classrooms, my co-parents and I attached scotch tape to all the ribbons while laughing about our “production assembly line” preps for this activity. While fun, it was a lot more work than we had expected!
We had the girls string the beads in an A-B pattern so that there were rings to divide the 10 beads to make it easier to count (It was an easier alternative to string and tie a knot — a discover made during the prototyping stage).
Then the adults helped the girls tie it all together to make a little Rosary.
It was more a ring than a bracelet, and I’m not sure it’s officially considered a “real” Rosary because there’s no Crucifix… but I think the girls took the experience to heart. Some kept it in their pocket right away and said that they would carry it everywhere. We told them to get it blessed when they next went to Church.
I don’t quite remember having these little activities with our Alumna parents growing up. They’re good “progressive” changes the school has adapted and I quite like them. Plus it allows the parents to get creative too, and have a say in what or how the lesson can be carried out (And I’d never made a Rosary before in my life! :)) Up until a few weeks ago when we were planning this activity, I never thought to teach Sam about praying the Rosary. In fact I’d set aside my one (or two or three) and haven’t picked it up since. This simple activity has actually made it all the more meaningful: I can now carry a Rosary ring that my daughter and I made together wherever I go. 🙂