Thursday, November 17, 2016

Creating a Children's Prayer Table

I visited the kids' Level I Atrium classroom last year (read up on Catechesis of the Good Shepherd here if you're curious) and was inspired to create our own little prayer area for the kids where they could have a little quiet devotion time whenever they wanted. Over the years we've accumulated quite a lot of icons, statues, prayer cards, and other things that don't always get used on a regular basis.


So I gathered the "extras" into a basket and let the kids know that these were available any time they wanted to have special prayer time.


It's amazing seeing them set up the table just right and then kneeling in very serious prayer.


Once the candles are lit, it's pretty common for another child or three to come over and see what the current arrangement is.


And we often have to light the candles several times so that somebody else can say their own prayers and then snuff the candles.


A while back I mentioned that I had set up this area for the kids, and a few people expressed interest in knowing how it was set up - months later, here I am to tell you!

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Things to provide:

Tablecloth/place mat - Our table is just the right size for a place mat to cover it perfectly, so I try to have them available in appropriate liturgical colors. I recommend going to a local home supply store and buying single place mats, because you probably don't need to buy them in bulk!

Candles, holders & snuffer - We usually use votives (just grab some at the dollar store!) but sometimes the kids want to use the fancy beeswax candles from our prayer table (similar candle holders here). The nice thing about using tapered candles is that they're much easier to put out using a candle snuffer, and you *really* want a candle snuffer for your kids because otherwise they will blow so hard they spray melted wax all over the wall/placemat/furniture/whatever. And the snuffers just *feel* special to use!

Statues - This is the only time when the kids are really allowed to handle the statues they've received as gifts. They're not toys, after all, so if they want to put their special statue on the prayer table, it makes things very exciting!

Prayer cards - The kids love to use the "prayer card station" at their atrium. They use images from old Christmas cards & religious cards and paste them on to card stock, writing (or having the teacher write) something like "Alleluia!" or "Holy, holy, holy" on them. We save them for a while and keep them in the basket with the other prayer table supplies, and the kids use a little picture stand to display the one they'd like to use.

Religious art & Icons - First, check and see if you can "rescue" any from local thrift shops! You never know what you'll find. Flor Larios is one of our favorite sources for inexpensive but beautiful religious art that the kids can handle without fear of breakage! I'm planning on getting one of the wooden icons from this shop for our family for Christmas, as well. Legacy Icons has a great variety of styles and price points, and their Micro Icons look perfect for small hands! Uncut Mountain Supply also has a huge selection, and such vibrant colors! Check out Juniper Plum especially for their kid-friendly icon lacing cards. I'm not sure I love all the artists from this shop, but we have this icon of St. Therese's family and it's absolutely lovely.

Prints - Katrina's set of seasonal prints (Use code 15ABLOGFORMYMOM through December 14 for 15% your purchase of $25 or more)or Gina's liturgical year prints (15% off orders $15+ through Thanksgiving with code Kidspray15) would be perfect for your prayer table or your children's prayer table! Swap out the print each season (I'd probably frame each one so they don't get bent in storage - the dollar store always has inexpensive 5x7 frames around here) and you're good! Gina also has full prayer table sets that you can customize if you don't want to create your own - how brilliant is that? 

Rosaries - We LOVE Annie's rosary roses for small hands! (Use code RHChristmas15 for 15% off through January 6.) You've probably built up a pretty good collection of rosaries, and I like to keep any that aren't fragile available for the kids to use whenever they'd like, along with books on how to pray the rosary so they can read through the mysteries if they want.

Pillow for kneeling - We just have an extra throw pillow that lives on top of the basket of supplies. It serves as a "cover" so that toddlers don't get into things, and also gives them a place to kneel and pray to make things seem more "official."

Books:

For further reading (and icons included!), try The Little Oratory - you probably want to set up a prayer area for your family before you move on to a child-friendly area, anyway!

St. Joseph picture books are inexpensive and subject-specific, so if you want to keep books on Lent or Advent available during certain parts of the liturgical year, that's a great way to find them!

Jenna's new book speaks my language! This short book is packed with terrific ideas for celebrating a large number of feast days throughout the year without going totally insane!!! I tend to forget about feast days until the last minute, at which point I'm completely overwhelmed by all the themed desserts, crafts, fancy meals, books I don't have time to find, etc. that pop up when I do a quick internet search. These are all totally doable ideas for a lot of major feast days, and just reading through it is bound to help you get in the mindset to find "Lazy Liturgical" ways to celebrate other feast days, too!



You can find Jenna's book, The Lazy Liturgical, in her etsy shop here - from now through December 4, use the code LAZYLITURGICAL for $3 off the ebook version. And you can enter to win an ebook copy of your own right here or on instagram - I hope you win!

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