St. Joe’s Religious Ed Program (REP) Theme for 2014-2015

REP Theme 2014-2015: Recipe for Joy

Each year, REP has a theme, something to keep as a guideline in our prayers as a community. My first year it was, “Cultivating Christ” using plants, soil, water, son, etc as metaphors for the Gospel message of God’s love for us, our prayer life, going to church, etc. We had sprouts and watering cans on our nametags and each child’s name was written on a little sprout in a row of brown construction paper soil for our Door Tags.

The following year, our theme was, “Shine Christ’s Light.” We discussed light and how important it is in our lives-that we need light for so many things! Our opening night prayer, we had the church dark/dim until a certain time where we talked about how light helps us see clearly, feel safer, etc. Then we turned a lamp on and took off the lampshade. We told everyone that we are called to be like lamps without lampshades-shedding the light of God’s truth and love to a sometimes dark world. Then we passed out little finger flashlights at the end of the prayer service as reminders.

We had light bulb shapes for adult’s name tags and a huge light bulb shape with little lightning bolts with the student’s names written on them for the door tags.

This year our theme is: The Recipe for Joy! We will talk about how each of us, young and old, have a desire for joy and happiness. Many of us search for happiness in food, or video games, or popularity, or clothing, etc. But God gave us a recipe for joy in the Bible. He gave us the Beatitudes and have taught us to pray. We will discuss the “ingredients” for a joyful life (going to Mass, praying by yourself and with others, learning about our faith, being kind to others, etc).
Our Prayer Kits will be used every week, giving the children a hands on opportunity to grow in their relationship with Christ.

The door tags will be a large mixing bowl and each child will be an ingredient shape (egg, measuring cup, spoon, etc). The catechists and volunteers will where name tags with spatulas and whisks on them.

I will be posting pictures of what we come up with when that time comes! Keep this upcoming year in your prayers as I will keep you in mine!

God bless,

St. Joe’s 2014-2015-Some start up ideas

August. The time of year when I really start to get excited about the last minute details for the upcoming Religious Ed and youth ministry year! We have a very small program at St. Joseph’s in Des Moines, only 100 kids or so in grades 1-8, but no matter how big or small your program is, August and September are always so darn stressful and busy!

I wanted to share a few changes we are making this year besides our theme and our goal to include prayer time during every class. We wanted to make sure to include the following kits in our RE Cabinets. One of the problems I often hear  as the DRE is how to keep the attention of the really hyper kids who cant seem to stay on task and pay attention. I don’t know about you, but I can relate to those little ones! It’s hard, especially after a long day of school, and most kids are off their A.D.D meds, so paying attention for another hour IS difficult. Anyways- I know for myself, I like to keep my hands busy, so my ears and heart can focus.

Hopefully this “Busy Basket” you can have in your classroom can help accommodate those “busy” kids! Something important to keep in mind is that children actually like order, and by keeping your Busy Basket in good, nice-looking condition, they will feel more honored in using it to help them keep focused. We may hear a common complaint from the other kids who don’t need the basket asking, “How come HE gets that and I don’t, even though I have been good?” This sounds like a great opportunity to talk about the Prodigal Son and the Good Brother Syndrome. Furthermore, I usually say, “Well, SoandSo needs this to pay attention. God already gave you what you need! And I am so happy you are such a great example to SoandSo.” Or something to that effect.

Here is a list of what I have in my Busy Basket:

  • Bins or paper bags full of items to help most hyper kids focus during RE. I would have one for each classroom.
  • 2 cans of Play-Doh
  • A Laminated note card of possible things from our faith they could create with the Play-Doh:

          Jesus on the Cross


          Baby Jesus

          A set of animals from Noah’s story

          The Ark

          Item of the Mass


PRAYER KITS: Because we use St. Joseph’s school classrooms for our classrooms, instead of parish rooms, for example, we often have to leave the classroom as we found it. But many classrooms, even in Catholic schools, don’t have prayer corners, or any space that is dedicated for prayer time. Which is why we have a “Prayer Kit” in every classroom. This makes it easy to set up a prayer environment anywhere-even if you choose to go outside on a nice evening!


Here is what I have in our Prayer Kits:

Finally, First Aid Kids are a must for each classroom. You all probably already have something similar, but I found these ready made versions (Classroom/teacher First Aid Kit Pack) are perfect for classrooms! They are portable and have what you would need for minor first aid!

Our Journey to ‘Healthiness’

It all started in Fall of 2013… We have tried knocking out all processed foods from my kitchen, which worked so well for us… that is until morning sickness with Baby Grace set in… then I gave in to the convenience and siren’s call of Doritos and Goldfish.

But the reason why we made the switch to no/low processed foods was because my entire family was living Sickagedon 2013. In a span of two months, my kids and husband had horrible flus, colds, stomach bugs, coughs, squirts, pukes, you name it, they caught it. I was the only one who was not a victim of said tragedy, but was during the time we learned of our first miscarriage. I mention this because moms tend to feel like miscarrying your baby is your fault somehow, and because I have a kick-butt immune system, I felt like my body just kicked everything out-including my sweetie growing inside.

Needless to say, Mama Bear got angry. I wanted to kick out all that was causing us pain! Aaaand we needed to give our washer and dryer a break from sanitizing poopy, pukey sheets! (… and rugs… and clothes… and towels… you get the picture). So after hitting the blogosphere hard, I came across some good friends in the local Des Moines area who wanted to gradually kick out sugar from their homes. We eventually formed a facebook group called, “Healthy Eating Families.” These ladies not only inspired me to slowly but surely take baby steps in ridding our house of processed foods, and providing real food options! And it worked! NO SICKNESS from January to March! Eating real food and kicking out common chemicals saved my bebes from a big part of the flu season!

Because of this Healthy Eating Families group, I learned how to make my own toothpaste, water and dairy kefir, kombucha,  elderberry syrup, sauerkraut, and fell in love with Essential Oils.

In late Feb, I started feeling SUPER TIRED and sick from being prego. I could not even say the word, “Kombucha” without gagging. Literally. I let all my living, probiotic saturated, creatures die on my kitchen counter. It was sad/liberating.

I am looking forward to gradually kicking out the chips, tortillas, bread and boxed granola bars in hopes of making my own after the baby is born and I emerge from the postnatal fog. But until then, we have truly incorporated a healthier diet consisting of many more fruits and veggies as well as grass-fed options for diary! We are still feeling good!

To aid us in our health, we use Essential Oils for our entire family! I firmly believe in this hippie stuff! But I am totally aware of how expensive providing healthy choices can be. I have written some posts on providing healthy, natural choices for your family on a budget. Feel free to ask questions! We are all learning together.

Essential Oils on a Budget

Real Food on a Budget (Stores with the best prices!)

Blogs to follow to Stay on a Healthiness Budget

Apps for Motivation to stay healthy!