Lent has begun and I’m sure you’re thinking about activities you can do with your children or Church School students. I know I am! Every year we have a Lazarus Saturday event at the church for the kids and I wondered if others might do the same thing. Here are a few engaging activities you might want to try at home or in your classroom.
Fun Facts about St. Lazarus
Lazarus was 33 when Jesus raised him from the dead. This occured near the Mount of Olives. There is a mosque, a Catholic Church and a Greek Orthodox Church near his 1st tomb. Click here for images of the tomb.
Some time after Jesus’s Resurrection, Lazarus was forced to flee Judea. There were rumors going around that there were people who wanted to murder him. He fled to Cyprus where he lived for over 30 years. While there St. Paul appointed him the first bishop of Kition, which is now called Larnaka. This is where he was buried for the second time.
St. Lazarus missed the Theotokos and sent a ship to bring her to Cyprus to visit him. She brought him a gift – a bishop’s omophorion that she wove herself.
My sweet and crafty friend, Kristina Wenger, sent me the cutest gift – St. Ia and her friends! Isn’t it just adorable?! I can’t believe how much they look like the characters in the book and I can’t stop looking at them. It’s one of the most thoughtful gifts I’ve gotten. If you would like to make some of your own, Kristina has created instructions and templates for you to use. Below are images
She created directions for all of you in case you want to create them yourself. I can’t believe how much they look like the actual characters in the book! She has kindly written up the directions on how to make them and is letting me share them with you.
“I’m a child at heart, and as long as I can remember, I’ve enjoyed making toys. Of late, I’ve most often made stuffed animals or dolls, chiefly to give as gifts. Occasionally, however, I create them as my natural response to someone’s gift of art. Some people write fan fiction or create artwork inspired by someone else’s work. I create fan stuffies or toys. I’ve made stuffies in response to store logos, a comic figure, and several books.
Earlier this year Melinda Johnson and I collaborated together to create the Orthodox board book, Saint Ia Rides a Leaf, which was published by St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press. One of the things that we love is sharing the beautiful Orthodox faith with children. We came up with some activities that you can do with your children or your Sunday School classroom that go along with our book. We thought it would be fun to do a whole unit on St. Ia while also studying leaves. This will help your child make connections to the story based their real life experiences with leaves, while teaching them important literacy, math and science concepts. The following activities are for toddlers through early elementary school aged children.
Today as we prepare for Holy Friday services at home, we made our own Kouvouklion & Epitaphios! Please know that this was not my idea. Sotiria Stavropoulos created a Facebook video where she showed how to create it. I was so amazed by how beautiful it was and we decided to make our own! I have included instructions on how we did this. Some of the work will need to be done by an adult but there are also tasks kids can do. (more…)
Recently, we have been making lots of bracelets with the loom bands. These are very small rubber bands. There are patterns for making them with beads and that gave me the idea to make our own prayer bracelets! (more…)
At Christmas my kids love to make gifts for the people in our family. They are really into Perler Beads which are little plastic beads that you place on a peg board. You use an iron and a parchment type paper to melt the beads together. Today, I’m going to show you some of our cross designs.
These can be made into Christmas ornaments or necklaces. If you use glow in the dark beads, you can have your child write out the verse from John 8:12 on a tag to go with the gift: “I am the light of the world. He whofollows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.” It can be put in a child’s room to remind them at night that Jesus protects them and keeps them safe.
Making these crosses is also a great gift idea for a child who likes to act out the liturgy at home. You could use yellow beads and I think they might make gold ones, too.
And of course, children love it when they can make something that adults can use. They can make a cross necklace for family members or themselves to wear. (more…)
Have you ever wondered where some of our hymns come from? It always amazes me that these beautiful words have been preserved for so long. It makes me feel connected to that time period. You may be wondering who St. Romanos was and what he had to do with our hymns.
The abbreviated version of his life: He was a monk that lived around 518 AD. He served as the deacon of the church of Agia Sofia in Constantinople. Back then Deacons would face the congregation and chant most of the service. St. Romanos had trouble reading and singing out loud. He had a dream that the Theotokos asked him to eat a scroll of music. When he woke up, he was able to sing with confidence. He began to sing new hymn that might be familiar to you –
“Today the Virgin gives birth to the Transcendent One, And the earth offers a cave to the Unapproachable One! Angels with shepherds glorify Him! The wise men journey with a star! Since for our sake the Eternal God was born as a Little Child!”
Can you believe it is already Holy Week? Maybe it’s because Pascha is a little early this year but Lent has seemed to fly by. I’m happy to share with you a piece I did for New Martyr Magazine last year. It is a one page “comic.” Not really funny, but drawings of what happens at the service. It also instructs children on what the priest will do and where they will be anointed, so they can prepare. If your children are very young, you may want to get a paintbrush out and pretend to anoint them so they can practice. This helps out a lot so they know what to expect. (more…)
We’ve had a LOT of snow days this year and January isn’t even over yet! This week has been better but it seems we’ve had lots of cold weather and snow. One of the things I like to do with my children are learning experiences that help us learn about the beauty of God’s Kingdom. Whenever we do science activities like this, I learn something new and become fascinated by the amazing world we live in.
This week we decided to collect some snow and see what happened when it melted.
This weekend we were making snowflakes out of paper. My kids love to do this activity and so do I! When I opened up one of the snowflakes I noticed I had made a cross in the center. As I sat there and admired it’s beauty, I couldn’t believe what a powerful meaning this craft held. Most of us have probably experienced times when we’ve felt like our life is like a snowstorm. Whether it be a major or minor storm, where do we turn? Christ is like the Eye of a storm, a Calmness in the center, just like my snowflake. If we rely upon Him, He will be in the center, protecting us when everything else is chaos.
It was like God was speaking to me with this craft, because the night before I had attended a presentation by Dr. Philip Mamalakis who wrote, “Parenting Toward the Kingdom.” (more…)