Mr. Potato Head: The One that Didn't Make It!

Not all of my ideas see the light of day!

We have a running joke at Loyola Press about “Joe’s Mr. Potato Head Idea.” A few years ago, when I was working on activities for the Finding God junior high catechist manual, I found myself working on a lesson focusing on the giving of the Law with an emphasis on Deuteronomy 6:4-9. This passage contains what the Jewish people refer to as the Shema, the basic principle of the whole Mosaic law and the centerpiece of morning and evening Jewish prayer:

“Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD alone! Therefore, you shall love the LORD, your God, with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength. Take to heart these words which I enjoin on you today. Drill them into your children. Speak of them at home and abroad, whether you are busy or at rest. Bind them at your wrist as a sign and let them be as a pendant on your forehead. Write them on the doorposts of your houses and on your gates.”

In my reflection on this passage, I was particularly drawn to verse 7: “Drill them into your children.” To illustrate this idea, I thought it would be fun for the catechist/teacher to bring in several Mr. Potato Head toys and to “drill” a whole (actually the whole in the head is already provided for placing a hat) in the head and then to insert a small scroll of paper with the words of Deuteronomy 6:4-9 into it.

My colleagues thought the idea was too violent and it was vetoed, ending up on the cutting room floor. Ever since then, whenever I’m asked to write some activities for various lessons, I am reminded, “…and NO Mr. Potato Heads!” 🙂

Anyway, as a shrine to my failed idea, I now keep this Mr. Potato Head in my office (you can see the Shema “drilled” into his head!)


About Joe Paprocki 2571 Articles
Joe Paprocki, DMin, is National Consultant for Faith Formation at Loyola Press, where, in addition to his traveling/speaking responsibilities, he works on the development team for faith formation curriculum resources including Finding God: Our Response to God’s Gifts and God’s Gift: Reconciliation and Eucharist. Joe has more than 35 years of experience in ministry and has presented keynotes, presentations, and workshops in more than 100 dioceses in North America. Joe is a frequent presenter at national conferences including the Los Angeles Religious Education Congress, the Mid-Atlantic Congress, and the National Conference for Catechetical Leadership. He is the author of numerous books, including the best seller The Catechist’s Toolbox, A Church on the Move, Under the Influence of Jesus, and Called to Be Catholic—a bilingual, foundational supplemental program that helps young people know their faith and grow in their relationship with God. Joe is also the series editor for the Effective Catechetical Leader and blogs about his experiences in faith formation at

6 Comments on Mr. Potato Head: The One that Didn't Make It!

  1. This comment came via email from Liz…

    I like the Mr. Potato Head Idea. I used him last year with my Kindergarten RE class and plan to use him again this year with my 1st grade RE class to teach the lesion on the mass. My little ones liked it but I wasn

  2. It’s nice to know that someone else goes off the deep end occassionally. I co-teach 2nd grade RE with my husband to “keep me in line”. Otherwise, the children could be studying for 1st Eucharist by learning about transubstantion to the tune of the Beatles song, “The Yellow Submarine” or being welcomed to the first day of class by a mock up of Dante’s Inferno with the idea that as we pass through learning about our sinfulness and receiving reconciliation we’ll eventually achieve Paradisio in the celebration of the 1st Eucharist. 🙂

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