What’s your favorite project to work on with students in your group? We asked this question on our Catholic Faith Formation Facebook page and received a variety of creative ideas. Today we’re highlighting one lesson called “Kindness Angels.” This lesson is ideal for the Advent season as an alternative to the Elf on the Shelf. It can also be used throughout the year for busy families who are looking to engage in a meaningful way. Leah Ramsdell, Director of Religious Education and Youth Faith Formation at St. Catherine of Siena Parish in Norwood, MA, prepared the lesson for children in Grades 1–5 and their families.
Leah shared the inspiration for the idea with us:
Searching through Pinterest, I came upon a website where a woman created “Love Elves” by using wooden peg dolls. From there the idea began to percolate and what was created from that was the “Kindness Angel.”
I decided we would have eight kindness angels: four boys, four girls. Each one of the angels would be named after a different Catholic saint and each angel would come with the story of the Kindness Angel as well as a letter from the angel. The angel would come to your home for a week, stay in a place of prominence where it could be easily seen, and was meant to be a reminder to complete acts of kindness. At the end of the week, families would take a photograph of themselves with the angels, and they would record the acts performed during their time with the angel. In addition to encouraging acts of kindness both large and small, this was also an opportunity for families to learn a little more about the saint who their angel was named for.
Materials that go home with the children each week include:
- Kindness Angel peg doll
Leah created girl “angels” Kateri Tekakwitha, Cecilia, Therese of Lisieux, and Catherine of Siena and boy “angels” Michael, Francis, Patrick, and Christopher.
- Story of the Kindness Angels and letters from the angels
- Letter to families explaining the project
Leah and the children’s choir director wrote the materials, made the wooden angels, and presented the idea in classes the first week. The families responded overwhelmingly, lining up to volunteer: “Families were wonderful at returning the angels and completing the picture and ‘chart’ of the things they had done. While there were many families who donated to Christmas toy drives or winter clothing drives, there were also families who noted simple things like ‘Joey cleaned up his bedroom without being asked’ or ‘Taylor read a book to her baby sister.’”
Parents enjoy how this lesson encourages their children to be kind and helpful, and it offers them a way to stay connected during a busy time of year. Give this idea a try and see how this meaningful, faith-filled, and simple idea affects young families in your religious education program.