With both the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of Mary (a holy day of obligation) and the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe in December, and the readings in the second half of Advent telling Mary’s story in the days before Jesus’ birth, this is the perfect time to teach the children in our classes about Mary.
I realized in my planning my Advent arc of activities this year that the Finding God art prints for Grade 7 include five works of art that would be appropriate for Advent or Christmas sessions. I have used several of these in different sessions the last few years, but now I wondered if I could do something using all five in one session. Ideas for learning stations started to form in my imagination.
While I can only display one art print at a time without damaging the easel, I do have the accompanying worksheets and thumbnails of the art on the teacher pages. I’ll make learning stations by displaying these in different areas of the room. I’ll also lay out a few copies of our textbook, open to pages with images of the Annunciation or the Visitation.
Before sending the young people to the stations, I’ll lay some groundwork about why we’re talking about Mary during Advent, guided by material from the textbook. I’ll also show each of the art prints we’ll be using and set one as the final station.
I’ll use the student worksheets (BLMs) as activities in several of the stations, but I’ll also introduce several other creative activities for the young people to complete. For instance, one of the prints suggests writing new verses to “Immaculate Mary” to convey understanding of devotion to Our Lady. Another suggests having kids create visual expressions to accompany the lyrics to various Marian songs.
We’ll come together for an Annunciation meditation as provided in Session 4 of our books, though another catechist adapting this idea might choose the Magnificat-based prayer from the Advent chapter.
The goal in all of this will be to convey the message that, as Session 4 states, “Mary was the first person to say yes to Jesus and experience God’s grace.” I’ll send the young people home with an activity called “We Can Say Yes” from the Session 4 art print BLM to encourage them to continue thinking about the theme throughout the week.
Because I have taught using Finding God for several years already, I’m confident in pulling elements from several chapters together in one Advent session on Mary. We’ll return to themes of grace and of other aspects of Mary’s life and example as we continue the year, but I hope this establishes a good base for the young people to understand who Mary is beyond the lady depicted in the Nativity scene.
How do you teach about Mary during your Advent sessions?
As we celebrate Our Lady of Guadalupe today, see Loyola Press resources for the feast in English and Spanish here. Also enjoy the Arts & Faith: Advent video on the Annunciation.