I’m sure you’ve seen little children opening presents on Christmas or a birthday and being more enamored with the box and the wrapping paper than the actual gift! Somehow, young children are able to look at a plain cardboard box and imagine that it is a car, an airplane, a boat, or a spaceship.
It is that imagination that we must tap into when it comes to early childhood faith formation. According to Webster’s Dictionary, imagination is “the ability to form a picture in your mind of something that you have not seen or experienced; the ability to think of new things.” In faith formation, we are helping those we teach to “form a picture” in their minds of the Kingdom of God: a world in which God dwells and reigns. We are teaching them to “think of new things” as we present Gospel values to them.
This is especially crucial in early childhood. Consider the following benefits of nurturing imagination in young people.
- opens doors to possibilities.
- encourages thinking outside the box.
- nurtures creativity.
- fosters cognitive and social development.
- develops critical thinking skills.
- fosters creative problem-solving.
- builds emotional and social development.
Of course, in order to engage the imaginations of young people, we need to use more than words! Children’s imaginations are engaged by visuals, by audio, and by sensory stimulation. To help early childhood catechists engage the imaginations of young children, Loyola Press offers comprehensive early childhood programs that prepare children for their lifelong journey as disciples of Jesus Christ.
One of my favorite components of the Loyola Press early childhood programs is the Big Books—14×18 inch books (that open up to 28×18 inches) that teachers and catechists can utilize in both whole-class and small-group settings. These books help children explore essential faith concepts together with age-appropriate academic content, while fully engaging their imaginations.
- Colors, Shapes, and Numbers: God Made Me (Age 3) incorporates the Colors, Shapes, and Numbers Big Book into the instructional rhythm of each lesson. This engaging oversized book introduces the essential preschool concepts of color, shape, and numbers within the context of Catholic life. This Big Book comes with 50 reproducible activity blackline masters.
- The Alphabet: God Made the World (Age 4) incorporates the The Alphabet Big Book into the instructional rhythm of each lesson. This engaging oversized book introduces the alphabet within the context of Catholic life. This Big Book comes with 52 reproducible activity blackline masters.
And, in this age of remote learning, it is great to know that these Big Books are now available digitally!
May we populate the imaginations of young people with images of a world—a reality—in which God can be found in all things.