Our Home Atrium and the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd

We have been really excited for a few weeks now about starting the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd program. I’ve been reading like crazy, and the ideas are so beautiful! Children are especially open to religious instruction from the ages of 3-6. They are trusting. The parable of the Good Shepherd is very appealing in content and symbolism to children. There is just so much here that appeals to me. Materials are gathered to act out the parable. A blessed candle is lit and the gospel account of the parable is read aloud. Questions are asked prompting responses, but never suggesting anything. The child draws from the parable and activity whatever that particular child needs. It’s different for each child. This was challenging. Must let go! Must not control! After my direction of the parable, the materials were put away in our home Atrium, and were made available for later access. The kids were encouraged to take them out and re-enact the parable as it was taught. My job – stay out of the way! That doesn’t mean I can’t take pictures right??

I was so curious to see how Sparkly in particular would act out the parable. What I found was so neat to watch. Again, it was challenging to NOT interfere. I kept wanting to say “No Sparkly, the wolf was never in the sheepfold in our parable.” But I didn’t. Later, I thought that the wolf (who represents danger and Satan in the parable) certainly has infiltrated the sheepfold (the church.) Just as in Sparkly’s re-enactment, the Good Shepherd continues to protect us from danger, thanks be to God. Amazing how the child interprets!

Here’s some of his interpretation:
He and the little Peanut (who was so much help for this re-enactment) set up the sheep-fold. The gold box contains everything needed for the Good Shepherd parable.

The good shepherd calls His sheep by name and leads them out of the sheepfold. I didn’t give the sheep a name, nor does the parable in the gospel, it simply says that Jesus is the Good Shepherd, and that he knows his sheep and calls them all by name. Sparkly had the Good Shepherd calling our names – Sweet Pea, Matthew (in heaven,) Sparkly, Grace (in heaven,) Peanut – as the good shepherd led them out of the sheepfold. I was amazed. Look at our pathetic little pond of water there on the right. I had to get another piece of felt to enlarge it.

All we had for a wolf is the little plastic dog figure that Sparkly really wants to perch on top of this rock – “so he can howl.”

Holy cow! The sheep multiplied! I found some extra sheep Mom had given me in order to placate the Peanut who really needed to have one sheep in each hand. Mental note: extra pieces are a good idea!

Here is the wolf confronting our homeward bound group. As I mentioned before, Sparkly wanted the wolf to sneak into the sheepfold. The good shepherd kicked the wolf out under the slats in the fence. Later on in the day after taking these pictures, Sparkly showed me how he had balanced his favorite lamb on the good shepherd’s shoulders. He was so proud! He said the little lamb was afraid of the wolf, so he climbed up on the good shepherd’s shoulders to be safe! Then he went on to balance 3 more lambs on top of the statue of the good shepherd for protection. Good stuff!

Here they all are, safe and sound back in the sheepfold.

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  1. I am anxious to see if the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd appeals because of its newness or if it begins to seep into and bring Life to Peanut and Sparkly’s understanding of the Faith. I know I have read that it does but would love to actually “see” this happening. My doubting Thomas nature coming through??!!

  2. Dah! Tactile-conceptual-aural feedback harmonic loops!I heard you and thought I’d understood when you described M’sori to me. But now that I SEE it in action the methodology really starts to sink-in/leap-out! At the next level- that of doing -, I’ll bet theres a whole ‘nother order of magnitude type/ology of improvement. I’m sorry I don’t have the altar ready. Have you got the set of Mass things in?

  3. I do have the Mass set in. I’ll just make do for a while with a “temporary” altar (I almost hate to use that word in certain company:)) I’d rather wait on you to have a truly beautiful piece for our home Atrium whenever you have the time. No worries – just whenever you get to it!

  4. (will email this, it’s longish)temporary, huh? hmmm…what I’m worndering, is, if you could take a snapshot of them, all close together with a ruler in-shot so’s I can have an idea about their containment size/space wise. But,hmmm, y’know, this temporary altar has potential too- for a while. In the early and persecuted church (thinking of Ireland here) all consecrations took place on a “temporary” altar in a field or home. This is where I think I got the impression of all altar tops having to be made of stone, I presume the priest had his mass kit very similar to yours with the addittion of a small slab of stone – probably a chunk of from a real altar that had been demolished. I’d bet that in the early church the priests had something similar, and that as Christianity became more established these precious stones would be incorporated into the fixed altars. Also, (looks like the M’sori method has at least gottten ME thinking alomg these archetypical lines) the proto-sacrifice of Abraham consisted as much in the building of the altar as anything (heap-big stones carried up to the top of a hill and wrestled together). Abraham I’m sure took LOTS of time in getting the altar “just right”, and by the end I’ll bet the stone’s individual facets had names (makes me wonder if there was something deeper in what Jesus said about stones crying out and being potential “sons of Abraham” given the context{Mt. Moriah, Jerusalem} ) Anyways, this is getting long so I’ll summarize..Kids build altar themselves…Special* blocks for base…Precious slab for top to be later built into established altar…*here’s where some creativity could come in.. “Special”, as in, made to hold Saint’s holy cards for feast days or slips of paper with Virtues/Graces/Sacrifices (with sparkly who knows what will be added …all precious though)Manyways, I”ll start on the top today.(in the interest of public disclosure, I have vested interest in seeing this idea flourish, see here:http://etherchapel.com/Chapel/page5/page41/page41.htmland here:http://etherchapel.com/Chapel/page5/page41/page23/page23.htmlTo get an idea of where this idea is going/if you want to go there too)Love you

  5. I love this idea!!! Brilliant!!! Especially the idea of having a special place to tuck things – works so well with our character/virtue cards, sacrifice beads, prayer intentions/small sacrifices made throughout the day. I went to ether chapel’s site. I see what you mean. I really like the idea of having a small niche for those treasures. Also, the idea of building the altar is a very good one. It’s all about making the connections to the Old Testament. I think I’ll begin introducing the Mass through the Old Testament (your idea has inspired me, and though this isn’t a part of the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd, I think it ought to be. Start at the beginning. It’s key, you’re right! Could you please keep sturdiness/practicality in mind for Fr. Sparkly but also for Deacon Peanut?When time allows (hopefully later this afternoon) I will blog some pictures of our Mass kit. I assume that’s what you were looking for?? with the ruler in the picture for perspective right?Love how this is evolving! I’ll blog as the daily duty allows 🙂

  6. Hello, thank you so much for all these great photos of your dc in Montessori action!! It is so helpful to have a visual for me. I am truly wanting to incorporate the COGS into our home school and really appreciate all your descriptions of how you are doing things!! Lovely blog! Blessings!

  7. These photos are great!! I was wondering where did you get your Good Shepherd? I found some fantastic sheep really cheap at Target but now we need a Good Shepherd.Thanks!

  8. Leslie,We got most of our sheep from Target too. Had trouble finding a wolf – we did eventually replace the cute doggie we used in this post – but anyway I finally ordered a wolf from By Way of the Family I think. The beautiful Good Shepherd statue came from St. Mary’s, a catholic store in Nashville. You can find some really great ones though at Autom.com.

  9. Just curious if you got certified in CGS or if you learned on your own how to incorporate it into the home. I am interested in this program for my own children but the certification process takes a long time and I want to get started right away. My oldest is already 5. Thanks!

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