1st Grade Lessons
Theme 1: Seeds Give Life from A Seed Is Sleepy and supplementary texts
Theme 2: We Are Called to Individual Vocations from The Animal Hedge and supplementary texts
Theme 1: Seeds Give Life
1st Grade, Lesson on A Seed Is Sleepy:
SEEDS ARE ORDERED TOWARD PARTICULAR ENDS
SUMMARY: In reading A Seed is Sleepy, my four year old daughter and my first grade son both really enjoyed the colorful drawings and learning about some plants they had never heard of before. At the same time, it was gratifying for them to recognize very familiar fruit and vegetables and also trees we see regularly around the neighborhood like the Japanese maple. My children hadn't realized that the "helicopters" that fall from that tree are actually its seed pods. We discussed how seeds and beans stay "sleepy" and hidden until the right time comes for them to be planted and grow.
REFLECTION: There are SO many themes to draw out here, but you can just choose one or two at a time. We discussed how God has ordered the seasons and nature in a beautiful way to always bring new life. Each thing He created has a purpose and we can see that each seed can only grow into what God created it to be. A bean can't grow into an apple tree or a corn kernel become a tomato plant. We also talked about how the seed doesn't grow until the right time and until then it is protected by its pod or shell.
TRY IT AT HOME: Again, there are a number of ways to reinforce this lesson, so choose what resonates with you and your little one. We picked some dried green bean pods because my children had noticed them on the vines and were thrilled to open them and collect all the dried white beans. I also had them choose their favorite plant from the pictures in the book and made a few coloring pages by simply copying and pasting some pictures online and then adding in the words for them to color as well.
Theme 2: We Are Called to Individual Vocations
First Grade, Lesson on The Animal Hedge:
THE WORK WE OFFER JOYFULLY IS A GIFT
SUMMARY: We read The Animal Hedge together and looked closely at the pictures, facial expressions, and the body language of the farmer and his sons. It was very evident to my first grader when the farmer was happy by his posture and loving gaze with which he looked at his animals. We could also see when he was sad, lonely and discouraged because the work that he loved was taken away from him. Later in the story when the farmer finds joy again in shaping the hedge like his animals, my son's face broke into a big smile to hear that the farmer had begun to sing again while he worked.
REFLECTION: Giving of ourselves in work shows God's love and care to each of the people with whom we have a relationship: our family, church, or community of friends and neighbors. We talked about our own body language within our family as we are asked to study or help with chores. When we do our work with joy it looks and feels much nicer. Not only did my son recognize that he feels more free, but that he can also bring joy to others.
TRY IT AT HOME: Our family had lots of firewood to haul and stack so that we can all stay warm this winter. My son took his work seriously and was glad to help. Encourage your child to help with any household chore, yard work, or even cleaning up your local park. The connections are the same; to find joy in work because you are sharing in the life of God and making the world a better place.
First Grade, Lesson on The Animal Hedge:
THE WORK OF OUR BODIES IS THE WORK OF OUR SOULS
SUMMARY: This lesson was done by a friend, and member of the TOBPS. With her children grown, and a background in Montessori, I thought she might enjoy teaching my kiddos a lesson. Thus, Amy taught my kids about the nature and vocation of WORK. She read aloud The Animal Hedge which details 3 sons discerning 3 distinct work vocations, discussed the farmers praying over their work in The Angelus (Millet), enhanced with Scripture and manipulatives, and finally let them create their own tissue paper animals (the animals are significant to the story because it is the vision of different animals in the shaping of their father’s hedge that led each to discover his own unique vocation).
REFLECTION: What does work and vocation of career have to do with the Theology of the Body? First grade helps students explore that to WORK is to utilize their gift of the body (especially as an expression of the soul). They learn the value of honest work and pay. And they learn the dignity of work as a calling that can help them achieve holiness. They learn that holy work is not limited to ‘typical work with the marginalized’, but can be done in ANY career field.
TRY IT AT HOME: Talk to your kids about how you, your spouse, and your siblings (or other adult figures in their lives) used the discernment process to discover a unique vocation in their career choices. Discuss how work can be holy even when not deemed so by society (banking, store clerk, etc.). Have them list, draw or act out a few career choices and how each could fulfill their call to holiness. Challenge: if they pick typically ‘noble’ careers such as vet, doctor, teacher, etc. ask them to consider exploring one they might not typically think of. How about sanitation worker? Janitor?