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Catholic Activity: Cut-outs and Shadow Boxes

Construct a shadow box scene from the Christmas story.

DIRECTIONS

Using the same kind of cut-outs, children can make the Christmas saints for pasting on a special window in a procession that grows in length as the days pass. There is St. Barbara on December 4, St. Nicholas and a schoolboy on December 6, Our Lady as the Immaculate Conception on December 8, St. Lucy and a schoolgirl on December 13, St. Elizabeth and St. Zachary and St. John the Baptist during Ember Week, the Holy Family and the shepherds on Christmas Eve.

On December 26 comes St. Stephen and on December 27, St. John the Evangelist, on December 28 a few of the Holy Innocents, very gay with martyrs' palms and crowns because they are the first of all the martyrs; and on December 29, St. Thomas à Becket. On January 1 in golden letters is the lovely name — Jesus. This was the day of His circumcision and the day He received His holy name. Then January 6 come the Magi with their camels and gifts and the star, and following them on the Sunday after the Epiphany is the feast of the Holy Family. We like to have Joseph holding the Christ Child this time, with Mary standing by admiring them.

Shadow boxes are easy to make and help thoughts stay close to the Christmas story. We have made them of old Kleenex boxes, macaroni cartons with their tiny windows, and picture frames to which we have fastened boxes, hanging them on the wall as shrines. The very littlest children can have a shadow box made with an old Christmas card pasted to the back of a macaroni box with its magic peephole. If these are hugged to death with too much enthusiasm, they are quickly replaced with another by even the busiest of mothers.

Older children can use plasticene figures they have modeled, or clay figures, or cut-out silhouette figures, leaving a generous flap at the bottom of these to insert through slits in the bottom of the box. Experimenting with lamplight, sunlight, candlelight is dramatic and meditative as well.

Window boxes or plants in large pots are wonderful settings for tiny figures of the Christmas story modeled or cut from colored papers. Gold paper angels and a gold star are lovely when hung by a thread from the branches of a favorite potted geranium or ivy. Things in miniature have a great fascination for small children. There is something snug and secret and comfortable about a very little scene.

Activity Source: Year and Our Children, The by Mary Reed Newland, P.J. Kenedy & Sons, New York, 1956

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