Catholic Activity: Scrapbooks
Here is an idea for an ongoing activity that will keep your child busy and encourage his creativity. He can paste magazine cutouts, photographs, or religious pictures in a composition book and decorate the book with paint or crayons.
We have highlighted this activity for the feast of St. Martha. She is an appropriate saint to pray to help take the quiet time to help make the scrapbook together.
Scrapbooks are among the most inexpensive and most satisfactory activities for your young child. They are an excellent and inexpensive means for teaching religion. Composition books serve well for very little ones. They are less awkward to handle than the larger type.
In this, as in similar home projects, you will find boundless pleasure in sharing your child’s enthusiasm and happiness. You must remember not to mind a bit of paste here and there in the vicinity of the work! If you are going to worry about paste or tiny thumbmarks, you will be a poor teacher. You will save yourselves and the furnishings wear and tear if you arrange a worktable where there are light washable floors and plastic table coverings.
You must realize, too, that a picture which to you looks somewhat lopsided on a page is nevertheless quite right and beautiful in the eyes of a child who put it there. A word of praise will go far toward encouraging further effort. Even if the child is learning religion while making a scrapbook, there is no reason why this activity should not be fun both for him and for you.
When there are older brothers and sisters, call on them for a little indulgent supervision. If you encourage this relationship, you are teaching the children of both ages the invaluable lesson of helping one another and of assuming responsibility—a lesson which they will always find most beneficial.
Picture Stories One of the most common sources of pictures of the Nativity, the Child in the Temple, or the Resurrection is an old religious calendar. Magazines, religious Christmas and Easter cards are other excellent picture material. Postcard prints of the masterpieces of religious art can often be bought or ordered by mail from museums. These pictures, besides developing a good taste in art at an early age, can be pasted easily into a scrapbook because of their size.
Let’s say you have decided on a picture of the Nativity for your first entry. Any child of four years, or older, will be curious to know who are the people in the picture. As you identify the Baby Jesus, His Mother, St. Joseph, the shepherds and angels, you can tell the lovely Christmas story in the unforgettable manner of the Gospels (Luke 2:1-20). Your child will be learning about the birth of the Christ Child while he is busy pasting.
If you use the picture of the Child in the Temple, you will have another occasion for storytelling (Luke 2:41-52). "And He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was subject to them" (2:51). This is a vivid lesson in obedience and the groundwork for teaching the Fourth Commandment.
And so with every picture you use. You will want to tell, rather than preach and expound, to make a point. You will be pleased to find how quickly the young mind follows and understands. You' will know that your time has been well spent when you hear echoes of "scrapbook stories" in your child's conversation, and when you observe imitation of them in his behavior.
Caring for the Book Teach your little one to treat his scrapbook with care and respect because of the holy pictures it contains. He should place it on a shelf or in a 'drawer when he has finished with it. This does not mean that he must avoid handling it often, either for work or enjoyment, but simply that he should use it with care.
A child who learns to respect his own possessions will come to observe the property rights of others. The little one who guards his own scrapbooks against abuse will not likely rip apart the book or game of another member of the household.
Checking Supplies Did it ever occur to you that sometimes it is necessary to check and replace religious supplies? When your child was very young, you made certain that there were some religious furnishings in your home, aware that these would influence his first impressions. Now, you need additional supplies. In addition to activity material, are there holy pictures for coloring or pasting? Are the picture prayer books and storybooks intact? Are the statues still unbroken? What has become of the rosary your child used to take to church? All supplies needed for teaching religion in the home should be checked periodically, just as you take inventories of housewares. This way you are assured of having on hand something to occupy your energetic youngster.
Activity Source: From Stroller to School, Parent-Educator Series 2, Leaflets 13-24, Three to Six Years by Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, 1962