Catholic Activity: Homemade Prayer Book for Preschool Children
Children love to express their feelings through pictures. A great way to encourage devotion is to create a homemade prayer book. How much involvement in the craft depends on the age level. You can buy premade books or journals, or have something as simple as a notebook. Pictures can be cut out or drawn to illustrate the thoughts of love for God and His creation. Here are some suggestions organized by month.
April One mother reports that when her baby boy was three, she began to make, with him, a personal prayer book of homemade prayers of love and thanksgiving. She wrote them down in a notebook, and the child illustrated them with pictures on the page opposite the prayer. For instance, when the rain stopped and the sun shone brightly, mother and baby went to the window and said, "Thank You, dear Jesus, for the sun. Dear Jesus, I love You." Then the baby made what he called a "sun." The mother said that she had always written the words in very large plain letters and that by the time the baby was four he had said the words in that book so often that he could read them.
June This is the month of love, the love of the Heart of Jesus for us. Perhaps, if you did not start the "Love and Thanksgiving Prayer Book" in April, you will do so this month. It is a big step forward in the spiritual life, when you form in the child the habit of turning to God with loving thank for all good things.
Write in the home-made prayer book (a notebook) in large letters: "Thank You, dear Jesus, for _____." "I love You, dear Jesus." Let the child choose what he loves best. He will probably say "Mother." A snapshot of Mother might then be pasted on the opposite page. It is good to have mother and father, too, in the prayer book and thus associated in the child's mind with God.
September September 8, Birth of Mary, We always give birthday presents and what shall we give to our Blessed Mother? Some acts of love. We may write a prayer in our personal prayer book, a prayer saying, "I love you and thank you for your care." Draw a picture of her or color one that you cut out.
October And for the personal prayer book, write, "I thank You, dear Lord, for Your love in sending me my Guardian Angel." The child can draw wings on the opposite page and color them.
November In October we recalled that when we gather round the family altar there is present "the cloud of witnesses" mentioned by Mother Stuart, and among these witnesses there must be angels. This month we realize that not only are there angels present, but saints, and that perhaps among these saints there are some of our own relatives and friends who, though not canonized, are included among "All Saints."
It is a simple matter to explain to the children the meaning of All Saints' Day. And they will see that it is another day of rejoicing because so many people loved God well enough to become saints after they died. Be sure to make it a day of festivity. It is a good idea to get out pictures of some saints and also photographs of deceased relatives and say that maybe these also are saints of God.
From that "maybe" you can explain that some who didn't love God quite enough are kept waiting to be with Him, and that if we pray for them they can go faster to God. After the age of three, the word "Purgatory" may be taught as the name of the place where they wait to be made perfect for Heaven.
A prayer in the personal prayer book would be appropriate,—"Thank You for the saints."
December The prayer book must be remembered, too, with the words, "Thank You, dear Lord, for the love that brought You from Heaven to me."
Activity Source: Religion in the Home: Monthly Aids for the Parents of Pre-School Children by Katherine Delmonico Byles, Paulist Press, 1938