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CatholicMommy
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Posted: July 15 2007 at 5:07pm | IP Logged Quote CatholicMommy

Does anyone here have the training AND Moira's albums? I have a couple of specific questions regarding the material making, just for clarification for various purposes; immediate purpose being for the sake of family friends who are considering doing the training and/or purchasing Moira's albums, they would like to know the key differences (other than cost). They've seen what I do here at my home and what I've done at the parish, but are wondering which way to go for their own home, and whichever they choose, they want my input as to potential adaptations.

Specifically, how do her instructions to make the materials differ from the material seen in training? I know of at least two differences already.

Do any of the presentations differ substantially (I know that she has a couple of additional presentations - does she leave any out? combine any? come from a different angle? etc)

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Posted: July 16 2007 at 9:04am | IP Logged Quote JennGM

I took the Level 1 CGS training, and I have 3-6 albums. I'll be back later (maybe tomorrow) to give some comparisons, as there are some definite differences!

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Posted: July 16 2007 at 12:15pm | IP Logged Quote CatholicMommy

Wonderful! I look forward to hearing about the specific differences!
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Posted: July 16 2007 at 12:48pm | IP Logged Quote Meredith

Me too Thanks for checking in with us Jenn!!

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Posted: July 16 2007 at 1:23pm | IP Logged Quote Mackfam

I'm really looking forward to hearing the comparisons too. Thanks for jumping in Jenn.

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Posted: July 16 2007 at 9:26pm | IP Logged Quote Erin

Waiting patiently I was just about to email you and remind you that I want to hear ALL about your training. So I'll patiently wait..

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Posted: July 17 2007 at 12:42am | IP Logged Quote ALmom

Well there sure are a lot of us in the wings waiting to hear. I learn so much just reading these posts.

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Posted: July 17 2007 at 9:28pm | IP Logged Quote CatholicMommy

Just checking in...
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Posted: July 18 2007 at 11:04am | IP Logged Quote JennGM

CatholicMommy wrote:
Does anyone here have the training AND Moira's albums? I have a couple of specific questions regarding the material making, just for clarification for various purposes; immediate purpose being for the sake of family friends who are considering doing the training and/or purchasing Moira's albums, they would like to know the key differences (other than cost). They've seen what I do here at my home and what I've done at the parish, but are wondering which way to go for their own home, and whichever they choose, they want my input as to potential adaptations.

Specifically, how do her instructions to make the materials differ from the material seen in training? I know of at least two differences already.

Do any of the presentations differ substantially (I know that she has a couple of additional presentations - does she leave any out? combine any? come from a different angle? etc)


As promised...I hope this covers most of your questions. This is what comes to mind now, but I'm sure I'll have more to add.

Comparison of Moira’s 3-6 album to Catechesis of the Good Shepherd, 3-6

I’m going to start with some caveats. First, I know this will be long. Secondly, in my comparisons I’m not saying one is better than another. Each has its pluses and minuses.

First the isolated observations of the two:

For the CGS, there were certain characteristics that struck me.

  1. The emphasis on the Word of God, the Holy Bible. Almost all presentations (except nomenclature and altar work) begin with reading the verse from Scripture, and then explanation. Scripture verses are available to be displayed and used at copywork. And for each Gospel presentation there is a Scripture booklet of the verses to either to read or have read to the child.


  2. There is a 3-year cycle for the 3-6 presentations.


  3. The atrium is a reserved space, including a prayer corner/table.


Moira’s albums are entitled “Home Catechesis 3-5”. She did not take training, but put together these albums for home use based on the writings of Sofia and her own personal experience. The presentations are beautiful.

  1. For each presentation she includes the list of materials needed, presentation script with gestures (and these can be long), possible extension activities, and diagrams and patterns for some materials.


  2. The presentations don’t have a 3 year cycle.[/lu]

  3. I find her presentations very rich and mom friendly. CGS expects each person to make their own album and materials. Some of the album pages I received were sketchy, some had incorrect theology (written for Episcopalians), and needed to be completely redone. Moira’s are already written, containing no theological errors, and rich in Catholic terminology.


Table of Contents for the 3-5 Album:

Presentations for Ordinary Time
     Altar I
     Altar II
     Geography I
     Altar III
     Altar IV

Presentations for Advent
     Beginning Advent
     Isaiah’s Prophecy
        Micah’s Prophecy
        The Annunciation
        The Visitation

Presentations for the Christmas Season
     The Birth of Jesus
     The Gesture of Epiclesis
     Epiphany

Presentations for Ordinary Time
     Gesture of Offertory
     The Presentation
     Geography II
     Geography III
     The Mustard Seed
     The Leaven
     The Pearl
     The Hidden Treasure

Presentations for Lent
     The Grain of Wheat
     The Good Shepherd
     Psalm 23
     The Cenacle

Presentations for Easter
     Baptism
     Baptism II
     Baptism III
     The Trinity
     The Sign of the Cross
     Baptism IV

Presentations for Ordinary Time
     Creation

For CGS 3 year cycle. I don’t have the capability to make tables in the forum, and the list is really long to type out. You can see a 3 year list The Good Shepherd and the Child: A Joyful Journey. I also think the Yahoo Group Catholic Learning has some downloads that includes the 3 year chart.

Now, for some side-by-side comparisons.

  1. The purpose of the Catechesis is to bring the child closer to the Liturgy and the Word of God, and to develop their own personal prayer life and relationship with Christ. So the presentations are liturgy and biblically centered, with times set aside to help the child make it their own. Moira mentions the quiet times, so that’s not missing. But one thing in training that made an impression on me was that Sofia has changed the approach to the presentations. It used to be suggested (and it’s in her books, Religious Potential of the Child that the Catechist gives the narrative of the presentation, THEN reads from the Bible, explains the materials, pondering questions and quiet time, perhaps a song, then the child does his work.

    This was changed, with the presentation consisting of a short introduction, only a few words to set the stage, THEN Word of God, Narrative, and then materials, etc. This shift brings the focal point to the actual Word of God. Since this is only a recent change, it’s not reflected in Moira’s albums…but then again, some atriums might not be doing the different presentations, either.


  2. I find that there is less emphasis on the Bible verses in her materials. It’s there, but less obvious to me. It was striking to me in training to see the reverence of Holy Scripture, and the use of many biblical verses that the child can incorporate as personal prayer. I know as Catholics we are surrounded in our Liturgy by the Word of God, but I want to emphasize more Scripture in our home learning, and I found this a beautiful aspect of the Catechesis.


  3. Her album pages aren’t exactly the same format as the Catechesis suggests. Suzanne has this nice How to Prepare an Album Page so one can see what the ideal in the training. This page reflects both Montessori and CoGS. The Home Album has Materials Needed, Presentation script and instructions and sometimes Follow-up Activities.


  4. Creation is not included in the 3-6 catechesis. And I think Moira has some further Old Testament presentations in her next album. This is actually something I don’t agree with Sofia. {ETA 2017: After training in all 3 levels and working with the children, I now wholeheartedly agree with Sophia on keeping the essential Old Testament for the younger children, and the wider spiral that includes the typology and OT in Level III. See my distilled thoughts on Jesse Tree: Relating the Old Testatment to Young Children}
    Religious Potential, p. 105

    Quote:
    “We maintain that the children’s initiation into the Old Testament should not begin before the age of eight.”


    She explains this further that it becomes a book of “tall tales” and stories instead of present religious reality that a child can comprehend. I’m not trying to get into a debate, but I know there are Old Testament stories that will be heard from various sources before the age of eight. My mother is always making the point that the character and the graces from baptism would give the small child ability to take in deep theology. We should not limit ourselves to thinking that the scientific analysis of the development of the child applies across the board in religion, also. Isn’t it better to have included presentations of Noah’s Ark, Creation, Jonah and the whale, story of Exodus from approved and controlled sources, to give the Truth, rather than fictionalized tales? It seems that Moira agrees with me. She doesn’t stray too much from the list, but Creation is definitely one area that isn’t covered until 6-9 age in the Catechesis in the Fettucia.


  5. In the home album, patterns are not included for every presentation. For example, Good Shepherd has only a list of materials, no patterns. Some of the altar materials are not specific in dimensions. So for both, it is labor intensive and/or cost intensive to collect and/or make the materials for the presentations.


  6. At least in my training, the Montessori aspect of the atrium was emphasized. The best source to see this unity of the atrium and Montessori Method is Listening to God with Children by Gianna Gobbi. Sofia’s works are a bit dry. I’d recommend reading this book first to get a comprehensive view, and suggestions on how to do the presentations. Like in doing Montessori presentations, the atrium has the three period lessons:
         1.    Give Names/Nomenclature/Presentation/Proclamation of the Word
            2.  Child’s Work—this is the longest period, which includes working with the materials, hearing the scripture
            3.  Manifestation—child offering back

    I’d just mention that this isn’t really emphasized in Moira’s, but it’s not drawn out in the CGS album pages, either. It’s just something to keep in mind.


  7. Continuing with the Montessori theme, that is one thing that the atrium emphasizes, on how to use the materials. So there are practical presentations to do first with the child, before the religious presentations are done. So grace and courtesy, practical life presentations, categories including care of the environment, care of the person, and social relations. I do find many of these very key before the other presentations so that the child will know how to treat these materials. The child needs to be settled to receive.


  8. One glaring absence in the Home Album is the prayer table. Moira mentions that the materials should be available, preferable in a reserved space, for quiet contemplation by the child. But the atrium includes a prayer table, which has the seasonal cloths to reflect the liturgical year. Every time there is “atrium” it’s usually a 2-3 hour session, which includes personal presentations, time for the child to work, then concludes prayer time with the children, and an opportunity for the child to pray on their own during that session. Since the home atrium’s community is a variety of ages, and/or maybe just one child and not necessarily those large time slots, there would be differences. But I really think this is a key element that can be included in any home, with or without doing all Catechesis presentations. I think most homes have a family altar, but a personal prayer place for a small child is an important element, if you have room.


  9. I think I mentioned this before, but because it was a specific question, the way to make materials in Moira's albums aren't clear and well-defined. Moira's seem to be a lot of cardboard and paper, and CGS is more emphasis on beautiful, natural, mostly handmade materials. Both methods require work and preparation time..


I find that I want to use all the materials--my training notes and materials, the books by Gobbi and Cavelleti and Montessori, and Moira's albums. I don't think one place is the answer, because what I'm looking for isn't answered specifically in any of the works. I'm piecing together what will work in MY home, with MY child. Montessori is a more scientific and classroom approach, the atrium is usually a community outside of the home, and neither of these fit my home learning applications. I am not going to follow to the letter anything, but make it work for our family, but it helps to get more of the picture by reading other materials. For beginners who want to pick and choose, I'd suggest Moira's albums, Gobbi's book Listening to God with Children and The Good Shepherd and the Child: A Joyful Journey. I think this combination would help flesh-out Moira's albums and round out the atrium at your home.

A final note, I didn't mention the music. In our training most of the presentations included a song at the end of each presentation and at the end of the session at the prayer table. I really struggle with this area, because I do not like many of the suggested songs. The color song is great, and illustrates things. But I found a disconnect--if the atrium is to bring the child closer to the Liturgy, why don't we use hymns and chant to bring the connection even more? Some of the suggested examples were even incorrect in theology, such as songs using "bread and wine" to refer to the Eucharist.

Some were just "ditties" (my term) and not found in church. Other songs are found in many of our churches, but they are some of the modern stuff that are dumbed down or theologically incorrect. Music is so key to our liturgy, as pope after pope and councils have stated and restated. The importance of sacred music, Latin and Gregorian chant takes first stage. I talked with one of my instructors, and she agreed with me that this is a weak area of the Catechesis. This is where you can come in and incorporate songs that illustrate the Biblical texts or Church's liturgy. Apply the English verses to forms of chant. I have some ideas, and I'm working out things.

But some people like the songs, this is just my personal observation and pet peeve.

Whew! I'll hit send...sorry for any typos. My son is getting lonely.

ETA 2017 NOTE: A few more updated thoughts now that I come back years later. Please note above my Old Testament thoughts.

What is so important is to have a reserved space (and time) that is dedicated, like the atrium. The other key element is the community. The "Communion of Saints" aspect is brought out in the atrium. Over the years I've made it a priority for my homeschooled sons to attend atrium. They have both received the sacraments of Reconciliation and the Eucharist through the CGS atrium. The rewards have been great. I'm currently coordinating a once-a-week atrium that meets 3 hours on Tuesday morning, with most of the children being homeschooled. They recognize that this "outside program" is a gift, and the children really thrive in the place of prayer AND bond with their atrium community.

The CGS website has expanded with some beautiful parent newsletters, with ideas of how to bring some of the atrium home, to bridge the two place, and to also echo some of the prayer life. It's not replicating the atrium, but living out some of the prayer habits. The first way is a prayer table, which I mentioned above is so key.

I suggestion David Clayton and Leila Lawler's book The Little Oratory for wonderful ways to bring that prayer space home. So many of the suggestions are based on the CGS approach.

Finally, just handing someone an album with all the presentations for CGS doesn't mean as a catechist we just systematically present them to the children, like going through a checklist or a textbook. This is a prayer and community life, with so many aspects not found in the album pages. We need to understand the timing and the child.

My training used to include the triangle with the Child, Catechist and Environment for each point. There needs to be a balance of all three for the atrium to be really successful. The more work I put into preparing for atrium morning and making materials, I find it much more practical to choose a real atrium over recreating something like it at home. I'd rather echo the atrium in some ways, but keep the main atrium as a separate sacred place with a separate special prayer community (like our parish).

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Posted: July 18 2007 at 11:22am | IP Logged Quote CatholicMommy

Wow - thank you! I am printing this all out for my friends. And I am prompted to purchase Moira's albums to have on hand.

Yes, the Catholic Learning yahoo group has a couple of charts of the 3 year cycle - I have to update the one I posted as I've tweaked it a bit. If anyone wants it, I can e-mail it (it is definitely in a table format, so that the subjects for each age level are next to each other).

For the Old Testament, we do them in our family (and with my daycare children) using something of a CGS/Montessori style. I have been trying to bring these things into our home atrium, but it just doesn't seem to 'mesh' - so we have these things during Bible reading, art, story/reading, but they're not 'in' the atrium area. We definitely avoid fictionalized accounts. I do agree that the topics (creation, stories which use my son's name, etc) should be covered, but the historical significance of the events cannot be entirely comprehended until the child is ready to understand history, timelines, etc. so I can understand why it's not part of the atrium/CGS training. I am quite interested in how Moira approaches the Old Testament pieces.

I have seen so many families who have some type of altar, that is usually so high the children can't see it. I like the concept, but when it came to choose in our own home with lack of space, I chose a low prayer table - actually one of those very low shelves at Wal-Mart, that can be stacked - perhaps for shoes I think? It has a shelf underneath and we put a small bookshelf next to it to hold books, boxes of holy cards, etc. It's definitely more used being down so low.    I'm surprised Moira doesn't bring this aspect out in the home environment.

For music, I too have scrapped some of the pieces from training. We include a lot of Latin, chants, hymns, etc... And we don't sing every time either - but it's nice to know there are options....

Thank you so much for your post!


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Posted: July 18 2007 at 11:45am | IP Logged Quote JennGM

I hope it helped your questions.

I understand not being able to understand the historical significances, BUT think of reality. We talk about past events in our family. We talk about living history--when Daddy and Mommy were little girls. We have books that illustrate older style clothing. Jesus lived in a historical time period, and even the Good Shepherd presentation has some historical aspects.

Within the Church's liturgy we read OT stories. The Easter liturgy has the wonderful readings of Creation and Exodus. Noah's ark is illustrated, found in toys, discussions and books. Can I really keep my son in a vacuum until 8 and not have him hear these things and have questions?

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Posted: July 18 2007 at 11:47am | IP Logged Quote JennGM

Oh, and one more point. After taking the training, I was thinking Moira's albums wouldn't be necessary, but after doing this little comparison, I really think that just having a script or ready-made presentation is sooo nice to have. I do think you need to make it your own, but the points she includes are important and all geared to Catholic teaching.

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Posted: July 18 2007 at 12:01pm | IP Logged Quote Donna Marie

Jenn!

WOW...I need time to digest and place my thoughts into understandable words...

I wonder how we can place scripture into our work more...could we start a thread on this?

The truth of scripture and it's stories...it is for this reason that I am not a big fan of Veggie tales. I permit it at times, but don't love it at all. I wish some of their stories were about other things..not (for example) Jonah because it gives my little ones a weird impression of something that should be pondered in a different kind of light.

Last year, we emphasized the covenant relationship theme of the Bible and how God prepared His chosen people and it struck a chord in all of us. Many projects, presentations and books were centered on this theme. I was wondering where to take our studies this year that would further what we have done already. I wanted another kind of theme for this year...keeping in mind that I am focusing on Confirmation prep for my eldests and I include things along the same lines for the younger ones so they can participate too...all of this in addition to some of the traditional presentations for each age group. Gee, this sounds as clear as mud...

Just thinking out loud here...I love reading Scott Hahn...too bad they don't have a version that reads well to the children...LOL I assume my understanding is easier in that kind of format because of the age that I am and the way I process information.

I find too many children's books are so watered down it lessens the impact that some religious topics can have. So I can see how scripture presented simply and clearly can have a profound impact on the young ones. How can we do that without dumbing it down or making God too new-agey like some religious curricula providers do?   

I hate watered down music too. I would rather something that takes you deeper into the mystery.

We are doing something very different here. We live very family-centered lives. We interact with and teach our children in an atmosphere that is filled with the graces given to us as their parents...entrusted by God with this unique mission and inspired by the Holy Spirit....I don't think we are going to fit perfectly into COGS but we can certainly glean much wisdom from it. I think on of the most important things we need to do is pray...pray a lot and frequent the sacraments.

God love you!
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Posted: July 18 2007 at 12:53pm | IP Logged Quote CatholicMommy

For Bible stories, we go straight to the full Bible - reading from there, perhaps with some introduction, usually not - just read it, with a lit candle, then discuss. Only after we've read a passage several times over will I allow a picture book version of any story/event from the Bible. We do include the OT stuff, but I do try to place it within history with something of a timeline, because I do think children can get it at an earlier age, if they have it available - so my 3yo doesn't get it NOW, but the moment the light comes on, the information is there on front of him.

I'm curious to know if Moira's albums have any suggestions for placing things in historical context?
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Posted: July 18 2007 at 1:06pm | IP Logged Quote Cay Gibson

I think many of us will be printing this out to staple inside our Home Cate. albums.

Thank you, Jenn! You're a wonder.

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Posted: July 18 2007 at 1:17pm | IP Logged Quote JennGM

Cay Gibson wrote:
Thank you, Jenn! You're a wonder.


Thanks, Cay. If only I can implement it. I'm still sitting around with low energy and so much to organize and set up, make materials, find the money to buy materials. It will never get done.

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Posted: July 18 2007 at 1:25pm | IP Logged Quote Maryan

Thanks Jenn!!

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Posted: July 18 2007 at 2:07pm | IP Logged Quote Cheryl

Jenn,
I appreciate you taking the time to post on this topic. It's very interesting to me.

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Posted: July 18 2007 at 2:46pm | IP Logged Quote Meredith

Invaluable Jenn, thank you so much. My opinion on the no OT before age 8 is well, ridiculous , but I haven't ever even seen an actual parish atrium, nor been trained, just ignorance here , that is until you so eloquently enlightened us all,thank you . So many good points!!

Blessings!

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Posted: July 18 2007 at 2:48pm | IP Logged Quote lapazfarm

Donna Marie wrote:

The truth of scripture and it's stories...it is for this reason that I am not a big fan of Veggie tales. I permit it at times, but don't love it at all. I wish some of their stories were about other things..not (for example) Jonah because it gives my little ones a weird impression of something that should be pondered in a different kind of light.


I had never thought of this before. Thank you for pointing it out. I am going to have to seriously re-think veggie tales around here.

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