Celebrating Pope Francis

So with Pope Francis’ visit, it’s been all Pope all the time over here at our house.  I have been so inspired watching his visit on TV–the joy, the enthusiasm, the challenge to live the life we are called to live.  And this has been a wonderful opportunity for our kiddos.  This is why we homeschool–to give them an education imbibed with our religious faith.

Watching the canonization of Junipero Serra

Watching the canonization of Junipero Serra

The Pope may be leaving but you can still enjoy some Pope Francis fun.

Matthew 16:18 craft

This is the Bible verse the girls have been memorizing this past week (“You are Peter and upon this rock I will build my church”) and this is the craft we did with it.  We actually first did this when Pope Benedict stepped down and Pope Francis was elected, but we used a real rock.  This time I used glittery fun foam for the rock so that we could attach it to our Bible board.

Peter Rock
Matthew 16:18

You can download Peter and the church here: On this rock craft template

And here it is using a real rock…

Peter and the Church


Flat FrancisIMG_2249

We participated in Flat Francis and have been taking him with us this past week so that he can explore a little more of the U.S. than just D.C., New York, and Philadelphia.  You can get yours here: http://flatfrancis.org/




Pope Francis puppets

We were inspired by Catholic Icing’s puppet of Pope Francis.  I love her saint puppet set!  The girls really wanted their puppets to look like our Flat Francis and I think they were adorable.


Mitre Hats

The girls decorated these mitre hats while watching one of the services.  Clearly they don’t go for the humble look.  🙂  They are super simple to make.  Just cut out the mitre shape from white paper and then add a band so you can wear them.


But they loved wearing them!  This is one of my favorite pictures–Mia helping make dinner while wearing her hat.


Pope Coloring Sheets

We also enjoyed pope coloring sheets from Drawn 2 Be Creative which you can find here.  She has Pope Francis and the Vatican crest.


Putting away Baby Jesus?

Like many of you we have the Little People Nativity set by Fisher Price. My girls LOVE it! Last year after playing with it all through Advent and the Christmas season, it was time to pack it up with all of our other decorations. As we cleaned I would put it in the storage box and my girls would pull Baby Jesus out and put him back with their other Little People. They complained that they wanted to keep playing with him and after a few times I realized just what I really was doing. As the holiday season comes to a close for some of you and you are putting away decorations, consider the lesson I learned that day–don’t put away Baby Jesus.


Many think of Christmas as one day but really the Christmas season extends until January 6, the Feast of the Epiphany, when the wisemen came. You know the song “The 12 Days of Christmas”? These are the 12 days. Some cultures even wait until then to exchange presents.

I have some friends who won’t even let their children play with their Little People Nativity because Jesus is one to be revered not tossed around.  And while I can understand what they are saying I disagree.  This past year as I watched Baby Jesus be pulled around in a tractor and attend princess parties I couldn’t help but think that this is exactly what I want for my daughters–for them to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.  I want my girls to feel him throughout their day-to-day lives, not just on Sunday.

Baby Jesus

Jesus taking a ride

Another nativity set our children love

Another nativity set our children love

Now I know my children need a great deal more in their spiritual upbringing and this is just a toy, but those toys are a great reminder for us adults to make sure we continue to make Jesus a focus in our lives as we get back into the “normal” swing of things.

So when packing up your children’s nativity set this year, consider leaving it out for a little while longer.  Let your kids continue to play with the Holy Family with the rest of their play things.  I hear Jesus can be a great influence on the other toys.

This is why it's a good idea to have a children's nativity.... otherwise they will play with yours.

This is why it’s a good idea to have a children’s nativity…. Here are my girls playing with our “fancy” nativity.

P.S. If you don’t have a children’s nativity, consider getting one in time for next year.

Learning about the Pope

Today is Pope Benedict’s last day and since we have been following the news coverage and will continue to do so throughout the conclave, it seemed like a very good time to talk more with the girls about the pope and our Catholic faith.  I wanted to share our activities with our Catholic friends since there will continue to be quite a bit of pope talk over the next few weeks.

On This Rock

P1020179Our Peter craft worked perfect with this.  While the girls were coloring Peter and the church, we talked about Peter being a friend of Jesus and that after Jesus went to heaven Peter led our church with the help of friends.  This is why Peter was the first pope.  You can find the directions and template for the craft here.

Paper Bishop Miter or “Pope Hat”

I used the directions from Catholic P1020188Missionary Family found here to fold our own “pope hats.”  After making them out of white paper, the girls decorated them with crayons and fun foam crosses.  They were very excited when we saw a picture of the Pope and cardinals all wearing them.

A Little Research

P1020212To help the girls understand a little better we looked at pictures of Pope Benedict and the Holy See through the Vatican website.  We also found Rome on our globe and looked through our book The Vatican, Secrets and Treasurers of the Holy City by Fr. Michael Collins (a Christmas gift from my awesome sister Maggie).  And of course we looked at our Pope John Paul II paperdolls–who wouldn’t break those out?  🙂  (Thank you Jennifer!)

A Thank You Card

As a family we wrote a thank you card to Pope Benedict to thank him for all that he did as our Holy Father.  The girls decorated the front and then helped to write the message which we all signed before mailing it.  Where to send mail to the Pope?  Oddly enough he hasn’t sent me a change of address notice so I used the Vatican address.  Here’s his address:

His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI PP.
00120 Via del Pellegrino
Citta del Vaticano

Our Conclave Cave

To talk about how they will choose the next P1020210pope, I was going to make a cave with blankets for us to sit in together.  I know that they don’t meet in a cave, despite the way conclave sounds.  (The word actually means “with a key” and refers to the cardinals being locked in until they voted in a pope.)  We were a little tired though so just put up our castle tent and we called it a cave.  When the girls saw pictures of St. Peters Basilica they decide that’s where we were.  We talked about how the cardinals do special voting to pick the pope (to remind us what voting is we did a few practice votes about things we like) and then how the cardinals are unable to leave the Vatican until they have picked someone, which we will know by the color of the smoke.


On This Rock

We did this craft when learning about St. Peter, the Bible verse Matthew 16:18, and the founding of our church.P1020179

And so I say to you, you are Peter and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.

For ours we used the smaller version of the church.  After coloring and cutting them, we attached Peter and the church to the rock with a hot glue gun and then added the pipe cleaner cross to the church.  To make Peter stand up, we folded his feet out a bit.

On this rock craft template

This Bible verse and craft went well with our rock unit we have been doing.  We’ve also been talking about who the Pope is, especially with Benedict XVI resigning.



Lenten Paper Chain

We are doing our Lenten Paper Chain again this year.  I already P1020171posted last year’s but I thought I would go ahead and share again because I changed it up a little bit this year and I like it better.  We still have a message written on every paper link, but after doing our Advent countdown I decided to focus on activities rather than just messages.  I still included some spiritual messages but overall I tried to have us do activities that would bring us closer to God during Lent and support our goal of doing good deeds.

When making the chain I used purple, the color of Lent.  For Sundays I used pink since they are not technically part of Lent and to make it easier to keep track of which day is which.  I tried to keep our schedule in mind when assembling and to mix up the activities and the prayers.

Here are some of our messages:

Activity stripsP1020164

Write a card for a grandparent.
Help Mama around the house.
Tell someone the story of Easter.
Make our Easter garden.
Help feed and walk Hero (our dog).
Bake cookies for a friend.
Do something nice for your sister.
Smile at someone who is having a bad day.
Read a book about Jesus.
Help plant in the garden.
Do an Easter craft.
Read a story from the Bible.
Play with our Stations of the Cross kit.
Do something to brighten a grandparent’s day.
Help to water and weed our garden.
Sing a song to celebrate the Lord.
Take a walk to look at the world God created.

Prayers, Messages, and Sundays

Say a special prayer to Mary.
God loves you so much!
You are God’s little princess!
God made you so you are special!
God made the mountains and the oceans.
Say a special prayer to Jesus.
Say thank you to god for all that we have!
God made the flowers and the trees.
Say a thank you prayer to Jesus for dying on the cross for us.
Be good at church today.
Say a special prayer at church today.
Light a candle for someone at church.

Holy Week

Hosanna!  Wave palms for Jesus!
Say a special prayer tonight at dinner as a family.
Pray the Stations of the Cross.
Tomorrow is Easter!  Celebrate Christ rising!  Alleluia!


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