A Triangle Approach to Learning and Life
by Jeanne Heiberg
The “triangle” approach to religious education reaches the whole child: mind, heart, and hands. The mind represents the intelligence of the children we want to reach. Of equal importance is the heart - the feelings, imagination, and creative enthusiasm of the children we want to inspire. Hands represent the senses of the children, their need for activity, for learning how to put into action what they learn in religion class. This activity and prayer work well as an end-of-the-learning-year project to help children remember what they've learned and use their minds, hearts, and hands to live their faith.
Say to the Children
God has given each of us a mind, a heart, and senses to learn about God, to praise God, and to serve God and others. We are meant to develop and use all these gifts and to grow to be our best and greatest selves and to give our Creator wholehearted praise by serving and caring for others.
The first book of the Bible tells us that we are made in God’s image. We can’t see God with our physical eyes, but only with the inner eyes of our mind and heart. God generously shared with us his very being—his mind and heart. When humans separated from God, Jesus came to return us to God and to restore our minds and hearts to be in the image of God.
Jesus helps us reconnect with God so that we are part of God’s wonderful mind and heart and are able to grow in God’s ways of thinking, loving, and serving. (Share with your students parts of the background and Scripture references you'll find HERE, according to their ability to understand.)
Reconnected to God through Jesus, we grow in our ability to express God’s wisdom and love. Our minds and hearts and hands are needed to express God’s wisdom and love in the world.
This means that when we come to class and at Mass and in every day of our lives, we use our ears to listen carefully, we use our eyes to see the goodness and beauty in creation and in people, we use our voices to sing out God’s praise, and we use our hands to help and serve others.
The craft below will help students make symbols that remind them to use their minds, hearts, and hands to live their faith.
Head, Heart, and Hand Craft
- construction paper or foam craft sheets in a wide variety of colors including red, yellow, pink, brown, white, black, and orange
- hole puncher
- branches, sticks, or dowels on which to hang symbols
- patterns (CLICK HERE)
- Copy the patterns provided (adjust size as preferred) or have students make their own sunburst, heart, and hand patterns. (Have students make hand patterns from their own hands; this allows them to have greater personal expression in the craft activity.)
- Cut out patterns.
- Trace patterns on different colors of construction paper or foam craft sheets.
- Layer the pieces (or use singly) in any combination (circles in sunbursts; hearts in hands; hearts in sunbursts in hands; etc.) and glue together.
- Punch holes in the top and bottom of each completed symbol and attach them one above the other with cord.
- Attach the end of the cord to a branch, stick, or dowel to make a mobile.
Suspend mobile(s) near the prayer table (or make mobile(s) your prayer focus). Mobiles are colorful, cheerful classroom decorations. Let students take home a symbol or mobile to remind them and their families that they are created in God’s image to know, love, and serve God and others and to joyfully praise God with all they have and are.
On or above your prayer table, place the students’ completed crafts and a Bible. Put bookmarks in the Bible at the readings you choose to use (see Readings).
Leader: Thank you, Lord, for your gift of life on this earth—in a wonderful body that can do so much; with a mind that can learn, think, and know; with a heart that can love, feel, remember, imagine, and create.
Readings: Philippians 4:8 (think on what is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, gracious); Leviticus 19:18 (love your neighbor as yourself); Matthew 22:37-39 (the Two Great Commandments); Luke 22:27 (Jesus speaks of service)
Leader: Our minds, hearts, and hands are wonderful gifts from God given to us so that we might know, love, and serve God and our fellow human beings. Let us now praise and thank God with these gifts that we have been given.
(Place your hands around your head.) We lift our wonderful minds to you, God. Help us to remember you are always with us. You want to light up our minds with wonderful truths and ideas that will help us in all our decisions and choices. You, Loving Creator God, want to shine through us to others and to the world.
(Place your hands over your hearts.) Loving Creator, bless our hearts to help us remember that you created us in love to love as you do, unconditionally, without fear, without judgment, and beyond narrow self-interests. We know in this limited world we must use good judgment, practice safety, and observe good common sense. May our hearts offer your love to others through our work, study, creativity, and play.
(Hold out your hands.) Lord, bless these hands to remind us that we are made to express your love to others through all our senses and to serve you and others through our gifts and talents.
Let us go now in peace to know, love, and serve our loving Creator with minds, hearts, and hands, with Jesus, in the power of the Holy Spirit.
Closing Song: “Praise God from Whom All Blessings Flow” (“Old Hundredth”). Text: verse 1, Thomas Kent, 1637-1711; verses 2, 3, Isaac Watts, 1674-1748. Music: German psalter, 1551, attributed to Louis Bourgeois, 1510-1561. Found in Breaking Bread, OCP (ocp.org)
Jeanne Heiberg is the author of Advent Arts & Christmas Crafts (Paulist Press) and Advent calendars (Creative Communications). She has taught art, writing, creative catechetics, and meditation, and has directed parish catechetical programs. Jeanne writes, paints, and gives writing workshops in upstate New York.
Source: CATECHIST Magazine, April/May 2010
Copyright 2010, Peter Li, Inc. This article may not be reprinted or reproduced in any form without permission, except for use with your classes or families.
Tracked: Apr 14, 17:04
Tracked: Apr 14, 17:04
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