If your children are anything like mine, they love to create! And, why wouldn’t they? We are all made in the likeness of the most amazing Creator ever, and He gifts each of us with imagination and inventiveness.
One way I like to put my own sense of creativity to work is in developing faith-based connections for otherwise secular learning experiences. Because my children love picture books and pre-engineering activities, I often find myself creating plans which connect Bible stories, the Word of God, the Catechism or Saint stories to picture books and design challenges. Oh, the delight this brings.
My children and I – as well as our co-op friends – have found ourselves:
In the process, we have exercised critical thinking and creativity while reflecting upon our Catholic faith.
Would you like to encourage your children to do the same? It’s easy!
Six Steps to Planning Faith-Based, Picture Book Pre-Engineering Challenges
1. As with all things, the first thing to do when planning your own faith-based picture book, pre-engineering challenges is to pray! Before opening a book, a notebook, a computer document or a website, simply invite the Holy Spirit to guide you in the creativity to come.
2. Then, pick up a favorite picture book and take a picture walk through it. That is, simply page through the book without reading it, examining its illustrations. Do they tell a story that could be connected to a faith-based one? Is there an object, animal or emotion depicted in it, which reminds you of one in the Bible or in a Saint story? Note any faith-based connections that come to mind.
3. Now, read the text of the book. Do the words bring to mind a Bible story? A Saint story? A part of the Catechism? One of the fruits of the Spirit? A portion of Scripture? Note any and all faith-related connections that come to mind.
4. If there are no apparent faith-based connections, simply set the book down, say a prayer and let things simmer on the back burner of your mind for a day or two. Still no luck? Try again with a different book. Trust that inspiration will come and, when it does, it will delight!
5. Once inspiration hits, think about how children might construct a tangible representation of the faith story or principle that the book brings to mind. Could they design a puppet? A 3-D structure? A card with a moving part? A model of a piece of furniture? A representation of an animal? Possibilities are endless, but if none come to mind, do not fret. Simply browse the Design Briefs at Children’s Engineering Educators, LLC for ideas.
6. You might also want to check out the Design Process mapped out at Teach Engineering, Engineering Is Elementary or Design Squad and then click through each site to discover the many detailed design challenge plans, which you can model your own Catholic kids create challenge after. With these as inspiration, define a faith-related challenge, list the materials and supplies children may use to meet it and write out 2-5 guidelines or parameters that should be adhered to. Do this in your own presentation notes or as a hand-out for children.
With these six steps completed, you should be ready to put your plan into practice and to begin enjoying some fantastic faith-based, picture-book, pre-engineering experiences with your children. Sit down with your children, the book, the materials and the supplies and enjoy watching your children’s creativity unfold as a result of your own!