We started with the Our Father introduction with all the children. I welcomed the children as they came in, inviting them to get a Bible and meet me at the prayer table. We opened to Matthew 6:9-13, lit our candle and read the way that Jesus taught us to pray. I just read it aloud since some of the children can read, some can't, and I wanted the focus to be on the prayer itself.
I then distributed the strips with each line of the Our Father prayer and we pondered the prayer line by line. For some children, it was too much but they have time to come back to it again and again in the years to come in their own lives; for my oldest children it was not quite enough - but we have time in the atrium to come back to it in the middle of the year and reflect on it again.
For some children, this particular pondering was brand-new, but I also have many atrium-experienced children who are "old hats" ;)
I have found that not all atriums have this meditation. This is the meditation I received in Level 2 formation and it introduces each line one at a time, with some discussion and explanation of words and such. Then I have a presentation in my level 3 albums for the end of level 3 with the very large strips where the children bring related atrium materials; although I have also now seen this style done at the end of level 2 as well; where I have seen the "culmination presentation" I have not seen the introduction --- so I am still pondering the placement of that one. I personally think the introduction is appropriate for level 2 each year going deeper, with the "culmination" version as the end of level 3 - or at least IN level 3. But I am open to input!
My assistant commented that the children seemed wiggly; but I do think they were very engaged. I have had wigglier children for sure - and I have had very, very wiggly children who were the very ones to soak in the presentation the deepest! So, we just roll with the punches in the atrium!
Afterwards, the children went to work. I gave permission for children who have been in the atrium before to work with anything they remember from before. Also, in my absence last week, the principal of the school filled in and he did a fantastic job filling in some of the "basics" for the new children such as the altar work, Good Shepherd, and the like - so they had a lot of work options already. I extended some of that work today with the colors and the children not receiving the presentation kept looking around to catch the action.
I have the children working on a prayer journal where they add one page each session. As the year goes on, this requirement will fade out - they will have more work choices, and their prayer will be more in the materials and meditations; but the prayer journals will always be available.
The 4th and 6th graders worked on the Fettuccina and I reviewed the Books of the Bible with the 3rd and 4th graders. Two siblings worked with the material themselves just to test themselves to see what they knew about each book and its placement. I think they enjoyed that!
Next week, I do need to give some small group presentations on some of the practical life. I showed the polishing work several times today and some of the children really want to get into the flower and plant care; I even had two older girls wanting to spoon beans! (this atrium also has materials for level 1... no, 4th graders should not need to spoon beans in the atrium... perhaps I can create a sand labyrinth for them if they need an easy activity for meditation purposes).
I get so nervous coming into that atrium space. It is a beautiful space, but it is not mine; I had no hand in setting it up. So I feel a tad clumsy working in it. Perhaps this a good experience - because I know what the children feel like. But as the adult, I should know immediately where the calligraphy supplies are, how to use them, how to clean up after them; etc. But my supplies in "my" atrium are different.... So, it is a very humbling experience for me :) Hm.... another blog post topic is percolating!