Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Arma Dei Review: Advent & Lent Quest

Eeeek!  Can you believe that we're just a week away from the start of Lent?  I feel like it snuck up on us pretty quickly this year.  If you're like me and you feel like you're about to be blindsided by Lent, then you might not have really spent much time thinking about how you'll be teaching your children to observe this season this year.

We do a few different things to "celebrate" Lent.  It sounds so odd to say that we celebrate a penitential season, but I guess we do.  For the past few years Lent has looked pretty much the same in our house.  We have our merciful cross where the girls record the works of mercy and add a flower to the cross for each work performed.  We have a bean jar to count good deeds, and we do daily readings for our Jesus tree which is sort of like a Jesse tree.

This year we're adding a new element.  We're doing a Lenten countdown chain using the Advent and Lent Quest from Arma Dei.  Advent and Lent quest is a craft kit that has pages you can print on colored or white paper [if your kids want to be the ones to add color] to make a countdown chain or to make a decorative chain as you go along.  Each strip for the paper chain has either a challenge, or an interesting point of catechesis to help your child learn and practice our Catholic faith.  The cool thing about the latest version of Advent and Lent Quest is it includes special pages for the Year of Faith which has some great Cathletics, and also Season with the Saints which celebrates many saints and lists his/her feast day, what he or she is the patron saint of, and a quote from that saint.

I couldn't just use one element from this kit for our Lent chain.  In fact, I had a really hard time deciding which elements I wanted to use.  There's really a lot to choose from in this kit!  I decided to print out links for saint feast days that will happen during Lent.  Then I picked a few of the Year of Faith selections and did the remaining ones using the Advent and Lent quest links.  Sure I could have just printed out the Advent and Lent quest links for this chain, but I wanted to sample a little bit of everything!

The cool thing about this craft is you can use it for Lent, Advent and even throughout the year.  During Ordinary Time you could print the Season with the Saints and Year of Faith links out and use them on feast days and maybe Sundays to teach your child about the Catholic faith and the Communion of Saints.  Print the links out on fun colored papers and make a paper link garland that can decorate a room.  Kids love making paper chains and this could be a fun ongoing activity.  You could probably even find a way to work the Season with the Saints link into an All Saints Day party.

Printing out the links was a snap.  I have the digital copy of this kit, so I simply opened up the PDF and scrolled through it to pick and choose what pages I wanted to print rather than print all of it at once. [We go through printer ink like there's no tomorrow, so I try to conserve it whenever possible.]  The links are easy enough to assemble.  Simply cut them apart along the lines [After cutting few pages with scissors I decided to break out the paper cutter.] and glue them together.  I used a glue stick and assembly took me just a few minutes.  What took me the longest was making sure I had the saint links on the right day.  I don't want the girls pulling off the St. Patrick link on St. Joseph's feast day!

The girls took a peek at some of the links as I was preparing the chain.  They're ready to start pulling off a link a day, so I'll take that as a sign that this will be a kid approved activity.  I'm sure it will make an appearance in a future blog post this Lent.

The way we're using this craft kit is just one variation on the way it can be used.  Monica of Arma Dei is super creative and gives lots of great suggestions for how to use these links in the instructions for this kit.  Every time I read over the instructions I notice another neat way to use these links that I hadn't noticed before.  She has plenty of ideas that will make using this kit year after year lots of fun.

I was provided with a review copy of Advent and Lent Quest by the publisher, Arma Dei, in exchange for my honest review.  Visit Equipping Catholic Families for more information or to buy a copy of this kit for yourself.  Since this is available in an electronic format you still have plenty of time to order a copy of this and have it all set up for this Lent.

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