Saturday, October 5, 2013

St. Francis of Assisi: Books and Birdfeeders

Yesterday was the feast of St. Francis of Assisi, my husband's patron saint! This saint is well loved by children because of his love for animals. At many churches you can take your pet for a blessing on the feast of St. Francis. I remember a time when I was subbing at a Catholic school and saw a little St. Francis activity displayed outside one of the classrooms. Each one had a fact about the saint written on it, and nearly every student picked his love for animals as their fact! This is certainly a wonderful way to get kids interested in St. Francis, especially when discussing him with younger children; but don't forget to go deeper. While his love for nature is a beautiful and good thing, it is more than just enjoying it and thinking its pretty; everything he did pointed toward God!

St. Francis grew up very wealthy and was quite wild when he was young. His interests were in earthly things, not in God. One night he had a dream where God spoke to him and that started his conversion. He eventually renounced all his earthly possessions and lived only for God.  He began the Franciscan order, and is often credited with creating the first nativity scene. There are so many amazing stories about St. Francis that I don't have time to talk to about here, which is why I'm going to recommend some books!

Even when there isn't time for a fun recipe or a cool craft, you can always read a book with your children. And while some saint stories may have to be special ordered from Catholic stores, a wide selection of children's books about St. Francis can be found at your local library! (at least at ours anyway.) Most of them are about the legend of St. Francis and the wolf, where St. Francis makes friends with a wolf that has been terrorizing a town, but there are others out there too.

My favorite one for toddlers is the The Song of Francis by Tomie DePaola. You may know him as the author of the classic Strega Nona, but he also has written many stories about saints. Its the story of St. Francis loving God so much that he has to sing, and the angels, and the sun, and the moon, and birds of every color come to join him. Its simple and sweet, and of course DePaola always has beautiful illustrations.

DePaola has another Francis book, Francis, the Poor Man of Assisi that is good for older kids with lots of details about all the different stages and stories of St. Francis' life. 

The version of the wolf legend that we read this year was St. Francis and the Wolf by Richard Egielski.
It is well written for a younger audience, but is not dumbed down or made too simple. Children of all ages will enjoy this book as it has a great classic folktale feel to it.

 In addition to reading our wonderful stories we also did a little craft. St. Francis is often pictured in art with birds, (that whole loving animals thing!), so we made some bird feeders which are pictured at the top of the blog.

Pine Cone Bird Feeders
Pine cones - open ones work best
Peanut Butter
String or Yarn
Paper plates and plastic spoons and/or knives

-Put a blob of peanut butter on one paper plate, and pour birdseed in another.
-Spread peanut butter all over a pine cone using a plastic utensil, or roll it in the peanut butter.
-Next roll the pine cone in the birdseed.
- Tie a string to the pine cone and go outside and hang it on a tree!
 - Opened pine cones work best because it makes it easier to tie on the string. We could only find closed ones in the woods, so we just tied the string around the middle.

I'll leave you with one of my favorite prayers written by St. Francis.

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace,
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy;

O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.

For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

Learn more about St. Francis here.

This post is linked up at the Catholic Bloggers Network monthly link up blitz , the Equipping Catholic Families Saints Cele-linky and the Catholic and Living It Link Up.

1 comment:

  1. I love this idea - am definitely going to try it out with my son. Thanks for sharing!


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