Are you one of those moms who really wants to do more to celebrate the liturgical year but just can't seem to fit it in or maybe just can't get motivated to put in the extra effort on top of everything else? If you know 3-7 other moms in the same situation, I might have the answer for you!
A couple of years ago some friends and I began Saints Club. We meet once a month for two hours at my house. Each mom signs up to lead a few stations teaching the kids about a saint or feast day each semester. (With 8-10 families, each mom only has to sign up for 2 activities a semester.) So each month, we celebrate four different saints/feast days that happen sometime during that month.
At our gatherings, we divide our kids, ages 3-11, into small groups of 5-7 children by age, and they rotate through four stations led by various moms about a saint/feast day: craft in my dining room, story in my living room, snack in my kitchen, and game/activity in my empty garage or backyard, depending on weather. The teens go upstairs to our game room to "do schoolwork." Each station takes about 15 minutes, leaving time before and after for socializing.
For example, in January we had a craft for the Holy Name of Jesus, a story about St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, an activity about St. Sebastian (the kids did various races, since he's the patron saint of athletes), and a snack about the Three Kings for Epiphany.
It is simple and fun! The kids enjoy it so much! Here's how to start your Saints Club:
- Find a few families who think this is a good idea and choose a recurring date. We meet on the third Friday morning of every month, but you can choose what works for your group.
- Decide who will host the gatherings. In our group, the host mom does not have to also lead an activity. You could choose to rotate homes if each mom's home has suitable space for the activity stations, but it's been good for the flow of our meetings to stick to one home. The kids know exactly what to do each time, now!
- Create a sign up. I use Sign Up Genius, and you can see a sample screen shot below. This enables moms to sign up at the start of the semester and plan ahead for their activities. We often help one another with ideas, sending links to blogs and Pinterest boards with suggested activities. I highly recommend Catholic Cuisine and Catholic Icing as starting points.
- About 5 days before the first meeting, confirm with each family how many kids will be participating and give the moms who are leading a station a count for supplies. Families will miss from time to time due to illness or other obligations, so this helps us plan accordingly.
Here is how our meetings run:
9:30am Arrival and Playtime
9:45am Opening Prayer & Intro
9:55am First Station
10:10am Second Station
10:25am Third Station
10:40am Fourth Station
10:55am Clean-up and Playtime
During playtime, the moms get to chat, too!
Some additional tips:
- We have found that it works best to divide our groups both by age and gender when possible. The boys really want to hang out with the boys and vice versa. Our current groups are (1) Girls ages 6-9, (2) Boys ages 7-11, and (3) Mixed ages 3-5.
- We usually have 3 groups and 4 stations, which means that moms get a break during one rotation.
- Sometimes the craft station takes longer than the other stations. Because we only have three groups, we can let those kids linger a bit and still shift everyone else to a new station.
- Moms who aren't leading a station either help with the craft or follow around the littles. They also sub when a mom who is supposed to lead a station isn't able to attend.
- Our rotations go as follows: Craft - Story - Activity - Snack. It's helpful to do snack after the activity, because kids are usually running around for the activity and ready for a drink of water and something to eat. And it helps to do the activity after the story, since they have to sit still for the story.
- We start the smallest kids at the story station when their attentions are fresh. We let the girls go first with the craft because, in our experience, they take the longest.
- Use plastic tablecloths to cover the craft and snack tables and provide just water if you want to keep messes to a minimum. Have a trash can in both areas, too.
- As host, I tape stop signs I printed off the internet on some doors and across my stairway to remind our little visitors not to enter those rooms or go upstairs. We lock up our pets, so that's one room that gets a stop sign.
What do you think about Saints Club? Could this work for you and your friends?