7 Meaningful Ways to Celebrate All Saints’ Day With Your Kids

communion of saints

 For us Catholics, All Saints’ Day is a truly special occasion. More than just a holiday, i.e. a “day off” from work, which usually translates to long weekends and extra time with loved ones, it is a “holy-day” too, a time to remember the Saints and all their good works.

When I was a child growing up in Brunei though, All Saints’ Day was not really a big thing for our family. We were “nominal” Catholics at the time, and it was only when our family got involved in the Charismatic Renewal that “religious” things became more meaningful for us.

Now that I’m a parent myself, it’s my hope that our kids will look at our Catholic faith as not “just a religious obligation,” but something that is part and parcel of who we are and what we do.

That’s why we try to live the liturgical year, inspired by other Catholic homeschooling families, especially those in the U.S. Part of living the liturgical year is making occasions like All Saints’ Day special for our children.

praying child

Now, before you start thinking, “Gosh, only ‘super holy’ people can do that!”, please understand that we’re not a ‘super holy’ family; we’re just doing our best, and we started with “baby steps,” as Kiendra of Catholic All Year calls them. I still have a lot to learn actually!

Anyway, without further ado, allow me to share how we celebrate All Saints’ Day with our children — and maybe you can get ideas on how to celebrate All Saints’ Day and make it memorable for your kids too!

 

1. We attend Mass.

The Mass is the highest form of worship. We actually celebrate the Communion of Saints during Mass because “we honor the saints, pray for the souls in purgatory and pray for one another,” according to Fr. Rodney Kissinger, S.J.

Going to Mass on All Saints’ Day may not be a typical thing for some families, especially those who choose to go away during the All Saints/All Souls weekend for some R & R, but taking the time to do so will indeed be beneficial (especially spiritual-wise) for the whole family.

Prior to going to Mass, we try to prepare the kids by talking about what the Communion of Saints means, why we celebrate All Saints’ Day, and the like.

I usually do this the day before, on Halloween or All Hallows’ Eve, as I prefer to call it. I’ve used this post from Catholic Inspired for our yearly preparations.

 

2. We read our favorite saint books.

We are self-confessed book-hoarders lovers, but we have yet to beef up our collection of saint- and faith-themed books. Here are a few of the titles we have, which we use almost every year during All Saints Day:

all saints books

Sanne has also prepared a great list of children’s books about saints, a few of which we also own and love to read. You can check it out here.

 

3. We watch videos about the saints.

To my disappointment, I have discovered that there are not that many saint videos available locally. However, there are still quite a few saint-themed DVDs and VCDs that we have been able to collect over the years, mostly from St. Paul’s.

saints videos

You can also watch saint videos on YouTube. Here’s a list of a few videos on my old homepreschool blog here, in case you want to watch them.

 

4. We do simple crafts.

I am admittedly not a very crafty momma — in fact, if we could skip arts and crafts altogether, I would be totally happy! However, I do try my best to prepare simple craft activities for the kids, especially on special days like All Saints Day. ;)

Last year, with a little baby at home, we just did saint-themed “crafts” with chocolates… M is for Mama Mary!

 

5. We play saint-themed games.

Our favorite – and the easiest to play without the need for any props or materials! –  is “Saint Cecilia’s Musical Chairs.” I get my saint game ideas from Lacy of CatholicIcing.com.

 

6. We attend our group’s All Saints Day party.

Our homeschool group has been holding All Saints Day parties since 2011 — I can’t believe how time flies!

In the picture below, I am “interviewing” two little saints (who are all much bigger now!) while holding my then-2-year-old daughter. This was taken at our first All Saints’ Day party ever, organized by yours truly. :)

all saints party

Even if you’re not a homeschooling family, you can still have a bigger version of an All Saints Day party with, say, your child’s circle of friends, your friends’ children, your nieces/nephews, etc.

 

7. We celebrate at home.

Since our group’s parties are usually held after All Saints Day, our family also has our own simpler version of an All Saints Day party at home, on November 1.

Usually, we just buy a cake that has “Happy All Saints Day” on it, play a few games, and enjoy eating our cake, of course! I also get the kids simple All Saints Day gifts, like a rosary or saint book or DVD.

 

Resources for you:

If you’re looking for additional resources to help you celebrate All Saints Day with your kids, you might want to check out the links below:

What are your plans for All Saints’ Day? 

 

tina's photoTina used to be a full-time missionary at Timor Leste, where two of her three kids were born. She is a homeschooling mom, writer, editor, inspirational speaker, and an aspiring book-author. She blogs about the riches of faith, family, and life in general – including homeschooling – at TrulyRichMom.com.

 

Photo credits: All Saints by Albrecht Durer (Source: Wikiart) / Other photos by Tina @ TrulyRichMom.com

Remembering and Praying for the Dead – Teaching Kids About All Souls’ Day

All Souls' Day

 

When I was young, All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day were always solemn and special. My mother would prepare flowers and candles days in advance. Her preparations always signaled the upcoming holy days.

Every first of November, we would go to mass in the morning as a family and would then proceed to the cemetery to pray for my grandfather with all my cousins and aunts and uncles. We would always gossip, my cousins and I, and we would listen to our elders’ stories about our grandfather.

We would also gather as a family for his death anniversary, which also falls in November. So even though I’ve never met my grandfather, as he died almost two decades before I was born, I grew up knowing a lot about him. I grew up remembering him from the clan’s collective memory.

My cousins and I have grown up and most of us have moved from the small town where we grew up. Those family traditions, as I knew it, have come to an end. I want, though, to bring the same solemnity of All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day to my children’s lives. I want us to respect, to remember, and to pray for the souls of our dearly departed. 

 

Remembering Our Loved Ones

My husband’s grandmother passed away two years ago. Our daughter was close to her and still remembers her until now. I want her and her brother to continue remembering her and praying for her, so I asked my husband to tell us stories about her once in a while.

I also share anecdotes about my own grandmother who passed away several years ago before I was even married. As it is my habit to get help from stories, I chose books to read to help us talk about those who were dear to our hearts. Reading these bring tears to our eyes, and sometimes, Little T refuses to read them because she says she is reminded of her great-grandmother, “and that makes me cry!”

“Lola-Lola” (available here) is about a boy and his great-grandmother whom he calls “lola-lola.” The pictures show how a very old person moves, and what she can and cannot do. Overall, a lovely story about our elders.

“The Mats” is a beautiful book about remembering those who have gone before us. It is based on a short story by Francisco Arcellana from the 1930s. This is also a wonderful book for learning about the Philippines. (Available here.)

We are going to Mass on November 1 or 2, light up candles, bring out pictures, and pray for our grandmothers and grandfathers. Though we have participated in Halloween parties and trick-or-treat activities in the past – mainly because we were parents excited to dress up our kids in cute costumes – we really do want to our observance of these holy days to be solemn and special.

Our children are growing up, and as we have discovered, so are we.

Make magic!
This post was first published on October 31, 2012. Image of single candle courtesy of Dan at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Our Favorite Children’s Books About Saints

children's books about saintsPhoto credit: Wikimedia.org

All Saints’ Day is a great opportunity for us parents to introduce our children to different saints as part of sharing our Catholic faith with them. Using children’s books about saints, we can take a peek into the lives of these holy people and talk about how we can emulate them in our own day-to-day activities.

Instead of joining commercial Halloween celebrations, we  can choose to focus on the Church’s holy saints. Last year, we joined our homeschool group’s really cool All Saints Day party where the kids came as their favorite saints and all the games were saints-related too. It was such a wonderful experience for the kids and families who attended that we are doing it again this November!

So, since All Saints’ Day is coming up, we would like to share with you the list of our favorite books about saints. 

 

1. Children’s Book of Saints by Amy Welborn

This collection of the lives of the saints is the best that we have seen so far. Each story begins with an introduction to help the children connect with the saint and ends with questions for reflection, making the reader feel that he too can be a saint in his own, simple ways. Published by the Jesuits, this book groups the saints according to their different characteristics, such as “Saints are people who love children” and “Saints are people who come from all over the world”. Each category answers the question “Who is a saint?”  (Available at our bookshop! Click here.)

book of saints

 

2. The Flying Friar by Joseph V. Landy, SJ

Flying Friar is an interesting anthology of the lives of patron saints. It begins with a foreword about who saints are and how they get dubbed as patron saints. The foreword is a nice reference for us parents for when our kids start asking these questions. It also invites the children to be just like these ordinary people who did extraordinary things for God. Grade schoolers will enjoy reading these amazing life stories. The 2-3 page biography for each saint can also be good as read-alouds to younger children. Our main reason for having this book in our library? It’s that it includes the life of St. Pedro Calungsod, Patron of Filipino youth. (Available at our book shop! Click here.)

the flying friar

 

3. The Children’s Book of Saints by Louis M. Savary With just one page dedicated to a saint’s story, this book is simple and perfect for introducing saints to very young children. The illustrations also help make  children realize that saints were real people like us. Since the book indicates each saint’s feast day, we have fun marking our calendar with all the celebrations for a particular month. We then read a saint’s story on his or her feast day and say a short prayer too.

The-Children-s-Book-of-Saints-9780882711300

 

4. A Gift from Saint Francis by Joanna Cole

Which child will not love the story of St. Francis? Best known for his love for nature and animals, the story also highlights how St. Francis chose to be poor and to help the needy. This book can also be used during Christmas as we see one of St. Francis’ legacies during this happy season. Find out what that gift is here.

a gift from saint francis

 

5. Patrick, Patron of Ireland by Tomie dePaola

St. Patrick is one of the more popular saints in North America, but I did not know his  story until we read this book as a go-along in one of our homeschool lessons. I will forever be grateful to St. Patrick and how he explained the Holy Trinity using a three-leaf clover. This books gives a deeper meaning to the much-celebrated St. Patrick’s Day in North America.

saint patrick

 

6. Saint George and the Dragon by Margaret Hodges

One of the books in the Catholic literature-based curriculum called Catholic Mosaic, this Caldecott Medal book retells the legend of a young knight, believed to be St. George, who defeated a dreadful dragon and brought peace to his princess’ land. Nothing like an action-packed adventure book like this to inspire heroism and integrity.

saint george and the dragon

 

7. Bernadette: The Child Who Saw by Gemma Sales

My little girl has been fascinated by Marian apparitions ever since we read this book during the feast of St. Bernadette. This book tells the story of the little girl who saw the Virgin in Lourdes, France. We love how stories like these show our children that saints were once kids like them too.

bernadette the child who saw

 

8. Good Saint Joseph by Lawrence G. Lovasik

Picture books about Jesus’ adoptive father are few, so finding one is truly a gem. This story, written by Father Lovasik, shows us Joseph’s strength, patience and resilience from the time the angel appeared to him in his dream.

goo saint joseph

 

9. Pascual and the Kitchen Angels by Tomie dePaola

St. Pascual was devoted to the Eucharist even from the young age and is considered a patron saint of Eucharistic Congresses. He is well-known as a patron of cooks because he worked as one in the Franciscan monastery. Tomie de Paoala’s Pascual and the Kitchen Angles is  a charming retelling of a legend about the angels who helped him cook… because he could not cook at all in the beginning! As always, Tomie dePaola’s words and illustrations will delight every child.

pascual and the kitchen angels

 

10. Jacinta’s Story

The story of Fatima has always been fascinating and this beautiful picture book makes it more so.  Our Lady appeared to three children, Jacinta and Francisco,  who were later beatified, and Lucia who was canonized as a saint. This book tells the story of all the apparitions and how the townsfolk did not believe the children’s story.

jacinta's story

 

What are your kids’ favorite books about saints? 

 

Have fun with your child!

sanne