Thanks to Haleigh Morgan, administrator of the Facebook group, Catechumens for Life, for this Guest Post. By request, she shares with us this wonderful way of learning the Catechism, using lapbooks. After explaining lapbooks and how they can be used to teach the Small Catechism, we are treated to a photo gallery of some Catechism lapbooks.
Luther’s Small Catechism is a great treasure of the Church, without doubt. It is an invaluable inheritance to all Christians and to all Lutherans in particular. As soon as our children are able to receive it, we pass this inheritance on to them as well. While the catechism is beautifully written in a simple way that even the youngest can grasp, and while we can (and should) teach directly from the Small Catechism, we often look for ways to engage, enrich, and expand upon the basic text. We want ways to help our children engage with the text and its teaching so that it becomes important to them. We want to expand in ever-widening circles and wade more deeply as the child’s understanding and maturity grows. For elementary-aged children, catechism lapbooks may help in this process.
For those who are unfamiliar, a lapbook is a file folder filled with mini-books or other kinds of summaries, developed around one central theme or topic. Each mini-book retells something about the central theme. Many times, the mini-books are shaped or decorated to related thematically to the central topic of the whole folder or to the content of the mini-book. For example, our mini-book for the 7th petition was a life-preserver to help us quickly remember that in this petition we ask our Father to protect and deliver us from all manner of evil, of body and soul, property and honor. Inside this preserver mini-book we summarized just that.
Parents or teachers can assist students by providing templates for these mini-books. But, any aspect of the lapbook creation that the child can do, (s)he should do. This type of effort is much more effective for moving the information from the outside to the inside – from the ears, eyes, and hands to the mind and heart.
Children often love these little lapbooks and may ask to read them with you more than once. This is a great way to reinforce learning. Lapbooks make a helpful narration tool as well. For example, after we made and studied our Creed lapbook, I asked my son to “tell me all about it.” He walked me slowly through each mini-book he had made. He read each article of the creed, used his mini-books to remind me what each meant, and pointed out the other notable tidbits he added. One such example of an idea not included in a mini-book was the fact that the explanations use the words “daily and richly” in both the explanation to the 1st and the 3rd articles and how much he liked the fact that God provides “richly and daily” both our 1st article gifts and our 3rd article gifts.
To be sure, methods and programs and elaborate activities are not necessary to teach the catechism. This is one of my great comforts. I have enough to worry about without creating curriculum from scratch where there is no need. But, if you also find you have a need to add appeal to younger children and show that learning the catechism can be engaging and even entertaining, lapbooking may be a worthwhile tool to add to your toolbox.