• Pentecost
  • Ember Days and Our Children
  • May is Mary's Month
  • May Crowning

Pentecost

Pentecost is one of our greatest feasts. Preschoolers may have difficulty understanding the meaning of this 
scripture story because the concept of the Holy Spirit is quite abstract. However, they can develop an 
understanding on an intuitive level. The story is filled with sensory experiences and action, which is exactly 
how young children learn. Introduce them to this important scripture by using their delight in their senses 
and movements.

The actual Pentecost of scripture was a noisy event, much of which took place outside. 
If possible, take your class outside or to a large space such as a gym, for your celebration 
too will be best celebrated in a large space!

Tell the story below, encouraging children to help you with the actions suggested.
[Introduction]
Today I will tell you an important story from Holy Scripture, and I want you to help me.
You will get to run sometimes and make noises. But you must also be good listeners.
When I clap my hands three times, you must stop and come back to me so you can
hear the next part of the story.

[Story]
Wind, Fire and Holy Spirit
Before Jesus went back to heaven, he told his friends that the Holy Spirit would
come to them and then they would become great teachers.

[Lead the children in this song, sung to the tune of ‘Frere Jacques’]
Holy Spirit! Holy Spirit!
Come to us! Come to us!
Send your wind and fire, Send your wind and fire!
Come to us! Come to us!
A few days later, when Jesus was gone from them, it was the time of Pentecost,
a celebration for the Jewish people. Jesus’ friends and his mother were all together in one room.

[Encourage children to huddle together. Clap your hands three times.]
Suddenly there came a noise. It seemed to come from the sky.

[All look up.]
It sounded like a strong, driving wind. It filled the whole house!

[Have children now be the wind, running, arms flapping, and making
wind noises by blowing air through pursed lips. Clap three times.]

Then they saw something amazing! Little bits of fire appeared in the air
above their heads! These bits of fire came to rest on each one of them
but these fires did not burn them at all!

[Have children be the bits of fire, starting out tall, as if they are in the air,
then slowly come down and settle on the floor, pretending they have
landed gently on a person. Clap three times.]

Now let’s imagine you are the people again. All of this wind and fire
meant Jesus’ friends and mother, Mary, were filled with the Holy Spirit.
It was Jesus’ promise to them! They felt full of joy! And they were joyful because of Jesus!

They wanted to tell everyone they saw that Jesus loves us!
They wanted to tell everyone they saw that Jesus says, “Let’s not fight!”
They wanted to tell everyone they saw that Jesus said, “Let’s love each
other and help each other!”

So that is what they did.

[Have children walk around and tell each other about Jesus in an excited way.
Clap three times. The next action be will be final one and will be a good one
to end the session.]

That great day, many, many people learned about Jesus because of his excited
friends.  Now let’s celebrate this great day.

Give each child streamers of red and orange ribbons or crepe paper. Remind them of
the wind in the story and have them run to celebrate and get the streamers to flutter.

If you must gather the children again, call them to sing the Holy Spirit song.

Ember Days and Our Children
Centuries ago, people celebrated nature feasts at the change of seasons. Eventually,
before the 1000’s, these became Christian observances, with fasting and prayer for
spiritual renewal and blessings on crops and harvests.

There were called Ember Days, from the Angle-Saxon word ymbren, meaning revolution,
because they "come around" four times a year. The summer observance is Wednesday,
Friday and Saturday of Pentecost week.

Utilize the idea of Ember Days to help preschoolers connect nature, our food,
and God the Creator.
  • Observe crops growing: visit a garden, farm fields, or a plant nursery.
  • Talk about the aspects of God’s creation found there: soil, sunshine,
  •  water, human work, seeds. God made all these things, which means God gives us our food.
  • Help children develop a sense of awe of God’s power and gifts. Most children are
  •  somewhat familiar with pumpkins. Look at pumpkin seeds. Talk about the power within them
  •  to grow into a huge plant. Then look at a young pumpkin plant. Imagine how big the plant 
  • will get: have a child stand in one place “where the seed is planted.” Then walk about eight 
  • feet away from the child, explaining that the plant will reach at least that far. Pumpkins get very heavy.
  •  The plants become very strong to help big pumpkins grow. God gave them that power!
  • Have children act being pumpkin seeds in the ground. As they curl up on the floor, 
  • talk about God giving them strength, warmth, water. The children slowly stand up and
  •  stretch their arms out like big pumpkin plants.
  • Teach children the “Johnny Apple seed” prayer:  Oh, the Lord is good to me, and so
  •  I thank the Lord,  for giving me the things I need,  the sun and the rain and the apple seed; 
  •  the Lord is good to me! Alleluia! Amen.

May is Mary's Month
Learning about Mary Helping young children come to appreciate Mary is not difficult.
They can easily understand that she was a loving mommy to little Jesus. You can speak
too of Mary being a mother to us all, whom we cannot see, but nonetheless watches over and loves us.

There are many delightful and tender traditions surrounding our blessed Mother.
One is the use of flowers to symbolize different aspects of Mary.
At the Our Sunday Visitor website, you can download a coloring book about some of these flowers.

Make a copy for each child to color and assemble. Craft stores may carry at least one of these
flowers in silk. Bring in these (or real ones if possible) to place on the table when
children are making their books.

Similarly, you can find stories and activities in Mary, the Mother of God.

The booklets can be just lessons in a Catholic tradition, but can also be given
as a mother’s day gift. Consider too having the children making booklets to
give to older women in your parish.

May Crowning
Many Catholic adults, particularly women, have fond memories of the May Crownings of their childhoods. This is a beautiful tradition to pass onto young Catholics. In doing so, why not tap into a resource of people who already know and love this custom? Invite to your classroom people from the parish who are interested in participating in a May Crowning with your young students.

Before the event, gather materials:
  • A statue of Mary
  • Blue cloth (if possible, velvet, satin or spangled with stars)
  • Several vases (size dependent on the size of flowers you use)
  • Crown (if time permits, have one of your  guests and students make the crown of silk flowers)
  • Flowers (real or silk); or potted flowering plants such as African Violets, or potted bulbs such as hyacinth
  • Table or other surface to hold the statue
  • Picture book of Mary

Mary, the Mother of Jesus by Tomie de Paola is readily available and has wonderful illustrations
of Mary at different points in her life; if time is limited, you can just look at each illustration and paraphrase the text.

Be aware that there is one small illustration of a mother weeping over a child slain because of
Herod’s order. It is not explicit by any means and it is with a much larger and assuring illustration of
Mary and little Jesus in Egypt but if you choose to show that picture, be prepared for questions.

If your event can be more elaborate, consider obtaining:
  • a small pillow for carrying the crown
  • streamers of blue ribbons for children to wave
  • small flowers to put into children’s hair or to clutch.
  • Refreshments, such as cookies or cake

If possible, find a musician to lead the songs, or play piano or guitar at the May Crowning. There are
traditional songs for May Crownings. Two examples are Hail, Holy Queen Enthroned Above and
Immaculate Mary. Look in a parish songbook or online. Some of your guests may remember
the melodies if you supply the words.

On the day of the big event, have all materials ready. However, keep fresh or silk flowers back.
As people arrive, inquire of a few guests if they would be willing to talk briefly about their memories
of May Crownings from their childhoods. Find one adult open to be the crown bearer and another
to crown the statue. This takes away any competition amongst the children for these honored roles.

When all have arrived, gather children and guests together and read the picture book. Hold
the statue for the children to see and explain that to honor Mary, you will be creating a beautiful
prayer service, called a May Crowning.

Next, encourage everyone to begin work on setting up. Some can spread the blue cloth,
others can make the crown, get the refreshments set up for later, etc. If you have real flowers,
an adult and children can get water for the vases and place the vases near the statue when
the altar is ready. Take time to create a pretty setting.


When all is ready, assemble as a group, modeling a reverent but joyful attitude. Say the ‘Hail Mary”
together. Then give children the flowers and have them process to the altar, bringing flowers and
placing them in vases. Encourage adults to sing as they do this. After all the flowers have been
placed in vases, have the chosen adults process to the altar for the actual crowning.

Sing another song, wave streamers and enjoy the beauty. When finished, celebrate with a bit of a feast!