Thursday, May 3, 2012

Teaching the Rosary in an Early Childhood Classroom - FREEBIE!

Tomorrow is my school's annual May Crowning ceremony. I'm not sure if this is a big event in all Catholic Schools, but since I teach at St. Mary School, it is a VERY important tradition at mine. Tomorrow's ceremony is for the Preschool, Kindergarten, and 1st Grade students. All children arrive at school dressed in their "Sunday Best" and bring a fresh flower to school. Each classroom creates a mixed bouquet of flowers, which are placed near a statue of the Blessed Mother. When it's time for the big event, the children process around the school (if the weather allows), then into the gym (which we use as our church as well). We pray, listen to readings from the Gospel, and sing songs about Mary. A first grade student places a crown on Mary's head.

We also pray the Rosary. Since this is a ceremony for young students, praying an entire Rosary is simply asking too much of them. Instead, we begin and end the Rosary traditionally, but condense the traditional five decades into one decade. Even this is can be a daunting task for some of our little ones.

It's important to me that my Kindergarten students participate as best they can and feel a part of the prayer, but using a traditional Rosary as a prayer tool seems more confusing than helpful. (It has SO many beads!) So, today we made our own smaller Rosaries which we will bring to the prayer service tomorrow.
Make a simple, single-decade Rosary out of pipe cleaner and pony beads

As you can see, these are simple Rosaries made from pipe cleaner and pony beads. I used pastels in keeping with traditional images of Mary. The students created their own Rosaries in class. I found these adorable religious beads at my local "superstore" and they were perfect for this project. I wanted them to have the ability to dangle like a traditional Rosary cross, so I prepped this part of the project by knotting a small loop with white craft floss, then threading an end of the pipe cleaner through the loop in the floss and tightly folding up that end of the pipe cleaner. I have no idea if that explanation makes sense to you, so I took a few photos of the process.

These beads are perfect for the rosary!

cute religious beads for kindergarten rosary

Use craft floss to tie a small knot through the bead, 
then place pipe cleaner through the look and fold close.

use pipe cleaner and large beads to create a simple rosary with children.

A few pipe cleaners ready for students to add pony beads.

make a simple rosary with kindergarten students.

These teaching Rosaries were modeled after actual Rosaries. To differentiate between the prayers, two different types of bead were used. Hail Mary prayers were marked with traditional pony beads. We used heart shaped beads to indicate where the Our Father will be recited.

instructions to create a single-decade rosary with kindergarten students.

Students followed my instructions to add all remaining beads, then I came around and created a loop in each child's Rosary. When the work was finished, it was time to practice using our new prayer tool!

As I mentioned, all traditional Rosary prayers are recited during May Crowning. This includes the Apostles Creed and a few others. So, I told my kiddos that they only needed to listen for the Hail Mary and Our Father. They will need to sit attentively during the other prayers and then move their fingers onto a new bead when a prayer that they know begins. Our practice went great! The kids loved their new Rosaries and had success using them in class. I am so excited for tomorrow!

FREE Children's Rosary guide/coloring page

Children's Rosary FREEBIE

I also created this simple Children's Rosary resource for my students and their parents. Yes, I know a few essential prayers are missing for it to be considered a "true" rosary, but I believe in starting with the fundamentals. This uses prayers the students are experts at and allows them to begin forming a prayerful identity. It's yours for FREE! Click the image or the link to download.

One more thing... remember when I said that May Crowning is an important tradition at my school? I wasn't joking! Here is a photo from the school's May Crowning event in 1948 (my school was once a K-12 school-hence the High School students crowning Mary).
May crowning from 1950's era

Have a blessed day!


  1. Thank you for sharing. I love your blog! I will definitely be using this as my baby grows. I plan on enrolling him in a school like yours as soon as he is old enough.

  2. Thank you what a sweet compliment!

  3. Maria,
    I love this! I'm looking forward to attending a May Crowning with my littles in the spring.
    Dianna @ The Kennedy Adventures


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