This is a family project where everyone will learn about their family's patron saints through the course of one year.
In the Classroom:
This is a class project where the students and teacher(s) will learn about the class' patron saints through the course of one year. This would be a fantastic opportunity to encourage family's to do this project at home as well as an extension of your church school program. This is a prime example of connecting church and home.
Learn about your extended family or godparents' patron saints
Our Family's Patron Saints:
Why a Name Day Timeline?
I've taught a wide range of age groups, different learning styles, and special needs - in classrooms and in my own home. I don't always have the opportunity to separate the children into similar learning groups. Most of the time, I need to adapt to the group in front of me - including all their varying degrees of learning needs.
This activity appeals to the visual child who wants to see the icons as well as visualize the sequence of events. It also appeals to the verbal learner who wants to read and write about their patron saint. This activity is appropriate for all grades - with additional guidance and help for the younger children.
For non-readers: Write down all the dates for when each saint is commemorated before beginning this activity. Hold up each icon and ask who they think is on the icon. After establishing who all the saints are on the icons, hand one icon at a time to be placed on the shelf (hook, etc). Tell them, "Saint ____ is going to be first because we remember him on _____. Saint _____ is going to be next because we remember her on ____. Put Saint ____ third because we remember her on _____."
Younger children can often tell you who's sibling's birthday is next before they can tell you their sibling's actual birthdate. They learn the chronological order before the specific date.
For readers: It is your choice on whether or not you want them to research for themselves when the saints are commemorated or whether you'll have all the dates ready for them. (Extension activity: mix up the dates on a worksheet and ask them to put the dates in chronological order on the paper before arranging the icons on the shelf in the correct order.)
Place some sort of marker over the icon of the next upcoming name day
Label Under the Icons
Using Post-it Notes, write the desired information about each saint and place the note below the icon.
I want to learn:
- When did my patron saint live?
- Where did my patron saint live?
- Were any of my patron saint's family also saints? If so, who?
- How did my patron saint live his/her life for Christ? (Feeding the poor, a martyr, telling others about Christ, etc)
Mix It Up!
A few weeks after they have completed this activity, see how much the kids remember!
Take all the Post-it Notes down. Take all the icons off the shelf and mix up their order. Then ask the kids to put the icons back up in the correct chronological order. After putting the icons back on the shelf, hand them the Post-It Notes and ask them to put them back under the correct icon. (Tell them if you want the order to begin in September or January.)
Extensions & Connections:
Book About Our Patron Saints
My niece and I worked together to create a book on Shutterfly of all the cousins' patron saints. We gave one book to each family as a Christmas gift from the two of us. You can learn more about this project and also about a personalized Orthodox calendar on this previous post.
This is a project you can do for:
- Your immediate family's patron saints
- Your extended family's patron saints
- Cousins' patron saints
- Your godchildren's patron saints
- Your class' patron saints
- Your community's patron saints
Worship: attending and participation in the services
- Attending Liturgy for your name day (and family)
- Make and bring prosphoro for your name day
Formal Learning: expanding our knowledge
- What is a name day? (The day we remember our patron saint. A patron saint is a saint we were either named after or chose when we were baptized/chrismated.)
- Who is your patron saint and when is he/she remembered?
- Let's learn about our patron saint: read about their life
- Timeline (see above - a visual way to remember)
Praxis: living our faith in our daily lives
- Send a letter home: What is a name day? How do you celebrate it?
- After reading the story about the person's patron saint, ask, "How can we imitate our patron saint today?"
Celebrating Name Days
On each person's name day, we commemorate their patron saint by attending Divine Liturgy (if offered), reading about the saint's life, enjoying a slice of cake with family and friends, and discussing the life of the saint. (How can we emulate their life?)