If you need a Church school lesson this weekend for St. Gregory Palamas Sunday, this is one of our favorites. St. Gregory loved the Jesus Prayer.
For the youngest kids, like this example made by my three-year-old, I use a 1in paper punch and black construction paper to make the prayer rope knots. I also write the words to the Jesus Prayer for them (using metallic or white gel pen works best).
• Slightly older children can can paste the words to the prayer on their knots
• Children able to write can write it themselves on their knots
• You can have kids copy the whole prayer out on a piece of handwriting paper and draw a larger number of knots prayer rope around the prayer
• For fine motorskills development black pony beads and elastic string can be used to make beaded prayer ropes
• If there is someone in the parish that makes prayer ropes, a lesson can be given to older kids to pass the craft on to the next generation (this is very important as so many traditions are being lost!) or you can try to learn together from online tutorials
Similar versions of this lesson abound. I first learned a version of it from the Children’s Garden of the Theotokos curriculum by Macrina Elder, but here are a couple blog posts with variations:
• Creative Hands Creative Minds: St. Gregory Palamas
• Crafty Contemplative: A Child’s Lesson on St. Gregory Palamas
I think teaching our children the simple Jesus Prayer is an important life skill. I have had so many well meaning people try to teach my kids “meditation” from exercise videos incorporating yoga, to teachers trying to calm a class, to friends and relatives wanting to help them deal with anxiety and emotions. Not to get all fundamentalist here, but whenever I get wind of it I try to remind my kids that we already have this amazing tool in The Jesus Prayer.