Preparing for First Communion with an exceptional child? Check out Preparing for Your First Communion with Billy the Puppet, a new video course from award-winning storyteller Christine Henderson, founder of Faith and Puppets.
Who can look at a puppet and not smile? Whether you are 99 or 3 or 7 or 10 years old, puppets can be beneficial.
My storytelling business, Never Too Old For Stories, got started with using puppets while working with dementia patients. I focused mainly on working with memory care residents in senior homes. But following the COVID 19 pandemic, I’ve been inspired by the Infant of Prague to use my skills as a storyteller to create Preparing For Your First Communion with Billy the Puppet: a First Communion video program starring one of my hand-crafted puppets.
Why Faith and Puppets?
Puppets are fun, no matter the age. Also, puppets are easy to relate to and communicate with. Put a puppet in the hands of a child who struggles to communicate, and all of the sudden it is no longer the child speaking – it’s the puppet! If the puppet stumbles over words or makes a mistake, it’s the puppet’s error, not the child’s.
The puppet takes the risk of making a mistake or saying the wrong thing, so a shy or exceptional child may be more comfortable telling how s/he feels when it is the puppet talking. And, if you need to correct the puppet, the child doesn’t take it as if they have done something wrong:
“Puppet Billy, the answer to 3+7 is not 11. Let’s try to figure this out together. Maybe you can help Billy and I figure out the correct answer.”
You see how the emphasis and attention is taken off your child and redirected to the puppet? The child is still learning, but more quickly – and with less fear and stress.
“Puppets are helpful in reducing anxiety among young learners. They tend to feel more relaxed. Puppets provide confidence to become part of an activity. They help learners experience something exciting, fun, new and interesting. It’s not the child making errors, it is the puppets.” Journal of Education and Social Sciences Volume 6 issue 2 (February)
Billy the Puppet and First Communion
Though the Baltimore Catechism books are filled with important things to know about our Catholic faith, it can be dry reading, but our Catholic faith is vibrant, enriching, and interesting! Preparing for First Communion with Billy the Puppet still teaches all the information contained in the New St. Joseph First Communion Catechism, but Billy makes it come alive.
For instance, Billy and I talk about the questions/answers and what they mean. We use real-world examples like the following:
In the lesson where we talk about forgiveness. Billy says,
“If my older brother comes into the room where I’ve been building a block tower and laughs and knocks it over, I get mad. But then if he comes in later and says he is sorry and asks to help build a new one, I should forgive him?”
In the lesson where we talk about not being selfish, I tell Billy this story:
“Let’s say that you have a friend over and there is one piece of chocolate cake left. You ask your mom if you and your friend can eat it and she says yes. When you slice the cake into two sections one ends up being larger than the other.”
Then Billy says….
”I want the bigger piece.”
“But God would want you to give the bigger piece to your friend…”
The goal of Faith and Puppets (and preparing for First Communion with Billy the Puppet) is to make the catechism relatable to children so they internalize what they learn and apply it to their lives.
As a result, each lesson includes a story from the Bible or the lives of the Saints. For both kinds of stories, I use various voices and lots of expression.
- For the Bible stories, I encourage parents to read the Scripture to children so they can hear it in God’s inspired words.
- For the Saint stories, I include amazing Saints many Catholics have never heard of, including:
- Saint Pachomius
- Saint Margaret of Antioch
- Saint Wulfran
- Saint Kevin
- Saint Patrick
- Saint Martin of Tours
- Our Lady of Lourdes
- Saint Josephine Bakhita
- Saint Drithelm
- Saint Hilarion
- Saint Christopher
- Saint Frances of Rome
- Saint Peter Canisius
- Saint Edmund Campion
- Saint Scholastica
- Saint Joseph of Cupertino
- Saint Isidore of Seville
- Saint Margaret Ward
- Saint Blaise
- Saint Macarius
- Saint Anthony of Padua
- Saint Francis of Assisi
Want to learn more about Faith and Puppets?
Check out the video previews of the program; there are 30 videos in all. This program is geared for children ages four to seven years old. Though four and five-year-olds will still not be old enough to receive their First Communion at the end of this program, this is a fantastic way to introduce them to our wonderful Catholic faith. Six and seven-year-olds should be ready to receive their First Communion by the end of the video series, though you will still need to teach them their prayers. (Sign of the Cross, Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be, and Act of Contrition.)
How much is Faith and Puppets?
This program costs only $5 a month for 9 months, or a one-time payment of $45. A new video link is emailed on Mondays for 30 weeks. You can cancel any time if you are paying monthly.
So, check out the website, sign up, and start having fun with your child while he learns about our glorious Catholic faith!
And in the meantime:
If your “exceptional child” is hesitant to read out loud, recite a poem or talk with someone, try using a puppet. It doesn’t need to be a fancy puppet (but hey, if you want to buy one of my handmade puppets I won’t argue).
You can also try making your own puppet together:
Just take an old sock and get creative with some fabric glue, felt, and whatever else you have on hand. Slip your hand into the sock and see how you can make it move and talk. Then decide where you want the eyes and how you want to design it. Glue/sew on feathers, sequins, pompoms, felt, or yarn. Have fabric paint around? Use that. Let your creative juices soar. After the puppet is all dry, slip it on your child’s hand and see what happens. You and your child can have a great time together making multiple puppets.
Christine Henderson is an award-winning, Catholic storyteller from Kansas. Married for 26 years and the homeschooling mom of six children 25 to 14, Christine fell in love with storytelling after attending a class at her local library. Christine launched her original business, Never Too Old For Stories, as an outreach program for patients in memory care facilities. Faith and Puppets, her catechetical branch, launched in the spring of 2020. You can connect with Christine, Never Too Old for Stories, and Faith and Puppets on Facebook and Instagram.