One of the most common prayers in the Catholic faith is the "Hail Mary" prayer, which addresses the Blessed Mother as an intercessor before God on our behalf. Mary is celebrated with the words, "Blessed art thou among women." The "Hail Mary" is an integral part of praying the Holy Rosary, and all Catholic children are taught this basic prayer. Some kindergartners are readers, and some are not, but teachers can use various methods to help kindergartners learn this essential part of the Catholic faith.
Write the "Hail Mary" prayer on a large piece of poster board, leaving blank spaces for some of the prayer's key words ("Mary," "Jesus," "fruit," "hour" and so on). Write each missing word on a separate sheet of colored construction paper, cut out the words and hide them in various locations (around a Sunday school classroom, for example). Have the kindergartners go on a "scavenger hunt" to find the words, then ask them to work together to put the missing words in the correct places (like a puzzle).
Give the kindergartners some background information about the "Hail Mary" prayer so that they will better understand the actual words in the prayer. For example, the teacher can use personal stories and pictures relating to the Blessed Mother as well as explain to the kindergartners where in the Bible the prayer comes from.
Break down the "Hail Mary" prayer into short phrases that the kindergartners can focus on learning gradually. Sometimes a large amount of text can be overwhelming. The teacher could highlight the phrase, "... pray for us sinners ..." and explain to the children why we pray to Mary.
Sing the prayer as well as speaking it. Play the prayer in song format from a CD. Kindergartners often have different ways of learning, so in addition to speaking the prayer to help them learn, the musical rhythm might also help.
Let the kindergartners color and decorate a picture frame with the words to the "Hail Mary" prayer.
- ['Large poster board', 'Permanent marker', 'Colored construction paper', 'Tape', 'Catholic Bible', '"Hail Mary" prayer (song) on CD', '"Hail Mary" prayer coloring page']
If funds allow, one option is presenting the kindergartners with a Catholic book of prayers that includes the "Hail Mary" prayer.
Some kindergartners are not yet able to read, so pictures and stories might be more helpful for those children when learning the "Hail Mary." Also, emphasize to the kindergartners that Catholics do not worship Mary; rather, they pray to Mary as an intercessor before God.
- mary image by charles taylor from Fotolia.com