When Our Sunday Visitor’s Early Childhood Education column for April 2011 arrived in my email, I was delighted to read Anne Neuberger’s article titled “Hands of Peace.” Inspired by the Hands of Peace exhibit at the Pope John Paul II Cultural Center in Washington, D.C., Neuberger writes:
In anticipation of the May 1 beatification of Pope John Paul, help children understand that their hands are part of their spirituality.
Discuss this by asking them if they can guess some ways our hands help us show either God’s love to others or show God our love.
The article includes some suggestions for ways our hands might show love, including hugging, preparing food/feeding people, and brushing teeth (“caring for our bodies which are gifts from God”). This reminded of a special unit I once did with my seniors* in association with Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. I included an adaptation of Living the Dream: 100 Acts of Kindness, a lesson plan for grades K-2, so that we might participate in Dr. King’s dream by helping others.
I thought to myself, “If I could do something with my students to celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., then why not do something with my kids to celebrate the life and legacy of Blessed Pope John Paul II while responding to the Gospel message
* Before becoming a stay-at-home mom, I had a brief tenure as an English teacher, teaching one year of developmental English composition at the college level and one year of English IV at the senior level in a public high school.