It's a Mystery! The Secret Garden

Book cover: 'It's a Mystery! The Secret Garden'
Sandra Garant
Catholic Heritage Curricula
Number of pages: 
104 pages

It's a Mystery! It's a Hit! Summer vacation will never be the same. Traditionally, Vacation Bible School curricula are either strongly Protestant or only vaguely Christian. Now there is an alternative that is not only Catholic but also lots of fun for everyone.

The Secret Garden is the third in a series of weeklong retreats for Catholic children. The program is designed for use as a parish summer program or a family-based unit study. It could be completed at any time of the year, but this one would be especially nice in warmer weather because of the garden theme and outdoor activities. This retreat introduces Catholic Marian dogma and focuses on developing the virtues, especially that of patience.

Both the teacher's guide and the student's appendix feature simple black-and-white line drawings. Don't let the non-glitzy presentation fool you; this program has excellent, solid content. Materials for the retreat leader include advertising and organizing suggestions as well as specific teaching points and background information. Points of controversy, a history of Marian dogmas, and apologetic information are presented. Fresh and original game and craft ideas that are easy to implement are described in each day's lesson. These memorable activities will appeal to both boys and girls. Indoor and outdoor games and activities keep this physically active program moving along each day.

Advance preparation is required. Materials are comparatively inexpensive to purchase, and the snack suggestions are very simple.

Daily lesson plans for 5 one-half day sessions follow a similar pattern. The day begins with prayer and continues with a lesson time, activity and game time, lesson on patience, another game or activity, work on Mary garden project, snack, a game or activity, and the closing. A party is suggested for the final day to showcase the week’s projects. Separate, but related, plans are included for preschool (ages 2-5) and elementary (ages 5-12) groups, with some suggestions for teens. When an activity is best suited for a large group, suggestions are made for a smaller group activity. We were very successful in using The Secret Garden with a group of seven children under age 12, and we are anxiously awaiting another installment in the It's a Mystery series.

Additional notes: 

Binding details: Teacher's Guide (52 pages combbound) + Loose-leaf appendix (52 pages)

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