I Am Special

Book cover: 'I Am Special'
Joan Ensor Plum
Paul S. Plum
Our Sunday Visitor
Number of pages: 
430 pages
Grade / Age level: 

I Am Special is a religious education course for three-year-old children, designed for a group-style, parish religious education program. A fully scripted, highly organized and well-planned teacher's guide allows the teacher to get the most out of the program without requiring special training or unusual materials. The student activity book and flannel board figures packet feature full-color cartoon-style artwork that may appeal to very young children. Most activities are group-oriented, but many of them could be adapted for homeschooling use with some modification.

This religious education program contains 30 lessons and assumes that one lesson will be completed in a one-hour class each week. Unit One includes thirteen lessons designed to help children develop positive attitudes about themselves by learning about names, hands, feet, and the five senses. Unit Two's eleven lessons investigate various things given to us by God, such as families, friends, animals, and trees. Unit Three's five lessons focus on the holidays of Thanksgiving, Advent, Christmas, Valentine's Day, and Easter/Spring. The final lesson is on Growing. A heavy emphasis is placed on music and singing, as well as finger play activities, of which some are original and others traditional. An optional music cassette or CD is available but was not reviewed. Each lesson's craft activities may require a teaching assistant as many involve cooking, baking, scissors, or messy materials. Despite the detailed organization, considerable preparation time is necessary for many lessons.

One weakness of this popular program is that it is generically Christian. I can easily see this course being used in a preschool religious education classroom of any Christian denomination. The religious content includes a very brief, original, conversational prayer in each lesson, references to God with very simplistic adaptations of Bible verses, and a very simple retelling of the Christmas and Easter stories. No content was noted as being specifically Catholic. No priest, religious, or saint figure appears among the 105 flannel board figures. There are no church or crucifix images. There are no traditional Catholic prayers, even the very simplest Sign of the Cross, other than a meal blessing. No catechetical information of any kind is taught directly. With such a strong emphasis on music, this course could have easily begun teaching basic Catholic prayers or traditional hymns by taking advantage of the ability of children of this age to memorize easily.

Additional notes: 

5th edition, Nihil Obstat, Imprimatur

Teacher's Guide (spiral-bound softcover, 236 pages plus appendices), Student Activity Book (softcover 112 pages), Blackline Masters (Looseleaf, 62 pages), Flannel Board Packet (Looseleaf cardstock, 20 pages)

Review Date: 
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