Ways to Learn/Teach about Mary

After months of preparing for my talk at the NCEA convention, it’s all over! I will give it a longer life by sharing part of it with you. May, the month dedicated to Mary, is right around the corner. You may wish to adopt any of the following ideas for yourself, your family, or your class.

• In particular, the audience liked the idea of teaching the Hail Mary in another language. For the occasion I learned this prayer in American Sign Language and taught it to them. The next day in the exhibit hall, three women approached and said, “Are you the one who taught signing for the Hail Mary?” When I said, “Yes,” they asked, “Would you teach us?” Right there I did while one woman recorded it on her phone.

• Find out flowers and herbs suitable for a Mary Garden. Plant a Mary Garden, even a miniature one.

• Locate pictures of Mary that represent different cultures.

• Tour the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C., at https://www.nationalshrine.org/virtual

• Write a prayer to Mary based on one of her titles.

• Hold a Celebrate Mary Day. Serve cupcakes with blue icing marked with an M. Sing a Marian hymn.

• Act out an event from Mary’s life.

• Hold a contest to see who can think of the most names derived from Mary.

• Find five things that Saints said about Mary.

• Make a rosary of cord, beads, dough, or other material.

• Discover legends about Mary, like those related to flowers. Create a child’s book about one of them.

• Research notable churches named for Mary and write a report on one.

• Write a homily on Mary for one of her feasts.

• Create a Marian jigsaw puzzle, mosaic, or triptych.

• List Marian apparitions approved by the Church. Write a report on one of them.

• Create a documentary on Mary as a PowerPoint slideshow, radio program, video, or podcast.

• Learn what a first-century Jewish woman’s life was like: her clothing, daily tasks, home, etc.

• Make a timeline of Mary’s life. Add pictures.

Finally, here is a True/False Pretest about the Blessed Virgin Mary. Answers are below.

1. The Quran, the Muslim holy book, has more verses about Mary than the Catholic Bible.

2. The state of Maryland was named for the Blessed Virgin.

3. The names for Mary’s parents and the story of her Presentation in the temple come from an apocryphal Gospel.

4. The Marianum in Rome has more than 85,000 books on Mary.

5. The Church teaches that Mary died.

6. Mary’s Assumption was not declared a dogma until 1950.

7. Church bells were rung three times a day, reminding people to pray the Angelus.

8. “O Sanctissima” is thought to have originated with Sicilian fishermen asking Mary’s protection during the night.

9. The largest Christian church in the world is the Basilica of Our Lady of Peace in Asia.

10. After an assassin’s attack on May 13, the Feast of Our Lady of Fatima, Pope John Paul II had one of the bullets placed in Our Lady’s crown in Fatima.

11. Martin Luther prayed the Rosary every day until he died.

12. At first people prayed fifty Our Fathers on beads called paternosters. Supposedly Lady Godiva bequeathed hers to a monastery.

13. The patron of the United States is Mary’s husband, St. Joseph.

14. The largest statue of Mary in the United States is the 90-foot Our Lady of the Rockies.

15. Ladybugs are named for Mary.

Answers: 1T, 2F (For Queen Mary, wife of England’s Charles I ), 3T (From the Protoevangelium of James), 4T, 5F (Doesn’t say), 6T, 7T, 8T, 9F (It’s in the Ivory Coast, Africa), 10T, 11T, 12T, 13F (The Immaculate Conception), 14T, 15T (In the Middle Ages when crops were infested, after people prayed to Mary, red beetles came and solved the problem.)

• What is your favorite image of our Blessed Mother?

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