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Overbrook School's youngest students prepare for the holidays with new program: Christ, Cooking and Crafts
Posted 11/27/2016 02:00PM

Overbrook School’s prekindergarten students got their hands dirty rolling dough, mixing ingredients and measuring pumpkin puree last week as they began to prepare for the holidays with a new program: Christ, Cooking and Crafts, developed by Sister Mary Rose, O.P., who runs the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd program.

“This ‘holiday special’ is an opportunity to continue the mission of Overbrook School with our youngest children. Its goal is to deepen our Catholic culture and traditions regarding Thanksgiving, Advent and Christmas,” Sister Mary Rose explained. “It is also a wonderful opportunity to integrate learning through multi-sensory activities. The young child learns through the senses and by being actively engaged. Cooking and crafts is a wonderful way to integrate faith formation with other life skills.”

Sister was inspired to develop the program by Overbrook Principal Sister Julia Marie, O.P., who encourages hands-on learning such as STEM initiatives. These activities build on the lessons and skills classroom teachers are helping students acquire at all grade levels. Overbrook teachers prepare students with a good foundation of listening and following directions. They also encourage creative expression so that these types of “less structured learning experiences” can have the most impact. 

“It is a joy to provide children with out-of-the-ordinary opportunities to learn skills and to be formed in our faith,” Sister Mary Rose said, adding that the lessons compliment the curriculum at Overbrook.

“There are several objectives to providing these activities,” Sister said. “It is our hope to provide moments to learn about traditions of the Catholic faith and reinforce that learning with hands-on activities.  The cooking and crafts provide opportunities to learn how to work in a group and cooperate with one another.

“The children can learn sequencing, measuring, counting, and new vocabulary through the tactile activities.”

The Christ, Cooking and Crafts lessons provide simple things that the children can share with their families about the faith. The students also experience a greater sense of community by working on a project together. Sister began the activities last week making granola bites and then moved on to making pumpkin pie with the three- and four-year-olds in prekindergarten.

“I think the most important objective is the sheer joy of being together and discovering something new,” Sister said. “The first time we cooked together, some were a bit unsure about getting the sticky No Bake Granola Bites mixture on their hands. Soon, the children discovered the joy of mixing ingredients together and rolling them into a ball.  By the second cooking experience, all the children were so happy to join in the pie making.”

The students learned such cooking basics as how to cut butter into the flour for the crust, how to use a rolling pin and how to mix ingredients to create a pie filling.

In December on the first two Thursdays and Fridays, Sister plans to provide a few more Christ, Cooking and Crafts activities for the prekindergartners as they simultaneously learn about Saint Nicholas, Our Lady of Guadalupe, Saint Lucy and angels.

“As far as the future cooking ideas, well, let's just say that chocolate will be involved,” Sister added.   


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