St. Nicholas

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 Lessons for the Feast of St. Nicholas

by Colleen Rooney

The following is a format that may be useful for elementary school teachers, homeschoolers, or catechists when celebrating the Feast of St. Nicholas. It may be used for one class period or developed to include two class periods.

Lesson for One Class Period

1. Instruct children to leave their shoes outside the classroom door. A classroom helper, out of view, should put some agreed upon treat(s) in one or both shoes while you teach the lesson. A holy card of St. Nicholas is nice to include with the treats.

2. Briefly introduce the life of St. Nicholas to the children. You may want to follow it with a St. Nicholas video story, or a short skit. [Some suggestions are offered in the Resource section at the back of the book.]

3. Sum up the virtues that St. Nicholas excelled in—personal generosity, charity towards those in need, and care for the young and most vulnerable.

4. Send a letter home requesting that a pair of warm socks, mittens, or gloves be sent in for a St. Nicholas collection. These items may be brought in to class in the weeks leading up to Christmas. They will be given to St. Vincent de Paul, the Missionaries of Charity, or some organization that meets the needs of the poor.

5. Send the children out of the classroom a few at a time to get their shoes. When everyone has returned to their seats, they can celebrate St. Nicholas for his holy life and virtues by eating the treats.

6. End with a prayer to St. Nicholas. Remind the students he is the patron saint of children and encourage them to ask him to help us prepare our hearts to welcome the Christ child on Christmas day.

Lessons for Two Class Periods

1. Follow the format above using numbers 2, 3, & 4 for first class period.

2. Second class period: instruct the children to leave their shoes outside the classroom door. See number 1 above.

3. Collect the socks and mittens the children have brought in for the St. Nicholas collection. Briefly review the life of St. Nicholas. (Older children could discuss various ways to help the needy in your community.)

4. Make a treat to celebrate St. Nicholas' life and virtues. Discuss how he models Jesus for us by his love of the poor and his generosity with his own wealth. (Try the Easy Bake St. Nick Treat, or purchase something ready-made to eat.)

5. While the treat is baking or you are setting up to eat, send the children out for their shoes. You will want adult helpers to assist as the children find their shoes.

6. When everyone has their candy and treats, enjoy!

7. End with a prayer to St. Nicholas. See number 6 in lesson one.

St. Nick Treat

Level: Easy
This recipe can be prepared in the classroom and then baked in a few short minutes. Be creative and try different kinds of refrigerated cookie dough and candy bars. It is sure to be a great hit!

Prep 5 to 10 minutes
Bake 10 to 12 minutes
     Large cookie sheets
     Knife, Fork or cookie edger
     Wire racks

     1. Ready-made refrigerated cookie dough (slice-and-bake or dough in tubs)
     2. Chocolate-covered, caramel-nougat candy bars

     1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
     2. Slice refrigerated cookie dough into %-inch thick slices or use dough from tub and approximate the same size.
     3. Cut each candy bar into 10 equal slices.
     4. Place half the cookie slices 2 inches apart on 2 ungreased cookie sheets.
     5. Put a slice of candy on each. Top with remaining cookie slices.
     6. Press edges together with fork tines or cookie edger, carefully sealing all edges of the cookies.
     7. Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until lightly browned.
     8. Cool slightly on cookie sheets until firm. Remove to wire rack to cool completely. 

Makes about 20 treats.

Prayer to St. Nicholas

Heavenly Father, as Christmas draws near we commemorate the feast day of your beloved Bishop and Saint, Nicholas. We love and honor his memory because of his tender concern for children and the poor. We thank you for the merriment that his feast has brought down all the centuries. We ask you from the bottom of our hearts to help us to remember, on this, his feast day, that 'we should try to retain the innocence of childhood and a sincere faith in you all our lives. Show us, too, how to share the good things that we have with others, and to imitate St. Nicholas in generosity and goodwill. We ask him to pray for us from his place in heaven.

From Celebrating Advent and Christmas with Children: Food Celebrations with the Saints for Home and School by Colleen Rooney, CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2013. Used by permission.

Celebrating Advent and Christmas with Children offers lessons and recipes for the saints of the season, plus other traditional customs and information.

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