Links for Learning
Curriculum Connections for High School Teachers and Students
This months Links for Learners will support high school curriculum in:
Christian lifestylescelebrating the origins of our faith
Religionthe origins and meaning of the Christmas crèche
Artcreating your own crèche
Basic Terms in This Months Article
Look for these key words and terms as you read the article. Definitions or explanations
can be researched from the article itself, or from the resource materials cited throughout
the Link for Learners.
Our Christian Memories
Biographies of celebrities and historical
characters are presently popular in television programming. The viewing public has
a strong interest in where people came from and how they got their start in life.
You've probably also seen the MTV show "Cribs," where celebrities take
the audience on tours of their "cribs" or homes.
Our article this month spotlights a special "crib," the Christmas crèche,
and the story of Jesus' beginnings. We read about a group of crèche enthusiasts,
the Friends of the Crèche, that
works to keep alive the memory of where we Christians got our start in life.
We have various ways of preserving memories. Some cultures have relied on oral traditions,
others the written word. Ceremonies and traditions can help us recall who we are.
Some of us who are descended from immigrants to America look for our family names
on Ellis Island rosters. Others return
to their homeland every year to renew family experiences.
In our contemporary culture memory books, scrapbooks, photo albums and videotapes
keep the memory of families and friends alive. We treasure figures and statues representing
role models we cherish. Even the lovable, cuddly teddy bear can represent a time
of comfort and security, a memory of childhood.
As Christians, we share the memory of a special event, the humble beginnings of
our faith. Our God, the God in whom we place our faith, entered our lives 2000 years
ago in a unique way. He sent his son Jesus as a baby born to Mary and her fiancé Joseph.
In these days of large churches, multipurpose parish centers and elaborate programs
we can forget our simple origins as a poor family looking for shelter.
The crèche, the representation of a little baby born in an animal's stable
to a teen mother and a poor carpenter, prevents us from forgetting our beginnings.
It symbolizes the simplicity of our faith. It's the sign of the Incarnation, God
entering our life in an intimate, vulnerable way. A beautifully decorated Christmas
tree or a mantle lined with stockings filled with gifts certainly conjure up visions
of Christmas. But the crèche is at the heart of it all.
Your Own crèche
History buffs enjoy creating dioramas
of historical events, such as World War II. Collectors savor
crèches, treasure Barbie dolls, trade baseball cards, and bid at auctions
on antique furnitureall to enjoy memories of their earlier years.
You may enjoy creating your own Christmas crèche. As a class project, you
could divide into several teams, then choose a culture in which to create your crèche.
Suggestions would include American
Southwest, Latin American, African,
urban, rural. Research the culture to ensure authenticity. You can also choose different
art mediums for the project: clay, wood, fabric even papier-mâché.
· See Bill Egan's International Crèche
School for a course in making your own crèche, including backgrounds, figures and accessories.
The site also features crèche art from various countries of the world.
· In your research, read about the history of
the Christmas crib, the amazing craftsmanship of
artists who celebrate the crèche, and crèche collectibles and works
· You could construct the stable or background using the same principles
used for theater design
· Following the basics of
using polymer clay, you can sculpt or shape the crèche figures. If you need
some direction on making the figures, check out a clay angel that
could serve as a pattern for all the figures. (Instructions for handling polymer
clay safely are important.)
· If you enjoy working with wood, you can create a crèche scene with
patterns and a scroll saw. You can purchase the patterns or draw your own after looking
at some examples. The team
can work together in sanding and painting the wood figures.
· Maybe you're good at working with fabric. Look at this online fabric
angel for inspiration, or check out craft books in your local library.
· You might try your hand at making a small tree ornament. Fashion the crib
from half a walnut shell. Stuff the shell with a cotton ball, then tuck and glue
a small piece of fabric over the cotton as a blanket. Glue a bit of fabric around
another scrap of cotton to form a pillow. Use a fabric-covered button for the baby's
head, drawing the face with a fine-tip pen. Glue thread to the shell ends to hang
it on the tree, or add it to a crèche scene.
What's important is creating something that will remind youand othersof
the significance of Jesus' birth. Your project can be shared with the rest of the
school. Or you might suggest an annual display of crèches in your parish.
Request donations from the visitors and give the money to a charity benefiting the
Giving your crèche to someone in need would be a wonderful way to share the
holiday: young women at a home for unwed mothers, the residents of a nursing home,
or a hospitalized child. Try taking photographs of your work with a digital camera
and then sharing the pictures with another school through the internet.
Start your own tradition. Consider marking your calendar for the 25th of every month
and display a crèche for one day. It's your reminder that Jesus entered our
lives once in a very humble way, and continues to be with us every day.
Try accessing some of these Internet sources for further general reference. Be
aware, however, that some of these sites may charge for downloading articles contained
within the site’s archives.
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
The New American Bible
Documents of Vatican
The New York Times
The Los Angeles Times
The Chicago Tribune
The Washington Post
The Miami Herald
The Associated Press
PathfinderAccess site to a number
of online news publications
The History Channel
The Close Up Foundation Washington, D.C.-based organization
Channel One online resource for the school channel