This year I read the story of St. Euphrosynos from the Children's Garden of the Theotokos curriculum. I really love this version of his story as well as this beautiful curriculum. Another story you could read to children is the book The Boy, A Kitchen And His Cave. More information about St. Euphrosynos can also be found at orthodoxwiki or the OCA website.
Children find the story of St. Euphrosynos especially interesting and full of wonder. It's a great way to help them learn about humility, patience and striving for continuous prayer as they learn how a simple cook attained such spiritual heights and closeness to God that he was allowed to walk in Paradise.
As I read the story from the Children's Garden of the Theotokos I used some props to help tell the story. I used very simple wood peg figures that I made for St. Euphrosynos and the Abbot of his monastery, red glass beads to represent the apples and a few other items I had on hand to represent St. Euphrosynos' work in the monastery kitchen (a barrel), the trees in Paradise and the chapel. These seem to help my kids pay attention and remember the story better.
I drew freehand an apple, 6 - 8 inches wide, on a piece of contact paper. Then I peeled the back off and let each child place pieces of torn tissue paper onto the sticky side inside the outline of the apple. You could cut the tissue paper into small pieces instead of tearing them. This was a simple project even for my youngest child. When they were done I placed another piece of contact paper on top to seal in the paper and then let each child cut out his or her apple. Make sure to leave a little edge of contact paper around the tissue paper to keep it sealed together.
Then we talked a little about the Fruit of the Spirit and other virtues that St. Euphrosynos attained and I asked each child which they would like to ask God to help them work on in their own lives. My kids chose generosity, patience and self-control. I thought I might have to help my 4 year old a bit with choosing something for his apple, but he quickly chose self-control. I wrote each virtue that the children chose on their apples and then we hung them in the window.
They came out very beautiful and will hopefully be a good reminder for the children of character qualities they would like to work on.
Here are some other great craft ideas for remembering St. Euphrosynos.
I had hoped to make a yummy apple treat that day to help us celebrate, but I ran out of time so we had to settle for plain apple slices (which were pretty yummy by themselves!). The sweetness of the apples reminds us of the sweetness of Paradise and of God's great mercy.
Troparion for St. Euphrosynos the Cook
You lived in great humility, in labors of asceticism and in purity of soul, O righteous Euphrosynos. By a mystical vision you demonstrated the Heavenly joy which you had found. Therefore make us worthy to be partakers of your intercessions.
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