It’s been awhile since I’ve come up with new activities for the boys during Great Lent. We always do our Lenten Treasure Chest, which is really quite fun but I could tell last year the excitement about the activity wasn’t there. So, this year I decided to use one of my favorite books, Special Agents of Christ by Annalisa Boyd, and create an “Agent Training” program.
**Note: If you need a copy of Special Agents of Christ, you can order one from Orthodox Christian Children at 15% off. Just be sure to mention Adventures of an Orthodox Mom (the discount amount will be refunded immediately back to you since paypal doesn’t offer a ‘coupon’ option). I searched online a bit and found some things that could have worked but still weren’t exactly what I was looking for. So, I kept looking.
Then during one of my before school pit stops to Hobby Lobby, I found it! In their Summer Fun section, they had a bunch of different activities for Vacation Bible School programs. One of them was a Secret Agent theme! I couldn’t wait to get home and start planning!
This is how it works. You’ll need a copy of the book Special Agents of Christ and a few other simple supplies (listed below). The book has 8 different Operations, which works out perfectly because there are seven weeks during Lent, giving your child a different mission each week. We just did Operation 1 on the Saturday before Lent as our Orientation Meeting to even it out.
During our meeting, we discussed the importance of prayer and how our mission this Lenten season was to become better Prayer Agents. I told them that we have a special connection with God because not only can we pray directly to Him but we also have other agents (the saints) available to help and pray for us, too. We read Operation 1 from the book which discusses daily prayer and we each made a list of family and friends that we wanted to remember in our prayers.
We took file folders and decorated them to look official and placed our lists inside. They made me a file, too. 🙂 After we finished I officially presented them each with an agent badge, fingerprint card and their top secret file.
Each week, we’ll work together to complete a different Operation in the book and once completed they’ll get a new badge (sticker) to either put on their folder or wherever they want. Keep in mind we already did Operation 1 this past Saturday. If you haven’t started yet, you can fit it in during a weekday since it’s just a quick introduction to the program. This is the schedule I worked out:
Operation 8/Week 1 – I am actually starting with Operation 8: Praying Like a King. We’ll talk about the Prophet David and the Psalms and read several short excerpts (which are found in the book). I wanted to start with this because the boys always see me reading the Psalter for our Psalter Groups during fasting periods and I thought this would be a good way to help them understand why I do this and maybe encourage them to read them a bit, too.
Operation 2/ Week 2 – Prayers in Times of Trouble. They’ll make a list of Situations To Pray For. For example, when you’re sick, lonely, afraid, etc. These are all in the book. I’ll also give them a list of the Ten Commandments to start studying.
Operation 3/Week 3 – Prayers of Thanks. They’ll list all the things they’re thankful for. I will also give them a printout of the priests vestments and what they mean (Drill #2 in the book called Agent Attire).
Operation 4/Week 4 – Prayers for Family, Friends, and Enemies. They will take a test on Agent Attire and choose which three saints they want to learn about. We will research these saints and write down the facts they need to know on a sheet that will also go in their file. They’ll need to learn the Saints name, something they’re known for, where/when they lived, and what they look like.
Operation 5/Week 5 – Prayers for the Dead. Make a list of Departed Loved Ones. Take a test on the three Saints they chose. I’ll give them a printout of their patron saints and a brief account of their life along with a prayer to our Guardian Angel.
Operation 6/Week 6 – Security Check. Preparation for Confession. We’ll discuss the Ten Commandments. They’ll make a list of things they need to confess and make confession appointments. I’ll give them a printout of A Prayer of Repentance (also found in book). We’ll also read the story of St. Lazarus and bake Lazarakia that afternoon and later that night will talk about the different things we’ll be doing throughout Holy Week.
Operation 7/Week 7 – Praying with Saints and Angels. We’ll talk about the prayers of the Theotokos, our patron saints and guardian angels. We’ll recite the prayer to their Guardian Angel together and I’ll ask them what they learned about their patron saints. Then, we’ll read through the “files” of the saints mentioned in that Operation (see photo below for example).
We will read the story of the Resurrection and bake Resurrection cookies later that night before resting for the big Anastasi service!
At the beginning of each Operation there is also a brief story of the lives of different Agents (Saints). There are also three drills in the back of the book that I’ve incorporated in several of the other weeks (already noted in the above schedule). This book is really terrific and goes into detail with each topic presented.
The only thing I’m not crazy about in the entire book are some of the translations of the troparia, etc. I think they were written this way to be more easily understood by young people, which is great, but some of them almost sound a little rude or disrespectful. You can read the one in the photo of St. Katherine where it says she “shut the prideful mouths of those who did not believe in God.” It just sounds sort of cocky (and prideful in itself) when referring to a holy person. My kids are taught that saying “shut your mouth” is disrespectful so that sort of turned me off. The translation I know says, “she has silenced brilliantly the clever among the godless”. I just make sure that I read everything myself before reading it aloud to them. That is the only negative I found so far within the whole book and we’ve had it since it came out quite some time ago (a year plus I think). The illustrations are really awesome, too. You can’t beat it for under $10!
In addition to the Operations above, I created the following missions for each of them that are to be done every day and/or by Pascha. Of course, you can change these to suit each individual child.
Ace’s Training Missions (Ages 9-12)
Do prayers every morning and evening and include all the people on his list
Memorize 50th Psalm
Lucky’s Training Missions (Ages 5-8)
Do prayers every morning and evening and include all the people on his list
Memorize Trisagion Prayers and Creed
Sprout’s Training Missions (Ages 2-4)
Do prayers every morning and evening without playing
Learn to hold fingers and do Cross properly
Do three extra prostrations with his brothers before bed
Sprout’s missions are fairly simple things too but enough to help him feel involved and are still things that he needs to learn. Once they complete their agent training they’ll get this “official” Secret Agent badge.
They’ll also get a big reward like a trip to the ice cream shop, a picnic with whatever foods they choose or a five dollar “credit” to the Dollar Store. Five bucks in a Dollar Store is a real shopping spree for kids! To get started, you’ll need to stop by your local Hobby Lobby and pick up a bag of stickers, they have a few different options to choose from. If you don’t have a Hobby Lobby or they’re out of stock, you can really use any sort of stickers or agent themed paraphernalia. You could probably even print out some of the photos in this post and just cut and glue them. Stay tuned for a giveaway of a few of these sticker sets later this week!
These are the stickers we put on our folders:
They received their flip badge, fingerprint card and Agent ID before our first Operation. The other seven badges are the ones they’ll get after each of the next seven Operations.
To get started you’ll need the following materials:
- Copy of Special Agents of Christ (don’t forget to mention this blog for 15% off!)
- File Folder
- Agent Themed Stickers or Printouts (you can also find Agents for Truth themed items here)
- Training Materials and Tests
- A Reward after Pascha
Directions: Create their Secret Agent Files by decorating them with agent themed stickers or printouts. I was going to add icons to theirs but decided against it because I knew they’d carry them around everywhere and will probably end up on the floor or outside at times. Your folder should have a paper inside with their photo, name, height, weight, agent name (baptismal name if different). This is where they’ll keep all their training materials and tests that you’ll give them each week.
Then, simply follow the schedule of Operations that I posted above and read along with Special Agents of Christ!
You can photocopy the pages of the books to use for the printouts each week. Then, find a time to sit with your children to research their patron saints!
This may seem like a lot of info but once you get the book and the printouts you’ll see that you can do each Operation in probably fifteen to twenty minutes a day!! This is a really fun and simple project that I think they’ll really learn a lot from! Happy training! <3
*Note: I received an email after this post went live saying Oriental Trading also sells Agents for Truth items! Thanks Katie and her Matushka! 🙂 You can view the items here.