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Educational Resources for Audacious Ignatius

Finished product: the examen handprint activity

As parents and teachers, Paul and I think a lot about how to best communicate the message of Audacious Ignatius with kids of all ages. We have created some educational resources to give you an opportunity for further discussion of the book. Great to use at home or in a classroom!

  1. The Examen handprint activity

The Examen handprint activity is a way to begin praying the examen with your child. I was recently asked to do an Audacious Ignatius event for a group of 2 and 3 year olds. I wanted to read them the book, and also do an activity that would allow them to create something related to St. Ignatius’s story. How could I introduce an element of Ignatian spirituality to children so young?

I thought of the examen, a traditional Jesuit prayer where we review our day with God. My young kids and I often “talk about our day” before they go to bed, recognizing the blessings of the day, and it is very much like an examen. I thought it would be a fun challenge to take the next step and make an activity to help children and parents (like us!) pray the examen together.

The result is a fun paint/cut/paste activity that becomes a tool you can use during prayer time to walk through the steps of the examen. This activity uses a handprint as a guide to the five steps of the examen (and handprint crafts are my favorite! So cute!)

My friend Molly made it with her 2 and 4 year old sons, and now they ask to do the “plate prayer” every night! Her 4 year old particularly likes the numbered steps, and enjoys counting which step they’re on.

2. St. Ignatius Search Game

Cut these colorful cards apart and use them to play any of the following games, or make up your own!

Sequence game: Put the cards in order of how the events happened in the book. Talk about what is happening in each picture.

Search game: For younger children, you hide one copy of each card around the room, and keep the other copies in your hand. Your child can do a treasure hunt for the cards, matching them to the cards in your hand.

Matching game: Put the cards face down on the table and take turns finding cards that match.

Cards for the St. Ignatius Search Game

3. Audacious Ignatius Vocabulary Activity

It’s no secret that Audacious Ignatius will build your vocabulary! If you want to spend some time learning some new words that rhyme with Ignatius, this activity will help you make a vocabulary booklet. Kids can read the words and definitions, and draw a picture of what the word means. This has been our most requested resource from teachers!

In The Religious Potential of the Child, Sophia Cavaletti says that our job isn’t so much to teach children to pray, as it is to create the environment where prayer can arise in them. I hope that these activities can help you create an environment conducive to prayer for your family or classroom, and to having conversations about God that are enriching for you and the children in your life!

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Illustrating Audacious Ignatius: Behind the Scenes!

“First, know well that I’m loved even though oh so flawed.
Next, spend time with the Lord and walk where he trod.
Offer all I possess, beg for my stony heart thawed,
And act from a deep love, the love that is God”

From Audacious Ignatius, page 15

One of the questions I got asked yesterday at an elementary school “Meet the Illustrator” Day was which page was the hardest to make. No question– the page depicting the Spiritual Exercises! Paul and I both sweated over this scene. Paul rewrote the words multiple times, and I struggled with showing the idea of the exercises with images. It’s such an important moment in the book; it’s the scene I thought about first when I read Paul’s words, and I returned to it again and again during the illustration process.

I had originally thought I would divide it up into four different panels, since there are four weeks in the Spiritual Exercises. One panel for each week. But the layout looked strange, the first picture looked too much like St. Ignatius hugging Santa Claus… it just wasn’t right.

The breakthrough happened one day (June 28th, to be exact– thanks, technology!) when Paul texted me a picture he had drawn of a layout. I know– Paul is the writer, not the illustrator! But he has a knack for thinking of good layouts. Here’s the picture he sent me:


Awesome, right?? Love those eyebrows.

It soon became this:


Having a strong visual connection between Ignatius in prayer and the images of his baptism and walking with Jesus was the key! We knew we had our layout.

The video at the beginning of this post shows my process of combining the images digitally, after they had been painted and scanned. I am so happy with how this page turned out, and I love asking my kids what they think about St. Ignatius’s imaginative prayer exercise!

Now if I could only learn to work as fast as the time-lapse video shows…

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Form and Function

The crayons in my son’s toddler classroom are shaped like large pebbles. This form serves the crayon’s function: to teach him to productively hold a pencil.

Watch out, Jackson Pollack.

It is our sincere hope that Audacious Ignatius has a similarly productive form. We hope that its beauty and joy offers a simple reminder to productively hold the stuff of one’s life as Ignatius did, enabling attentiveness to the Spirit and freedom to participate in the work of God in the world.

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Workplace community

Both Katie and I are grateful to be able to able to work from home on projects like Audacious Ignatius, though the workplace is not always the most efficient. I found this text conversation from the morning of a big deadline day.

(Ñaño is the most prized comfort object. He actually makes a cameo in the “Preaching in Spain” page of Audacious Ignatius!)