Child number 9 is currently preparing for First Communion. Over the years, we have tweaked what we have used with the kids a bit here and there but the one constant that has remained is that we never rely on the parish materials to provide real preparation. Some of our parishes have provided ok resources but most have been very lacking. Our current parish sadly falls pretty squarely into the very much lacking end of the spectrum.
This year we are using a variety of resources at home including read alouds, audio stories, DVD's, and hand-on materials.
St. Joseph First Communion Catechism (No. 0). Yes, this is the good old fashioned Baltimore Catechism with all the wonderful pictures and explanations. I don't focus on memorization at this age but rather on becoming familiar with the answers and a basic understanding of what they mean. We also use the 2nd grade Faith and Life books.
The Weight of the Mass, Patron Saint of First Communicants: the Story of Blessed Imelda Lambertini, St. Patrick's Summer,King of the Golden City, and a short story about St. Tarcisius which can be found in the book True Stories for First Communicants. I have also found an audio version of the story on LibriVox.
Holy Heroes. Their DVDs on The Holy Mass and The Eucharist achieve the goal of explaining concepts to children and keeping their interest WITHOUT talking down to them. The Altar Gang audio CD volume 3 is all about First Communion and great to listen to in the car or during quiet time.
Preparing to Receive Jesus program by Catholic Heritage Curricula. This program teaches through a combination of stories and hands-on projects. The stories included in the program are older traditional stories that I love sharing with the children. This program also has us making sacrifice beads, a personalized Mass book, and learning about the various sacred vessels used in the Mass.
With every child, I purchase a banner kit from Illuminated Ink. Not only do these kits help me avoid having to collect all of the materials and creative juices for a banner, they also include in depth explanations of the symbolism behind all of the items included in the banner.
With some of our older kids, we made lapbooks from Holy Learning. These wonderful resources allow you to customize your project for each child so you can easily work with younger and older kids at the same time.