When Young People Don’t Want to Be in the Skits

comedy and tragedy masks

I went into my session on the Beatitudes with a mixture of confidence and trepidation. Confidence, because after experimenting with ways to convey the Beatitudes over the past few years, I felt I had a solid lesson plan that would get the young people out of their seats and engaged. But I also felt trepidation, because the plan called for volunteers to do skits, and I wasn’t sure I could get the number of volunteers needed from this particular group. They haven’t been eager to volunteer to read aloud sections of the book or take roles in prayer services.

After the bell rang and we prayed our opening prayers, we recalled that the previous week we had talked about the parables. To bridge that session and this one, we were going to do a skit on two popular parables, the Good Samaritan and the Prodigal Son/Forgiving Father. I had two girls volunteer right away, but the remaining three volunteers took some prodding to come forward. I asked one boy in particular to participate. He had been vocal in our other sessions, so I thought he wouldn’t be embarrassed to help out, even if he wasn’t the volunteering type. Then two other young people somewhat reluctantly said they would help. Whether it was because they didn’t really want to volunteer, or they became nervous in front of their peers, the skit didn’t go as smoothly as I had hoped. The volunteer actors mumbled for the most part and none of them really got into their parts. But we did a debriefing on the content of the skit to proceed with the lesson.

Now, though, I was nervous, because I had planned to use another skit—this one requiring two new volunteers—as my transition into the Beatitudes. After my general invitation for volunteers fell flat, I asked two young people—one who is generally engaged in class and the other who is not shy but not as engaged—to help out their classmates and be brave volunteers. With the individualized encouragement to participate, they did, and one of them was not bad in taking up the acting charge. In choosing those two students, I wanted to see if participating would help draw out the less-engaged student and encourage the engaged one to take a more involved role in his learning.

I knew going into this session that my group is a quiet one without a lot of eager volunteers, but I still wanted to try the skits with the group. Acting wasn’t a rousing success, but it at least showed the group that we could try a variety of activities during the year. I’m not sure if I’ll try skits with this group again, but I do want to find other ways to encourage volunteer participation. If we want to form young Christians who are active participants in their parish communities, they must be offered opportunities to participate in the religious education classroom to help enforce the message that they are a part of the community.

How do you deal with a situation where your students aren’t volunteering for roles essential to the session plan you laid out? How do you encourage children to participate in your classroom?

Prayer Blankets as a Component of Adult Faith Formation

sewing a blanket

As we continue to expand our notion of what adult faith formation is—taking it beyond the scholastic sphere—I’d like to talk about one idea that combines several aspects of the six tasks of catechesis. I’m referring to the practice of parishes creating a Prayer Blanket (or Prayer Shawl) Ministry. In this ministry, parishioners sew/create prayer […]

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Using Prayer Intentions Notebooks

One idea/activity that I have highly encouraged catechists to use in their sessions is inviting young people to write down their prayer intentions as soon as they enter the room. This is a good way to get them on task immediately and to begin establishing a climate of prayer, which is key to an effective […]

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Advent: Of Elves or Angels?

Advent: Of Elves or Angels? - angel pictured

Advent is a time of expectation and excitement as we prepare for the birth of Christ. Within Advent is the unfolding of beautiful readings that build from one week to another, along with complimentary music, colors, and the rituals surrounding this liminal time. The opening of Advent calendars or the many other creative ways of […]

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Games for Learning about Eucharist and the Mass—Free Printables

games for learning about Eucharist and the Mass

In the Sacrament of the Eucharist, we receive the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. When we celebrate the Eucharist, we join in communion with the family of the Church. Help children deepen their understanding of the Eucharist and the Mass with fun review games. Children will enjoy playing Mass Bingo, Eucharist Tic-Tac-Toe, and a […]

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When the Craft Is a Challenge


Crafts are an important part of any elementary faith formation program, and there are a multitude of great crafts that are perfect for our faith formation programs. After spending just a few minutes on Pinterest, I’m sure you’ll feel overwhelmed by the number of options. How do we select which crafts to use for our […]

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Would It Hurt to Put Up a Sign and a Balloon?


As I drive through various neighborhoods, I typically see no small number of lawn signs announcing yard sales, garage sales, or real estate open houses. Often, attached to the signs are a few balloons. The message is clear: this is where the action is! Contrast that with an experience I had recently (and all too […]

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A Thanksgiving Lesson Plan: It Is Right and Just

Thanksgiving cornucopia

A few years ago, I developed a lesson plan on the theme of thanksgiving titled “It Is Right and Just.” It is packed with ideas, so you will probably have to pick and choose how much of it you actually hope to/think you can accomplish in the time you have during your sessions between now […]

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Countdown to Reconciliation

Our parish celebrates First Penance and Reconciliation in early December. As beautiful as it is to celebrate this sacrament in Advent and to be able to focus our efforts in the spring on First Holy Communion, the date always seems to creep up faster than I want it to. Since we have such limited time […]

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Loving the Mass

priest at Mass

Have you ever heard the saying, “Good teachers borrow, but great teachers steal?” This saying comes to mind as I reflect on the different ways we can help the children in our classes understand the Mass. My DRE had recently invited a guest speaker to come to our parish and give a presentation on how […]

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