I’m a firm believer in doing short transitional activities (3-5 minutes) in religious education that engage the students and act as segues into the “meat” of the lesson. They act as attention-getters or “hooks” that make a connection for the students. Here’s an example of one such activity that can be used to introduce the season of Lent:
Select 4 or 5 students and hand each of them some paper plates, paper cups, and plastic ware (or anything else that is unbreakable and lightweight) so that their hands are full. Then, bring out a foam ball and begin playing catch with the entire class, randomly throwing to various students, including those with their hands full. Observe how they attempt to catch the ball with their hands full. After a number of tosses, point out how difficult it is to catch the ball if our hands are full. Explain that, in a similar way, it is very difficult for us to receive God’s grace if we are holding on to sin. Point out that, during Lent, we practice letting go of things (i.e. fasting, giving things up) as a way of opening our hearts to receiving God’s grace.