The Greatest Commandment in Action

The Greatest Commandment sounds straightforward: “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:34‒40). This sounds simple and easy for kids to understand, right? Yes and no. When I read the Greatest Commandment to my class, they all nodded and said yes, […]

Changing It Up with a Craft

It was the week when all the students in Texas had to take standardized tests. Even on a good day, my third-grade faith formation class is a squirmy bunch. After being at elementary school all day, doing nothing but taking standardized tests, I knew they would be extra squirmy. I needed to do something different to keep their attention this time. I wasn’t going to follow my regular class plan, so I needed a hands-on […]

Dear Pope Francis in the Classroom

As we were finishing up faith formation class the other day, I showed my class a new book: Dear Pope Francis. It is a hardcover, colorful book of letters and drawings from children around the world to Pope Francis. The best part of the book is that Pope Francis answered each of the letters. His answers are not one- or two-line answers, but thoughtful, multi-paragraph answers that an elementary-age student can understand. I fell in […]

Priests Who Visit the Classroom

Twice a month, my students look forward to a visit from our associate pastor, Father Vincent. I am so glad my school makes it a priority to have a priestly presence in our halls. In my 12 years of teaching, three different priests have taken the time to visit my classes. Their 20-minute visits offer my students three benefits: the priests bring their unique perspectives, they are very good with show and tell, and they […]

Will God Wipe Us Out?

In my third-grade faith formation class, the story of Noah’s Ark came up while we were discussing another topic. One of the girls asked, “If God punished the whole world with a flood and wiped everyone out because of sin, could he wipe us all out as well? We are all sinners.” My immediate thought was, “Wow, what an incredible question!” I loved that she remembered a previous lesson when we had talked about how […]

A Simple Way to Choose Volunteer Readers

My third-grade class likes to read aloud during our faith formation classes. Fortunately, I have no shortage of volunteers: they all want to take turns reading. While this is a good problem for a teacher to have, it’s not without its drawbacks. I struggle with how to be fair in calling on students to read aloud. Whenever I ask for a volunteer to read, they all squirm and jump around, calling out, “Me! Me! Pick […]

Taking to Heart the Apostles’ Creed

Each year, the Archdiocese of Omaha requires all third-grade Catholic-school teachers to teach the Apostles’ Creed. Teaching young children to memorize a prayer involves some traditional and non-traditional methods. I am always looking for new methods to help my students since every class is different. What worked with one class may not work with another. I dedicate two weeks to teaching my class the Creed before giving them a test. During the first week, I […]

It’s All About Jesus: Children and the Mass

This week’s lesson for my third-grade faith formation class was about the Sacrament of the Eucharist. Most of my students celebrated their First Holy Communion less than a year ago, so the previous lessons on the Eucharist are relatively fresh in their minds. They seemed confident in knowing that the Eucharist is the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, and they all understood the mechanics of receiving communion. As we got deeper into the lesson, […]

Apologies and Forgiveness

We were created for love, and we naturally seek forgiveness. This is one reason children naturally take to lessons on the Sacrament of Reconciliation. In their young lives, the kids in my third-grade class have made mistakes and gotten in trouble, all the while being continuously loved and constantly forgiven by a parent. In our lesson about Reconciliation, I included a discussion of the difference between what is a sin versus what is an accident. […]

A Lent of Mercy

My third graders always embrace Lent. I will include all my usual Lenten activities this year, but because this is the Year of Mercy, I will be adding some new activities that will help my students perform works of mercy. The first activity will be a visual reminder of Lent. (My young students are visual learners.) Outside my classroom is a very large wall on which we usually display artwork. I will construct a very […]

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