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 […]

Bibles at Home

Every year part of our third-grade curriculum includes teaching children how to look up a verse in the Bible. In the past I’ve used fortune cookies with a verse from Scripture as the “fortune” to make the learning fun. We started out this class by handing out a Bible to each child and showing them the list of books of the Bible in the table of contents and finding where the Old Testament ends and […]

Finding God’s Love in Tragedies

In a recent lesson about the saints, my third-grade faith-formation class wanted to know how people become saints. They asked about the process of canonization by which the Church names someone a saint. While describing the process, we got sidetracked talking about miracles. The kids weren’t sure that miracles actually happen anymore; some thought a miracle was something like a magic trick. To help them see that miracles still happen in our world, I shared […]

We Are the Church

Third graders love to belong to groups. At their age they are joining sports teams, scouting groups, clubs, and more. I love teaching them about the Church; they get excited when they learn that they belong to a worldwide group. This group includes people from all walks of life and from every nation. It even includes people who’ve come before us. When I ask the children in my class the question, “What is the Church?” […]

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 lessons? Sometimes, as a catechist in a parish, we might not even have a choice—the craft activity might be chosen […]

When to Leave Your Textbook Behind

In our first six weeks of school, we only finished two chapters in our religion textbook. Earlier in my teaching career, I would have worried that this slow pace might be a problem. When I first began teaching I was told, “When you reach Christmas, you must be halfway through the textbook.” Now, as a seasoned teacher, I know my textbook is not my entire curriculum. We have had many teachable moments recently when it made […]

Say Yes to God

How can you convey a love of and devotion to Mary with all the necessary background knowledge in just one class period? The simple answer is that you can’t. You have to select the greatest message you want the class to absorb, focus on it for the class, and then add more about Mother Mary throughout the year as you teach other lessons. Just as you invite her to be with you daily, you must […]

Caring for God’s Creation

I love that one of our first lessons of the new faith formation year is the story of creation. We began with a prayer and then we read the creation story out of a children’s Bible storybook. There were two things in particular I loved about teaching this lesson. The first thing I loved was that I had the opportunity to teach that God’s love is unconditional. I explained how God created every person in […]

Sharing Stories to Teach the Faith

We are a few weeks into the new school year, and my third graders are finally settling into the routine of class. Our first lesson focused on the Holy Spirit. My students learned that the Holy Spirit helps guide us to live as Christians. As we read the chapter in our textbook, my students highlighted important sentences, phrases, and vocabulary words. We stopped several times during our reading to discuss how the Spirit guides us […]

Pray, Plan, and Prepare

Here I go again! I’m starting my twelfth year of teaching third grade. Each year produces new challenges, joys, and adventures with my students. Even though I approach the new year knowing that my class will be different from previous ones, I always prepare in the same way. I always begin by praying for my new class. Over the summer I make rosaries out of twine for my new students. I learned how to make […]

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