Making Reading More Engaging

Oops…I almost titled today’s post Making Reading More Fun but then I realized that I had previously ranted about the obsession we catechists often have with making sure everything is fun!!! The key is to make learning more engaging (which makes it more fun anyway!)

All that to say that last night’s activity made the reading of the textbook much more engaging. We sat around a long table with the Church history timeline spread out (about 8 feet long) in our midst. Each young person had 3 small cards, each representing an event in Church history (all of them from the Powerpoint we used the previous few weeks).

As we read through several chapters of the Church history unit in our Finding God textbook, the young people called “TIME OUT!” whenever the text mentioned an event that was on one of their cards. We then placed the card along the timeline, described the event, and continued on with reading the text.

Several times, the young people missed an event mentioned by the text at which point I called “TIME OUT!” When we found out who had the card but missed its reference in the text, that young person had to stand until the next time out. They got a kick out of this little “punishment” and focused even closer attention to the reading to avoid further ignominy!

In all, we read from the text for almost 45 minutes (including all the pauses for the above) covering about 800 years of the timeline. However, the time went by very quickly because it was more engaging than just a straight reading of the text. Normally, the idea of reading from the text for that length of time would sound dreadfully boring. However, given the level of engagement, the reading of the text was transformed into an active learning experience.

And, yes, we had fun!

Next week, we’ll finish the remaining 1200 years of Church history, wrapping up this unit and then we’ll get the kids ready for the Sacrament of Reconciliation which takes place Dec. 10 as part of their Advent experience.

About Joe Paprocki 2746 Articles
Joe Paprocki, DMin, is National Consultant for Faith Formation at Loyola Press, where, in addition to his traveling/speaking responsibilities, he works on the development team for faith formation curriculum resources including Finding God: Our Response to God’s Gifts and God’s Gift: Reconciliation and Eucharist. Joe has more than 35 years of experience in ministry and has presented keynotes, presentations, and workshops in more than 100 dioceses in North America. Joe is a frequent presenter at national conferences including the Los Angeles Religious Education Congress, the Mid-Atlantic Congress, and the National Conference for Catechetical Leadership. He is the author of numerous books, including the best seller The Catechist’s Toolbox, A Church on the Move, Under the Influence of Jesus, and Called to Be Catholic—a bilingual, foundational supplemental program that helps young people know their faith and grow in their relationship with God. Joe is also the series editor for the Effective Catechetical Leader and blogs about his experiences in faith formation at

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