More About Monday’s Class

As I mentioned in my last post, I taught my first 4th grade RE class on Monday and really loved it. Here are some more details about the ups and downs of that first class:

  • I arrived 45 mins early only to find out that the doors don’t open until 30 mins before class begins. I’m such a dork! 🙂
  • For the early session, the kids kind of straggle in over a 10 min. period so I wasn’t able to greet them at the door as planned…I had too much set up to do that prevented me from standing there for 10 mins. However, I was still able to pause and greet each child as they entered and give them a worksheet to begin working on.
  • I can’t get over how little some of them are!
  • My aide, Daneen, is superb. She’s been at this a few years and knows the kids and has a great rapport with them. She’s also very organized and efficient so she makes my job so much easier.
  • We began with our prayer ritual: “This is the day the Lord has made…” to which they reply “Let us rejoice and be glad!” We practiced that a few times until they responded with the appropriate exuberance! Then we traced the Cross with our thumbs on our foreheads, lips, and hearts. Finally, we passed the candle and each child named someone they wanted to pray for or something they were thankful for. They were not shy and were so sincere.
  • We prayerfully distributed the Finding God textbooks, calling each child forward by name and saying, “May you find God in all things” to which they responded “Amen.” That went very nicely.
  • We talked about some of the beautiful places they visited this summer and they had plenty of examples: Florida, California, Washington D.C., Mt. Rushmore, and so on.
  • As we read from the text about the gift of God’s creation, we paused to view a short video clip from YouTube God’s Wonders by Third Day. This was my first use of the Internet in religious education class! I was able to do this now that I have acquired an air card for my laptop. I showed the video through an LCD projector onto the screen that pulls down in the front of class. This was very successful although I couldn’t get the sound to work. Instead, as we watched, we chatted about some of the things shown: clouds, sunrises, stars, mountains, planets, and so on, just to focus on the wonder of God’s creation.
  • I was impressed with their suggestions for how each of us could better care for God’s creation. We had a substantive chat about the BP oil spill and its effects on God’s creation and they were pretty knowledgeable about it.
  • We read and talked about how human beings are God’s greatest creation. To emphasize the awesomeness of the creation of human beings, we watched another video The Realm of the Unborn. This was mildly successful and also very funny…that’ll be tomorrow’s post!
  • We eventually transitioned into our reflective prayer – sacred space. We talked about what the word sacred means and then each of them picked up a tea light candle (battery operated) and claimed a space in the room as their own sacred space. I led a 10 minute guided reflection on God’s Wonderful Creation. Daneen told me that they did some guided reflections last year so this concept wasn’t that new to them…thanks to whoever served as their 3rd grade catechist!!! Indeed, they were very cooperative, quiet, and prayerful and told me they enjoyed it when we were done. I promised that this would be a regular feature in our classes.
  • I was unable to get to the song How Great Thou Art as an example of how our hymns echo what we believe – in this case, our thanks for God’s awesome creation. Instead, I plan to begin with this next week as a review, telling them that, as they listen to this song, they should be able to recall what our topic was “last week.”
  • The pastor peeked in at the very end just to say Hi which was a nice touch. He and the associate pastor are hoping to be more present to the RE program this year which is a good goal.
  • As the kids left, Daneen stood at the door with the bowl of holy water and the kids blessed themselves on their way out.
  • I then had my first experience of trying to clean up in a hurry in order to make way for the next catechist to begin his class in 15 minutes!!! This was a new experience for me since previously I was the last one in the room and could take my time straightening up. I will have to work very hard to make sure I end a few minutes early so that I can make way for the next catechist!
  • I actually had a hard time falling asleep last night as I pondered the evening and began thinking ahead to next Monday’s class! 🙂
About Joe Paprocki 2742 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


    • Amazing Grace, thanks! Congrats on your open house going so well…that’s gotta feel good! Good luck with your classes on the 19th and thanks for sharing your lesson plan with your first graders…that’s a great resource on proper church behavior. I will most certainly be posting about my class next week. Stay tuned!

  1. Wow, good for you! 🙂

    Thanks for the links for the videos. I’ve been looking for something like this for a recollection we’re giving to 15 year old’s. 😀

  2. Thank you for sharing with us through your blog. I too teach 4th grade FF (Finding God)…this is my second year at it. Our class sessions are only 1 hr and I find the amount of material given too much. I guess I have a hard time figuring out just what activities to use. I usually end up running out of time to do all that I plan. I love reading what you do in your class. I especially liked your idea of watching the utube video of God of Wonders by Third Day. If I had read about that video before my class, I would have incorporated it into my lesson. I only wish your class sessions were after mine, but I teach on Sunday and you have yours on Monday. Well, keep blogging ! Sincerely, Josie

    • Josie, in that case, you can tell me what YOU’RE doing on Sunday so I can do it on Monday! 🙂 Looking forward to keeping in touch with you!

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