God Creates the World

So, I’ve been doing some planning for my first class with my 4th graders! Here’s a look at what I hope to accomplish this coming Monday:

Theme (from the text book) – God Creates the World

My BIG Idea: We Care for God’s Gift of Creation

ENGAGE STEP (10-15 min)

  1. As the students arrive, I will greet them at the door and hand them a worksheet that invites them to identify the names of some famous beautiful locations pictured (Grand Canyon, Niagara Falls, etc.) and to add a brief description of the most beautiful place they visited this past summer.
  2. Once we’re all in place, we’ll take attendance. I’ll ask for volunteers to name the famous places on the worksheet. Then I’ll invite each one to share the beautiful place that they visited this summer.
  3. I’ll explain that today we’re going to be learning about God’s great and beautiful gift of creation and how we are called to care for it.
  4. I’ll introduce our opening prayer ritual: all stand and I say, “This is the day the Lord has made” to which they respond, “Let us rejoice and be glad!” We then sign our foreheads, lips, and chests with the Cross praying that tonight God’s Word will be in our minds, on our lips, and in our hearts. Each one then “lights” their tea light (battery operated candles) one at a time, placing them on the prayer table, as they mention for whom or what they are lighting their candle.

Explore Step (30-35 mins)

  1. I’ll prayerfully present each of the students with their Finding God textbook
  2. A volunteer will read pg. 3 – God Creates the World (brief discussion, naming people who take care of the earth and ways we can all care for the earth).
  3. Watch brief YouTube video – God of Wonders by Third Day
  4. Invite volunteers to read aloud pages 5-6 (God the Creator and The Wonder of God’s World)
  5. To emphasize that humanity is God’s most amazing creation, show YouTube video The Realm of the Unborn (Note: at this point I am not planning to address the issue of abortion but rather stressing the amazing beauty and complexity of human life)
  6. Invite volunteers to read aloud pg. 7 (Caring for the Earth and What Can We Do?)

Reflect Step (10-15 mins)

  1. I’ll introduce the concept of “sacred space” – our reflective prayer time. Each student will come forward, one at a time, pick up their tea light candle, and move a place in the room that they will designate as their sacred space. God’s wonderful creation 15 mins
  2. Once in place, I’ll lead a Guided Reflection: God’s Wonderful Creation (adapted from Finding God gr. 4 catechist manual pg. 318-19)
  3. Call students back to their places and listen to hymn “How Great Thou Art” focusing on the lyrics as they relate to God’s creation.

Respond Step (5-10 mins)

  1. Students complete My Response on pg. 9
  2. Each student tells me one thing they learned today
  3. Distribute homework – handout #1: each student is to bring in a personal symbol for the prayer table and handout #2: Blackline Master 3 Caring for Our Earth (to complete with parents)
  4. Together we read the closing prayer on pg. 9 and students bless themselves with holy water as they leave.
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 www.catechistsjourney.com.


  1. For 5th grade and under, do you not recommend first day of class as “Introduction & Get to know each other”? Perhaps play icebreaker game, ceremonial distribution of textbooks, creating name tents. On second week, start with chapter 1 of textbook?
    Thanks for your advice.

    • Norma, I think that is sound advice in most cases where the kids actually don’t know one another. In the program I teach, virtually all of the kids come from the same public school and know one another already. I also think that jumping right into chapter one via a variety of engaging activities will help them to feel at ease with me and with one another in this setting. And, besides all that, the syllabus from my DRE has me scheduled to do chapter one on the first day so that’s what I’m a gonna do!!! 🙂 I’ll let you know how it all goes.

  2. When you show clips of you tube to your students, how do you do this? Are they watching from your computer? Is it projected to a screen or show through a tv?

  3. Had a great time today on our first day with my 4th graders today. I used your worksheet about beautiful places and your guided reflection. We had a great first day. We use the Christ Our Life series of textbooks. Chap 1 is on how God reveals himself through his Son. We are going to do that chapter next week. My kids come from about 10 different schools and don’t know each other. I used the beautiful places worksheet as an introduction to how God reveals himself to us through creation. I’m excited you are teaching 4th grade this year. This is my 6th year teaching 4th grade and I love this age group. Thanks for your inspiration. Keep it coming.

    • Thanks, Patricia! That’s great to hear and it makes me feel more confident going into my own class tomorrow! Keep in touch!

  4. “…at this point I am not planning to address the issue of abortion but rather stressing the amazing beauty and complexity of human life…”

    Yes. Abortion is best discussed after a substantial foundation has been laid, and the foundation doesn’t necessarily require the mention of abortion.

    • Thanks, Christian…my feelings precisely. Showing this clip will be a first, early step in laying that foundation which we will address later this year when we explore the Commandments.

  5. Wanted to share that I had my first RE class with 7th graders yesterday and SURVIVED. Thanks for all the pointers!!!

    I even had one kids say, wow! I learned something I didn’t know. 🙂 Oh, and candy rewards for participating are my new best friend. 🙂 Hopefully, I can wean them off of that after a while. LOL

    Good Luck tonight!

  6. Thank you so much! I’m a DRE with a new catechist for fourth grade. I’m going to share this with her. Thank you for sharing!
    I wish more DREs, catechists, and youth ministers could share because it makes life a lot easier!

  7. Hello!

    I’m finding your blog very helpful in planning my 2nd grade classes. This is my first year as a Catechist. I haven’t had much guidance in planning the class but thanks to my prior experience as a 3rd grade teacher, I am managing! I really like your opening prayer, prayer table ideas, and the “sacred space” time. Do the children have sacred space time during each one of your classes? Thanks! April

    • Hi April and welcome to your new vocation as a catechist! I’m glad that you’re off to a good start. Yes, I do sacred space each class with my kids, as the schedule allows…probably 90% of the time. Already last week, one of the 4th graders asked if we were going to do sacred space and when I said yes she said, “Yay!” 🙂

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