Learning Stations for the Sacraments of Initiation

This one’s a doozy, folks! Sometimes in my planning, I get carried away and this is one of those times. I’ve put together a lesson on the Sacraments of Initiation that involves Learning Stations for the kids. The lesson requires a lot of preparation on the part of the catechist (and a few expenses) but ends up being an activity in which the kids do all the work which is the way it’s supposed to be! Because of the complexity of the lesson plan, I’m making it available here as a special downloadable activity.


I think that this can be used for a variety of age groups and even for an intergenerational activity. I look forward to hearing your thoughts, suggestions, reactions, and experiences! I’ll most certainly be sharing my experience with you after I teach this lesson on Monday!

About Joe Paprocki 2751 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.

28 Comments on Learning Stations for the Sacraments of Initiation

  1. Just wanted to let you know how much I enjoy reading yiour blog and all your great ideas. You spark my creativity with all you new and inventive ideas on passing on our faith. Thank you.

  2. Hi Joe,
    I wanted to thank you for your time and effort put into Catechist’s Journey. I also teach 4th grade (this is my first year at 4th, previously Kg and 1st). In years past I was using the Promise weekly worksheets, so I just kind of followed those, and called it good. I feel very blessed to have found your blog, it has really helped me look at different ways to teach, I’ve even followed some of your lesson plans, used the printable worksheets, ect.
    Thanks again,

    • Brenda, thanks so much for your comments. I truly feel blessed to have the opportunity to walk the catechetical journey with people like you!

  3. Joe, you are an awesome man to share your ideas and experiences with us. I’ve been teaching for about 7 years and still am not at the point where the Spirit moves me during class so I have to have everything planned. That means I have to prepare everything so I appreciate your ideas.

    I have one. Magic Sand is a great way to show that baptism unites us. The water makes the sand clump together. Remove the water and the sand is dry again. A very good visual.

  4. Joe – you keep it “alive” for us! Thank you for being our cyber cheerleader! We often need inspiration from the Holy Spirit and others like you so thank you very much. I have tried some of your activities in the past and have had great results! I am going to see if I can try this one too…!!

  5. I just want to let you know that I used this for my class last Sunday and the kids enjoyed it so much that they kept saying we should do something like it more often! I teach 5th graders and your ideas are just wonderful. It’s also my first year as a catechist and your website has been a great resource; helps me get ready every week! Thanks a lot Joe!

    • Gemma, that’s so cool! Any time kids ask for “more” in religious education, you know you’re doing something right! Glad I can be of assistance.

  6. I tried the learning station for Eucharist with less than ideal results- there were grapes not popping into mouths but at each other. When weary I spoke with one of my adult daughters, she commented: Mom, what would have made you think that any object that could be used as a projectile would be a good idea with 7th graders? Next year I ll stick with pita and paperplate. Instead of your suggested phrase on the paper plate, I had them write: I am _______________ (fill in the blank) to be invited to dine with Jesus.

    • Carol thanks for sharing your experience even though they were less than ideal. Those darn grapes! Apparently 7th graders respond differently to them than 4th graders! Adapt, adapt, adapt!

  7. I am very excited to be using your suggestions for the Sacraments of Initiation as the basis for our Religious Education Program’s “Family Faith Day” this coming Saturday – Nov. 17. Here in the NY Archdiocese we are asked to include two intergenerational events every year on our catechetical calendar along with our regular classes. These events bring parents and children together to explore different aspects of the faith and i believe that the parents will enjoy deepening their understanding of these Sacraments through your creative and very “hands-on” activities as much as the children will. I expect that the children (ranging in age from 1st through 6th Graders) will work on the activities while the parents fill in the worksheets. I hope we have time at the end for everyone to share what they have learned. Thank you for sharing your creativity and imagination in so many different ways and for inspiring us always.

      • Dear Joe,
        Our Family Faith Day yesterday on the Sacraments of Initiation using your Learning Stations was a great success! We had a great turnout (more than expected!) and both parents and children enjoyed and learned from the day. We set up the event in our school gym with the learning stations arranged around the walls grouped under the name of the Sacrament. We didn’t have space to do 12 individual stations but set them up by two’s. I wrote out directions for each activity and had those available on the tables. We enlarged your information sheets and put them up on the walls. Our 8th Gr. Confirmation students were stationed at each table to help with the activities. Parents were given a kit when they came in with the three worksheets and one plastic bag. Briefly here are the modifications we made: the pastor blessed the water at the beginning of the event and we asked everyone to bless themselves with it rather than giving them bottle to take it home (too hard to find and expensive for so many.) Rather than a candle and real wax we used play dough in the “be sealed . . .” activity which worked pretty well actually – I just didn’t want a lighted candle in the presence of so many young children. I had run off some coloring sheets on the 3 sacraments for the youngest children so that they had an activity at their level while their parents and older siblings filled in the worksheets. We divided the group (around 80 children and adults) into three groups and each group began with a different sacrament. People could take the worksheets and smaller copies of the information back to their tables in the middle of the room (where they had a pizza lunch to begin the event) to fill them out more easily if they wanted but people also liked moving around the room and working at the stations. I saw lots of children filling out the worksheets themselves and everyone was engaged and enthusiastic. We didn’t have a lot of time to process what people had learned at the end of the day but people said they found it very instructive and helpful. I’ll send you some photos when I get them. Thank you thank you for inspiring such a terrific family event for our parish – St. Gabriel’s in Riverdale, the Bronx.

          • Thank you so much! I have found your ideas and lesson plans always so engaging and inspiring, both as an 8th Grade catechist and as the Coordinator for Sacramental Programs in our parish where I assist our DRE, Glenn McCarthy. He took the photos of the event and I’ll ask him to pass them, on either to me or directly to you so that you can see how it worked out. God bless you for your generosity and ministry – you do so much to enliven catechetical life “in the trenches” of the classroom. Thank you again.

  8. Wow!!I was searching for some ‘inspired’ resources for teaching about the sacraments of Initiation and I feel like I just struck ‘catechetical’ gold!!! Thank you so very much for sharing such Spirit-inspired lessons, printable PDF’s and all. God bless you in your work!!

  9. Thank you for posting this resource! I used it (slightly modified) with my 3rd graders last week. They had a blast, but -and most importantly- I’m sure will always remember learning about the Sacraments of Initiation. Good bless you for all your hard work spreading the good news!

  10. Joe, I know it’s more than 6 years since you posted this, but I wanted to thank you and let you know that you really made a difference for my 6th grade CCF class here in Virginia a couple of weeks ago! Thanks for an idea ‘gift’ that keeps on giving! I am doing two learning stations today for the Sacraments of Healing. It really helps to get them up and moving in class, and I end up getting a few insights from our students that I had not even thought of. Learning goes both ways! Thanks again,

    • Jim, I’m happy to know that my “old” ideas can still be made new by someone like you! Glad to hear it has gone so well for you and your students!

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