Success with Learning Stations (Sacraments of Initiation)

Last evening’s session featuring Learning Stations on the Sacraments of Initiation was a great success! The kids were highly engaged in an activity that invited them to explore the rich symbols of the Sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, and Eucharist. I have a complete summary with more pictures below, but I might add here that the only real drawback I experienced was a lack of time (is that any surprise for a catechist?) to be able to process the activity, which I’ll do next week instead.

Here’s a pic of the kids at work at the learning stations with my aide Daneen supervising a lit candle

I’m eager to hear your thoughts, questions, and suggestions, especially if you plan to adapt it to your own setting/situation. So, without further ado, here’s my summary:

Learning Stations (Sacraments of Initiation) Summary

P.S. Special thanks to my friend and colleague Carol and her crew for laminating my posters and attaching them to those little cardboard gizmos so they could stand up!

About Joe Paprocki 2747 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

18 Comments on Success with Learning Stations (Sacraments of Initiation)

  1. Good Afternoon Joe,

    What a wonderful job you did with the three Sacraments! I have third grade this year and would love to do this with them. I’m going to have to
    find someone who could help me ( especially with the candle ).
    Thank you for sharing all of your tips and ideas. This year
    I’m excited that you are teaching fourth grade. There are so many ideas that
    are similar with my third grade book in the same series.
    Thanks Joe,

  2. Joe, these learning stations look great. I’ve seen elementary classrooms that are built for these types of learning activities and the students love it. They really look forward to doing centers and love the idea of having fun while learning at the same time. Your pictures show this!

    • Thanks, Jared. The kids did indeed jump right into it and remained engaged throughout. I look forward to processing it this week to see what they retained!

  3. Here’s a comment from Janis:

    Thank you so much for sharing!!! I LOVE this workshop idea and I have
    begun the process of gathering my items. You are the BEST for sharing
    this with us. I had already decided that I would do one sacrament an
    evening. I plan to use this workshop with grade 7 in January. We use
    the RCL book series and we teach Jesus and the New Testament from
    Sept. to Dec. and Church and Sacraments from Jan. to April.

    I have over 100 students in grade 7. I will call them into our parish
    hall by class to do the stations of the sacraments — one sacrament
    each evening. It did seem like all three sacraments were too much for
    one class session. Much gratitude for all your wonderful ideas! Janis
    Pataky, Associate Director, Grades 7-12

  4. Here’s a comment from Karen,

    I really like you ideas for your class and have been passing them along to my catechists. I have ordered your book, The Catechist Toolbox, for their Christmas gift this year and your ideas were mentioned several times in a methods course I recently completed for some of our catechists.

    One thing I would add to this lesson is that in addition to kings being anointed in scripture so are priest and prophets and when we are anointed at Baptism and Confirmation, we are anointed priest, prophet and king in Jesus Christ. Perhaps when you do your follow up you could mention this. I am trying to think up symbols for prophet and priest, but am coming up blank. Possibly a scroll for prophet and a picture of someone in service to others for priest. The recent youtube video of the choir breaking into the Hallelujah Chorus in the middle of a shopping mall is a great example of prophet, but I am not sure the kids would get it without the catechists making the connection for them.

    God bless you for this great ministry you do,

    Karen Conroy, DRE, St. James, Sewickley, PA

    • Karen, Great thoughts about the threefold ministry of Jesus: priest, prophet, and king…thanks for sharing. Also, thanks for getting my book for your catechists as a Christmas present! I’m so glad I can be a resource for you and your team!

  5. I am so glad I found your blog. I teach 3rd grade, and our next chapter is Celebrating the Sacraments. Thanks for the inspiration!

  6. Hi Joe,

    We did your Learning Stations activity today, it was FUN and the students from 4th thru 7th (total of 8 students) loved it. Mind you, we had one Sacrament student who participated and he loved it, too!! Not sure if I can post pictures here, but I did take a few shots. More power to you, Joe!

    I wasn’t able to attend your webinar due to time difference. By the time you have it’s wee hours in the morning here in England, eveyone’s snoring!! 🙂 I am looking forward to your recorded webinar. For now I have distributed by e-mail the pdf files of the Roman Missal Changes you have posted. We really appreciate this!!

    Gos bless you always, Joe!


    Carina (Volunteer RE Coord.)

    • Carina, thanks for your comment…how nice to hear from Great Britain! I’m so glad that your activities went well…glad I can be a resource for you! The webinar recordings will be ready very soon…stay tuned!

  7. Hi Joe,

    I teach 3rd grade faith formation out in California. Just found this lesson of yours online and it is perfect for what my class is studying this week. Thank you so much for sharing!


  8. Dear Joe,

    I loved the idea of these stations for my RCIA group of adults in Spanish; so I translated the stations and on an evening class I presented it to them… they really liked it, one lady said that for the first time she understood better the symbols and their meanings. The all wore proudly their crowns and had a very interactive session.
    Just this past Monday, I had to do a First Communion session (the first session of 4 for this year) with my group of 19 children/youth from 4-7 grade; and all the parents of the entire group of candidates (I have 49 children/youth from 1-7th grade all but 1 Hispanics).
    I decided to use the same stations, but this time I added all the material in English as well, so they were bilingual (English/Spanish). Because I had such a large group and only two of us as catechists, I made the symbols simpler:
    The Baptism station just had a bowl of Holy Water and the oil was the actual Chrism Oil, had a baptismal candle for display and a white t-shirt from the local Catholic school.
    The Confirmation Station had the paper to draw the hand, another bowl with the holy Chrism, the aluminum foil (which they enjoyed making the craft), and the envelopes with the lit candle to use for the wax/seal (except that this time, instead of a coin I used a medal of Saint Gerard, our patron).
    The Eucharist Station had the bread, the grapes (for all to sample) a glass cup and an empty crystal plate for the table element. It all went really well, a little rushed; but, talking to the other catechist we concluded that it would have been better to have another catechist and each one managing one station.
    I had about 70 people between the adults and children, maybe too big; but they definitely learnt, understood, and participated better.
    Thank you for all the great ideas!
    I will be happy to send you the Spanish version if you like.

  9. This resource was absolutely wonderful! The children were involved and engaged and were able to really experience all the qualities of the sacraments. I hope to see learning stations for sacraments of healing and service!

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