When planning my weekly faith formation lessons, I tend to look for certain types of activities that I’m comfortable teaching. In addition to the textbook, I usually include worksheets (crossword puzzles, word searches, etc.), classroom games, and journal writing. Every once in a while we will do a craft or physical activity, but with a group of almost two dozen kids, this can quickly turn into chaos.
We’ve spent the last few weeks learning about Jesus’ ministry, miracles, and teachings, and I wanted a way to reinforce these lessons before we moved on to the next unit. Searching through my folders and on the Web, I was stumped. I couldn’t find an interesting way to wrap up the unit. Maybe I was a little bored with my usual methods.
I know that, as a child, I always enjoyed walking into a classroom and finding the movie projector set up. Watching a movie in class was always a real treat. I decided that I would share this experience with my class too. Showing a movie to my faith formation class would be a new experience for them. Thankfully, my parish had a short DVD that fit nicely into my lesson planning.
For the hour-long class, I gave myself about 25 minutes for instruction on the lesson and material, 30 minutes to show the movie, and five minutes to wrap up. Since I’ve never shown a movie to this class, I came prepared with a few extra worksheets in case the movie didn’t catch their attention.
When I started the movie, I had them remain in their seats and passed out the worksheets.
The movie, The Jesus Series, Life and Miracles by Thomas Nelson, presented several of the more well-known Bible stories about Jesus’ life, starting with his calling of the disciples and ending at the Last Supper. Kids know or have been exposed to most of the stories in it, but seeing it on the screen gives it a new perspective.
When we saw Jesus feeding the 5,000 with a handful of loaves and fish from a boy, the students were very engaged. Some even said, “Wow!” It was as if they were experiencing the miracle story for the first time. The class seemed especially awestruck by the scene of Jesus walking on water to meet the disciples in the boat.
As it turns out, handing out worksheets prior to the movie kept the extra movement and talking to a minimum. They doodled, listened, and watched all at the same time. If some of the kids hadn’t had the worksheets to keep them occupied, I believe there would have been more disruptions and noise.
Watching a short DVD to reinforce our recent lessons turned out to be a success. How often do you use video in the classroom as a teaching tool? What tips do you have for keeping the children interested in what you are showing?