It was the week when all the students in Texas had to take standardized tests. Even on a good day, my third-grade faith formation class is a squirmy bunch. After being at elementary school all day, doing nothing but taking standardized tests, I knew they would be extra squirmy. I needed to do something different to keep their attention this time.
I wasn’t going to follow my regular class plan, so I needed a hands-on activity to engage them. Luckily, I recently spent some time on Pinterest, pinning ideas for crafts to use in my classroom. Pinterest can be a great resource for craft and lesson planning ideas. There are wonderful Catholic catechists who share their ideas, both those they have gathered from resources such as Catechist’s Journey and ideas they’ve developed on their own.
I found a craft about the Easter season. Students made a wreath of printable cutouts that told the Easter story, beginning with Palm Sunday, through the Crucifixion and Resurrection, and concluding with Pentecost. There was a brief Scripture verse for each step. My original lesson plan had included connecting Lent, Holy Week, and Easter to help my students see the big picture of the Easter season. This activity was the perfect fit.
You should have seen their faces when I began passing out the materials to complete the craft at the beginning of class! We normally wait until the end for the “fun” stuff. Since we had to put the printable cut-outs together in the right order and then glue them down, the craft opened up a dialogue about what happened during Holy Week and Easter. As we discussed what the pictures on the cut-outs represented, we dove a bit deeper into the story of Easter and its meaning for us as Catholics.
The cutting, coloring, and pasting took the entire hour of class. Most of them enjoyed and completed it before leaving. I had brought a couple of brightly colored Bible story books about the Easter season for those students who didn’t seem to be interested in coloring or were distracted by the buzz of activity in the room.
I’m not sure this format would work every week, but it was a nice change of pace. The kids really enjoyed it, and to be honest, I really enjoyed it as well. They responded well to the craft, and I appreciated the more relaxed atmosphere in which I could dialogue with the children. Walking around helping them with the craft allowed me to discuss and answer questions on a level that is difficult from the front of the classroom.
How do you adapt your classroom activities to what might be going on with your students outside the classroom?