What’s your most creative idea for the Catholic classroom? We asked this question on our Catholic Faith Formation Facebook page and received a list of creative responses. From a jumbo Rosary to hashtags about holiness, catechists shared about activities for multiple grade levels, parents, and families.
Catechist Kathleen Horrigan Butler from Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Washington, D.C., shared a first-grade activity that helps children pray with the saints, using art from Happy Saints.com. The children create a personalized litany by walking around to saint stations set up with badges in the classroom. They pick up badges they are interested in after hearing the saint’s story and glue the saint badge to their strips. This provides a great way to model personal and communal intercessory prayer. Looking for another way to use the badges? Kathleen also recommended playing Tic-Tac-Saint. (See picture.)
Tracey E. Connell focused on the unique identity of each student in her second-grade classroom by creating butterflies at St. Charles Borromeo in Bensalem, PA. The point of the lesson was to emphasize how each person is made in the image of God. Children were instructed to cut out a butterfly printout and write six things that make them special on the wings. Parents told Tracey that many of their children were having self-esteem issues, and the butterflies allowed them time to think about how special they are to God and their families.
It always helps to stay organized with a classroom routine! Cindy Coleman shared about the benefits of a structured opening to class and lesson planning for her three second-grade classes at Mary, Mother of the Redeemer Parish in North Wales, PA. Before class starts (and to help those that come in late), children gather their materials, copy their homework, and take a Bible to look up the Gospel for the upcoming Sunday. This is their Bible Bellwork over a period of ten minutes before class begins. After reviewing the previous week’s lesson, Cindy structures the remainder of the class with a quiz, an opening prayer service, the main lesson, and time to close with intercessory prayers.
This activity combined multiple grades and parents in the parish community. Denise Halloran and catechists from Corpus Christi Catholic Church in Phoenix, AZ, made beads out of laminated poster board. Parents and children participated in a special prayer service with music. Each grade prayed one decade and the parents prayed along with personal rosaries.
Once a week children are invited to bring a religious show-and-tell item to share with their group. The family can engage in searching for something to bring to class and receive prizes for a specific number of items that are shared. Donna Kowal’s idea is so popular in the community that former students remember participating as children in religious education! Donna serves at both St. Madeline Parish and St. Gabriel Church in Pennsylvania.
Two days before class at St. Joseph in Frackville, PA, Carolyn Tenaglia sends out an extra credit question to parents’ cell-phone numbers for their children to research. To earn extra credit, children bring in an index card with the answer on it, and every correct answer is charted with a star next to the child’s name. Those who participate get coupons for a special drawing that happens twice a year. Prizes include gift cards for movies, craft stores, or mini-golf. Carolyn shares that this was nice for children and parents to do something at home together. Both of them learn something new!
We hope you’ve enjoyed our series highlighting success stories from the field. Keep sharing your good ideas and creative successes with the Catholic Faith Formation community on Facebook or in the comments for this post.