30 Extra Minutes to Fill


My plan was to cover Finding God, Grade 7, Chapter 9, as part of a session on family and mission. I’ve used the general plan before with success, but knew early on it wasn’t quite working this night. The young people were attentive, but not interactive. And so I found myself at the end of my lesson plan with almost 30 minutes of our 90-minute session to go!

While I didn’t have an extra activity based on the lesson at hand, I always have with me a calendar of Sunday Gospels. I pulled it out as the young people were finishing the review page reflection question. I looked up the Gospel and led my group in an impromptu Bible study, letting them know we were looking at the upcoming Sunday’s reading. The students still weren’t very talkative, but we made it to the end of the class ok.

It certainly was not my best moment in catechesis, but the Holy Spirit bailed me out with the calendar of Gospels. This activity provided more practice in looking up Bible verses, always a positive thing for young people to know how to do. I’ll definitely look more closely at this particular lesson plan in the future and see what adjustments I can make not only to fill the time, but to engage the young people better.

If you follow this site regularly, you’ll know that Lisa Jones recently shared an experience of ending class with time to spare, and she shared her idea for How to Fill Extra Time at the End of Class by playing a review game. That’s a great option if you find yourself in the same situation. If you want to prepare yourself by having the Gospel at your fingertips, one great way to do that is to subscribe to the Sunday Connection. Even if you don’t plan to do the related activities each week, browsing the content can help you feel more comfortable in leading Gospel-based activities on the fly. If you’re a newer catechist still getting acclimated to the curriculum, prepare yourself for that situation of filling extra time at the end of class by planning one more activity than you think you need, or have on hand materials for leading that extra activity in case of such an “emergency.”

And remember that even we experienced catechists sometimes miss on our planning. It might not provide much consolation when you’re in front of a group of young people with a blank page for a lesson, but it does provide us something to talk about after the fact and helps us improve our craft. If you’re left with extra time at the end of a lesson, pray to the Holy Spirit on the spot, and dig into your bag for that extra activity, and the Spirit will pull you through.

Have you ever been left with an unexpected chunk of time at the end of a session? What did you do?

About Denise Gorss 115 Articles
Denise Gorss is a catechist with more than 20 years experience, mostly in junior high. She appreciates the gifts of Ignatian spirituality and likes sharing various types of prayer with the young people in her groups. She enjoys seeing the world on pilgrimages and lives in the Chicago area, where she works as Web Editor at Loyola Press.


  1. I always have a hard time doing lessons because all the kids want to do is play games. So what I do sometimes is try think what craft or project we can do that has to do with the lesson or plan. It is hard to do because I have lack of materials. Which I agree when you said that we should always keep materials or other stuff on hand just in case.

    • Maria, having a game, craft, or other project to extend the ideas of the lesson is a great idea and a wonderful way to engage children. Many projects can be done with simple materials that are available in most classrooms, like paper, crayons, and scissors. Your catechist’s guide should help you with these ideas.

  2. Hi Denise,
    I have found that short youtube videos provide a great opportunity to have some discussion and then have the students share their thoughts/insights via an acrostic, a hypothetical “faith tweet”, or small posters/cards for a class collage. Some of my favorites youtube videos:

    “Lift the City – A Catholic Eucharistic Flash Mob” – I instruct the students to observe the reactions of the passersby, especially the young people. We discuss what it means to be a witness for Jesus in the public square.

    “We Are Catholic” – after the video, I have the students write down their own examples of what it means to be Catholic and what we believe by completing the sentence: We are _______. We create a collage to display in the classroom.

    “Altaration – Mark Hart – The Four Reasons Jesus Came” – the class created a collage of examples of how we love God and others focusing on what the video said about “Jesus came to show us what love is”.

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