The First Class of the Year

ball of yarn

What is your goal for the first day of faith formation?

My goal is to set the tone for the year, build community, and inspire everyone to come back for week two.

Each week my lesson plan has a theme. My theme for our first class is “Connected by God’s Love.” In some sense, this is our theme for our whole year. God is at the center of why we all are there. God is love, and that love connects us to each other.

Following words of welcome, I gather my students around our prayer table for a short back-to-school prayer service, which includes a blessing of the textbooks (which I place on the prayer table). This sets the pattern for our opening and closing prayer all year.

After I take attendance, everyone sits in a circle. I talk about how God is love and how we are all connected by that love. While holding a ball of yarn, I introduce myself and tell a bit about me. Then I hold onto the end of the yarn and toss the ball to a random student. That child says his or name and tells something about him- or herself. The child then keeps hold of the yarn and tosses the ball to another student. The ball gets tossed around from student to student, with each child holding on to his or her part of the yarn. By the time the last student to have the ball tosses it back to me, we are all connected by a web of yarn! Then we talk about how we are all part of a family as God’s children. This activity sometimes leads to a tangled mess of yarn, but that is part of the fun.

Next we talk briefly about class procedures and my one rule: Respect (for Others, Property, Yourself). Following this I hand out the textbooks individually to each child, calling them forward by name. I bless each child, saying, “God loves and will be with you as you prepare for your First Reconciliation.”

Our next activity is a matching game. I have pictures of objects used during the Mass printed on cardstock; each picture is cut into two puzzle pieces. Each child has a puzzle piece and needs to find the match. When children meet a classmate to see if they have a match, they must exchange names and a fact about themselves. After everyone has found his or her partner, they work together as a team to complete an exploration worksheet for a textbook scavenger hunt. As a class, we review the results of all the exciting things found in their books.

My final activity is a variation of the Getting to Know You Ball activity. I have a ball on which I have written about 20 prompts, such as, “What was your best day ever?”, “Make the sound of your favorite animal,” and, “What’s your favorite flavor of ice cream?” As the children pass the ball, each answers the question that her or his right thumb lands on. For some questions, I have everyone tell their answer to the person next to them. This activity is always a big hit, and I can use it again at the end of class over the first few weeks if I have some extra time.

We close the class by gathering around our prayer table, sharing our prayer intentions, and praying a Hail Mary. I give the children a worksheet titled, “All About Me,” to complete before our next class. This worksheet helps me get to know them and will be my discussion starter for our next class.

This active lesson helps us know one another and form a community. What do you do for your first class?

Consult the Effective Catechist section of your Finding God: Our Response to God’s Gifts guide for tips on making your first day a good experience.

About Cindy Coleman 24 Articles
Cindy Coleman is a second-grade catechist and VBS leader at both her home parish of Mary, Mother of the Redeemer in Montgomeryville, PA, and at St. Jude Parish in Chalfont, PA. She has been a catechist for over 25 years. Cindy is also the co-coordinator of her parish’s Liturgy of the Word with Children. Among her other parish activities, she is excited about the new WINE (Women in the New Evangelization) group she just started at her home parish. She is married to Ron and the proud mother of Matt, who just graduated from the University of Notre Dame.

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