Prayer Sticks

Last winter, a teacher friend of mine posted a photo of her classroom showing her “task sticks” for her students. On each stick was written a specific task for the student who held it, such as “line leader,” “pencil patrol,” and “librarian.” I was trying to think of a way to engage my class in prayerful habits during Lent when I saw her task sticks. I thought I could borrow her idea and make “prayer […]

An Act of Creativity: Make a List

Let’s approach the new year with some encouragement to organization. Do you ever feel like this? There’s so much to do that I don’t know where to start. I think of everything I’m responsible for and everything I’d like to accomplish, and I panic—and sometimes I cope by doing nothing at all. Time to make a list. When life gets cluttered, it can be a good thing to get a huge sketchpad and just list […]

Low-Tech Ideas for Engaging Students

You don’t need the latest technology to capture your students’ attention. They’re probably so plugged in during their day that low-tech (or no-tech) activities will seem novel. I have created a variety of resources with nothing more than markers and construction paper. Add variety to your lesson by incorporating activities that use low-cost teaching supplies. Make sure that whatever you create has a learning component to it. Flash Cards Buy pre-cut flashcards or simply cut […]

Ice-Cream Evangelization: Reaching Out During the Summer

Summer is a great time for busy families to relax and reconnect, enjoying warm weather and outdoor activities. Unfortunately, it can also be a time when many families take a vacation from faith formation. Our faith-formation programs themselves might be partly to blame: many programs run from September through May with no activity taking place during the summer. As a result, we reinforce the mistaken conception that faith formation is solely a catechetical endeavor that […]

Breakout Puzzles for the Religion Classroom

It’s getting to the end of the school year and the weather is beautiful. The students are restless, but I still have lessons to cover and I need to find a way to keep my students engaged. I decided that it was time to mix things up a bit and try something different: Breakout! Breakout is a game in which students have to solve puzzles and use the solutions to those puzzles to unlock a box […]

Journey through Jerusalem

Living in the Boston suburbs, my students have the privilege of regularly visiting many of our nation’s important historical sites. As much of a blessing as this is, it also makes it more difficult for them to conceptualize the setting of the important events in their faith heritage. I have been challenged by the task of finding ways of making Jesus’ life come alive for my students from the confines of our parish hall. The […]

As Clear as a Bell: Playing “God’s Family Feud”

As catechists, we always need to evaluate the way we present lessons to our classes. An approach that may work for one group may not work for another. For example, I was teaching a frisky group of second graders about the Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist. However, all of the old tricks that had been effective with my other classes seemed to fall flat with this group. I was being challenged as […]

A School and Parish Pilgrimage

During the last week of school, I take my third graders on a pilgrimage around our school and parish campus. I started this practice during the Jubilee Year of 2000, when I led a pilgrimage for my school community. We didn’t go far: we just walked the grounds of our campus. I loved this opportunity to experience my faith in a new way. What is a pilgrimage and why do people make them? A pilgrimage […]

The ABCs of God’s Love

Jesus calls each of us to spread the Good News. One way we can do this as Catholic Christians is to show God’s love to those we encounter no matter if they are friend, family, or stranger. This concept can be tough for many adults to live out. How do we teach the children in our faith formation classes to show God’s love to all those we encounter? I recently wrestled with this concept in […]

Corporal Works of Mercy Movie Trailers

Growing up my family made the corporal works of mercy a common practice. When my siblings and I participated in a food drive at school, my mom would remind us that we were feeding the hungry. When I would gather my too-small clothes to donate to the St. Vincent de Paul Society, I was clothing the naked. Even as an adult my parents would remind me that they were still practicing the corporal works of […]

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