When an Activity Doesn’t Work So Well

Sometimes when I add an activity I made up to the session, it works out great, but a recent session proved a reminder that sometimes it doesn’t. The chapter called for introducing the idea of different literary forms found in the Bible, as part of a discussion on apocalyptic literature and ultimately, the struggle between good and evil. I thought it would be fun to play a game to begin our session, so I came […]

Helping Young People Write Intercessions

While many parts of the Mass are always the same (we use the same words for the Gloria; the Holy, Holy, Holy; the Lord’s Prayer; the Lamb of God; etc.), several parts are always different from one Mass to another: the Scripture readings, the homily, and the Prayer of the Faithful. This, of course, gives us an opportunity to invite young people to shape some of the words we use at Mass. In particular, inviting […]

Building Community with the Communion of Saints

A few weeks ago, I was excited after a session on the saints because the young people in my group were excited too. We enjoyed playing a game, listening to an upbeat saints song, and participating in learning stations to get to know some of the saints. The first activity of the evening was Saints Musical Chairs. I found this game online a few years ago, and the writer shared brief descriptions of some of […]

Not Done with Prayer Yet

We had just finished a silence challenge, and I called the young people to our regular opening prayer when I was disheartened to hear one boy mumble, “What, we’re not done with prayer yet?” Prayer time is usually not met with such resistance in my classroom. In fact, I think many of the young people enjoy the quiet and reflective experiences built in to our time together, whether they are able to vocalize it or […]

Sometimes the Young People Surprise Me

Sometimes the young people surprise me. Such was the case at the beginning of Lent, when I led a session on the season that focused on Christ’s temptation in the desert. I asked the young people what they already knew about Lent. An informal assessment of their previous knowledge, the question gave the students an opportunity to tell me things such as the season was 40 days and that they got ashes on Ash Wednesday. […]

Gathering Activities

Grabbing the attention of young people can be challenging when they go straight to their classrooms after being dropped off. With young people arriving in staggered fashion, straggling in one at a time, we need to have something for them to do as they arrive. Enter the gathering activity. What’s What? Page—Finding God Grade 7 includes a review page at the end of each chapter. Sometimes I use these as a pre-assessment before the session […]

Incorporating Movement into Faith Formation Sessions

One of the young people in my group asked if we’d be moving around at all during the session. It hit me as a necessary reminder that I need to be intentional about incorporating movement into my sessions. While not every session has elements of movement that bodily-kinesthetic learners might appreciate, I try to include varied activities such as: Learning Stations—I’ve been incorporating sacraments learning stations into my classes for several years now, and last […]

Patience with Quiet Students

Being a catechist requires patience. Some years it’s patience with behavior issues, and other years it’s patience with a class that’s too quiet. Let me explain. When discipline issues arise, there are a number of strategies for managing classroom behavior. But when young people are well-behaved yet non-participatory, we need different strategies, which we often don’t hear much about. The overreaching strategy to working with young people who don’t want to join in discussions or […]

Praying with a Classroom Visitor

The DRE told me that one of the parish priests would be stopping by sometime during class to talk to the young people about becoming altar servers. He was visiting several classrooms, and I didn’t know how much time he would spend in each one nor the order in which he would visit. So I started class knowing that at some point we’d have a visitor, though I didn’t know exactly when. Of course, he […]

Planning the Year’s Calendar

Some years are easier to plan out than others when it comes to the sequence of lessons in faith formation. This year, however, proved to be more difficult than usual. In my parish, the catechists have the flexibility to teach lessons in the order that works best for them. The DRE advises us to make sure our sequence of lessons coincide with the high points of the liturgical calendar. So I sat down with my […]

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