All Saints Day Celebration

My favorite session of the year is our celebration of All Saints Day on the class preceding November 1. It combines storytelling (one of my favorite ways to catechize) and direct instruction with a dose of games that make for excitement on the part of the children. With this session I’m hoping to leave some knowledge about saints and also a positive association with the fun games. I also use this opportunity to get parents […]

Teaching Children to Pray the Rosary

I love teaching the Rosary to my first graders. The Rosary helps them learn important prayers, highlights Scripture stories, and keeps their hands occupied when we are sitting together in a circle. In May I hand out rosaries to each student, usually a week after they learn the Hail Mary. I explain that they were blessed by a priest earlier in the day. (One year, I actually took a photo of our pastor with his […]

Teaching Math with the Saints

I love the saints. These holy men and women of God not only teach me about how I can live my life as a daughter of God, but they help me teach math as well. This year our principal asked all teachers to have their students work on word problems every day. Since my math book has so few word problems, I had to write my own that I tailor to different saints. For example, […]

New Approaches in the Classroom

I’ve had a nagging restlessness regarding my lesson plans. I’ve used them for some time, and they’re as comfortable as my favorite slippers, but I found myself wondering if I’m really bringing the same level of enthusiasm and preparation to my classes as I did when those lesson plans were fresh. I tried some new things last year, like hallway shepherds and prayer cubes, and they went over well. Those activities required extra preparation and […]

Asking Questions About Our Faith

Questions are important, but I have never been someone who asked questions. Rather, I have always been eager to answer questions. Whether in a classroom as a child, in college, or as an adult, I readily raise my hand to answer an instructor’s question. I am always ready to answer Jeopardy questions aloud to my television, respond to questions in Facebook groups, or join my friends on most Tuesdays for our weekly trivia quiz night. By […]

Silent Prayer Circle

I like to vary how my class prays partly to give everyone more tools in their prayer toolbox, but also because not everyone learns or prays in the same way on a given day. When I teach about the Holy Family, I teach my first-graders simple signs in sign language (ASL), which we practice together. Thanks to YouTube, you can easily teach yourself signs and phrases in ASL. I have learned how to sign “thank […]

The Good Shepherd and Hallway Shepherds

When I pray with my first-grade students, I often tell them they have to listen for Jesus’ voice not with their ears but with their hearts. Granted, it’s an abstract concept for young ones to understand. This year, when I taught a lesson on the Good Shepherd, I decided to try something new. Before class, I slyly arranged for two of the fathers to wait in the hall and asked them not to tell their […]

Introducing Children to the Blessed Mother

Throughout the faith formation year, I devote part of my lessons to introducing the children to the Blessed Mother. Whenever I teach about Mary, my goal is for the children to know that: Mary is our mother; Mary is our best model of faith; and Mary said yes to God, and we can say yes to God too. My lessons on Mary are based on the liturgical year. I begin in October, which is dedicated […]

Teaching About the Resurrection

Not long ago during class, a student said, “But Jesus was just a ghost.” I immediately explained that Jesus wasn’t a ghost, but that he had truly risen from the dead. This experience reminded me that we can’t assume our students understand what the Resurrection really means. I want them to understand that Jesus was truly dead and rose to life again. I begin by using a picture book that combines the Gospel accounts of […]

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