Teaching Children about Angels

Teaching about angels is something that I weave throughout the catechetical year. There are so many ways that angels pop up in different contexts. My overall learning goals in teaching about angels are for the children to know: (1) Angels are unique and special beings created by God; (2) angels serve as God’s messengers and servants; and (3) everyone has a guardian angel. I want my students to recognize angels as special beings created by […]

Teaching Children About God’s Love

With the popularity of Valentine’s Day, February can be a great time to teach about God’s love for us and how he wants us to love one another. In many ways this is the basic message that underlines every session: God loves each of us. In our God’s Gift: Reconciliation book, Chapter 6 focuses on the Good Shepherd with the parable of the lost sheep. This is a perfect parable to focus on God’s love […]

Inviting Parishioners to Help

“The more the merrier!” is my philosophy about volunteers in my religious education classroom. I’m always on the lookout for adults who will share their talents with the children. (I’m fortunate that the parents I ask rarely say no.) I ask my parents at the beginning of the year if anyone has a talent or skill to share. Parents who sew or play an instrument are good allies. Having a different person in the class […]

Praying with Little Ones

Last fall, Joe Paprocki provided 20 tips for catechists. The ninth tip stuck with me: as catechists, we are not teaching a subject, but we are facilitating an encounter with Jesus. All of us encounter Jesus in different ways on any given day, and our students are no different. Offering a variety of prayer experiences for children can open up new ways for Christ to work in their lives. When I’m praying with my first-grade […]

Letting Things Go in a Different Direction

Lesson planning is critical to the success of any class. With a solid plan, I walk into class more confident, but I build in flexibility in case an activity doesn’t work or if we run short (or long) on time. So, last year, when my Nativity lesson went off track, this flexibility allowed me to let go of my plan and respond to the needs of my students. The result was a powerful message about […]

Sharing Stories of Family Faith

As I reflect on how my religion class has gone so far this year, I’m struck by how often my third graders tie the concepts they learn back to their families and their relationships with one another. With each concept taught, we share stories about our experiences with our families. Building a comfortable relationship within the class that leads to students sharing family traditions is my favorite part of teaching our Catholic faith. For example, […]

Praying with Second Graders

The longer I am a catechist, the more I feel the need to focus on prayer with the children in my classes. For so long I limited prayer to the start and end of class, and I encouraged the children to memorize traditional prayers. But I didn’t do much else. Now I lead the children in exploring new and varied ways to pray so they can grow in their personal relationship with God. Early in […]

Thanksgiving Poems

My school celebrates Thanksgiving with a huge food drive for a local food pantry. Classrooms of older students are paired up with classrooms of younger students. This food drive really ignites our school as the pairs of classrooms compete to bring in the most food and win a pizza lunch. My classroom celebrates Thanksgiving by sharing stories. I have the children write a poem called “A Story of Thanks,” that gives thanks using each of […]

Getting Children Involved in a Prayer Service

We often hear about the importance of full and active participation in Mass and in our communities. As catechists, that should be our goal for every class. One way I’ve gotten my students involved is through classroom prayer services. In my early days as a catechist, I thought first-graders would be too young for an activity like this. I assumed they wouldn’t be able to sit still long enough, or read well enough, or understand the […]

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 […]

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