Teaching the Corporal Works of Mercy

Even though I have a lot of topics to cover in preparing second graders to celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation and First Holy Communion, I always make it a point to introduce the corporal works of mercy to my students. I start by reading Matthew 25:31–46, and together we list the actions listed in these Gospel verses. I then ask the children to answer the question, “What are ways you share God’s peace?” I point […]

Engaging Students with a Church Tour

One of my favorite days of the year is when I lead second-graders on a church tour as part of their preparation for First Eucharist. I like to show them and their parents things in the church they might never have noticed or things they may see all the time but not fully understand what they are or why they are there. Before one such tour last spring, I launched into my usual welcome speech. […]

Developing Students’ Prayerful Habits During Lent

Over my years as a catechist, I have become firmly convinced that our mission is not as much to teach children about Jesus but introduce them to Jesus. Having a personal relationship with Jesus is very different than only learning information about him. The best way for children, or any of us, to come to know Jesus is through prayer. I introduce and model many experiences of prayer throughout the year; I am especially conscious […]

Third Graders and the Ten Commandments

As we move through the school year, my students become more comfortable sharing and asking questions during religion class. I welcome this opportunity to answer questions, and I’m grateful that they can do this in a safe environment that is free of judgment. I want them always to feel that God loves them. When I can’t answer a question, I admit that and promise to get back to them with an answer. If the question […]

Preparing Students for Reconciliation

Once or twice a year all the children in our parish religious education program celebrate the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation during class time. For most of them, this is the only time they will receive this sacrament during the year. With that in mind, I spend some time preparing these children to celebrate Reconciliation. I start preparing a few weeks before they will celebrate the sacrament. I don’t go into too much depth at […]

The Boy in the Back of a Nativity Painting

Long-time catechists may find themselves going back to the tried-and-true activities that they’ve used before with predictable outcomes. But sometimes breaking out of that cycle can be a good thing. For a number of years, I would print out artwork that depicted the Nativity. I had 15–20 images from various artists. The first-grade children and I would sit in a circle on the floor, and I would show the images to the class and then […]

The Wandering Wise Men and Other Advent Traditions

Christmas seems to start earlier and earlier every year. I am thankful that my school waits to celebrate Christmas, opting for a hearty Advent celebration instead. My classroom gets into the Advent celebration by including many fun traditions and service projects revolving around Advent. My classroom has an Advent wreath, and we use the Loyola Press Children’s Advent Calendar. Our school also has an all-school Advent wreath prayer service where we sing and pray together. […]

Saints in the Classroom

My classroom is filled with statues, icons, and pictures of saints. These holy men and women who lived heroic lives of virtue and great charity constantly inspire me. I hope they inspire my students too. I am always looking for ways to help my students learn about the saints. Our school celebrates All Saints Day with a kindergarten parade. They dress up as their favorite saint or as a saint who shares their name. (The […]

Being a Catechist in Two Parishes

I first volunteered to be a catechist 14 years ago at my home parish of Mary, Mother of the Redeemer when my son was preparing for his First Holy Communion; a few years later, a friend mentioned that our neighboring parish, St. Jude, was in need of additional catechists. I volunteered to be a substitute catechist, but soon became a regular catechist there, where I also prepared children to celebrate First Holy Communion, which has […]

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 […]

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