The First Class of the Year

What is your goal for the first day of faith formation? My goal is to set the tone for the year, build community, and inspire everyone to come back for week two. Each week my lesson plan has a theme. My theme for our first class is “Connected by God’s Love.” In some sense, this is our theme for our whole year. God is at the center of why we all are there. God is […]

Classroom Behavior Expectations

I give my first-grade religious education students the same assignment every week at the end of class, which consists of three things: Be sweet, be smart, and make good choices. For the first few classes, it’s novel, but within a few weeks, they will repeat the assignment along with me. (The parents love it, by the way.) I want my students to understand that the behavior I expect in class on Sunday mornings doesn’t end […]

Introducing the Saints to My Class

Over the last few years I have become more and more attentive to the saints. I am not sure if this heightened awareness came from being a catechist, but it surely has changed the way I catechize. As a second-grade catechist, I introduce the children to saints of the month, we have an All Saints Day celebration, and the children complete a saint’s report. Each month I pick two saints whose feast days fall during […]

Calling Children by Name

“I have called you by name, you are mine,” says the Lord. (Isaiah 43:1) This intimate connection we have with God is a gift to be celebrated. Being named Kathleen, I’ve gone through life with people automatically assuming I want to be called “Kathy” or “Kate.” I don’t want to be called something else; my name is Kathleen. When I meet my religious education students, the first thing I do is ask them their names […]

End-of-Year Reflection

Let the Lord define your life! This was our school-wide theme for the year, and it was a fitting theme for my classroom as well. As our year wound down, I once again realized that the Lord was in charge. The service projects and the textbook lessons laid out in August were perfectly suited to each of my third graders, even if we didn’t accomplish all I had hoped. I was very pleased with several […]

Pentecost in the Classroom

Pentecost is often overlooked in my third-grade classroom. Because Pentecost falls on the seventh Sunday after Easter, the school year is usually over by the time we celebrate it. Still, I was determined to celebrate it with my third graders. After reading Kathleen Butler’s article on using art in the classroom, I decided to collect artwork related to Pentecost and show it to my students. I am fortunate to have a large interactive whiteboard in […]

Year-End Baseball Review

Our parish ends the faith-formation year on the Sunday before Memorial Day, so even though there are still lessons we want to cover, we use the last class as a fun review day. In Washington, D. C., we root for our hometown baseball team, the Nationals, so I tease the last class by telling them the week before that we’ll be playing baseball during our last class. Before class, I lay out a baseball diamond […]

Preparing for First Holy Communion

Every year, the number one question from my second graders as they prepare for First Holy Communion is, “Mrs. Coleman, what does it taste like? My brother said it tastes like paper.” My typical response to this concern is, “Does your brother often eat paper?” My concerns as a catechist are a bit different than the children’s. The closer we get to First Eucharist, the more I worry: Are they ready? Do they truly understand? […]

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. […]

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