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 […]

Marian Devotions for the Classroom

I love Our Blessed Mother! My devotion to Mary is easily shared with my third graders. In my classroom there is a print of Our Lady of Guadalupe, an icon of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, a statue of Our Lady of Grace, and a poster of Mary, Undoer of Knots. Even more images of Mary can be easily shown on an interactive whiteboard. When we celebrated the Queenship of Mary, I found 20 different […]

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 […]

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