Four Reconciliation Questions on the Mind of Every Third-Grader

Twice a year my students celebrate the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation with the other classes in the school—once during Advent and once during Lent. Since I teach third graders, I review the sacrament and the steps necessary to make a good confession. While every class is different, I have found some similarities over the years in their concerns, and they often have the same questions: What do I say at the beginning? What sins […]

Reviewing the Mass Before Christmas

I love the excitement, expectation, and joy that is abundant in my class as we prepare to celebrate Christ’s birth. As we get ready for Christmas with crafts and cookies, I also prepare my students for Christmas Mass. Many of my students do not regularly go to Mass, and they aren’t familiar with the Order of the Mass. I find that everyone benefits from a review of what happens at Mass before attending with their […]

10 Ways to Integrate Technology into the Classroom

Editor’s note: We’re celebrating the 10th anniversary of Catechist’s Journey this week by sharing catechetical top-10 lists each day and giving away Loyola Press prize packages. Enter for your chance to win the Bible Books Pack today; details below. We live in a technology-driven world. Our students are often more comfortable with technology than are many catechists; if we are going to meet students where they are, we need to enter the digital realm. But […]

Game of the Good Shepherd

I attended the celebrations of First Reconciliation and First Holy Communion at several different churches last year. While I was able to experience the joy of the sacraments in many different ways, I often heard the same Gospel reading: the parable of the Good Shepherd. This parable is a natural choice for these sacraments. It is a beautiful passage that depicts the intimate love and relationship between God and God’s people, and helps us to […]

School-Wide Advent Wreath Prayer Service

I love the way we celebrate Advent at my school. Every Monday the entire school—all 515 students and their teachers—gather in the auditorium to pray and sing traditional Advent carols. Our tradition is simple and beautiful. In the center of the auditorium is a table, upon which sits an Advent wreath with a purple bow. The wreath cradles four pillar candles—three purple and one pink. A group of cantors stand off to one side, and […]

Ten Commandments Games

My second-grade students have very busy bodies. I have struggled to accomplish anything in class, and I have been growing frustrated—I waste too much time trying to get their attention. After a few weeks together, I am realizing that I should find ways to focus their excitement and energy rather than stifle it. I am going to try a new approach: we will play more learning games and do fewer crafts, and I will incorporate lots […]

The Gift of a Less-Than-Perfect Year

Another year of faith formation classes has come to an end, and I’ve got a big smile on my face and a few tears in my eyes. This has been my sixth year of teaching third-grade religious education classes at my parish, and as I look back on the year, I know I will happily sign up to teach again next year. This wasn’t my best year. I missed classes due to illness; I didn’t […]

Reviewing the Year with Creativity, Collaboration, and Communication

At the end of the year I like to have my students reflect on all the activities and all that we have learned during our time together. Usually, I just set aside some time to write our reflections down on our whiteboard. This year, I found a new idea for my class that encourages my students’ creativity, collaboration, and communication. This activity is called a Paper Slide Video. This activity begins with students recalling all […]

Breakout Puzzles for the Religion Classroom

It’s getting to the end of the school year and the weather is beautiful. The students are restless, but I still have lessons to cover and I need to find a way to keep my students engaged. I decided that it was time to mix things up a bit and try something different: Breakout! Breakout is a game in which students have to solve puzzles and use the solutions to those puzzles to unlock a box […]

The Greatest Commandment in Action

The Greatest Commandment sounds straightforward: “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:34‒40). This sounds simple and easy for kids to understand, right? Yes and no. When I read the Greatest Commandment to my class, they all nodded and said yes, […]

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