We Are the Church

Third graders love to belong to groups. At their age they are joining sports teams, scouting groups, clubs, and more. I love teaching them about the Church; they get excited when they learn that they belong to a worldwide group. This group includes people from all walks of life and from every nation. It even includes people who’ve come before us. When I ask the children in my class the question, “What is the Church?” […]

When the Craft Is a Challenge

Crafts are an important part of any elementary faith formation program, and there are a multitude of great crafts that are perfect for our faith formation programs. After spending just a few minutes on Pinterest, I’m sure you’ll feel overwhelmed by the number of options. How do we select which crafts to use for our lessons? Sometimes, as a catechist in a parish, we might not even have a choice—the craft activity might be chosen […]

Loving the Mass

Have you ever heard the saying, “Good teachers borrow, but great teachers steal?” This saying comes to mind as I reflect on the different ways we can help the children in our classes understand the Mass. My DRE had recently invited a guest speaker to come to our parish and give a presentation on how to teach the kids about the Mass. Since I am, at best, someone who aspires to be a good teacher, […]

When to Leave Your Textbook Behind

In our first six weeks of school, we only finished two chapters in our religion textbook. Earlier in my teaching career, I would have worried that this slow pace might be a problem. When I first began teaching I was told, “When you reach Christmas, you must be halfway through the textbook.” Now, as a seasoned teacher, I know my textbook is not my entire curriculum. We have had many teachable moments recently when it made […]

Say Yes to God

How can you convey a love of and devotion to Mary with all the necessary background knowledge in just one class period? The simple answer is that you can’t. You have to select the greatest message you want the class to absorb, focus on it for the class, and then add more about Mother Mary throughout the year as you teach other lessons. Just as you invite her to be with you daily, you must […]

Caring for God’s Creation

I love that one of our first lessons of the new faith formation year is the story of creation. We began with a prayer and then we read the creation story out of a children’s Bible storybook. There were two things in particular I loved about teaching this lesson. The first thing I loved was that I had the opportunity to teach that God’s love is unconditional. I explained how God created every person in […]

Sharing Stories to Teach the Faith

We are a few weeks into the new school year, and my third graders are finally settling into the routine of class. Our first lesson focused on the Holy Spirit. My students learned that the Holy Spirit helps guide us to live as Christians. As we read the chapter in our textbook, my students highlighted important sentences, phrases, and vocabulary words. We stopped several times during our reading to discuss how the Spirit guides us […]

As Clear as a Bell: Playing “God’s Family Feud”

As catechists, we always need to evaluate the way we present lessons to our classes. An approach that may work for one group may not work for another. For example, I was teaching a frisky group of second graders about the Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist. However, all of the old tricks that had been effective with my other classes seemed to fall flat with this group. I was being challenged as […]

A School and Parish Pilgrimage

During the last week of school, I take my third graders on a pilgrimage around our school and parish campus. I started this practice during the Jubilee Year of 2000, when I led a pilgrimage for my school community. We didn’t go far: we just walked the grounds of our campus. I loved this opportunity to experience my faith in a new way. What is a pilgrimage and why do people make them? A pilgrimage […]

The ABCs of God’s Love

Jesus calls each of us to spread the Good News. One way we can do this as Catholic Christians is to show God’s love to those we encounter no matter if they are friend, family, or stranger. This concept can be tough for many adults to live out. How do we teach the children in our faith formation classes to show God’s love to all those we encounter? I recently wrestled with this concept in […]

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