Confronting Racism: Everyone Belongs

I’ve always found John 4:4 to be a strangely intriguing passage. The passage tells us that Jesus left Judea and returned to Galilee and that, to do so, “he had to go through Samaria.” The reason it is intriguing is because he did not have to go through Samaria. There were, in fact, other ways to get from Judea to Galilee. While passing through Samaria was the shortest route, it was a route that many Jews avoided, because […]

Bible Bell Work

I always have “bell work” for children to begin as soon as they arrive in the classroom. These are short activities that engage early arrivals as the rest of the class arrives during the first 10–15 minutes. While students are doing their bell work, I can take attendance, check homework, hand back completed work, and attend to other tasks, like notes from parents. One of the easiest forms of bell work I have is Bible […]

Helping Young People Write Intercessions

While many parts of the Mass are always the same (we use the same words for the Gloria; the Holy, Holy, Holy; the Lord’s Prayer; the Lamb of God; etc.), several parts are always different from one Mass to another: the Scripture readings, the homily, and the Prayer of the Faithful. This, of course, gives us an opportunity to invite young people to shape some of the words we use at Mass. In particular, inviting […]

Gathering Activities

Grabbing the attention of young people can be challenging when they go straight to their classrooms after being dropped off. With young people arriving in staggered fashion, straggling in one at a time, we need to have something for them to do as they arrive. Enter the gathering activity. What’s What? Page—Finding God Grade 7 includes a review page at the end of each chapter. Sometimes I use these as a pre-assessment before the session […]

Downloadable Worksheet: Find the Signs and Symbols in Your Church

When children visit a church, they may see sculptures, paintings, objects, and gestures new to them but steeped in Church tradition. Help children begin to understand the Catholic imagery around them with this month’s downloadable activity, “Find the Signs and Symbols in Your Church.” Use the worksheet in the context of a classroom visit to the parish church, or invite children to complete it independently on Sunday. If children visit different churches throughout the year, […]

Coloring Pages with Older Students

Another catechist had a coloring page he recommended—“except for the older kids, of course.” I, as the seventh-grade catechist, took the page anyway. While I never want to bore or insult the young people with an activity that is too young for them, I have found coloring pages to be useful activities from time to time. A simple outline to color can help make a point in a learning station, such as an image of […]

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 […]

Eight Ways to Use Worksheets Effectively in Faith Formation

I have heard some catechists say they will never use blackline masters (BLMs) in religious education classrooms, and other catechists like to use every one their curriculum provides. These worksheets and other handouts are usually provided as part of the curriculum; a good catechist manual will advise when to integrate a BLM into the lesson. The key to using worksheets effectively in faith formation is understanding that they are resources for activities, not time-fillers, and […]

Facebook Followers Share about Activities in the Classroom

What’s your most creative idea for the Catholic classroom? We asked this question on our Catholic Faith Formation Facebook page and received a list of creative responses. From a jumbo Rosary to hashtags about holiness, catechists shared about activities for multiple grade levels, parents, and families. Saint Strips Catechist Kathleen Horrigan Butler from Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Washington, D.C., shared a first-grade activity that helps children pray with the saints, using art from Happy […]

Finding the Faces of Jesus in Your Life

I’ve always had a feeling of synergy when working with my friend and colleague, Tom McGrath. All he has to do is open his mouth and share some insights and wisdom and I immediately feel like I can turn it into an activity that others can use and benefit from! Recently, Tom led a reflection for a small group that I was participating in. He invited us to think about the qualities and characteristics of […]

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