All Saints Day Celebration

My favorite session of the year is our celebration of All Saints Day on the class preceding November 1. It combines storytelling (one of my favorite ways to catechize) and direct instruction with a dose of games that make for excitement on the part of the children. With this session I’m hoping to leave some knowledge about saints and also a positive association with the fun games. I also use this opportunity to get parents […]

Games in Lent

After a successful session with Advent Bingo, a catechist asked me whether Lent Bingo existed. While I don’t have a formal game board for that, there’s no reason we catechists can’t play Lent Bingo and other Lenten-themed games with our groups. While Lent is seen as a more solemn season than others in the liturgical year, and rightly so, there’s no reason we can’t lighten the mood in our classrooms with a game, even as […]

Sacraments Matching Game

Our celebrations of the sacraments are signs of Christ’s presence in our lives and a means for receiving his grace. Help children identify the Seven Sacraments by playing a fun matching game. This downloadable game can be printed out and played in sacramental preparation sessions or as a review for children of all ages learning more about the sacraments. Even catechists or teachers can enjoy playing after reading my Living the Sacraments: Finding God at […]

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 […]

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 […]

How to Fill Extra Time at the End of Class

In a recent faith-formation class, we did something that I have never done in my many years of teaching: we finished 15 minutes early. While 15 minutes may not seem like a lot of time, for those of us in the classroom, 15 minutes can feel like an eternity if we are not prepared. My mind searched for something to do that didn’t require any setup or explanation. We decided to play hangman; I’m not […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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