Tuesday, November 3, 2015

All Saints Party Games

Image from Billerica
I'm realizing (somewhat belatedly) that the the thing I wasn't blogging about, teaching Religious Education, is the thing I'll be kicking myself for not blogging about. 

That's because I use this blog as an extra lobe of memory so that I don't have to come up with brand new and exciting ideas every single time I teach rocket science, for example.
My philosophy of Religious Ed, is to make it as much not like school as possible.  I hated Religious Ed as a kid because it was just like school, except, since there were no meaningful consequences to not learning, kids learned nothing. 

For me, taught by my mom, this meant the annual agony of the teacher asking if any one knew the seven sacraments. No one knew them (except me) so that's what they taught every year.  For seven years

I know it was the 80s, but if you were trying to teach that the Faith is boring and irrelevant, it would be hard to come up with a better method.  I'm trying to make it as much not like that as possible, to make it fun and hands on, and to keep the kids completely engaged. For me, that means a lot of time planning and preparing.

Anyway, I've been teaching 3rd grade, and classes are on Sundays.  That means this year, All Saints Day landed on the day we had class. Party time!

 We did 5 games:

1. Saint Scavenger Hunt.  This I shamelessly cribbed from Shower of Roses, and you should print it out from her.

She, however, is dealing with home schooled kids who know much more about the Faith.  My kids had never heard of most of these saints, so I wrote on the pictures a little first person introduction which contained the answer to the clue.

For example, on Mary's picture, I wrote, "I am Jesus' mom, and I'm your mom, too.  I will always love and care for you.  God did wonderful things for me, so everyone calls me blessed."  (The clue was "All generations call me blessed.")

I have 8 kids in the class, so I gave each two pictures, and they asked each other questions.
 When they finished, they got to pick a prize out of a bag of medals and pins.

2, Halo Toss.  I was going to use different saints, but I figured that might be confusing, so I printed an extra copy of the saint pictures from the scavenger hunt, and taped them around water bottles. 

This meant there were two pictures on each bottle, but they mostly covered the bottle.  Then the kids tossed foil "halos" and tried to land on the bottles.  I told them which saints they had gotten and the prize was a holy card (printed from the internet) of their patron saint.

3. St. Anthony's Fishing.  I told them the story of St. Anthony, trying to tell people about Jesus.  When the people wouldn't listen, he started preaching to the fish.  All the fish in the river poked their heads out of the water to listen!

I double dutied here: each fish had one of the seven virtues on it, so we explained what each virtue meant as it was "caught."  Since it was "their"  virtue, they loved it.  And of course, the virtues are how to become more like God - saints!

If it isn't obvious, that's a stick with string and a magnet (in my case, folded magnetic tape), and each fish has a paperclip or two.  The idea is to make it a little hard to fish, but not impossible.

4. Little Flower Memory.  I happen to have a lot of holy cards, but you could do this with pictures from the internet.  I glued pairs of the same saint cards to index cards, then I glued a picture of St. Therese on the back of all the cards.  We talked about St. Therese's "Little Way" of doing little things with big love.

Each kid got a turn, and when they made all the matches, they got to pick a prize from my stash of Bible story stickers. 

Interestingly, a boy who picked the "Daniel in the Lion's Den" sticker set remarked that he didn't remember the story, but he'd look it up when he got home.  To me, that was a win, if he looks it up, he's much more likely to remember it than if I tell him (although I would have told him if he'd asked).

5. St. George and the Dragon.  I told the story of St. George, and how he had killed a large crocodile that had been eating people.  The people were pagan, and had started sacrificing people to the crocodile "god."  St. George killed the beast and taught the people Christianity.

The classroom has one foot tiles, so I paced off 20 feet to show the kids how big a crocodile can get and why people would see it as a dragon.

Then they took turns blowing over the "dragon" (skillfully rendered by my assistant, Klenda) with our air cannon.

Then we had chips and candy corn, and the kids replayed whichever games they wanted while waiting for parent pick up.

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