9 ideas you can use today!
By Celeste Behe
From sacramentals to drama class to exercise routines, here are 9 great tips and freebies from around the web.
The fit folks at Health E-Tips strive to “Make Each Day a Little Healthier” with videos designed to get your students moving. Their “jammin’” web page contains clips of short routines performed by students in various grades. Invite your own class to follow along and you’ll see the positive effects that a ‘brain break” can have on students’ concentration and focus.
“There is nothing the devils flee from more – without returning – than holy water.” –St. Teresa of Avila- Holy water is a powerful sacramental that serves as a protection against evil, a sign of repentance, and a reminder of our Baptism. No Catholic classroom should be without holy water, but a wall-mounted font may be impractical. Enter this stand-alone holy water font. Adorned with a hand-painted image of Our Lady, the font can sit on a table, a desk, or any level surface.
Follow an old Jesuit tradition by asking Father to celebrate an Academic Mass at your school. The Academic Mass is traditionally celebrated as a Red Mass, or Mass of the Holy Spirit, for which the priest wears red vestments.
Here are some suggestions for your school’s Academic Mass:
- Once the school community is assembled, explain the special significance of the Academic Mass.
- At the beginning of the Academic Mass or during the offertory, have a procession in which objects representing the school’s mission are brought up to the altar. (If preferred, the procession may take place during the offertory.)
- During the Academic Mass, have all present recite the solemn prayer of Dedication of Studies.
- Make sure that each sector of the school community – students, school groups, teachers, and support staff – has a role in the liturgy.
Jesuit tradition holds that, if circumstances prevent the celebration of the Academic Mass at the beginning of the school year, the Mass may instead be celebrated during the first semester on a feast of Our Lady.
The seven themes of Catholic social teaching, as outlined by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, are the basis for downloadable lesson plans designed for grades 1 through 8. Produced by Catholic Relief Services, the lesson plans use stories to convey the realities of life in geographic locations around the world. Themes such as Human Dignity, Solidarity, and Care for God’s Creation are explored through narrative, discussion, prayer, and hands-on activities. Each lesson spotlights one of the countries served by CRS, and includes helpful background information for teachers.
Justin Cash teaches drama at a Catholic girls’ school in Melbourne, Australia. His website is crammed with resources that all drama and theatre teachers will find helpful, regardless of their curriculum or geographic location. Justin offers lesson plan ideas, suggestions for games and stagecraft, and – especially useful for enhancing global awareness – links to theatre websites based in countries all over the world. A recent post entitled “Stimulus Images for Drama” contained inspiring images for use in role play and improvisation. Beautiful photographs of sisters, brothers, mothers, and fathers comprised a touching and refreshingly traditional portrayal of the family.
Information packets are so last year! This September, equip your students’ parents with single sheet handouts containing everything they need to know. Classroom procedures, educational goals, and contact information are just a few of the categories included on a template that will configure your input as a brochure, tri-fold, or pamphlet. Contents can be edited with PowerPoint to suit individual needs. For the creative teacher who wants to design a unique product, a customizable blank template and accompanying video tutorial are included.
Sara, an elementary school teacher and mother of two, has something to brag about. She adapted a Pinterest how-to for “brag tags” and came up with STAR (Super Terrific Awesome Reward) tags designed to delight and motivate her first grade CCD students. Tags are made from laminated paper decorated with brightly colored ink drawings. STAR tags bearing phrases such as “Today I Showed Kindness,” “Star Listener,” and “I’m a Good Friend” are given for good behavior. Tags labeled with the names of Catholic prayers are awarded for prayer memorization, and tags designed with seasonal images are given for completion of homework. Earned STAR tags are threaded onto simple ball and chain necklaces that can be worn by students during school hours. You can read about Sara’s experience and order your STAR tags by visiting Sara’s blog at sarajcreations.com
This year marks the 100th anniversary of Our Lady’s appearances at Fatima. What better time to introduce or reinforce the message of Fatima in your classroom? Mary Fabian Windeatt’s book, The Children of Fatima: And Our Lady’s Message to the World, first published in 1944, has stood the test of time as an accurate and engaging retelling of the Fatima events. Now, TAN Books has published both a workbook and a teacher’s manual to accompany Windeatt’s book. Word searches and crossword puzzles plus essay and multiple choice questions are designed to improve reading comprehension and language skills while familiarizing students with the story and message of Fatima.
Organize your school year with a Creative Catechist Planner. Special features include faith conversation starters, Sunday Mass readings, Baptism Birthdays tracker, saint stories, explanations of feast days, and prayers of the Church. New this year is a treasure trove of downloadable materials, including puzzles and games for all ages, and helpful background information to keep Teacher at the top of her game.
Celeste Behe is a blogger, speaker, and ardent Toastmaster. She lives in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, with her husband Mike and eight of their nine children.