Candlemas Science and Fun — Plus More Teacher Resources

Our monthly resource roundup includes a host of Candlemas activities for students of all ages.

By Celeste Behe

Feast of Candlemas

The ceremony of a candlelight procession has long been a part of the celebration of Candlemas, or Candle Mass, which commemorates the Feast of the Presentation, on February 2. The carrying of lighted candles into the church by worshipers represents the carrying of the infant Jesus into the Temple by the prophet Simeon. Why not follow a classroom discussion about the Feast of Candlemas with lessons related to … candles?

  • “There is no better, there is no more open door by which you can enter into the study of natural philosophy, than by considering the physical phenomena of a candle,” said Michael Faraday. The famed chemist and physicist’s lectures on “The Chemical History of a Candle” are summarized in this tale of a candle “from raw materials to festive combustion.”
  • Lift your students out of the January doldrums – and test their observation skills – with an entertaining and instructive demonstration highlighted by the eating of a candle by the teacher. The study of quantitative and qualitative data has never been so much fun.
  • For interesting facts about the use of votive candles, see this article by Fr. William Saunders.
  • Consider extending your lesson on candles into an English class focused on word derivatives. Are there any students in your class named Chandler? Chandler is an occupational name for someone who makes candles, and although an actual candle-maker would be hard to find in our high-tech culture, the name Chandler is not uncommon as a given name. Chandler is derived from the Latin “candelarius,” which comes from the Latin word “candela,” meaning “candle.” Which other names of students can be traced back to Latin or Greek roots?

Keep It Simple!

“Take back your Sundays.” That’s a tagline with special appeal for Catholic school teachers, and one that seems appropriate enough for Kiddom, a digital platform that provides teachers and students with the tools they need to work together. Kiddom allows students to quickly access all of their papers, videos, quizzes, and practice worksheets, as well as submit assignments and track their progress. It enables teachers to give homework, provide feedback, monitor test grades and other assessments, and enjoy access to a free library of teaching resources. With its tools supporting “personalized learning,” Kiddom is taking K-12 classrooms by storm … so that you can take back your Sundays.

Budget-Friendly Resources

Isn’t it great when you come across a worthwhile resource that doesn’t batter your budget? “Kaboom!” is one of those resources. “Possibly the best center game ever,” Kaboom! “isn’t hard to make, [and] can be used anywhere in my curriculum,” says second-grade teacher Jillian Starr, who blogs at The Starr Spangled Planner. A batch of popsicle sticks and your choice of “attachables” are all that’s needed to help your students master skills in math, science, social studies, and literacy. Check out Jillian’s how-to on her engaging blog, and let her know how Kaboom! works for your class.

A Classic for Your Class

There’s classic and then there’s classic. The epic poem “Beowulf” is an example of the former. The characteristic apathy of students during the winter months is an example of the latter. Try animating your students with a bit of animation. The 3,182-line poem Beowulf is rendered in a 27-minute video that is true to the original Old English work. It will give your students a literary shot in the arm.

Smart Seating for Your Classroom

“There has been considerable research on the benefits of students being able to move around for their health and fitness — and suggestions that it helps their brains too.” – Jim Paterson, Education World

Flexible seating in the classroom incorporates couches, mats, and student-friendly alternatives to rigid school desks. It allows students to move furniture to suit their needs, and accommodates different individual preferences regarding height and work positions. In “Flexible Seating: How to Fund and Implement it in Your Classroom,” Teaching to Love blogger Shannon offers a primer for teachers who are considering flexible seating for their classrooms. She lists “free, moderate, and higher priced seating options” (including several inexpensive pieces that would make great additions to a family room)! For the big-ticket items, Shannon gives practical tips on how to find funding, and she even provides a solicitation letter that can be personalized and sent home to parents. Having hit some bumps on the way to her flexibly-seated classroom, Shannon is able to share about both the things that did work and those that did not. Her overall assessment of the flexible seating plan? Shannon says that “Focus and productivity have skyrocketed, and students … take their learning more seriously, have a better understanding of what works best for them, and are able to engage in tasks longer.”

Month of the Holy Name

January is the month dedicated to the Holy Name of Jesus. Help your younger students to familiarize themselves with some of Jesus’ names with a printable Names of Jesus word search and a Most Holy Name of Jesus coloring page.

Celeste Behe is a blogger, speaker, and ardent Toastmaster. She lives in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, with her husband Mike and eight of their nine children.