Year-end activities for religious education classes are a time for children to showcase what they learned in the past year. Teachers should make the activities fun and get all children involved. Regardless if students go to religious classes as part of Sunday school or go to parochial school, these ideas work for just about anyone.
A year end Mass is a nice way to close out the year with students serving in every capacity. Students can serve as lectors, musicians, cantors, choir members, altar servers and gift bearers. They can also welcome the congregation into Mass by handing out bulletins, song sheets and working as ushers. Teachers should also coordinate with the priest to make sure the Mass readings and sermon focus directly on the children. Instead of giving money for the collection basket, children can bring food to donate to a food pantry or soup kitchen.
Many parts of the country have monasteries, basilicas and cathedrals, which are centers for the religious in the community. A field trip can introduce children to priests, brothers and nuns who work daily in the life of Christ. These places also contain vast resources and are usually accommodating to children's programs. Teachers can also research who the religious places are connected to (such as a saint or a Pope) to see if the class studied that person during the year. If the budget doesn't allow for a long (or far) trip, a neighboring parish might have a unique religious collection of some kind that might be of value or interest to the students.
During the last weeks of religious classes, students can pick themes, saints or other Catholic figures and traditions they studied. Students can create watercolors, posters, banners or photographic collages depicting their religious instruction. Children should stand at their particular piece of artwork and explain to the invited guests how they created the art and what it means, showing everyone what they learned. The art gallery should be something outside of the classroom setting; making it a special event and making the children feel special. Using easels, tablecloths and special lighting can all add to the occasion.
Day of service
Dedicating a day of service to a local homeless shelter, senior citizen center, food bank, community garden or other group that needs help allows students to demonstrate their Catholic identity to help those who cannot help themselves. Regardless of age, children can help in just about any way. Younger children can do craft projects with senior citizens and older children can serve food at a soup kitchen. Pulling weeds or clearing out flower beds on the church grounds or painting the food pantry are all ways to give back.
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