Because the sacraments are so central to Catholic liturgical practice, a solid understanding the purpose and practice of each is important to your students' religious education. A few simple activities can help you provide them with a clear outline of each sacrament's identity.
The Sacraments Through Your Life
To help your students understand how the sacraments are woven into the fabric of their lives, you can set up a timeline showing the purpose of each sacrament. This is a great activity if you have a large space to work with. Set up seven stations around the edge of your teaching space. At each station, place a sign with the name of the sacrament and a few images of the sacrament taking place, plus the materials used during the sacrament -- such as a picture of vestments for holy orders or rings for matrimony. Arrange these stations in the order they may come up in your students' lives: Begin with baptism and end with anointing of the sick. During your class, lead your students around the stations, and explain what each sacrament's purpose is and how it relates to them growing older and closer to God.
You can help your students study the sacraments with this spin on a classic memory game that challenges them to match the practice of each sacrament with its name. Before class, print out an image that shows each sacrament in action. Cut out 14 squares of paper. Glue the images of the sacraments to seven of the squares, and write the names on the other seven squares. During class, shuffle the 14 squares and lay them face down on the table. Have your students take turns turning two of the squares face up. If they match the sacrament with its image, remove those squares and congratulate them and explain what is occurring in the image, just in case other students have not made the connection. If there is not a match, turn the cards face down, and move on to the next student. Continue playing until all the sacraments have been matched and explained.
One way to engage your students in learning facts about the sacraments is to challenge them with a game of sacrament trivia. Before class, create a list of questions about the sacraments. Construct questions that describe a practice of a sacrament and ask which sacrament contains that practice. Create roughly the same amount of questions for each sacrament. If you want, you can set this activity up as a game of Jeopardy! and have your students respond with questions that match the answers given about the sacraments. For example, Q: In this sacrament, the priest uses oil blessed by the bishop during Holy Week. A: What is the anointing of the sick? You can provide questions with different levels of difficulty to challenge your students and help them learn less commonly known facts about the sacraments.
Symbols of the Sacraments
This is a fun activity to let your students review what they've learned about the sacraments.Toward the end of your class, hand each of your students a sheet of paper with seven boxes on it, one box labeled with the name of each of the sacraments. Instruct your students to draw a symbol of each of the sacraments, or a picture of it taking place, in the appropriate box. If your students have trouble thinking of an image, you can suggest some things that are associated with each: for instance, the bread and wine for the Eucharist, a shell or a font for baptism, or a couple being married for matrimony. Once your students are done, they'll have a visual reminder of the purpose of each sacrament that they can take home.
- Laura Beth Drilling/Demand Media