CCD, if you're not familiar with the term, stands for Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, and it is usually an after school or Sunday morning class which children attend in order to learn the teachings of the Catholic faith. I am teaching a first grade class of two students on Monday nights this year. Since much of what I am doing in the classroom is inspired by my story time performance habits, and because I like keeping records of my plans, I will be sharing what I do in class here on the blog.
The first class of the year was on September 8th, and I started with the first chapter in our textbook. This lesson is called Jesus is My Friend. (Note: My lessons are planned around the textbook chapters, but I don't always use the actual textbook in class. I also didn't start posting right away, so I am about two weeks behind. I hope to catch up this week and then post about each lesson in the same week that I teach it.)
- Name Tags
Even though there are only two students- one boy, and one girl - I decided the easiest way to ease into our first class was to have them create name tags. I and my aide could easily learn the names of two kids, but creating the name tags also gave me some insight into how well they could write, and how much they like art projects. Their approaches to this project turned out to be decent predictors of both their abilities and interests.
- Decorating Crosses
After they finished their name tags, I allowed the kids to start working on the art project for the day, which was to decorate a cross. Once it was 7:00 (fifteen minutes into class), we put aside our materials to begin our actual lesson. (There are lots of templates for crosses on Pinterest and Google Images.)
- Sign of the Cross
The kids have four prayers they are meant to learn over the course of the year. The textbook starts with the Sign of the Cross, so I have decided to start there as well. We practiced using the correct hand and making the proper motions while saying the corresponding words. Once we had it, we said it all together.
- Our Father
The kids don't yet know this prayer (one knows part of it), but it is the next one they will learn, so I wanted them to start hearing it every week. We will likely begin memorizing it a little piece at a time in a few weeks.
In order to start the kids thinking about friendship, and to prepare them to hear how Jesus can be their friend, I asked them some discussion questions about their own experiences with friendship.
- How do you know when someone is a good friend?
- How do friends treat each other?
- What do friends do together?
- Jesus and the Children
I read the adaptation of Mark 10:13-16 which is provided in the teacher's manual of the textbook. After reading the story, I asked the kids questions (also from the manual)to help them interpret what they had heard. I concluded this segment of the class by pointing out that Jesus shows he is a friend to children by inviting them to come to him.
- We Come to Jesus
There were four sentences in the teacher's manual that explained how we come to Jesus. I turned these into a movement activity, similar to a story time action rhyme.
We come to Jesus when we pray. (Hold hands in prayer position.)
We come to Jesus when we learn about him. (Point to brains.)
We come to Jesus when we go to church. (Make a steeple over head.)
We come to Jesus when we care for others. (Hug self.)
We went through this a few different times. Sometimes I did the motion and asked them to say the words. Other times, I provided the words and asked them to do the gesture. It really worked to reinforce what we were talking about and to get some of the wiggles out after sitting for a while.
- A Moment with Jesus
We were asked during our training session to focus more heavily on prayer this year, so I have made sure to set aside thirty seconds of class time especially for praying silently. I doubt that the kids are praying continuously the whole time, but just practicing being silent will help them get there. To prompt their prayer, I used "A Moment with Jesus," which is a little blurb that appears in each of the textbook chapters. For this lesson, it asked the kids to think about the fact that Jesus is always with us and we can tell him anything.
- Decorating Crosses
At this point in the class, we were way ahead of where I expected us to be. It was hard to budget my time accurately for this first lesson without knowing the kids. We used crayons and gem stickers to finish decorating the crosses we had started at the beginning of class. Thankfully, these kids both like art and they took their time and got really into it.
- Study Guide
This section of the lesson was very impromptu. I had not planned to do any sort of review, but we still had 30 minutes to go, so I took the handout I was sending home with them (a chapter study guide provided by the textbook publisher) and went through it point by point, asking the kids if they learned what was on the sheet. (They pretty much had everything down, so that was great.)
- Lift High the Cross
I played this hymn on the ukulele and asked the kids to lift up their homemade crosses each time they heard the phrase "Lift high the cross." They loved it. Then the parents stopped in and we had a moment to chat. Class ended just 10 minutes before our official stop time of 8:00 p.m.
- Activities to Do at Home
To encourage the parents to review the lesson at home, I plan to send home a study guide and related activity each week. These are week one's take-home handouts: