Classroom Notes: 2015-2016

Friendship

Always Say A PrayerThe last class we are highlighting to finish our 2015/2016 year is our 7th and 8th graders. Their last class focused on friendship. What do you look for in a friend? What does a “good friend” mean to you? Some characteristics the kids shared were trustworthy, honest, loyal, sense of humor, good listener, and dependable. Seems they have the right idea. Respect for each other and ourselves was also discussed. We all want to be respected, and for that to happen, we need to respect others.

Prayer was also something the class talked about. Where do you like to pray? Do you pray alone or with family or friends? Do you just pray on Sunday at church? You would be delighted to learn that our children are praying. They pray alone, they pray as a family, and they pray with our St. Therese community on Sundays. These teen years can be hard for them and can difficult for families as they are trying to find their way in the world. Their wonderful catechists, Jim and Barb, has shared with them their experiences and understanding of faith. They gave each of the kids a small gift as this is their last year with them. We are truly blessed to have these teenagers and our catechists’ among us at St. Therese.

Our 2nd/3rd Grade Class-“The Fabulous Five”
The class with our 2nd and 3rd graders is always a busy one. They are a party of five, with three of them preparing for the Sacrament of the Eucharist in the next coming weeks. Those three are doing double duty having 1st Communion preparation with our wonderful Catechist, Ms. Christine, and then keeping up with their assignment responsibilities in their regular class with another wonderful Catechist, Sister Marilyn. We should all be very proud of the hard work our three young parishioners and their families shared to celebrate the Eucharist with the Parish.

Our other two students, who celebrated their 1st Communion with us last spring, are also busy with a special project. The have created a small storyboard of the story of Moses. In order to complete this, they needed to hear and understand the story. Some highlights they touched on, were God speaking to Moses through the burning bush and telling him to go back to Egypt to free the Hebrews, the plagues God sent upon Egypt, the Exodus Moses led, and the 10 Commandments God gave Moses and his people. They were excited and drawn into the storyboard. There were a few weeks where they didn’t want to leave class because they wanted to finish. It certainly says something about our Catechists and what the children are learning. The story of Moses is a powerful one of trust, belief, and God’s love for us. It is our spiritual history that is still teaching and engaging our children today.

Gone Fishin’
Gone Fishin'The kindergarten/1st graders are a busy group! They start with prayer, talk about the Gospel, sing and stretch (to get all the wiggles and giggles out), go over their lesson, and complete a craft that goes along with it.

Just a few Sundays ago, before Lent began, the children were talking about what it meant to be included with friends and also what it felt like to be left out. This emphasized how we should treat others and how we want to be treated. For example, they talked about being invited to a birthday party. Getting an invitation makes us feel happy, excited, and included in a group. But when we don’t get an invitation, we feel sad and left out. Everyone is included with Jesus. He is ALWAYS our friend. We should follow his example.

We finished with making a mobile that reflected the Gospel lesson that day. It depicted Jesus with his friends catching all those fish in the net. How could they have caught all those fish? Easy-they simply believed in Jesus, their friend! We are called to do the same!

The Year of Mercy

Class CovenantIt was my privilege to sit in with our 4th, 5th, and 6th graders for their class on January 17th. They briefly summarized what they were talking about the previous week, asking questions or stories from older generations to gain insight and knowledge of history, both in the greater world or just within their own families. Talking with a grandparent or great grandparent might help them to better understand and maybe help with perspectives now.

Then we talked about the Gospel of Luke. We learned how this Gospel differed from the others by introducing us to stories of Mary and Elizabeth. Luke also wrote about how the poor and disadvantaged were to be embraced, just as Jesus did. That led us to talk about 2016 as declared by Pope Francis as “The Year of Mercy”. What does “mercy” mean and what can we do to follow this declaration? Just because the children are young doesn’t mean they are powerless to create and demonstrate change. We talked about things they could do at school to stand up to bullies and be better friends. We talked about things they could do in the community to help, like donating old clothes or toys to a homeless shelter or food at the grocery store in those large bins. Making thank you cards for our Veterans who are away from home or maybe just visiting with an older family member who doesn’t get a lot of company.

In the beginning of our school year the kids created a “Class Covenant” which they all signed. This included just four simple guidelines: one person speak at a time, raise your hand to talk, be respectful, and bring materials to class. I’ve sat in with this class before and they do follow the guidelines they created. For them, it makes the class more productive and open for discussion.

Happy Birthday Jesus!

Birthday Cards for JesusIt was the birthday party of the year that our youngest parish members were celebrating at our last class of 2015. They were told how Mary and Joseph traveled on a donkey to Bethlehem and ended up in a cave surrounded by animals. Jesus was born in a manager and a star guided the three Kings to him. The children made birthday cards for Jesus and shared in a pretend birthday cake for him. It was wonderful to see how excited they were for Christmas to come and how they were waiting for presents. Celebrating Jesus’s birthday is the simplest of ways to show our children how Jesus relates to them. They have a birthday, Jesus has a birthday. Our children are gifts and so is Jesus.

Let’s start at the beginning…..

Sign of the CrossThe first semester of our religious education classes began on September 13th. Our youngest parishioners, in the pre-school class, are beginning to learn more about their faith journey, with their first prayer, the Sign of the Cross. The sign of the cross is closely tied to living our baptismal call and sharing our faith with others. Jesus told the apostles, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and
of the Holy Spirit” (Mt 28:19).

Looking back, do you remember when you were taught the Sign the Cross? When you are at the age of 3, 4, or even 5 this can be challenging at times. Especially when we don’t even know which is the right hand and which is our left. But through practice, practice, practice we eventually got it and they will too. Perhaps this is the best time to begin the practice of a nightly prayer before bed as well, or letting your young one tell you what they were thankful for that day. Jesus is with us every day, not just on Sunday.