Especially for Teachers
We've selected content from the Christian Education pages that is of special interest to Church School teachers.
by Phyllis Meshel Onest, M.Div.
The summer will be upon us soon and I'm sure we're thinking about vacations, relaxing, fewer or no car pools, lots of sunshine (very important for those of us in Ohio and other parts of the Midwest), a slower lifestyle, ball games, visits to the zoo and amusement parks, short trips to places of interest, working around the house, gardening, summer sports leagues, and more.
It seems to me that regardless of the time of year, we all have much for which to thank God, and as His creations, we need to worship our Creator. As you begin to fill the calendar with activities, try not to let Sunday Liturgies fall by the wayside! For those whose parishes conduct Church School during Liturgy, this is the time to help our children learn to worship and reinforce what was learned "about" worship in class. For all of us summer should be less stressful which should, in turn, enhance our participation in Liturgy. Some parishes even go to earlier "summer hours" so that families can have more of the day for summer fun. This is also a good time to visit nearby sister Orthodox parishes.
With this zine, students develop the attitudes and confidence needed to light their path with the lamp of Scripture. They can then access God’s message to the world by asking how each reading relates to them: “What does this text say about Christ, and how does it apply to my life?”
The zine explores general motivations for and goals of Bible study. It then suggests study habits and methods, and explains various formats and translations of the Bible. The zine introduces the Old and New Testaments, the kinds of books they contain, and how the books came to be there.
1: Journey through Holy Week
Follow Christ and the Church through each stage of Holy Week—from the Saturday of Lazarus to the Agape Vespers service—with this new full-color guide from the Department of Religious Education. In the zine-style booklet, author Stephania Gianulis pinpoints the relevance and meanings of the services, hymns, and scripture readings. Special features on each page illuminate icons, traditions, and history.
New! The Sunday Gospel Program, “Let Us Attend,” now includes a Reader Theatre page! The page provides the gospel as a script for reading aloud the different parts. Taking the parts of Jesus, the disciples, the crowd, the women disciples allows the students to come closer to experiencing the presence of Jesus. The goal is for the students to get to know Jesus Christ through the gospel. Although they hear the gospel in the Divine Liturgy, it is chanted in a continuous rhythm, unlike what occurred in reality.
Here is how to use this resource. 1) Let the children read through it once silently; 2) discuss the various feelings of the characters and how they would have spoken the words they did; 3) assign the parts and read aloud; 4) discuss how they felt about Jesus’ words—did they get a different idea of Jesus from this passage?
No doubt Jesus would have paused before answering certain questions. Those who addressed Jesus undoubtedly were taken aback at some of his responses. For the older students, add three components. 1) talk about where Jesus would have paused before answering, and where the crowd would have been silent in amazement, 2) use the footnotes of the gospel to enhance their understanding of Jesus, and 3) look at the gospel passage just before the reading to find other hints as to why Jesus said/did the words/actions of the day’s gospel.
In conjunction with Conciliar Press, the Antiochian Department of Marriage and Parish Family MInistries has released two much-requested brochures for Orthodox Christians. "Crowned with Glory and Honor," a free, downloadable brochure, presents readers with a set of helpful guidelines for Orthodox marriage preparation, including such concepts as the meaning of crowning, and the purpose of the Betrothal Service. Readers will even learn about the wedding almonds: "The white coating symbolizes purity; the egg shape represents fertility and new life that begins in marriage. The hardness of the almond represents the endurance of marriage, and the sweetness of the sugar encourages the hope of the sweetness of future life together. Giving of three almonds signifies the union is indivisible, just as the bride and groom will remain undivided in their union with each other and with Christ."
The second brochure, "A Guide to Parish Etiquette," lists everything parishioners need to know about respectful and reverent behavior while in liturgy. Department Director Khouria Maggie Hock encourages all parishes, couples and families to make use of these valuable, free resources.
The Antiochian Department of Christian Education partners with the Orthodox Christian Education Commission to prepare curriculum materials for all ages. Preview the materials below, and then order from the Antiochian Archdiocese Bookstore (the best price for many items) or from OCEC's online catalog.
"Knowing Your Faith" is presented as a series of PDF files, from Kindergarten through Grade 5. Each grade includes content for parents, teachers, and students.
Phyllis Meshel Onest, M.Div., the Director of Religious Education for the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Pittsburgh, has compiled an exhaustive resource list for both church school and home use at www.phyllisonest.com.
- Sources of books, icons, tapes, magazines
- Home Schooling Resources
- Websites at Your Fingertips
- Church School Director Resources
- Church School Teacher's Notebook
- Great Lessons Need These….!
- Jr. & Sr. High Resources
- Parents & Families Resources
- Pre-School Resources
- Small Church School Resources
Unwrap the story of Christ’s birth to reveal the fullness of the Incarnation behind the “Christmas story” of pageants. This full-color zine from the Greek Department of Religious Education begins with the Annunciation and then follows the seasonal calendar through the Nativity, Theophany and the Presentation of the Lord. The text unpacks the meaning of the Incarnation through icons, scripture readings and hymns for each feast.
Special features on each page illuminate traditions (such as the Vasilopita and home blessings) and lives of saints involved in the celebration.
Suitable for ages 12 and up—for use in the classroom, during retreats or at home.
The book provides the basic tenets of Orthodoxy from creation to the Church in 58 pages each with a sentence and full-color illustration. The second part of the book gives a fuller analysis of the 58 statements, and is suitable for adult classes. The book is a handy general resource and has been used with children who have had no prior classroom introduction to the faith to help them "catch-up" with their classmates. Available from the Antiochian Bookstore or from ArchangelsBooks.com.
There are 80 cards, 8 1/2" x 11" in size. Each card features a full-color photograph on the front. The text and suggested activities printed on the reverse sides of the cards provide simple explanations of each picture and are meant as guidelines to encourage further study. The cards break up into four clearly defined sets: Sacraments, Feast Days & Services, Great Lent & Pascha, and Divine Liturgy. Packaged in its own colorful storage box, the Teaching Pictures will be useful for all grades of the curriculum. Order from the Antiochian Bookstore.
These are useful for framing when the feastdays are celebrated, and are a valuable supplement to any educational effort. The subjects include Christ, the Mother of God, saints, and major feasts of the Church year. An accompanying instructional booklet includes explanations of the theology of the icons and the spirituality expressed in each icon. The most complete and accessible icon collection for popular use. A bi-lingual edition, Vengan y alaben al Senor, includes a booklet in Spanish with the English commentary printed on the back of the icon prints.
If you are looking for a fun, hands-on way to teach young people about the importance of doing acts of charity, Project Mexico has developed a three-lesson Church School Curriculum that is available at no cost. The three lessons give students an opportunity to examine what it means to be poor, hear what Christ instructed us to do for those in need, learn about Project Mexico's ministry to the poor and orphaned of Mexico.
FREE DOWNLOAD! Modules of 1-2 lessons for 3-4 different age groups. Some of the lessons are based on the Orthodox Church in America’s Youth theme of the year, such as Champions of the Faith. Other topics are suitable for seasonable emphases such as stewardship, charity, and missions, and may work for retreat settings.
FREE DOWNLOAD! FOCUS is a series of modules of 5-6 lessons for 5 different age groups. Topics covered are the Journey to Pascha, the growth of Orthodox Christianity in North America, the Theotokos, and the Nativity season.
FREE DOWNLOAD! Although each Christian generation has its own unique challenges there were those followers of Christ – in various times and places – who suffered extraordinarily for the Faith. They gave their lives completely through sacrificial service or in death, " for the sake of Christ and the Gospel." Saints in Times of Trouble bears witness to twelve such disciples.
FREE DOWNLOAD! The North American Saints Activity Book is the first in a series of online resources from the Department of Christian Education of the Orthodox Church in America. It offers biographical information about twelve saints whose lives and witness built up the Church in America.
In addition there are striking black and white drawings of each saint, based on their icons, and an array of puzzle activities which will give students a challenging and enjoyable way to learn more about each one. A special feature of the book is a map for each saint, tracing the path of his travels and witness.
The Saint of the Day, from Ancient Faith Radio, briefly tells the story of one of our venerable Saints we are commemorating for each day. It is heard eight times daily Monday—Friday, and is also available as a podcast. Our reader is a professional actor and an ordained Deacon in the Orthodox Church, Dn. Jerome Atherholt. Our source is www.abbamoses.com.
What was it that Jesus said to the disciples on the road to Emmaus after his resurrection, that opened their eyes to his true identity as the awaited Messiah? In this series of news articles written during the time of Jesus, the Scribe, the scripture scholar, beings to see relationships with the past for Jesus words and actions.
At their Orthodox Kids Corner website, Potamitis Publishing offers hundreds of free coloring pages (including icons), dot-to-dots, mazes, puzzles, and other activities, available for free download for personal and Sunday Church School use. You can also send e-cards. NOTE: you'll need to set up a log-in to access the Kids Corner.