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Especially for Teachers

We've selected content from the Christian Education pages that is of special interest to Church School teachers.

Saints of Recent Decades: An Introduction

In our forthcoming blog posts, we will be focusing our attention on saints who have lived in recent decades. (We will use the term "recent" somewhat loosely, as some of them lived more than a hundred years ago, which most children consider to be very, very old.) Our intent is to provide a resource for you that can be used to introduce your Sunday Church School students to saints who they can see in icons but also (at least in most cases) in actual photographs as well. Seeing the photos can help the children to better grasp the reality of the saints' existence, that they are real people who actually lived and struggled just like we do to live an Orthodox Christian life. It is our goal that along the way, all of us will "meet" new friends as we learn about these saints who have walked the earth more recently.

The Feast of the Transfiguration of Christ

The Feast of the Transfiguration of Christ (commemorated on August 6 or 19) is an important one for Orthodox Christians to celebrate! After all, the Transfiguration was a revelation of the Holy Trinity (God the Father spoke, Christ was there, of course, and the Holy Spirit was revealed in the form of a cloud). Also, at the Transfiguration, Christ's radiance was physically seen by the disciples so that they could better realize His Divinity. In addition, Moses and Elijah were present, showing the disciples that in Christ the law and the prophecies are fulfilled. And so it was that on Mt. Tabor, God allowed the disciples to have their own "mountaintop" experience, just as Moses (Mt. Sinai) and Elijah (Mt. Horeb) had during their life on earth.

Since this Feast is important, we need to learn about it ourselves, help our children know about it, and together celebrate the Feast! Transfiguration is a difficult concept for anyone to grasp, but especially so for children. How can we help our children learn what it was like for the disciples to see Our Lord's Transfiguration on Mt. Tabor? Our Lord did not slip into a hidden wardrobe and change out of His ordinary clothes into shiny robes, nor did He simply step into a giant spotlight shining down from the sky. Rather, the disciples were simply permitted to physically see some of His Divine Glory shining through. (But not all of it: just "inasmuch as they were able," according to the troparion of the day). So, how can we begin to explain or show the Transfiguration to our children?

Teacher Resources on Pinterest

Are you familiar with the popular content sharing service that allows members to "pin" images, videos and ideas to share on the world's catalog of ideas? It's called Pinterest! If you haven't visited yet, you definitely should! As a teacher, aren't you always looking for new ideas to share with your students and compliment the subject you are covering? The AODCE has made it simple! Visit our pinterest page at www.pinterest.com/aodce for lessons, crafts and resources for all of your lesson planning needs. You'll find information about Saints, Icons, and Feast Days, as well as suggestions for classroom displays, working with children with special needs, and Orthodox family life. If you are already a Pinterest user, follow our boards! If not, joining Pinterest will provide you with a valuable organized resource tool for teaching Orthodoxy to our students!

Two Possible Ways to Teach Church School Students about Ascension

1. Take your students on a hike. Find the highest point of your church's property, and have your class there. (If you are unable to do so, ask your students about the highest place they've ever been. How far could they see? What did they see? Imagine that you have all hiked to that spot together.) When you arrive at that high space, talk about the Ascension. Pretend together that you are the disciples, reunited with your Lord after the difficult time of His death and the joy of His resurrection. How do you feel, having Him in your midst again? If He invited you to the top of the hill like this, would you go with Him? What if He stood in the middle of you and began to talk: would you listen? If He began to tell you He will be leaving, how would you feel? What would you think about? When He suddenly began to float up from the ground and keep rising into the sky, right in front of you, what would you think? (If you are outside, you could demonstrate this with a face "of Christ" drawn on a helium balloon attached a really long string - so you could eventually retrieve it - or with a small plastic toy "Christ" taped to a kite that flies as high as you can get it to go from your picnic spot.) And what if He got so high that He disappeared in the clouds? (If you've done the demonstration mentioned, you will need to retrieve the balloon or kite now, noting that we're not Christ, so we can't do what He did!) Even though we can't actually lift into the sky like that, we can imagine what it must have been like for the disciples left behind! What if, as you were talking about Christ leaving and disappearing in that way, suddenly there were two other men there with you, asking what you're looking for, and telling you that Jesus will come back again someday? How would you react? What would you think? What would you do next?

Pascha Resources for Sunday Church School Teachers

Pascha is the Feast of Feasts! It is a time of the year like no other. That is as it should be, for it is when we celebrate the most important thing that there is to be celebrated: the resurrection of our Lord, and His trampling down death itself by His own death! Let us celebrate accordingly, and find ways that help to communicate to our Sunday Church School students how important this festal celebration is!

We have gathered a few links in case you are looking for additional ways to set this feast apart with your students. We hope that these ideas enhance what you already have planned to do, and to teach them about the celebration. May we all be granted to see His glorious Resurrection once again, and may we help our students to celebrate well alongside us. May the Light of Christ indeed illumine us all!

On The Lord's Prayer: An Introduction

The Lord's Prayer is an integral part of an Orthodox Christian's life. Our Lord Himself taught us to pray this prayer, so we know that it is both important and right for us to pray in this way. We find this prayer in the Holy Scriptures in Luke 11:1-4 and also in Matthew 6:7-14. We pray this prayer daily at home. This prayer is also an important part of our church services. It is important that we teach our children how to pray the Lord's Prayer so that they can participate with the family at home and also with the church family during the Divine services.

But is it enough for the children to learn the words to the prayer? Is it not much more important for them to pray the words with cognizance of their meaning? How can we help our children to understand what they are saying when they pray this wonderful prayer? Over the next few weeks our blog posts will focus on the Lord's Prayer, looking at the prayer piece by piece, and delving into its meaning and importance. We will share quotes from Alexander Schmemann's book, "Our Father," and include ideas of ways to help our children to learn the prayer.

Our goal is to learn to better pray the Lord's Prayer, and to help our children to do so as well.

To learn more, follow our blog at orthodoxchurchschoolteachers.wordpress.com or on facebook at www.facebook.com/orthodoxchristiansundaychurchschoolteachers.

Scripture Journaling

In our last few blogs, we have looked at the importance of memorizing the Scriptures and helping our Sunday Church School students to do the same. This blog post will offer another way to meditate on (and even memorize) the Scriptures: Scripture journaling. As you maintain a Scripture journal, you meditate on and/or memorize the Scriptures by creating an artistic illustration of a different Scripture passage on each page of the journal. There are many ways to do so, and you do not need to be an artist to create a Scripture journal. If you can write or if you can doodle, you can create one of these journals. Even young students can make a Scripture journal! It is a fun, creative way to delve into the scriptures, and can add an artistic dimension to your Sunday Church School classes.

You will need a blank journal for each student. You will also need pens, pencils, markers, crayons, colored pencils, watercolors; whatever art supplies you wish to work with in the journals. (Note: remember that if you plan to use markers or watercolors in the journaling, you will want to provide each student with a journal with thick pages so that the colors do not bleed through to the next page. It is also important to place extra paper behind each page as you work, to absorb any possible bleed­through.)

Click here to read more (PDF)!

Why Do We Have Our Homes Blessed?

by Phyllis Meshel Onest, M.Div.

Begin Everything with Prayer

Since we are reminded in Scripture to begin whatever we do with prayer, it has been the practice of Orthodox Christians for centuries to have new dwellings blessed either before or just after settling in. This has been extended to one's business or office, and even college dorm rooms. "The service performed by the priest to bless the new dwelling is somewhat similar to the consecration of a church [in the Russian practice] in that holy water, holy oil, and incense are used and a lesson from the holy Gospel is read. All the rooms of the house are sprinkled with holy water and each of the four outer walls are anointed with the sign of the Cross with holy oil, a candle placed before them, and after the censing of the house, the lesson from the Holy Gospel is read [in Greek practice the service of the Small Blessing of Waters is generally done]. At the conclusion of the blessing, the inhabitants are blessed with holy water: the husband first, followed by the wife and then the children - the oldest first. Relatives and friends present are then blessed." (Marriage and the Christian Home, by Rev. Michael B. Henning, p.24.)

GOA Zines

Did you know?? The Greek Orthodox Department of Religious Education has a line of resources for teaching junior high and high school students. Called "zines" (from magazine), each one explores one topic of the Orthodox Christian Faith in easy-to-read bites of information and accompanying images, with many interactive elements, such as questions for reflection or things to look up in the Bible. The zines are not grade-specific, but work at a middle school / junior high (grades 5–9) or senior high (grades 10–12) level.

One of the newest Zine's The Church: we are one in Christ, is a colorful and energetic exploration of the Church, the Body of Christ, a community united in Him, which we enter into through Baptism. It outlines its formation and development from Apostolic times to the present day, explores its worship and describes its various manifestations in our world.

You can find the GOA Dept. of Religious Education catalog at www.goarch.org/archdiocese/departments/religioused/drecatalog2015-16. You can find the Zine's on page 5 of the catalog. An order form can be found at that link as well.

Online Resource List for Parents and Teachers

The Antiochian Orthodox Department of Christian Education uses the internet extensively when planning curricula, projects and when searching for ideas and resources for our online ministry. A completely new listing of resources has been compiled by Kristina Wenger from her work with AODCE social ministry. Find the Online Resource List for Parents and Teachers under Resources.

Gleanings from a Book: “The Sign of the Cross” by Andreas Andreopoulos

A few weeks ago in this blog1 we discussed the Cross of Christ. Now we have just come through Holy Week and Pascha. As a result, the Cross is in the forefront of our thoughts. We at the Antiochian Orthodox Department of Christian Education decided that this would be an appropriate time to take a look at this book. The Sign of the Cross talks about the sign which we use every day. The sign of the cross is a very practical way in which the Cross is present in our daily lives as Orthodox Christians.

Dr. Andreas Andreopoulos' book The Sign of the Cross is an excellent read for any Orthodox Christian. There are so many reasons the cross is significant to our faith, so many grounds for making the sign of the cross, and so many things we are saying by making that sign. Parents and teachers who have children asking questions about the sign of the cross will especially benefit from reading this book, as it will give them a myriad of answers to those questions!

Dr. Andreopoulos addresses the sign of the cross from many different angles in his book. He looks first at experiencing the sign of the cross; then at the history of the sign; he then addresses why we as people even need symbols and signs; he touches on how the sign of the cross is a prayer; and he finishes with the cosmic significance of the cross. Although the book is only five chapters long, each chapter is full of information and causes the reader to think deeply about the sign of the cross. The reader comes away from the book with a deeper appreciation for this sign.

Missing Out on God

by Kristina Wenger

Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal (Mt. 6:19)

In this age in the United States of America (and, indeed, throughout the world), the acquisition of "stuff" is what many people embrace as their goal for life. With the forthcoming holiday season, the fight-to-convince-everyone-to-acquire-more-stuff will be intensifying all around us. But is more stuff really what we or the children in our care (such as our Church School students) need?

Preparing to Do Our Best for the Children We Teach

by Kristina Wenger, M.A.
Staff Assistant for Internet Ministry to Teachers

As a new school year approaches, it is good for us teachers to think about how to improve our teaching methods so that we can be more effective. One way in which we can become better teachers is to sharpen our preparation for each class that we teach. Thinking through our lessons ahead of time, planning them, writing them out (or at least jotting down notes), and trying out activities or crafts before we do them with students are all ways in which we can improve our preparation and thereby become better teachers.

Curriculum from Orthodox Christian Education Commission

The Antiochian Department of Christian Education partners with the Orthodox Christian Education Commission to prepare curriculum materials for all ages. Preview the materials in the catalog, and then order from the Antiochian Archdiocese Bookstore (the best price for many items) or  from OCEC's online catalog

“Let Us Attend” Now Includes a Reader Theatre Page!

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.

Knowing Your Faith: Educational Standards for OCEC Curriculum

"Knowing Your Faith" is a program designed to work with the OCEC textbooks from grades K through 5. A minimum number of prayers, icons and content questions have been chosen from each text for the children to know. With repetition, these objectives can be met and progress can be made in the religious education of our youth. Parent and teacher letters, and teacher aids are included.

Learning Opportunities for Middle and High School

We've put together a comprehensive guide of many curriculum options for those who work with teens.

Download PDF Format

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Teaching Pics: A Resource for All Ages

Published by the Orthodox Christian Education Commission (OCEC), Teaching Pics is a resource consisting of 80 cards, 8 1/2" x 11" in size. The cards highlight visually four aspects of Orthodox Christianity, 1) Sacraments, 2) Feast Days and Services, 3) Great Lent and Pascha, and 4) the Divine Liturgy. Each features a full-color photograph on one side, with explanatory text, guidelines to encourage further study, and ideas for activities on the reverse. They are easy discussion-starters and great for reviewing units of study, not to mention illustrating lessons. Packaged in its own colorful storage box, Teaching Pics is useful as a tool for exploring Orthodoxy with Preschoolers through Adults. A sample, "Sacraments. Holy Matrimony—Procession," is provided here. On the back of this page is the Table of Contents. The set is available for $35.00. Order from the OCEC, (800) 464-2744.

 

Come Bless the Lord Icon Packet

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.

Saints in Times of Trouble

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.

Saints of North America

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.

 

Oriental Trading Company

Those of us who teach Sunday school to young students often face the dilemma, “What craft can the children do this week??!” A coloring page, of course, can be used as a last resort, but if you’re like me, you prefer using a variety of arts and crafts that are easy, fun, and inexpensive.

Potamitis Publishing

Potamitis Publishing publishes Orthodox children's books, in both English and Greek. Filled with lush and vibrant images, praised by His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew the 1st, these books offer engaging stories that make Orthodox teachings accessible for little ones and adults alike.

 

 

Orthodox Church in America's Department of Christian Education

Visit the Orthodox Church in America's Department of Christian Education website at www.dce.oca.org.

Resources include:

  • Complete (FOCUS) Units. There are five units: Monasticism, Journey to Pascha, The Nativity Season, My Orthodox Family, and The Theotokos. The units consist of of 5-8 lessons written at five levels, preschool-adult.
  • Mini Units. There are 15 multi-leveled units of 1-2 lessons, including Mission, Repentance, and Champions of Faith.
  • Teacher Resources. In this category there are 182 articles, handouts, music, bible stories, tools, and activities.

Children's Bible Reader

Children's Bible Reader

We finally have an Orthodox Children's Bible Reader in full-color, and wonderful quality. The Old Testament selections number 75 and include seven of the stories of redemption heard on Holy Saturday. I was pleased to see these as they form the context for understanding Christ's death and resurrection.

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