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Check out our favorite Christian Education (and related) materials.

Featured Resources for Holy Week and Pascha

1: Journey through Holy Week

http://www.goarch.org/archdiocese/departments/religioused/zines/holyweekzine

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.

Feed your Spiritual Hunger with Easy Bible Studies!

Fr. Lawrence Farley, Coffee Cup Commentaries

Have you ever wanted to read scripture, but didn’t know where to start? Begin with a cup of coffee and your Bible. Go to your computer and log on to Ancient Faith Radio and go to Podcasts where you’ll find the Coffee Cup Commentaries. Father Lawrence is presently in the book of Acts of the Apostles. Listen and follow along as he reads and upacks a small portion of scripture each weekday with something interesting to be learned each time. Allow about 10 minutes each day to grow closer to God and the Church.


Dr. Jeannie Constantinou, Search the Scriptures

A second choice for Bible Study is offered by Presbytera Eugenia Constantinou. She offers an introduction to the Bible in Search The Scriptures, and is presently in the Old Testament book of Judges. Going back through her archives will allow you to find the books before Judges so that you can access information on the books of the Bible that she has already addressed. She does a fine job of teaching just enough, and clearly, on the Old Testament. Knowing the people and the stories of the Old Testament will open your eyes to why Jesus is indeed the Messiah, or “Christ.”

Extensive Online Resource Guide for Teachers Available

Don't miss our Online Resources guide for Orthodox Christian Education, available HERE.

Listed are numerous programs from helpful general websites to camping programs to online lesson plans and craft ideas.

“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.

Department of Marriage and Parish Family Ministries Announces Two New Brochures

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.

Crafts, Games, and Activities

Bible Activities

1. Discovering Biblical Meaning in Liturgical Verses – 13 pages of verses and scriptural references

during the services of Nativity 

2. Examining the Nativity of the Theotokos – through hymnography and iconography and Scripture.

For To Us A Child Is Born

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.

Heaven on Earth: Divine Liturgy

Heaven and earth meet in the Church through the Divine Liturgy. The newest full-color zine from the Greek Department of Religious Education begins with a brief history of worship in the Orthodox Church and then details each section of the Divine Liturgy.

A Visual Catechism of the Orthodox Church

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.

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.

Vacation Church School

1. The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese has published the first of three VCS programs: The Twelve Great Feastdays, available only in print. It is designed for five half-day sessions for ages 5-11, but includes suggestions for adapting it to different schedules and ages. It is available for purchase at 800-566-1088. 

2. The Hub describes many details, such as choosing a theme, daily schedule, choir rehearsal, and more.

Answering Christ's Call to Love Your Neighbor (Project Mexico)

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.

Please click here to order Project Mexico curriculum materials.

Mini Units

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.  

FOCUS Units

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.

 

Living in an Orthodox World (Fr. Michael Shanbour)

Youthful energy and theological soundness adorn this disc by former KERYGMA member, Fr. Michael Shanbour. Each song, directly or indirectly, focuses in on a liturgical service or theme in a way that is simple, singable, memorable, and educational. Some songs incorporate portions of prayers, hymnography and melodies from the liturgical services in order to implant a familiarity with and desire for the services of the Church. Features a choir of well-tuned young singers!

JOY (Junior Orthodox Youth) Club

These pre-teen clubs focus on fellowship, instruction, community service projects, arts and crafts, etc.


Volume 1 of the JOY curriculum can be ordered from Orthodox Marketplace


Volume 2 of the curriculum can be downloaded from the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese.

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.

 

Drama

Here are some plays that are heavier on narration than on dialogue, which is easier for young children. Older students may enjoy the book (#4), which has more dialogue/memorizing lines.

1. The Trial of Jesus – an enactment of Jesus’ trial; includes two scenes and narration. Role-playing like

this could be easily adapted for any topic. 

2. A collection of plays written and produced by local parishes.

3. Christmas plays (click on Resources – Christmas Plays)

4. Playing It up for Christmas – a book of 5 Christmas plays.

 

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.

Saint Anthony the Great, Angel of the Desert

The book, with its beautiful illustrations, depicts the life of Saint Anthony. St. Anthony is often referred to as the “father of monastics” as he sought time in the desert on his journey towards asceticism and humility. It would be enjoyed by older children (12 and up) who want to explore the difficulties and temptations that even our holy fathers have faced. Older children would also be less likely to stumble on the unfamiliar style of open verse, and the oftenchanging point of view. The book demonstrates why Saint Anthony is recognized as an important leader of the church. Available from www.orthodoxpage.com, and www.orthodoxpress.org.

Translated from the Greek by Thomas Arnis. Published by Etoimasia Publications.

Reviewed by Carol Federoff

Hear Me

Thea: I loved the book Hear Me! I like the section where the author gives her own advice on pressures and questions most teens face. My favorite part is the “Guide to Confession” in which the author goes over all the commandments God has given us and lists a bunch of things that have to do with that commandment. It helps you figure out things that you might forget to say at confession. It’s an awesome book you can use every day.

Aislinn: This book not only contains prayers that are included in most Orthodox prayer books, such as morning and evening prayers, but it also contains a section on saints and what you can pray to them for. Another interesting part of this book is toward the end – a question-and-answer section about the church and life, with issues that teens frequently wonder about but are not quite sure who to ask. I think that this book is appropriate for pre-teens and teens. Available from Ancient Faith Publishing.

Compiled and edited by Annalisa Boyd. Reviewed by middle schoolers Aislinn Alexander and Thea Federoff.

Saint Catherine

In selecting a picture book to share with an audience of children, my first criterion is that the pictures should invite me in – make me want to turn the pages. In this respect the Potamitis’s book far exceeded my standards, with its stunningly beautiful full-color iconographic-style illustrations on every page. I welcomed the opportunity to sit down with my 8-year-old son recently to read this story aloud. In short, the book tells the story of St. Catherine’s life, beginning with her childhood and conversion to Christ as a young adult, and continuing with her challenge to the cruel and hard-hearted ruler of Egypt, Maximinus, God’s preservation of her through many tortures, and finally ending with her martyrdom. I noticed my two older sons, ages 12 and 15, joined us somewhere during the story and by the end even they were obviously impressed with this heroine. I’d highly recommend this title as an excellent resource for families and teachers to share with young people ages 5 and up. Available from wwworthodoxchildrensbooks.com.

By Dionysios and Egle-Ekaterine Potamitis. Illustrated by Egle-Ekaterine Potamitis.

Reviewed by Mrs. Barli Brown.

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