Using the Theme Throughout the Year 2012-2013
Symbol: Hands (“I will use my hands to help others.”)
Scripture: Matthew 25: 35-46
Icon: The Last Judgment
Song: “The Least of These”
Throughout the Church School Year: Use the logo and symbols on room signs, letterhead, bulletin announcements, bulletin boards and posters, as clip art, crafts, gifts and incentives. Oriental Trading (www.orientaltrading.com) sells “Hand Cutouts” that can be used as bulletin board decorations, name tags, etc. They also have a “Helping Hands for Jesus” keepsake craft kit that can be used as an activity to accompany a lesson on the theme. A poster could be made by using the church school students’ handprints in paint or by tracing their hands and having them write down ways they can use their hands to help others.
Resources and Incentives: Using a chart with each child’s name on it, place a sticker for each thing you are trying to encourage (attendance, being on time, memorization, class participation, attending extra services, participation in a service project, etc.) When this chart is filled up, reward the child with a small (theme-related) gift or use a points system to save up for bigger gifts or outings. For inexpensive gift items check out U.S. Toys (1-800-255-6124) (www.ustoy.com) or Oriental Trading Company (www.orientaltrading.com) Oriental Trading has a “Fun & Faith” 2012 catalog that contains many hand-related items such as “Tokens of Appreciation” (page 10) and a section of teacher resources on The Good Samaritan (page 16).
Lesson Plans: Downloadable lesson plans are provided by AODCE for various grade levels at www.antiochian.org/festivals/cf/lesson-plans-2013.
Theme Day: Plan a day relating to the theme. Have centers or stations for the different Festivals- one for art, photography, poetry, and creative writing. Participate in service projects, hold special collections and donate the proceeds, hold Bible & Icon studies that relate to the theme, and teach the theme song.
Service Projects: Adopt a charitable organization to help throughout the year. Be sure to check out these Orthodox ones- Food for Hungry People, FOCUS North America, Project Mexico, OCMC (Orthodox Christian Mission Center) and IOCC (International Orthodox Christian Charities).
“I was hungry and you gave Me food.”
- Hold a fundraiser and donate the proceeds to “Food for Hungry People.”
- Collect non-perishable food and donate it to a food pantry.
- Volunteer to serve food at a local soup kitchen or shelter.
“I was thirsty and you gave Me drink.”
- Hold a fundraiser and donate the proceeds to the UNICEF Tap Project (www.tapproject.org) or another organization that provides clean drinking water to those in need.
“I was a stranger and you welcomed Me in.”
- Encourage the children and teens to provide a welcoming atmosphere and include new students in their activities whether in church or at school.
- Have the church school students take turns acting as greeters on Sunday.
- Develop a “Welcome Packet” with key information about your parish and its organizations that can be handed out to new visitors. You may also want to include other items such as a prayer card, bookmark, pamphlets, or brochures pertaining to your parish or the Orthodox Faith. Have the students assemble the packets and hand them out to visitors.
“I was naked and you clothed Me.”
- Organize a clothing drive and donate items to a local charity.
- Prior to Christmas, obtain the names of families in need of clothing from a local agency along with the type of clothing needed, the age, size, etc. of the family members and purchase these items as anonymous gifts.
- In the fall and winter, collect warm hats, gloves, and scarves and donate them to a homeless shelter.
“I was sick and you visited Me.”
- Organize a visit to a nursing home. At some point prior to Christmas, make cards for the residents. When the visit takes place, sing Christmas carols to the residents and hand out the cards. In February, Valentines can be made and distributed to the residents when you visit.
- Check with your local hospitals to see if a toy drive might be needed for sick children during the Christmas season. If so, organize a visit and distribute the gifts.
- If you have any parishioners who are in the hospital, plan to visit them. If you have shut-ins in your parish, see if they need anything such as meals. Provide them with these items and do any chores or errands they might need accomplished.
“I was in prison and you came to Me.”
- Pray for those in prison.
- Support Orthodox Christian Prison Ministry (www.theorthodoxprisonministry.org). Hold a fundraiser and donate the proceeds. Visit and minister to any parishioners who may be in prison. Help families of prisoners who may be in need.
- PLEASE NOTE: Any sending of cards or letters to prisoners should be done through an already established organization. Make sure that all students’ activities are well-supervised and they do not give out any personal information or correspond directly with prisoners.
St. Nicholas Day:
- Learn more about the life of this very charitable Bishop Saint. Teach a lesson or read a story about St. Nicholas to the students.
- Present a Christmas program on the life of St. Nicholas.
- Have St. Nicholas pay a visit to your parish. Find a charity in advance that needs donations of children’s toys, such as “Toys for Tots.” Have each child bring a toy to church that day. During the visit, have the child give St. Nicholas the toy and tell him about a good deed he or she has done in the past year. In return, the child will receive chocolate coins from St. Nicholas. All the toys are then donated to the charitable organization.
- Set up a “St. Nicholas Store” for the children to shop for parents, teachers, friends and family…donate the proceeds to a charity (anonymously, of course, just as St. Nicholas would!)
March 10, 2013 - Sunday of the Last Judgment/Meat Fare Sunday:
The theme will be read as part of the Gospel on this day. Prepare the students a week ahead. Send home a prepared study sheet using the Antiochian Gospel Program (www.antiochian.org/christianeducation/letusattend) and be ready to listen carefully for the “special Gospel.”
Christ’s Washing of His Disciples’ Feet is commemorated on this day. A re- enactment of this can be done following the Divine Liturgy.
End of the Year/Recognition Day:
Use the theme and logo as the central part of the certificate or award being given. Decorate certificates and scrapbooks. Any gifts given to teachers or students can reflect this year’s theme. Check back with the Creative Festivals page to find products especially made for this year’s theme.
These ideas are only suggestions to tie in the theme with Church School activities for the year. If you have an idea to add, please share it with the rest of us! Email the Department of Christian Education office at AODCE@aol.com or on our Facebook page: “CREATive Festivals”.