Check out our favorite Christian Education (and related) materials.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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
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 www.conciliarpress.com.
Compiled and edited by Annalisa Boyd. Reviewed by middle schoolers Aislinn Alexander and Thea Federoff.
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.
St. Moses The Ethiopian is a wonderful book for any child who would like to learn about a saint and experience adventure at the same time. The book starts out with St. Moses as a slave and tells about his journey to Christianity and all the struggles he had to overcome as a Christian. The author does a good job showing the reader through many examples how Moses’ life was transformed by continual repentance and Christ’s love. I enjoyed reading it. Available from www.reginaorthodoxpress.com.
Written and illustrated by Fr. Jerome Sanderson
Reviewed by Ethan Alexander.
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.
Under the Grapevine Podcast: Readings for Children by Chrissi Hart
Inspirational Stories for Children of All Ages
Enjoy readings by Dr. Chrissi Hart, author of Under the Grapevine and The Hermit, The Icon and The Emperor published by Conciliar Press. This program concentrates on Orthodox Christian books and other classic literature from a variety of sources.
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.
Praxis is a magazine published by the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese Department of Religious Education. The magazine's format focuses on total parish education and includes catechetical material, religious home school lessons, leadership development, internet reviews and continuing education for Orthodox Christians. To subscribe, visit www.goarch.org, or call 800-566-1088 or 617-850-1218.
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.
Once wealthy Christians, Macrina, her husband Basil, and her son Basil (whom she calls, "Mus," meaning "mouse") are forced to leave their home and run away from Roman rule. For seven more years, Christians are arrested and executed. Macrina must work hard, with her good husband Basil at her side, to provide for their small son.
Celebrate the Feasts. The much-anticipated sophomore disc from Khouria Gigi (Baba) Shadid is finally here!
The CD is a collection of 11 original tunes from American Orthodoxy's favorite female folk singer, plus 16 more tracks of Gigi and friends singing various festal hymns of the Church.
Fruits of the Spirit. Kids and adults alike will enjoy this production. Renowned youth worker Gigi (Baba) Shadid produced this awesome folk CD to teach children and to help them grow in their faith in Christ and their love for His holy Church.
My Prayer Journal from International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC) is a good start to helping our children learn about what the IOCC is doing, both in our country and abroad. It helps the children learn about other places, recognize the needs there, and formulate prayers to ask God to meet those needs.