Thursday, July 12, 2018

Teaching Religion in Full Day Kindergarten

As many of you know, I teach at a Catholic school in York Region (about 20 minutes north of Toronto).  Religion is the foundation for our school board so of course we integrate lessons around our faith throughout the day.

We gather formally on the carpet at least once a week for a Religion Circle.  I originally got this idea from my good friend and colleague, Mrs. Linigari, who teaches grade 1.
We post the Religion Circle picture on our Daily Schedule so students know what is planned for the day.  
You can read all about our Daily Schedule here.

We all gather on the carpet in a large circle.  We start by passing around a rosary and saying intentions (i.e. "I pray for my sister who is not feeling well today.").  Once everyone has had a turn, we read a story from the Children's Bible.  There are many versions of the Children's Bible available to purchase. This is the one I use in my classroom and I find it's simple enough for even the youngest children to follow along.

I discovered a You Tube channel, The Beginner's Bible, that offers amazing videos of many of the stories found in the Children's Bible. 
Here's an example of the story of Moses and the Ten Commandments:


We have great discussions around the story in the Bible as well as the video we watch.  I also like to post it to our class D2L (website) for parents to see and continue those discussions at home.

"Teaching Religion" is not simply a subject though - we often refer back to stories we have read in the Children's Bible or ask how Jesus would feel to our students when we see conflict arise in the classroom. 

Of course, when special holidays are close (such as Christmas or Easter), it's a great opportunity to also combine art and drama in our lessons.
Here are a few examples:

After reading about the birth of Jesus, students were invited to retell the story using the felt board.  I made these props myself - and it's really easy to do!  You can read all about how to make your own felt board pieces here.

Leaving out loose parts for students to retell or make up their own story is also fun!

There's a beautiful song we sing (found on the In God's Image CD which is our Board's Religious Ed. program). 
Here's the song with the lyrics if you don't use this program.

I made these printable pieces of the Nativity this past winter that go along with the song.  Students choose different roles and hold the props while they walk around the carpet.
You can find these props as a FREE download here.

We also make a card and several crafts (which vary each year).  Here's what we did this past Christmas.

I've started making Religious educational materials on my TpT site.  This is one of our class favourites - a write the room activity based on the Nativity.
You can find this activity here if you are interested.

At Easter, we also make a card and craft.  We tend to focus on the stories leading up to Easter also, such as Palm Sunday.  Each student also made this palm branch to take home.

After reading stories from the Bible, we invite children to draw and paint their favourite part.

Using various materials, students are invited to retell the Easter story.

One of our favourite apps is called Chatterpix Kid, where students can "cut" part of the picture they have taken of their work and record their own voice.

We place the Easter Write the Room activity around our class for those interested in doing this fun centre.

We left out a provocation after reading the book The Giving Tree, at the beginning of the Lenten season.  It's a great book to introduce the idea of giving up so much for others, even though it's not religious.  Every time students did something for others they were invited to write/draw it on a leaf and place it on our classroom door.


We all know Christmas and Easter are the two biggest celebrations, but what about religion the rest of the year?

During the month of May, our school prays the Hail Mary regularly.  So we teach it to our children too.  We also read and discuss who Mary was and how she is very important.  We did a directed drawing of Mary too and left out these pictures of beautiful and famous paintings of Mary from around the world for students to draw.



Provocations can be left out at any time of the year that focus on feelings, inclusion, and treating others like Jesus preaches.

At the beginning of the year, when we focus on "All About Me", we invite students to look closely in the mirror and draw themselves.  We discuss how God made each of us unique and special, as well as what we love most about ourselves.

You can make these self portraits in any size and certainly extend this activity in many ways.  We hung ours up in the hallway outside our classroom on a branch and on the reverse the children told us what makes them special.

During the month of February, our emphasis is more on treating others with kindness and respect, since it ties in so well with Valentine's Day.  Students choose a name from the bowl and, for one week ("Friendship Week") they have to do kind things for that friend (i.e. help them log into computer, paint a picture together, etc.)  We also invite them to make a bracelet as a sign of friendship.

We spend a large chunk of time during the week outdoors, where we search for items in nature and observe seasonal changes.  We discuss how God made our beautiful Earth and how we can be stewards of the Earth.  There are even times when we (or our students!) bring in special guests to our classroom, such as these snails.  We learn that God made all living creatures and it's our responsibility to take care of them and show respect.

After many daily discussions about "loving our neighbours" (or friends) and reading lots of books, such as How Full is Your Bucket? For Kids, there are lots of provocations you can create.  Here our students are encouraged to write/draw how they can be kind to their peers.  Afterwards we turned these pages into a class book.

How do you incorporate religion in your classroom? 

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