August. The time of year when I really start to get excited about the last minute details for the upcoming Religious Ed and youth ministry year! We have a very small program at St. Joseph’s in Des Moines, only 100 kids or so in grades 1-8, but no matter how big or small your program is, August and September are always so darn stressful and busy!
I wanted to share a few changes we are making this year besides our theme and our goal to include prayer time during every class. We wanted to make sure to include the following kits in our RE Cabinets. One of the problems I often hear as the DRE is how to keep the attention of the really hyper kids who cant seem to stay on task and pay attention. I don’t know about you, but I can relate to those little ones! It’s hard, especially after a long day of school, and most kids are off their A.D.D meds, so paying attention for another hour IS difficult. Anyways- I know for myself, I like to keep my hands busy, so my ears and heart can focus.
Hopefully this “Busy Basket” you can have in your classroom can help accommodate those “busy” kids! Something important to keep in mind is that children actually like order, and by keeping your Busy Basket in good, nice-looking condition, they will feel more honored in using it to help them keep focused. We may hear a common complaint from the other kids who don’t need the basket asking, “How come HE gets that and I don’t, even though I have been good?” This sounds like a great opportunity to talk about the Prodigal Son and the Good Brother Syndrome. Furthermore, I usually say, “Well, SoandSo needs this to pay attention. God already gave you what you need! And I am so happy you are such a great example to SoandSo.” Or something to that effect.
Here is a list of what I have in my Busy Basket:
- Bins or paper bags full of items to help most hyper kids focus during RE. I would have one for each classroom.
- 2 cans of Play-Doh
- A Laminated note card of possible things from our faith they could create with the Play-Doh:
Jesus on the Cross
A set of animals from Noah’s story
Item of the Mass
- 1 laminated sheet of white paper and 2 Dry Erase Markers
- Coloring sheets of your parish’s patron saint and box of 8ct Washable Markers
(make sure the box is in good condition and I find that the fine markers feel more special)
- Squeeze Ball
PRAYER KITS: Because we use St. Joseph’s school classrooms for our classrooms, instead of parish rooms, for example, we often have to leave the classroom as we found it. But many classrooms, even in Catholic schools, don’t have prayer corners, or any space that is dedicated for prayer time. Which is why we have a “Prayer Kit” in every classroom. This makes it easy to set up a prayer environment anywhere-even if you choose to go outside on a nice evening!
Here is what I have in our Prayer Kits:
- Bins with materials to set up prayer time in your classroom
- Stand up crucifix
- Candles (electric is safest)
- Candle Holders
- Bible Stand
- 1 Prayer cloth-I bought a few yards of some off white fabric and made my own!
- Holy Water bottle (With holy water, of course!)
- If you have prayer cards or saint statues, those could be included as well.
Finally, First Aid Kids are a must for each classroom. You all probably already have something similar, but I found these ready made versions (Classroom/teacher First Aid Kit Pack) are perfect for classrooms! They are portable and have what you would need for minor first aid!