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It was great having the opportunity to meet with this year’s 5th grade CCD class last night.  Mrs. Rudolphi was travelling on business yesterday, so my wife, Patty, came along to assist.

We have a fairly large class. It looks like roughly 20 students as of right now. We typically pick up a few extra in the first weeks of class.

We started with opening prayer, the Hail Mary. My first “lesson” of the year was to teach the students how to properly pray the Sign of the Cross. Too many children at this age have no appreciation for the significance of it, or even realize it is a prayer.  They will quickly wave their hand in the general direction of their forehead and chest and mumble a few words. I showed them how to pray the Sign of the Cross slowly, with their handing touching their forehead, navel, the left shoulder and the right shoulder.

The next item of business was to take a picture of each of the children. I use these “head shots” to create a picture sheet of the class with their names. It allows Mrs. Rudolphi and I to connect names and faces a lot more quickly. Before I started doing this, we had to use name tags for several weeks. Remember, we only have them for less than an hour, and with a week in between classes. It’s hard to remember 20 new names and faces without a little help.

We talked about the general curriculum, which for 5th grade is the sacraments.

We discussed the class rules, which are pretty easy.

1.)   Show up.

2.)   Participate.

3.)   Don’t act like a jerk.

We emphasized the importance of respect, for both their fellow students and us, the teachers.

I could tell from our brief exposure last night that most of the students are fairly well behaved and eager to participate.  However, as expected, there are a few who can be a little rowdy and seek to be the center of attention. We’ll work with them. If that is not successful, we’ll turn to their parents to deal with them.

Parents – Please understand. We do not want to be unnecessarily strict. We like to make the class as fun as we can. And many of our discussions are fairly informal and free ranging. However, we have a relatively short period of time with the students each week. We also feel a strong need to pull everyone, even the quiet kids, into class discussions and activities. We really don’t have the latitude or the patience to compete with students who are disruptive, need to be the center of attention or feel the compulsion to entertain the class with their clowning around.

We still had roughly 30 minutes remaining in the class period, so we taught a short lesson on the liturgical year. We compared the liturgical year to the calendar year and also to other non-calendar years, like the school year and sports seasons. After going through the six seasons of the liturgical year, we finished up with a participation exercise. We read one-sentence descriptions of the various seasons (ie: This season begins on Ash Wednesday.). Whoever first identified the season got up and joined the “team” of other students who had ID’d that season.

We have a smart board in the room and I want to make use of it. Last night, however, there was some password problem that kept it out of operation.

As I mentioned in my last posting, I will not be able to attend the next two class sessions. I’ll be back on October 10. The students should still meet in the classroom at 6:30 pm. Mrs. Rudolphi will be there to organize things. As it stands right now, Father John is preparing a class for next week. Mrs. Cathy Scanlon will take them to the church for a class session the following week.

As I have mentioned before, we invite and encourage parents to sit in on the class at any time.

 

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Another busy class session last night. We had pretty-close to a full house, with a new student thrown in.

We finish up the Sacrament of Baptism last week, but in the rush to close out the chapter before the end of class, we pretty-much glossed over the important symbols of Baptism (water, sacred chrism (oil), a candle and a white garment.) I thought it would be a good idea to introduce the students to the concept of symbols and their importance in the Church.

We talked a little about the concept of symbols and then I distributed an exercise. I asked them to think of symbols they encounter in their everyday life and draw it on one side of the paper. On the other side they should write what the symbol represents. I had drawn an American flag and the initials “USA” on the top line as an example. The class came up with some pretty good ideas.

From there, we listed the four symbols of Baptism and discussed their meanings.

  • Water – Cleans the soul. Washes away sin.
  • Candle – Light (love) of God.
  • White Garment – A sin-free soul.
  • Sacred Chrism – A physical representation of the Gift of the Holy Spirit

When we finished that, we shifted gears completely and introduced the class to the liturgical year.  We started with a story about a Native American boy who was obsessed with studying and getting ahead and never took time to play with his friends or enjoy life. His grandfather took him fishing to convey a message that there is a time for everything and that he shouldn’t be so focused on just one thing.

We talked about the various ways we keep track of the year, like the normal calendar, sports seasons, the school year and so on. We described the various seasons of the liturgical calendar and their meanings.

We had a little difficulty conveying the reasons why the liturgical calendar doesn’t match up with the regular calendar the same way every year. To that end, we described how the date of Easter moves around, from late-March through late-April, and the formula for the way the date is selected. (Easter is the first Sunday of a full moon, following the vernal equinox. The Church has standardized the date of the full moon in the lunar cycle, the 14th day of the cycle,  and the day of the equinox, March 21, even though it may not be exactly astronomically correct in some years. )

As always, we had a bunch of questions and a lot of discussion. It’s a little rowdy, but for the most part, the class is paying attention and getting involved. Mrs. Rudolphi and I are trying our best to spread things around and include more of the class in the various discussions.

And a final note – one of our students, Alexis, and her mom are collecting canned food for the homeless. They will collect the cans next week during CCD. Your child should have given you a flier.

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