A few updates from my PREP class:
1.) Regular readers will know my feelings about baseball, and how teachers wrongly assume that it's known and loved by all kids, which isn't true (see especially girls, unathletic kids, and immigrants.) Nevertheless, I found myself playing "Catechism Baseball" with the kids last Sunday. We took the kids outside to the parking lot of our banishment, and drew the bases. When a kid came up "to bat", she would choose "single", "double", "triple" or "home run". I would ask her a question of corresponding difficulty, and if she got it right she would run the corresponding bases; if she got it wrong she was "out", but I allowed her team to try to get the question right, and if the team could answer the question the batter could still run the bases. (This was an attempt to insure that if a question was answered wrong, we would still teach the material.)
What worked: it got everybody outside and moving around in the fresh air. The kids liked it. The different grades of questions meant that the weakest kids had a chance for a hit, and the strongest kids had a chance for a challenge.
What didn't work: the team that was "in the outfield" had nothing to do. We need to either provide some alternate activity for them, or redesign the exercise somehow.
2.) I've been making a whole series of playing-card size cards illustrating various points of doctrine (see above). Sometimes I read the kids a story (for instance, the Passion), and have them put the cards in order depending on the story. If they get the cards in the right order, the letters on the cards spell out a message.
What worked: the kids enjoy it, and I think the exercise of listening to the story and finding the right image helps retention.
What didn't work: I'm amazed at how little time it takes to do this activity, considering the time that went into preparation.
3.) I'm always looking for ways to act out stories, to get the kids interested. For the Wedding at Cana (Jesus' first miracle, where he turned water into wine) I had a pitcher of water and a couple of teapots that I had pre-loaded with red kool-aid. As a demo, I poured water into the teapots, and when the teapots were poured out into cups, the water was red.
What didn't work: I didn't get the "wow!" I was hoping for; I needed younger kids. The 4th graders had it figured out immediately and were not impressed ("You had kool-aid in the teapot! Next!")
What worked: The demo got their attention, and we had a good discussion afterward.
Me: "The Catholic Church uses the story of the wedding at Cana to argue that Jesus approves of certain things. What do you think Jesus approves of because of this miracle?"
Kid (daring): "Wine!"
Me: "Yeah, you're right."
Kid (utterly scandalized): "What?"
Me: "Some churches don't allow any alcoholic drinks, but the Catholic Church has always said that alcohol is allowed, because of the Wedding at Cana."
Next Sunday, we'll act out the Last Judgement, but I think that's a separate post ...