16 Ideas for Using Extra Time — Advice from a Master Catechist

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Question: What suggestions do you have for those extra moments that occur at the beginning or end — or even in the middle — of our catechetical gatherings with children, youth, and adults?

Sr. Janet Schaeffler, OP, responds …

Review games and techniques are fun ways of remembering the Scripture stories or lessons that have been studied thus far. Those extra moments are ideal times to reconsider, review, and reflect on the deep meanings that can be found over and over again each time we go to Scripture.

Keep the following ideas tucked away with your lesson plans, and use them when there’s a need to utilize those extra moments.

  1. Pantomime a scene involving a biblical person. (You as the catechist can do it, or you can invite each of your learners to pantomime a different story.) Invite those watching to guess who the person is and why she or he is remembered in Scripture.
  2. Locate on a map the place where a particular Bible event took place.
  3. Write three nouns on the board and ask small groups of children or youth to combine them in a sentence (e.g., Moses, God, Ten Commandments).
  4. Tell a Scripture story you have studied in round-robin fashion, with a beginning line such as, “Once there was a person in the Old Testament named…” Sit in a circle, and ask the person to your right to continue the story by adding the next sentence. Continue around the circle.
  5. Invite your learners to give new and original titles to Bible stories they have studied.
  6. “Who Am I?” Pin a card with the name of a biblical person on the back of each student. Ask your learners to find out who they are by asking questions of others in the group that can only be answered by yes or no.
  7. In a variation of the above activity, the person with the card on his or her back knows who he or she is. Others must guess in order to find out. The one who guesses correctly is given the name card. The person with the most name cards wins.
  8. Play a word association game. Invite the children or young people to jot down the first word that comes to mind when they hear a word, such as Adam, God, prayer, cross, Jesus, church, etc. Use words that play an important part in your study session or Scripture story.
  9. Invite children to be reporters and do “sidewalk interviews” with lead characters in favorite Scripture stories. Ask for facts and details, but don’t forget feelings and convictions.
  10. On individual slips of paper, write the names of Bible persons you have studied. Ask children or youth to put them into an order and explain what type of order or grouping they have chosen. As a group activity, let each person draw a name, then ask the group to arrange themselves in chronological order.
  11. The leader says, “In the Bible I read about something that begins with A. Who can tell me what I am thinking?” The individual who guesses correctly becomes leader and continues with the next letter of the alphabet.
  12. Name the two persons in the Bible that you admire most and give a reason for each.
  13. Play “secret code.” Give each letter of the alphabet a number. Write Bible verses or Bible names by numbers. Use partners, teams, or individuals.
  14. Write down the first word that comes to mind when hearing these names or words: Abraham, Joseph, Jesus, Hosea, cross, creation, and so on. Ask the children why they chose their particular words. Then inquire: “What does this person or event teach us about God? About ourselves?”
  15. Read a passage or section from a Bible story, and invite your learners to guess the name of the story, what it is about, or who is speaking.
  16. Play Bible charades. Divide into two teams and act out stories from the Scriptures.

Sr. Janet Schaeffler, OP, is involved in catechetical and adult faith formation, consultation, writing, workshops, days of reflection and retreats, and teaching. Find more at JanetSchaeffler.com.

This article was first published in the Ask a Master Catechist department of Catechist magazine, September 2016.


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