Make Every Minute Count

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Ten minutes left–and you’ve run out of things to do. Preparing for the extra moments that occur for your students is easy: that review game that’s fun, the discussion you never quite finished, the story about Mother Seton you’ve been reading periodically, a meditation time, the project you’ve been working on all year, a time for journaling, etc.

But what about the extra moments that occur when some of the group arrives early or finishes an activity before the rest of the group?

That’s a little harder to prepare for, but it can be done.

Let’s provide spaces and opportunities in our catechetical settings for those extra moments–not for busywork but activities for continued learning and appreciation. Many of the following activities can be built around your theme for the year and will serve as a constant review as well as deeper understanding.

Ask a question.

Tape up a sheet of mural paper. Pose a question the students can answer from their own experience or from research. Examples: “How does Jesus help you? What are some things that Jesus taught us about God?” Children can write their answers on the mural whenever they have extra time.

You could also do this activity in booklet form. Staple together large sheets of paper and place them in a permanent spot in the classroom. Print the title on the cover. Choose a topic that each child can relate to from his or her own experience, past study, or present research.

Examples: My Happiest Time Last Week (God made us to be happy; therefore, happy times are experiences of God); My Favorite Sentence from the Bible.

Match-a-name game.

Make two sets of cards. One set lists the names of people in Scripture. The other set contains words describing each person. The players match the persons with their descriptions and then use an answer key to check their answers.

Scripture art.

Print the words of Jesus from Matthew 25:35-36 on a giant poster board: “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.” During their extra time, children can find magazine pictures that illustrate these words in today’s world and paste them in a collage pattern on the poster board.

Why not try?

Decorate a box and print the words “Why Not Try” on the box in large, bold letters. Fill the box with slips of paper that suggest various activities. For example: Why not try going to the window and looking at the world God made. Look carefully and find one small thing that you’ve never really noticed before. Say a prayer of thanksgiving.

Find it in the Bible. 

Have Bibles available for students to use during their extra time. Then post a question that will lead them into the Bible for an answer. For example: Do you think Paul gives a good definition of a friend in his first letter to the Corinthians? See Chapter 13, verse 7.

“Jesus said” box.

Make a “Jesus said” box. In the box place a number of phrase cards. The child attempts to match the two that go together. (Tape a sample in the lid of the box.) Examples: “I am always”; “with you”; “I call you”; “my friends.”

Our prayers.

Keep two boxes, one labeled “Our Prayer of Thanks” and another marked “Our Prayers of Need” in your meeting place. Invite the children to write down their petitions or thanks. These boxes can be emptied periodically and used during group prayer.

Prayer area.

Let your learners know that the prayer area of your meeting space is always there for them to use. Prayer helps could be kept there and changed periodically: prayer books, posters, banners, symbols, children’s work, music, the Bible, a candle, rosary, etc.


Sr. Janet Schaeffler, OP, is involved in catechetical and adult faith formation, consultation, writing, workshops, days of reflection and retreats, and teaching. Her website is

This article was originally published in RTJ/Creative Catechist, September 2014.

Image Credit: An Nyugen / Shutterstock 567734128

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