Parting Gifts

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by Lee Danesco

Looking for an end-of-the-year activity that can motivate your students to live the faith all summer long? Try this easy-to-plan lesson that begins with student interaction and ends with the creation of parting gifts targeted for use in the vacation months ahead.

Getting Started

In advance, prepare calendar pages for the months of June, July, and August, one set for each student. Each month should display the days marked off in blocks large enough to hold a brief message. (You can find calendar pages to download at You will also need paper, pencils, and a black/white board or chalk board.

Begin the session by envisioning the upcoming summer with your students. Reflect on how difficult it can be to live faith-filled lives during those fun-packed days. Welcome your learners into the discussion by asking them to offer examples of summertime distractions that can derail good intentions to stay connected to God.

With your students’ participation, list on the board types of activities that might keep young people focused on their faith despite busy summer schedules. Limit suggestions to those that are general in nature, such as “praying,” “reading Scripture,” and “doing acts of Christian kindness.”

Pause for a Brainstorm

Once this general list is complete, give each student a pencil and a set of calendar pages. Divide the class into pairs and give each pair a single blank sheet of paper.

Direct paired students to use the general list on the board as an outline for brainstorming. Their goal is to make a list of 15 specific activities that will help young people stay faithful to God throughout the summer.

For example, by discussing the general category of “praying,” students might decide to list a specific activity such as “thank God for friends.” In the category “reading Scripture,” students might note “read Psalm 23.” In the category of “doing acts of Christian kindness,” students might note “call a grandparent.” Encourage your learners to make their suggestions creative but brief enough to fit inside a calendar block.

Pass the Ideas

When everyone is finished, instruct pairs of students to pass their completed lists of specific activities to a nearby pair of students. Ask student pairs to read over the 15 activity suggestions they just received. Then have each student select from the list 10 activities they like best and place one each in the first ten dates of June.

Now have student pairs once again pass the specific activity list they have to the next student pair, and repeat the previous process, placing 10 other activities on the June calendar on dates 11 through 20.

Continue this process until all dates throughout the three months have been filled. If students run short of activities, encourage them to repeat especially favorite activities to complete the summer.

Wrap It Up and Take It Home

When the calendar pages are complete, it’s time to prayerfully acknowledge together the fact that, with God’s inspiration and their own collective efforts, students have created parting gifts for one another. Used regularly, each gift calendar, with the many activities it displays, can become the perfect tool to keep its owner close to God all summer long.

And of course, don’t forget to take home your own parting gift: the simple joy that comes from knowing that you have challenged students to gift themselves with some wonderful ideas for staying faith-centered in the months to come.

Lee Danesco holds a master of arts degree in teaching from Brown University. She has served as a DRE and a pastoral associate, and is a published author. Her first book,
Planning a Youth Service Week, was published by Twenty-Third Publications in 2001. The Confident Catechist was published by Saint Mary’s Press in 2007.

Copyright 2010, Bayard, Inc. All rights reserved. This article is protected by United States copyright and other intellectual property laws and may not be reproduced, rewritten, distributed, redisseminated, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast, directly or indirectly, in any medium without the prior written permission of Bayard, Inc.

This article was written by the Catechist Staff and appeared in Catechist magazine, February 2010.

Image Credit: Shutter Stock 253302160

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