Faith that Works

Teaching middle schoolers how to live and practice their faith

I know I’ve been writing a lot about Lent recently, but in teaching, this is the time to start planning out how you want to help your class to live Lent intentionally. In some years I felt bad about how much class time we spent away from the “content” during Lent, but at a Diocesan inservice a few years ago, another amazing teacher who I respect a lot said something that made me entirely rethink the way that I teach religion. She said, “More than anything, I just want them to know Christ.” That’s the real goal here. And sometimes it means stepping away from “the content” and just focusing on the person of Christ. Lent is a great time to do that. Here are some sites to help you get started.

Best Lent Ever is a free program available at Dynamiccatholic.com that my friend Corinne has used with her sixth grade students in past years. When you sign up for Best Lent Ever, you get daily email reflections with short videos and ideas that you can put into action during that day and throughout the rest of Lent. The videos go over well with students and provide a great entry task for a religion class.

CRS Rice Bowl has a whole set of resources at CRSricebowl.org. For each week of Lent following Ash Wednesday they focus on a different person who has been impacted by CRS programs in their country. I love these lessons for many reasons. One, it introduces students to places they know very little about. To add to the cross curricular aspects of the videos and reflections, I have students keep a map throughout the season of Lent and we color in the countries we learn about through the videos. There are free teaching resources and each lesson in tied to a special theme of Catholic Social teaching, which I love.

The Pray More Lenten Retreat is a resource available at Praymoreretreat.org. The couple that put this resource together also runs a website called praymorenovenas, which sends you email reminders for each day of a novena, which is not surprisingly, super helpful. Both resources are free, but the couple does accept donations to help them continue their ministry. When you sign up for the retreat, you have access to all the materials, so you can self pace your retreat and do it in a time and place that works for you. For me, this is a little bit of a drawback because I’m not always the best with open-ended commitments. Many of these talks and articles work best for an adult audience, but could definitely be used in class if you had a group that can handle more difficult reading. It would also be great for staff development and retreats.

Loyola Press has a lot of great resources in the Lent section of their website. If you’ve read any of my other posts, you know that Loyola Press is often a starting point for me in planning my religion class. They have activities and reflections for a variety of ages and also lots of great books. While the books are for sale, many of the resources on the site are free, including some online retreats. I am going to see if any of these would work for my 8th graders this year.

Do you have any favorite free resources for Lent? If so, please share with us!

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