One of my biggest goals this year for my second grade students was to encourage them to feel comfortable going to confession and communion for the first time. Even seasoned veterans have a hard time remembering what to do during the Sacrament of Reconciliation. I wanted to come up with a a fun First Reconciliation activity that would really get them prepared.
So, to prepare for Penace . . . we practiced!
I simplified the Sacrament of Reconciliation into four steps:
- Examination of Conscience
(Bonus resource: If you want to teach the step-by-step process for going to confession, check out this “How to Go to Confession” video here.”) I explained each step and the prayers that go along with it pointing them to places where they could find the prayers now and where they will be able to find them when they go to their actual First Reconciliation.
Examination of Conscience Box Activity
- Cardboard Box (a bag will do)
- Wrapping Paper (optional)
To introduce the idea of “examination of conscience” I created an “examination of conscience box.”
I took a small cardboard box that I had lying around the office and cut a square hole in the side. On the top, I wrote in Sharpie marker “Examination of Conscience Box.” (I’m not a very artsy person. I’m sure you can create a much better looking box! If I could do it again, I would use wrapping paper to make it stand out.) In the box I placed fifteen slips of paper with commons second grade sins. (Download this printable here.)
Practicing for First Reconciliation
First, I ran through the Reconciliation process in detail again. I explained the prayers and gave them cheat sheets to use (from the back of their textbooks). I told them not to worry–that I make mistakes on the prayers when I go to confession too. I called up each student one-by-one to come to the front of the room.
- They put their hands in the Examination of Conscience box and pulled out a sin.
- I played the part of the priest and they practiced being the penitent. We made the sign of the cross.
- They said, “Bless me Father for I have sinned, it has been ___ since my last confession.” (Funny thing though: I didn’t know what second graders were supposed to say during their First Reconciliation since they had never been to confession before!)
- They said their sins (reading from the slip of paper).
- I gave them a (pretend) penance.
- They read the Act of Contrition.
- I read the Prayer of Absolution.
. . . and they were done! Practice makes perfect!
After their First Reconciliations they said they felt very prepared. There were no surprises and things went well!
Bonus: How to Go to Confession Video
I created a short video tutorial for kids on how to go to confession. It is available for premium members of The Religion Teacher, but you can access it here by entering your email. Watch the “How to Go to Confession” video here.