How do you introduce young people to the liturgical year? Most catechists and religion teachers spend in-depth class meetings focusing on each individual seasons, especially during Advent and Lent. Sometimes, though, it is important to zoom out and help young people see the whole picture.
The liturgical years isn’t about colors and rituals. The seasons are more than wreaths and fish fry Fridays. They celebrate the life of Christ. They always, always, always focus on Christ. He is the reason for EVERY season!
This liturgical year lesson plan is meant to introduce the Church year to your students to gain a basic understanding of the purpose and colors of each season as it relates to the life of Jesus Christ.
Liturgical Year Lesson Objectives
- SWBAT list the names of the seasons of the Church year.
- SWBAT describe the key event(s) in Jesus Christ’s life associated with each season of the liturgical year.
Liturgical Year Learning Activities
1. Introduce all of the liturgical seasons with a calendar of the liturgical year.
Many classrooms have these calendars, often in the shape of a circle, in their classrooms. You can pick one up at your local Catholic bookstore or order them online with your favorite Catholic publisher. Draw attention to this calendar and ask students to point out the colors and times of year for you.
Use a liturgical calendar handout from your textbook or find one online to review the names of the seasons as well. If you have the time, have students color the seasons on their calendars in the correct liturgical color. (Or focus on the colors in step 4 below.)
2. Liturgical year lecture.
Introduce the students to the seasons of the liturgical year by writing a concise definition of each season on the board. Here are the definitions I used when I introduced the seasons to my elementary school students:
- Advent: Jesus is Coming
- Christmas: Jesus is Born
- Ordinary Time (1): Jesus Teaches
- Lent: Jesus will Die and Rise
- Three Days (Triduum): Jesus Dies
- Easter: Jesus Rises
- Ordinary Time (2): Jesus Teaches
One helpful perspective when introducing the students to the seasons is how each one relates specifically to the life of Jesus Christ. Remember, Jesus is the reason for EVERY season.
Each of these definitions is simplistic, but easy to remember. Depending on the age of your students you may want to add key events (Last Supper, Passion, Ascension, Pentecost, Christ the King) even at this point but remember that you will have time to teach each season in more detail later in the year.
Have the students copy down the seasons and definitions as notes or provide them with a simple graphic organizer (table with two columns).
3. Create liturgical year flashcards.
Cut up 3×5 notecards in half and give each student seven 3×2.5 cards to create liturgical year flashcards. (I like to conserve note cards and the small size sets them aside from the larger cards they might have for other school classes.) Have the students copy the definitions from the board on their cards. On one side have them write the name of the season. On the other side have them write the definition.
You may also want to have the students complete these cards as you write the definitions on the board.
4. Color the liturgical year flashcards.
With colored pencils or crayons (not markers) color the boarder of the cards in the correct colors. (You might want to substitute white with yellow or gold so they actually have something to color.)
- Advent: Purple/Pink
- Christmas: White (Yellow, Gold)
- Ordinary Time: Green
- Lent: Purple
- Three Days (Triduum): Red
- Easter: White (Yellow, Gold)
Here are one my student’s finished cards:
5. Practice and memorize the definitions of the liturgical year with the flashcards.
Match students up in pairs and have them quiz each other on the definitions of the liturgical seasons. Give them five minutes and then have the rotate to another partner. Do this until the students clearly know their definitions. Walk around the room and get a sense for how well they are doing in their groups.
6. Class Assessment: Turn the board into a fill-in-the-blank class activity.
Now, return to the board and erase some words to create a fill-in-the-black quiz. For example, erase and draw a blank line for the following:
- __________: Jesus is Coming
- Christmas: Jesus is __________
- Ordinary Time (1): Jesus __________
- Lent: Jesus _____ Die and Rise
- Three Days (Triduum): Jesus __________
- __________: Jesus Rises
- __________ Time (2): Jesus Teaches
Call on students to fill in the blanks or have them answer them using the Chalk Talk technique.
Repeat the process until you are sure they know their seasons.
7. Test or Quiz
Create a simple matching quiz as a final form of assessment.
Now Go Deeper!
With this foundation created and the recognition that all the seasons relate to specific moments in the life of Christ, you will have prepare them for a more in-depth approach to each of the individual seasons. Or go deeper with the students with any of the activities collected here at The Religion Teacher: