I realized as I was teaching one of the final lessons of the year this week that I don’t share what I actually do in class often enough. I make a lot of suggestions based on what works for me, but it has been awhile since I shared a full lesson plan that I have used in class.
In preparation for First Communion, I created this Liturgy of the Word lesson plan for children to help my second grade students learn the prayers of the Catholic Mass and understand why we spend time reading the Scripture every time we go to Mass. I hope you can use some of what I have done and adapt it to your class.
I. Where the Students Are Now
As educators it is easy to get caught up in what we’re teaching rather than what our students are learning (or already know). I have found it is a good practice to spend some time brainstorming where I think the students are right now before considering where I want them to be (learning objectives).
So, regarding the Mass and the Liturgy of the Word, I wrote:
- They think Mass is boring.
- They don’t know the prayers and responses during Mass.
- They have trouble focusing on the readings and the homily at Mass.
- They want to receive communion like their parents or siblings, but they don’t really know why it is so important.
II. Where They Will Be (Lesson Objectives)
Since writing this article about focusing on how our students feel, I started listing a “feeling” objective in addition to the “doing” objectives and it has helped me frame what I’m teaching quite a bit. Here are the lesson objectives for this Liturgy of the Word lesson plan:
- Students will be able to (SWBAT) list the three (four) kinds of Scripture readings at Mass.
- SWBAT recite the correct prayer responses during the Introductory Rites and Liturgy of the Word.
- SWBAT correctly order the major parts of the Liturgy of the Word.
- Students will feel (SWF) interested in listening to the readings at Mass.
III. How I Will Get Them There (Learning Activities)
1. Bell Work: Textbook Worksheet
This particular worksheet introduced the terms connected to the Liturgy of the Word.
2. Prayer: Intentions
See more prayer before class ideas.
3. Scripture Reading & Witness: Woman at the Well
While I read the Bible passage, I had them draw a picture of the story. I told them a mini-testimony about what it was like for me to go to a Baptist church with my grandparents when I was their age. “They had a lot of readings and a lot of preaching,” I told them, “and I did a lot of doodling on the programs they handed out so I could pay attention.”
I suggested that one way to pay attention to the readings at Mass was to try to picture the events in their heads as if they were watching a movie or looking at a drawing. Although they probably shouldn’t draw during Mass, I asked them to practice this by drawing the Scripture reading of the day as I read it to them.
4. Hook: Car Manual
At the beginning of the lesson, I used my 2006 Honda Civic owner’s manual as a prop to introduce the Liturgy of the Word. At the front of the room, I placed the owner’s manual and a Bible on a desk. (Read more about “hooks” in Doug Lemov’s book, Teach Like A Champion.)
After prayer, I asked them the following questions:
- What is a car owner’s manual for?
- When do we use a car owner’s manual?
- Why would we need the manual?
- What about this book (the Bible)? What is it for?
- When do we use the Bible?
- Why would we need the Bible?
Conclusion: Through a series of open-ended questions, I helped them reach this conclusion:
Just as a car owner’s manual is used to help someone understand and fix their cars, we read the Bible to help us understand and fix our lives. We’re all sinners and we all need God’s help. That’s why, as a Church community, we read the Bible every week at Mass. We need to understand our lives a little better and we need help getting fixed.
5. Pew Cards
Here I passed out copies of the pew cards I created for The Religion Teacher’s New Roman Missal Student Activity Pack. I told them these were “cheat sheets” for the Mass. “Cheat sheets” worked a lot better than “pew” cards, which they started calling “pee-yew” cards and “poo” cards. (Not what I had in mind . . .)
We briefly went through the prayers and I asked them to hold on to their cards because they will need to use them for one of the center activities later.
6. Lecture: Liturgy of the Word
On the board, I listed the main parts of the Liturgy of the Word that I wanted them to know and clarified for the readings what part of the Bible it was from:
- First Reading (before Jesus)
- Second Reading (after Jesus)
- Alleliua / Praise
- Gospel (Jesus)
- Prayer of the Faithful
It was important to introduce these ideas and have the students write each one in order in their notes to prepare them for the practice they would do in the centers.
7. Liturgy of the Word Centers (10 minutes each station)
I placed each handout and supplies on three groups of desks in the back of the room.
Station 1: Lectio Divina Worksheet (“Take a Snapshot of Scripture”)
I used one of the worksheets from The Religion Teacher’s Lectio Divina for Children and Teens resource to help them really understand the last part of the story about the woman at the well. She told the other Samaritans about Jesus and they believed in him because of her word, but when they invited Jesus to stay with them for two days, they began to believe in him because of his word.
The purpose of this particular worksheet was to help them do “lectio,” where they could understand what the text says that everyone should understand.
Here is how I helped them do “meditatio“: Before they were excused from their station, I told them how I was like the woman for them just like their parents, our parish priest, and many others who have introduced them to Jesus. But, eventually, they would need to invite Jesus into their lives on their own.
Station 2: Order of the Mass
At this station, I had the students cut out the parts of the Liturgy of the Word I introduced earlier in the lesson and place them in the correct order. I didn’t have them glue them to the handout, but had them practice again and again until they got the order memorized.
Make sure and review the importance of safety when using scissors.
Station 3: Fill-in-the-Blank Prayer Worksheets
Using the four worksheets with fill-in-the-blank prayers and responses from The Religion Teacher’s New Roman Missal Student Activity Pack, I had the students see how well they knew the prayers of the Mass. After one pass from memory, I said they could begin using their pew cards (“cheat sheets”) to help them learn the prayers of the Mass.
IV. Did They Get There? (Assessment)
I had planned to do an exit card asking them to write down all the parts of the Liturgy of the Word from memory, but we ran out of time.
I do feel confident, though, from working with each group of students during the centers activities that they were getting it. I worked with the students that were struggling the most and made sure they were getting it. The next time we meet, I’ll do some review as Bell Work so I can see which students still need some help learning the parts of the Liturgy of the Word. Then we’ll begin a lesson on the Liturgy of the Eucharist!
For part 2 of this lesson, check out “The Liturgy of the Eucharist Lesson Plan.”
What did you think of this lesson format? It is a little variation off of what I included in The Religion Teacher’s Guide to Lesson Planning. It came out of module 4 of the Classroom Engagement course that is available to members of The Religion Teacher. I’m hoping to move in this direction for a future revision of the lesson planning guide.