You can use this lesson plan to prepare children for their first confession or at any time to help them prepare for the amazing experience of mercy in the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation.
Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation Lesson Objectives
- Students will be able to (SWBAT) perform each step of the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
- SWBAT do an examination of conscience.
- SWBAT make an honest Act of Contrition.
- Students will feel (SWF) confident in their ability to go to confession.
Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation Lesson Activities
1. Lesson Hook
Read the story of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15) and have the students reflect what they would feel, think, and do if they were the father or either one of the sons in the story.
You may consider showing a video to summarize the story since it is a longer Scripture passage. For example:
Walk your students through the step-by-step process for going to confession:
Examination of Conscience
1. Sign of the Cross
2. Bless me Father for I have sinned, it has been [days/months/years] since my last confession
3. Confesses Sins
4. Penance & Counsel
5. Act of Contrition
6. Prayer of Absolution
7. Sign of the Cross
Do the penance!
(Bonus: I give an overview of each of these steps for going to confession in the “How to Go to Confession” video you can access here:
3. Practice Penance (especially for students going to their first confession)
Give each student the opportunity to actually practice going to confession using this Practicing Penance Activity. Give the students a sample fake sin to pretend to confess, then walk them through each step of the Sacrament of Penance.
4. An Examination of Conscience for Kids
Using this examination of conscience for kids on the USCCB website or another examination of conscience, help your students truly reflect on the sins they have committed recently in their lives.
I created this Examination of Conscience graphic organizer to help your students not only reflect on their sins, but also the causes/temptations leading them to sin and their desire not to sin again. It is based on the Act of Contrition prayer.
5. An In-Class Act of Contrition
Help your students understand and experience both the mercy of God and contrition in their hearts by introducing them to the Act of Contrition.
This video may help explain the meaning of contrition further including the two kinds of contrition: Perfect Contrition and Imperfect Contrition:
Next, give each student a copy of the Act of Contrition prayer or have them find one in their textbooks. Lead them in an Act of Contrition in class or take them to the church or a chapel for a more prayerful environment.
6. Optional: Tour the Confessional
Take your students to the church and give them a quick tour of the confessionals. Point out the screens and the seats where they would normally sit to participate in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. One of the objectives of this lesson is to help the students feel confident in their ability to go to confession. This little tour will help make the confessional a more familiar place.
(Bonus Resources: Sign up to access the “How to Go to Confession” video here:
You can also find it among the many member resources including videos on the symbols and effects of the Sacrament of Reconciliation.)