Uncategorized

New teaching unit: The Holy Mysteries – and our seasonal resources

Dear friends,

For a long time, we have been wanting to work on a teaching unit on the Holy Mysteries, as they are a fundamental part of an Orthodox Christian’s life. We are now so happy to have finished with the first phase of this endeavor!

It has definitely been one of the most demanding topics we have dealt with, on many fronts: trying to pare down the abundant information to the essentials, as we were researching and writing the text; preparing numerous illustrations that, despite being based on real life and not on icons as usual, would still be consistent with the Orthodox Pebbles look and feel; coming up with interesting hands-on activities to convey abstract concepts and ideas.

We are now excited to be offering the following teaching recources:

  • An initial lesson plan, presenting the concept of a “mystery”, and introducing the seven Holy Mysteries.
  • Two subsequent lesson plans, one on Holy Baptism and one on Holy Chrismation.

Please click on the button below to access our completed teaching material on the Holy Mysteries.

Our plan for the following couple of months is to offer an individual lesson plan for every Mystery – we have already started working on the remaining ones. Natalie is also designing a new craft kit on the Holy Mysteries, to accompany the free lesson plans – so please stay tuned!

We have done our best to make teaching the Holy Mysteries an engaging and meaningful process, both for the teacher and for the students. Even though this topic is not a seasonal one, we sincerely hope you will choose to teach it, using our new creations. A seasonal way to start with it could be to follow up on a lesson on Holy Theophany.


Our resources for the Nativity season

Please find below a list of our existing resources for the Nativity season:

Old Testament Connections

Free lesson plan: Explore nine Old Testament stories and their hidden connections to the New Testament according to the theology of the Orthodox Church. Crafts, worksheets and background information.


A different Jesse Tree

Free lesson plan: Background and teaching resources for an Orthodox approach to the popular Jesse Tree tradition of the Nativity season.


Craft kit: A different Jesse Tree

This teaching resource complements our two free lesson plans above and it consists of crafting templates and a pack of cards. Create a 3D Jesse tree based on the relevant Orthodox icon, and play games to reinforce the Old Testament stories, concepts and connections explored in our free Jesse Tree lesson plans.


Saint Nicholas, Archbishop of Myra, the Wonder-worker

Free lesson plan: Creative activities, worksheets and background information for teaching about the Saint.

st_nicholas_featured

The Nativity of Christ: Our resource collection

Free lesson plans: An extensive collection of creative resources for exploring the Nativity of our Lord.

nativity_featured

The Nativity of Christ: Fabric Learning Set

A hands-on teaching resource made out of soft fleece fabric to help teach about the Feast.


Play Dough Learning Mats: The Nativity of Christ

A tactile, sensory activity to help teach the theology and icon of this Great Feast.


Saint Basil the Great

Free lesson plan: Hands-on activities to teach about this greatly beloved Saint.


Holy Theophany and the Blessing of the Waters

Free lesson plan: Analog and digital activities for teaching about the Feast. This lesson could also work as a seasonal introduction to the Holy Mysteries teaching unit.


Holy Theophany DIY fabric learning set

A hands-on teaching resource made out of soft fleece fabric to help teach about the Feast.


We are extending our warmest wishes to all of you, for a fruitful Nativity fast, and a blessed Nativity season!

With love in Christ,
Natalie and Despina

Uncategorized

Warm wishes for a new Religious Education year!

Dear friends,

A blessed month of October to all!

We have been busy preparing for an exciting Church School year, planning a number of new projects that should be available within the next few months. In the meantime, we want to share some of our news and wish everyone a fruitful Religious Education year!

Mini Teaching Units

Lately, we have been receiving inquiries on how a teacher could use our resources as part of a more comprehensive curriculum, with a common theme not necessarily linked to a specific time of the year. Our lessons and online material are already organized according to broader themes and seasons, however, we were intrigued to combine some of them into mini teaching units.

We just uploaded a new webpage, which showcases several such mini units, each one with an overarching theme. Every unit can be taught over the course of a few weeks, with each lesson illustrating the main theme in a different way.

Even if you have used some of these resources in the past, they are worth exploring again. As our online material has been accumulating, even we discover things that we have forgotten we created ourselves!

GOArch Teacher Certification Program

For the past two years, Orthodox Pebbles creator Natalie Tzobanakis has been working on the Teacher Certification Program of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America. She is now excited to be getting close to its completion! Admittedly, it has been a long process, but a very rewarding one, and this is why we are sharing this here, hoping to inspire fellow religious educators to follow the same path.

Natalie can confidently say that the program provided her with a deeper knowledge of the theology and practices of our Church, and a more concrete foundation on religious education methods, while also offering an opportunity for personal reflection and introspection. Overall, she feels that she gained the ability to respond to challenges in the classroom more effectively, organize more comprehensive lessons, and better serve our youth in developing their own relationship with Christ.

If you are not familiar with this program, we definitely recommend checking it out!

Retreats by Orthodox Pebbles

We have been receiving inquiries about retreats these past few weeks, and we realize that now is the time that many parishes plan their activities for the year. We would love to come to your own space to organize a creative and interactive educational event for young and old alike! All participants will delve deeper into an Orthodox theme, while the adults will also explore ways to effectively teach a religious education topic, at home or in the Church School classroom.

As an alternative to a live Orthodox Pebbles retreat, we will be more than happy to help you plan your own event, with custom-made material according to your parish needs.

Please feel free to CONTACT US!

Old Testament resources/New Antiochian Archdiocese curriculum

We were very excited to learn that the Department of Christian Education of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America recently launched a new curriculum on the Old Testament. The first part is now available, and they plan to keep working on this theme throughout the year. Their other activities, such as the creative festivals, will also be based on the Old Testament.

For a while, we have been thinking of doing more work on the Old Testament, so this gives us one more reason to do so. Expect to see new Old Testament posts on our website this year – some especially prepared with the Antiochian Archdiocese curriculum in mind. In the meantime, we already have free crafts and teaching printables for you to use if you are exploring the following Old Testament themes:

  • The Ladder of Jacob
  • Moses and the Burning Bush
  • The Ark of the Covenant
  • Aaron and the Staff that sprouted
  • Gideon and the Fleece
  • Isaiah and the Tongs
  • Ezekiel and the Sealed Gate
  • Daniel and the Mountain Unhewn
  • Zachariah and the Seven-light Lampstand

Even if you are not following the curriculum by the Antiochian Archdiocese, working on the Old Testament is most appropriate for the months preceding the Nativity of Christ. You can combine the above material with our free lesson on the prefigurations of the Theotokos. We have also created a craft kit on the same theme, containing gaming cards and crafting templates to help offer a rich learning experience.

Fall teaching material

As always, the resources on our website that are most appropriate for the current season have been grouped together on these pages:

We extend our warmest wishes to all our friends and fellow Orthodox religious educators. May we all have a blessed Church School year!

Uncategorized

Holy Thursday teaching resources

Dear friends,

We have gradually collected a lot of Holy Week content on the Orthodox Pebbles website, and it’s getting a bit hard to navigate. We thought it would be helpful to include everything that you can use for teaching today in the easy-to-access list below.

Printable packet
Includes planner, flashcards, a worksheet and a fact sheet. A new page with printing instructions was just added, in case you have any difficulties printing our PDF files.

Free crafts
Make a flower-framed icon of the Crucifixion.

Free lesson plan: Four icons for Pascha
Use four icons in sequence to teach about the Holy Passion and the Resurrection. Includes a short animation video to help present the themes.

Digital activities
A slideshow, a digital matching game and a Memory game for the whole of Holy Week. Start learning the Paschal troparion today!

Holy Week Craft Kit tutorial of the day
If you own our Holy Week Craft Kit, the crafting instructions for Holy Thursday are on this page.

Pascha fabric set
A soft fleecy teaching aid to help teach about Pascha. If you own it already, don’t forget to print out the bonus activities (the password is on the back of the package cover card).

Background information
Summarized information and curated helpful links for the instructor. Explore the Orthodox service of this evening, and learn about the icon of the Extreme Humility.

A blessed Holy Thursday to all!

Uncategorized

Holy Wednesday teaching resources

Dear friends,

We have gradually collected a lot of Holy Week content on the Orthodox Pebbles website, and it’s getting a bit hard to navigate. We thought it would be helpful to include everything that you can use for teaching today in the easy-to-access list below.

Printable packet
Includes planner, flashcards, a worksheet and a fact sheet. I just added a new page with printing instructions in case you have any difficulties printing our PDF files.

Free crafts
Make the silver coins of Judas and a scene inspired by the Mystical Supper icon.

Holy Week Craft Kit tutorial of the day
If you own our Holy Week Craft Kit, the crafting instructions for Holy Wednesday are on this page.

Digital activities
A slideshow, a digital matching game and a Memory game for the whole of Holy Week.

Background information
Summarized information and curated helpful links for the instructor. Explore the Orthodox service of this evening, and learn about the icon of the Mystical Supper.

A blessed Holy Wednesday to all!

Uncategorized

Holy Monday teaching resources

Dear friends,

We have gradually collected a lot of Holy Week content on the Orthodox Pebbles website, and it’s getting a bit hard to navigate. We thought it would be helpful to include everything that you can use for teaching today in the easy-to-access list below.

Printable packet
Includes planner, flashcards, a worksheet and a fact sheet.

Free craft and hands-on activity
Make a paper oil lamp and a working oil lamp out of a citrus fruit.

Holy Week Craft Kit tutorial of the day
If you own our Holy Week Craft Kit, the crafting instructions for Holy Monday are on this page.

Digital activities
A slideshow and a digital matching game for the whole of Holy Week.

Background information
Summarized information and curated helpful links for the instructor. Explore the Orthodox service of this evening, learn about the Bridegroom icon, and about ancient oil lamps.

A blessed Holy Monday to all!

Uncategorized

Teach about the Fifth Sunday of Great Lent!

Dear friends,

On the Orthodox Pebbles website, you will find the following material for this week:

It includes resources for teaching not only about the Saint, but also about Orthodox monasticism – including sayings of the Desert Fathers, a cool mini desert diorama, information about the Holy Hermits and an activity on the most secluded area of the Holy Mountain of Athos in Greece.

Additionally…

A blessed Fifth Sunday of Lent to all!

EXPLORE RESOURCES

Uncategorized

We got hacked on Instagram – please help!

Dear friends,

We are sharing some unfortunate news: The Orthodox Pebbles Instagram account got hacked yesterday. The account was taken over and we can’t have any access to it. It is posting malicious content and sending messages on our behalf, trying to manipulate Orthodox Pebbles followers. There is absolutely nothing we can do about it! We can’t contact the followers to warn them or get back into our account. 

PLEASE HELP US OUT!

If you have been following us on Instagram, kindly do the following:

  • Follow the new account we created for Othodox Pebbles, @orthodox.pebbles (with a dot between the words).
  • Help spread the word on social media so people can find us back! We have no way of reaching out to them ourselves.
  • REPORT THE HACKED ACCOUNT as follows:
    – Go to the previous account, which is currently named ___.orthodoxpebbles__ii
    – Click on the 3 dots by the bell.
    – Click “Report account”.
    – Choose the option that says “fraudulent or impersonation”.
    – Then use the new name as the one they are impersonating.

If many people report it, it will be blocked by Instagram, and at least the terrible content will stop.

THANK YOU SO MUCH for your help!

With love in Christ,
Natalie and Despina

GO TO INSTAGRAM

Uncategorized

Worldwide Pascha Exchange

Let’s get together to celebrate our Lord’s Resurrection – all around the world!

REGISTRATION DEADLINE: MARCH 23, 2022

Through the Orthodox Pebbles project, we feel blessed to have formed connections with Orthodox Christian homeschoolers and educators around the world. This gave us an idea… We would love to organize an Orthodox worldwide Pascha exchange!

Please click HERE to learn all about it and to sign up your group.

Warmest wishes for a blessed Great Lent and a joyous Resurrection to all!

Uncategorized

Join us this Great Lent!

Dear friends,

The resources we had planned for the first Sunday of Great Lent are now up on the website. They include:

  • Tutorial/instructions to make this Sunday’s craft from the new Orthodox Pebbles Great Lent Craft Kit (the kit is available for purchase at the Draw Near Designs Marketplace. It contains templates to make one craft each Great Lent Sunday).
  • Great Lent Lapbook: Everything you need to start a lapbook with your children or Sunday School students, to help them learn about the Sundays of Great Lent; keep working on it throughout the whole of Lent.
  • New printable teaching packet for the Sundays of Great Lent: one fact page for every Sunday, and a worksheet to go with it.
  • …And there is still all the old material available: For this Sunday, a lesson plan on holy icons and even more icon crafts, if you’re up to it.
  • Finally, we are also including links to our favorite external Great Lent resources.Stay with Orthodox Pebbles throughout Great Lent, as we plan to upload new free resources every week.

Please click on the button below for a complete list of our Great Lent material.

Warmest wishes to all for a blessed Great Lent!

Uncategorized

Triodion resources

Dear friends,

We are including below a list of useful resources for the upcoming Triodion season. You can use them to teach:

  • The calling of Zacchaeus
  • The Parable of the Publican and Pharisee
  • The Parable of the Prodigal Son
  • All about Great Lent and Orthodox fasting

We have a long list of resources for the whole of Great Lent on the website, for which we will send out a reminder in due time. Our next scheduled free lesson plan is on Palm Sunday, so please stay tuned!


NEW FREE LESSON PLAN!
Zacchaeus Sunday

As we approach the Triodion, the calling of Zacchaeus is a seasonal religious education theme, and teaching resources about it abound, both online and offline. We attempted to tackle this quite popular topic from a uniquely Orthodox perspective – and learned a lot in the process. For instance, did you know that, as per Church tradition, Zacchaeus followed the Apostle Peter on his travels, and later became Bishop of Caesarea in Palestine? He is now a Saint, celebrated on the new calendar on April 20. Enjoy our new teaching page, which includes a variety of free hands-on activities!


The Parable of the Publican and the Pharisee

Free lesson plan: Resources for teaching the parable in an Orthodox-focused way.


The Parable of the Prodigal Son

Free lesson plan: Animation, printables and background to help teach the parable.

prodigal_son_featured

Triodion Parables: Fabric Learning Set

A soft fleecy fabric set to help teach young children the parables of the Publican and the Pharisee and of the Prodigal Son in a hands-on way.


GREAT LENT – February/March/April

Great Lent, the Holy

Free lesson plan: All you need to teach young children about Great Lent.

sarakosti_featured

Lady Lent wall hanging calendar

Our very first physical – not digital – product: a Lady Lent hanging calendar made out of fleece fabric, to help count down the weeks from Clean Monday to Pascha.


Orthodox fasting

Free lesson plan: Background and printables on Orthodox fasting.

fasting_featured_image1