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. Nevertheless, we were intrigued to combine some of them into mini teaching units.
Each of the following units can be taught over the course of a few weeks, with every lesson illustrating the main theme in a different way. Some of our lesson plans are repeated in different mini-units, so one couldn’t use all of the units in the same year; however, they could be used for different groups or in different years, and also combined with religious education materials from other sources.
The ideas that follow are only a few of the possible unit combinations. After going over them, we encourage you to browse through our material to also come up with your own. We will be happy if you get to use our resources in this way, and we always welcome your feedback if you choose to do so!
Holy Icons: Windows to our Faith
- Start with an introduction to holy icons from our lesson plan All About Icons.
- Follow with a lesson on icons depicting our Lord Jesus Christ and/or the Theotokos – discuss their colors, (gold/blue/red), their variations, and what they each point out. You will find relevant material on our page Holy Icon Crafts and also a relevant craft on this link.
- Continue with one or more lessons on icons that show an event, such as a Great Feast. You can use any of our pages on Great Feasts that contain child-friendly reproductions of icons: Entrance of the Theotokos – Nativity of Christ – Holy Theophany – Meeting of our Lord – Annunciation – Palm Sunday – Pentecost
- Finish with an exploration of types of Saints and how they are portrayed in icons, from our lesson plan All About Saints.
Make sure to include a musical component throughout the whole mini-unit, which in this case could be a troparion on icons, such as the one from Sunday of Orthodoxy.
The Holy Cross: From Death to Life
- Start with an introduction to the main theme: Our Lord died on the Cross and then was resurrected, offering us eternal life. You can use this slide, and also material from our lesson plan on Holy Pascha. Discuss how we make the sign of the cross, using the relevant material from our Great Lent Lapbook.
- Follow with a lesson on how the Cross blesses and protects us. You can use this slide, and material from our lesson plan on Holy Theophany, focusing on the crucial role of the Cross on the celebration of that Feast. Discuss how we wear a cross for blessing and protection, and finish with an exploration of different types of crosses from our Great Lent Lapbook. A craft from our page on the Veneration of the Cross can also be used in this lesson.
- Continue with a lesson on the Exaltation of the Cross.
- Finish with a lesson on “carrying our own cross“. You can use the wheel activity from our Great Lent Lapbook, and material from our page on the Publican and Pharisee.
Make sure to include a musical component throughout the whole mini-unit, which in this case could be a troparion on the Cross, such the one from the Exaltation of the Cross.
Saints: our Lord’s Closest Friends
- Start with a lesson on Holy Pentecost, focusing on how the Holy Spirit is present in the Church. Then introduce the Saints as members of the Church who have been following our Lord in an exemplary way, becoming His special friends.
- Follow with making a Saint calendar for the patron Saints of the children in the group, using material from our page November Saints. Don’t forget to include the patron Saint of your parish. Then explore the lives of some of these Saints. You will need to do your own research to find information on the Saints of your specific group. To find our own material on specific Saints, look through our category page: Saints.
- Continue with a lesson on different types of Saints. Discuss how we can tell them apart in icons, using resources from our page All About Saints. Then work on a specific Saint for some of the discussed Saint types, different ones from the Saints explored in the previous lesson. As before, to find our own material on specific Saints, look through our category page: Saints. You can also use the generic Saint worksheet and calendar card found on the page November Saints.
- You could conclude with a focus on one of the following narrower topics, associating them with specific Saints: The Evangelists and the Gospels – Monasticism and holy hermits – Prayer and St Gregory Palamas.
- To finish off the unit, prepare a presentation/skit for the congregation. The children get to dress up as their patron Saint (or any of the other Saints you worked on), then briefly talk about that Saint, and the work they did in class, showing some of their worksheets and creations.
For a musical component, learn the troparion of the patron Saint of your parish.
The Gospels: Sharing the Good News
- On the first day, work on the Evangelists and the Gospels in general, from our page Gospels and Evangelists.
- Over the next few lessons, work on some stories from the Gospels in sequence, combining them into a narrative. All the Gospel topics we have worked on are on the category page: New Testament. They can be supplemented by the Let Us Attend series of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America.
- If the season is appropriate, finish with our basil planting project, and work on the verses from that page that come from the Gospels. If the season isn’t appropriate, make any other craft that is plant-related, and still work on the Gospel verses.
For a musical component, you can learn a hymn associated with the Gospel, such as the one chanted at the Small Entrance during the Divine Liturgy. It can be found at the Digital Chant Stand of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America.
I can lead a Christian life
How can I follow our Lord and be close to Him?
- Lesson 1: Partake of the Holy Eucharist – teach this topic using resources from our page Preparing the Gifts. You can combine them with material from Zacchaeus Sunday, to emphasize the point that, in order to truly come to communion with our Lord, we must be willing to put in the effort.
- Lesson 3: Cultivate the virtues – use resources to introduce the virtues from our pages on St. John Climacus and our Great Lent Lapbook.
- Lesson 4: Practice self-control (one of the virtues) – Use material from our page on Orthodox Fasting to focus on fasting as an example of self-control. Supplement with your own material on Adam, Eve and the Fall (a topic we wish to work on, but haven’t had the chance to do so yet).
- Lesson 5: Be kind – Use material from our page on the Second Sunday of Luke.
- Lesson 6: Be humble – Use material from our page on the Publican and Pharisee.
For a musical component, you can learn one of the hymns chanted during Holy Communion. They can be found at the Digital Chant Stand of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America.