Online religious education resources

In May 2020, Orthodox Pebbles had the great honor of being invited to participate in a webinar organized by the Departments of Religious Education and of Stewardship, Outreach & Evangelism of the Greek Orthodox Church of America, titled “Keep the Summer Connection Active!”. In light of dealing with the current COVID-19 crisis, our contribution focused on creative ideas for organizing online religious education sessions for young children. You can watch a video recording of the whole webinar HERE.

Natalie, the creative mind behind Orthodox Pebbles, was very excited to tackle this intriguing topic. Planning the talk, she soon realized that the best way to effectively communicate her thoughts would be to include video clips from the online lessons she had been teaching in the spring of 2020, in which the suggested activities would be shown in action. She is very grateful to the parents of her young students, who granted her permission to use the videos in her presentation. Most importantly, she extends a heartfelt THANK YOU to the children, for doing such a great job in class!

In this web page, we have collected material from the above talk, and external resources we have found helpful ourselves, for planning our online religious education classes this academic year. Please note: Our ideas are based on personal experience; we do not consider ourselves education experts. They are not presented here as directions, but rather as inspiration for developing your own strategies.


* You can scroll down through the whole page or click on the links to jump to a specific part. *

  • A slide show on the challenges online religious education presents and our suggestions on overcoming them.


Switching to an online teaching environment, we found out straight away that the most important asset an instructor needs is imagination. The live session can’t last for much longer than 30 minutes as the students lose focus very easily, so the teacher has to come up with ways to convey information quickly and effectively.

  • The teacher has to figure out how to involve the children as much as possible in the lesson.
  • S/he has to modify a traditional activity so it can be done over a video call.
  • It is also helpful to simulate the original class routine and set up an environment that reminds the children of the real class.

* Click HERE and HERE for example videos.*

Prayer time

The first thing we do in our physical Sunday School class is to say our prayer in front of the icon corner. Likewise, starting our online class, we say our prayer too.

  • It works better if the prayer is short.
  • Speaking together over a video call can be challenging, so it is easier if the teacher says a line first, and then the children repeat.
  • Displaying the prayer text while the teacher is sharing his/her screen is helpful.
  • Chanting the prayer instead of reading is an enriching option.


A Sunday School lesson usually starts with a story. In this website, we have previously discussed using a short animation to introduce the story – we have even tried creating a few animations ourselves. We have always considered animations a helpful tool, even though we note that one should be very careful when using them.

In the digital world of online teaching, we find animations even more useful. They naturally belong on a screen. They can convey a lot of information very fast. They also spark the children’s interest more effectively than other, more traditional, means of story presentation. Unfortunately, Orthodox-focused animations specifically targeting young children are not always easy to find, so sometimes the teacher may consider using a Christian animation from a non-Orthodox source. In this case, there are a few guidelines to keep in mind:

  • Make sure the content is in line with Orthodox teaching. Only a small detail, such as a word or a phrase, may be enough to place the whole story outside of the Orthodox context. We often rely on our parish priest to point out any non-Orthodox elements in an animation we are considering. A possible way of dealing with this problem, while still reaping the benefits of the moving image, is to mute the sound and relate the story yourself while the animation is playing.
  • Always follow with the real Orthodox text. The students have to feel that the animation is only an interesting introduction, not the actual story. We often ask the children to point out any differences they noticed between the real text and the animation, making a point of how the animation “got it wrong”. They are very good in finding the mistakes!

Hand puppets

If you feel comfortable enough, consider using a hand puppet for part of the lesson – children really enjoy them. Coming from a puppet, even the least interesting topic can become more exciting. Again, you can keep it simple. It doesn’t have to be an elaborate store-bought doll, it can be made out of a sock or a paper bag with supplies you have around the house.

  • There is no real need for a complicated script, the puppet can more or less say what you wanted to say yourself.
  • A fun twist is to have the puppet say wrong or outrageous things that the children then get to correct.

* Click HERE and HERE for an example video.*

Icon work

Working on the icon of the discussed story is an activity we always do in our physical class. Ways to do this in an online setting include:

  • Ask the children to describe what they see and point out specific details. The video call software annotation tools can be helpful for this.
  • Ask the children to help put a number of icons in the correct order.
  • Match icons to their titles during a game. In the “Useful resources” section below, we are sharing tools for making your own games.

* Click HERE for an example video.*

Crafts and worksheets

Crafts and worksheets are staples in our physical classes. We love the hands-on approach they offer; but how could we transfer this experience to the online classroom? We found out that parent support is essential for success.

  • Parents need to help prepare material. This can be as simple as printing out a few pages, or more complicated, like helping out with a craft at the time of the lesson. When deciding whether to do such an activity we ask ourselves: Is the educational value of the activity worth the extra trouble for the parents?
  • When emailing materials for parents to prepare, make sure to do so at least two days before the lesson, also including clear instructions.

Keep the activities simple, as you have to deal with the following two limitations:

  • The children work in varying paces – some of them finish earlier than others. In an online class, there aren’t many options for keeping the ones that have finished occupied while the others are still working.
  • If the children need help with a craft, you can’t really do much to support them other than give instructions.

* Click HERE for an example video.*

Memory verse

As with the activities already discussed, it is preferable that the verse chosen for an online class be short and simple. It could be a few lines from the Scriptures, part of a hymn, or a quote by a saint.

  • The group can work on the same verse over several sessions, learning a small part each time, and then adding it to what was previously learnt.
  • Games can be very helpful. In the “Useful resources” section below, we are sharing tools for making your own games.

* Click HERE for an example video.*


Role-playing is a fun lesson variation. The children get to interact with each other, and this makes the online session feel closer to the real class experience. As with the activities already discussed, it is best to keep it as simple as possible.

  • Paper puppets can be useful, especially for the younger children. On this web site, we are offering paper puppets for almost every topic we have worked on. To use, they are printed, cut out, and then taped onto a craft stick or drinking straw. You can also make your own paper puppets from existing pictures. Coloring pages are very helpful for this. We avoid using real icon images in this type of activity, as we feel it is not respectful.
  • For the older children, a great role-playing resource is the Reader’s Theater of the “Let Us Attend” series of the Antiochian Archdiocese.
  • Like the crafts, role-playing requires parent support – the parents need to print and prepare the text or the puppets. They may also need to help their child practice, especially if the child is young. We are always mindful of burdening the parents too much.

* Click HERE for an example video.*


We love playing games in our real classroom, so we had to find ways of playing them in our online classroom as well. We experimented with different options and came up with a few general guidelines and helpful tools.

  • As with the activities already mentioned, the games have to be quick and simple – this benefits both the teacher preparing them and the students playing them.
  • For technical reasons, it is not practical to have the children directly play against each other, even though this would be more enjoyable. It is much easier if only the teacher controls the game while sharing his/her screen. The students get to watch, answer questions and give directions, while the teacher performs the actions for them.
  • Below we are offering some games we created, and we are discussing some useful platforms for making your own games.

* Click HERE for an example video.*


We custom-created a number of digital games with online teaching in mind, which have had success in our online classrooms. They are versatile enough to be used with any topic. Please CLICK HERE to go to our digital games’ page.


General resources

  • Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese, Department of Christian Education – visit the post dated September 4, 2020 for a fantastic and VERY comprehensive list of resources for online religious education.


Orthodox Children’s Bible Reader Online

Role – playing

Video editing resources

  • Canva is a free online design platform that is easy to learn and allows one to make pretty video clips.
  • Another software we like to use for this kind of project is Adobe Spark, a free online video editing software that is, again, simple to use.

Game resources

  • – A great web site for creating a variety of games and challenges. It is free, simple to use, and customer support is very friendly and helpful. We created many of the games we are offering using this resource.
  • – A popular platform that allows one to easily create online challenges with a gameshow feel. The most fun part of a Kahoot game is that the players get to compare themselves with the other players in real time. You can use the “Challenge” mode to set up an asynchronous challenge that the players complete at their own time. We found Kahoot a little too complicated for using as a resource with young children – but it is a great resource for planning a preteen or GOYA event.
  • Scratch – This is a resource for the adventurous Sunday School teacher – it is not for the faint-at-heart! It is a coding platform created by the MIT Media Lab, which allows one to program interactive stories, games, and animations.