Recently I had to fill out progress reports for my students which meant asking them to say certain prayers out loud with me. I had them pray with a partner and me so that I could determine who knew what prayer. My students had a hard time remembering and reciting their prayers. They were concerned and worried about doing 'badly' on their progress reports. I told each one who had trouble the same thing, "Don't worry, we will continue to practice together and you will know them all by the end of the year." And then I thought... How can I teach them to pray, realize the intent behind their prayer and enjoy it??
Every week our class prays together. I have a class prayer book that I like to use with the kids. I write in a sentence starter and then the kids finish my thought with their personal prayer. I try to write a prayer in this book that ties into our class lesson for example, if we are learning about people helping people in the community, we would write a prayer of thanks to someone who has personally helped us in the community. We close the class with a group prayer, usually the Our Father, Hail Mary or Glory Be, but it doesn't have the feeling that I want it to have. It's more the, "I'm ready to pack-up and go home and eat dinner," and "Is that my Mom I see waiting in the hallway to pick me up?" feeling.
So I decided I am going to have to do something to change my class instruction. I reflected on what I know about my students and how I could connect with them. In the past I have taught pre-schoolers, first graders and fifth grade students. Here is what I know about teaching fourth graders... they are really fun to be around and they love to ask QUESTIONS- lots and lots of questions! It must be something to do with the combination of their age and brain development that makes them wonder how and why things happen. They also ask very good questions, not at all like the kind of questions that little kids pull out of thin air like, "I saw a squirrel in my yard today and I want to know if he would eat Cheerios for breakfast." (Which can de-rail a lesson faster than you can say, "Boo.") Fourth grade questions are on topic and usually are repeated several times (in different ways) in follow-up questions.
Another thing I have noticed is fourth graders really like being in the church! Now I know most of you just did a collective, "What in the world is she talking about?!" Unfortunately parents, it's not during mass that they like being in church, sorry about that! But it's when they can be lead around in a small groups with their peers to see what is in the church and talk about it. They love to see things up close- the candles around the Saints, the Stations of the Cross, the Tabernacle and the special oils. They love to touch the smooth wood of the prayer kneelers or feel the cool marble that makes up the altar. And what they really enjoy is asking questions!!! "Why is the Tabernacle gold? Why is there a loaf of bread and a fish on it? Why is Saint Joseph carrying a flower? Why does the Infant of Prague look like a baby doll? What is that red book? Why is the ceiling of the church so tall?" And on, and on, and on... Being in the church with my class leads to the perfect teachable moment.
An idea began to grow in my mind. I decided to make a Fourth Grade Prayer Ring. I typed up all the prayers (and catechism) that my fourth graders will need to know by the end of the year and will have them assemble them onto a prayer ring. At the beginning of class each week we will stay in the church briefly before class and recite a prayer together. We will pick a special area to pray in each week and than have a mini-lesson about what we see in that part of the church. The kids will learn the unique things about their church and at the same time they will be surrounded by the special, peaceful atmosphere which is helpful when teaching young children how to pray.
|This is the completed Fourth Grade Prayer Ring|
|To make your own prayer ring your will need 4 x 6 inch index cards|
|You will need a split ring|
|Use a hole-punch to punch a hole in the top left corner|
|Print out the prayers|
|Cut out the prayers and use a glue stick to glue onto cards|
Decorate the prayer (I used colored pencils)
I wrapped my split ring in pink ribbon and added an angel charm to make it even more special!
My prayer ring is finished! I am going to have the class assemble their prayer rings next week and then the following week we will use them in the church. I plan on passing them out to students in the church and collecting them each week. Then at our last class I will send them home with the kids.
Pray the Hail Mary by a statue of Mary
Pray the Our Father by the Tabernacle
Pray the Act of Contrition by the Confessional
Pray the Glory Be by the Candles
In my store on Teachers Pay Teachers I have included a section to download that can be used for Second Grade, Third Grade, Fourth Grade, and Family Prayers. Shannon's Store on TPT
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