Faith-Based Play Day In this play day, teams of students will rotate to different stations to participate in the activities based on the five themes for Catholic Education. It is meant to be a cooperative activity so that everyone has fun and feels good. There are three stations for each theme. If the school is a large one, the organizer may have to use these ideas and create their own to supplement. If the school is smaller, you may select only the number you require for the time allotted. Please feel very free to adapt and modify the play day as you need to. This outline is intended to assist you, not limit you. Intermediate students may be invited to serve as group leaders and activity assistants but it is important that teachers get involved as supervision is required for behavior management or adjustments to an activity that is falling short of its purpose.
Sub-theme One – Serve with Faithfulness Activity One– Listening to a Story Purpose: to have fun while listening attentively to a story about a faithful servant.
Materials needed: many Read-Aloud books are available – a possible title is:
Love You Forever by Robert Munsch – available on YouTube (the jdworkshop version is best – 7.17 minutes)
Preparation: Choose a story appropriate for the age group and time allotted for the session. Prepare the story by reading it a few times so you can read it smoothly and with expression.
Structure: Ask students to sit and listen carefully to the story that will be read. Ask them to think about how the story can help us to be faithful servants of God.
Activity Two – Sing a Song of Faith Purpose: to be rooted in the idea that I can have a positive impact on the world around me (be a person of faith and service).
Materials needed: a song that is appropriate for this purpose, some suggestions are:
Be God’s by Danielle Rose – available on YouTube, lyrics on following page.
With My Own Two Hands by Jack Johnson
Children of the Light by Sacred Warrior
When I Get Older by Ka’naan
I Believe by Nikki Yanofsky
Rainbow Connection by the Muppets
Cat.Chat CD for kids songs: Jump In, I Wanna Say YES!
I am Called Preparation: Get a copy of the song on CD or YouTube connection. Be sure the words to any song are appropriate to the age group and for this purpose, i.e. songs by certain artists are peppy but the words are not appropriate. For example the song Born This Way by Lady Gaga, has words in it that would be offensive to some parents.
Prepare lyrics for projection so students can follow the words and hear the tune – this might be available on YouTube.
Set up equipment.
Structure: Ask students to listen to the song and look at the words first time through. Replay song and encourage students to sing along. If students would like to dance to the music too, once they are singing the song, allow the students to do so. In this way they understand that faith can be fun!
Where the world is merciless … Be God’s mercy.
Where the world is hopeless … Be God’s hope.
Where there is injustice … Be God’s justice.
Where there is sadness … Be God’s joy.
Where the world is doubting … Be God’s faith.
Where there is ingratitude … Be God’s grace.
Where there is confusion … Be God’s truth.
Where there is weakness … Be God’s strength.
Let your life change the world
one person at a time.
Let your life be the presence of
our Lord Jesus Christ.
As the bread becomes his Body
we can be the living sign.
With God’s love change the world
with your life. Where the world is wounded … Be God’s healing.
Where the world is weeping … Be God’s song.
Where there is despairing … Be God’s beauty.
Where there is crumbling … Be God’s rock.
Where there is no tenderness … Be God’s child.
Where there is loneliness … Be God’s smile.
Where the world is dying … Be God’s life.
Where there is darkness … Be God’s light. If you want the world to change … Be God’s love.
Use your gifts to bless this day … Be God’s love.
God has greater plans for you … Be God’s love.
Plans to make a saint of you … Be God’s love.
Heaven will fall down to earth … Thank you Father.
When you live a life of love … Thank you Son.
The lame will walk, the blind will see … Thank you Spirit. Jesus dwells in me.
Activity Three – Be A Faithful Friend Purpose: to give our students opportunity to celebrate faithful friendships.
Materials needed: words of the song to be used written in large print so everyone can see it. Leader to practice hand clap enough that it becomes automatic with song.
Directions: Each child needs a partner and the partners need to face each other. Partners need to learn the “Be My Friend Hand Clap.”
Friends are kind; (hit hands on own thighs, together, on partner’s hands)
Friends are nice. (hit hands on own thighs, together, on partner’s hands)
Be my friend; now don’t think twice. (hit hands on own thighs, together, right to right hands, together, left to left hands, together, on partner’s hands)
We’ll have fun (hit hands on own thighs, together, on partner’s hands)
Every day. (hit hands on own thighs, together, on partner’s hands)
Come on, now, what do you say? (hit hands on own thighs, together, right to right, together, left to left, together, on partner’s hands)
Directions: Sit in a circle. One child walks around the outside of the circle, touching each child on the shoulder as everyone sings (tune: “Row, Row, Row Your Boat”):
Friend, friend, come and play, come and play with me;
Running, skipping, hopping, jumping, happy we will be!
The person who is touched on the word “me” enters the circle with the person who was “it.”
They hop, jump, skip, clap hands, or do any other motion they choose while the rest of the children sing
the last two lines. The friend becomes “it” and the game continues. Play until everyone has had a turn to be in the circle.
Taken from Learning By Doing – 150 Activities to Enrich Religion Classes for Young Children by Carole MacClennan, Twenty-third Publications, Mystic CT, 1993, pages 32
Sub-theme Two – Serve with Humility Activity Four – Creating Doorstop Purpose: to create a brick or stone doorstop. A doorstop serves humbly on the ground and is invaluable when used.
Materials needed: enough bricks or stones to be decorated, paint, paint brushes, fabric, glue, scissors, felt
Directions: Put newspaper down on the table surface to protect it from paint. Put felt on the bottom of the stone/brick so it does not scratch floor surface. Students will paint or cover the brick/stones with fabric. Set a place for the finished products to dry.
Activity Five – Friends of the Earth Purpose: to live as a friend of the Earth. Students need to discern that littering is not being a friend to the earth. And even though we may not have put the garbage on the ground, it is a great act of care to pick the litter up. Humility is a characteristic that comes from the root word “Humus” which means of the earth.
Materials Needed: bags to put garbage in, plastic gloves for one hand – to pick up the trash, bright orange safety vests – if going out of school yard, brooms and shovels if there is a need to sweep up.
Structure: Please follow Board policy re: garbage collection with students. Plan a nature walk and give everyone a plastic glove and bag to put trash in. If the school yard needs cleaning – do that first. If there is trash in the neighbourhood that needs to be picked up – do that if it is safe to do so. Do not pick up anything that is broken or glass – inform teacher about it.
Activity Six – May is the Month of Mary Purpose: to come to know Mary better.
Materials needed: set up a prayer space in the room with a candle, a statue of Mary, a Bible. Near the prayer space (on the floor or a table of a lower level), display a collection of common household, outdoor and office objects. Print the words to the Hail Mary in large print and post it where every student can see it.
Structure: Gather the children in front of the table and light the candle and prayerfully raise a statue of Mary and say, “Holy Mary, mother of God, pray for us.”
Share a little teaching about Mary:
Mary was a faithful, humble servant of God.
We do not worship Mary but honour her. We worship God and Jesus because they are divine. We honour Mary in a special way because she was Jesus’ mother. She cared for Jesus and Joseph in their home in Nazareth.
Mary was one of Jesus’ first disciples.
Mary was human, just like us. We honour her but do not worship her.
Call the group’s attention to the table of common objects. Ask the participants to consider which object they would choose as an icon of Mary (an icon is an object that in some way reminds us of God or a holy person.)
Ask the students to pick up the object that reminds them of Mary and explain why they chose that object. How does the object remind them of Mary?
Everyone pray the Hail Mary together.
Sub-theme Three – Serve with Compassion Activity Seven – The Good Samaritan Purpose: is to learn the deeper meaning of the parable – serving with compassion.
Materials needed: children’s lectionary version of the parable (one provided below), some props (robber paraphernalia, tensor bandage, Jewish priest symbol, temple worker symbol, inn keeper symbol)
Note to teacher: In Jesus’ time, the Samaritans were considered traitors because they had turned their backs on their Jewish faith and as a result were considered outcasts by the Jewish community. When dramatizing this parable, please contextualize it to assist students to make meaningful connections. For example, the Samaritan is someone unexpected to show compassion and would be excluded today. Preparation: Ask a junior class the question – What type of person is your least favourite person to play with at recess? Write all their ideas on a big piece of chart paper. No student names should appear on the paper. Ask an older student who reads well to be the reader or narrator of the story so it is the same reader each time. This is meant to be improv not a practiced performance so as the reader reads the script the students with the roles act out what the reader says.
Directions: Most students should recognize the story of the Good Samaritan. Invite students to take roles listed below – assign these randomly and give them their prop symbol.
Reader – should have a special book with the script inside (can be the teacher)
Man or woman – any symbol (something that could not be used as a weapon but something that a robber would want to take – i.e. iPod)
Robbers – symbol – gun or rope or stick + this is the only role where there is more than one actor
Priest – a scarf used as a stole + hands can be folded in front of him/her
Temple worker – broom
Samaritan – pin the chart paper sheet on the front of the person + he/she should have the tensor bandage to wrap over the beaten character & some coins
Innkeeper – apron
Read the script and have students act out the parts.
Debrief: Were you surprised by who acted like a good neighbour? So were the people Jesus was teaching. What does the parable teach us?
The Children’s Lectionary version of the Good Samaritan
One day a wo/man was going from Jerusalem to Jericho.
On her/his way, some robbers came along
and they beat her/him,
stole her/his things and left her/him on the ground,
After a while a priest came along.
But when he saw the wo/man lying on the ground, he kept going.
Then a wo/man who worked in the Temple came along.
But s/he also walked away and left the wo/man lying there.
Then a person from Samaria came down that same road.
When s/he saw the poor wo/man lying on the ground,
s/he felt sorry for her/him and went over to help her/him.
S/he cleaned her/his cuts and put bandages on them.
Then the Samaritan lifted the wo/man onto her/his donkey and took her/him to an Inn.
S/he stayed with her/him all night and took care of her/him.
s/he gave some money to the owner of the Inn and said,
“Please take care of this wo/man.
If it costs more than what I am giving you,
I will pay you the rest when I come back.”
Then Jesus said,
“Now, which of these three people do you think acted like a neighbour to the one who was beaten and robbed?”
They answered, “The one who was kind and took care of her/him.”
Activity Eight – Flowers of Mercy Purpose: to teach the students the works of mercy demanded by the gospel.
Note to teacher: The corporal works of mercy are part of our Catholic faith tradition. They involve responding to the physical needs of our neighbor. Materials needed: flower petals of seven different colours of paper, green stems of paper or pipe cleaners, glue, scissors, pencils and crayons of eight colours
Preparation: Prepare flower petals of eight different colours – pre-cut for easy assembly. Or prepare a flower of paper so the petals can be coloured the different colours. Prepare straight green stems and green leaves.
Directions: Each colour of petal represents a work of mercy. Feed the hungry – orange; Visit the imprisoned – purple; Shelter the homeless – beige; Give to the poor – pink; Clothe the naked – red; Bury the dead – white; Visit the sick – yellow; Give drink to the thirsty – blue.
Ask students passing out the petals to explain what work of mercy is represented by their colour of petal. See chart below to give simple explanations (local agencies can be mentioned, or a school’s traditional way of meeting the needs of poor). Students assemble their flowers of mercy. If there is time, include writing the work of mercy on the petal with a pencil.
Work of Mercy
Feed the hungry
Human bodies need food to live so it is important when people do not have food that we help them by sharing food with them. Jesus multiplied fish and loaves to feel the hungry people following him. An example of how we do this is non-perishable food collection.
Shelter the homeless
Everyone needs shelter to protect them. When people become homeless it is important to help them to have shelter so they can be safe and comfortable. Mary and Joseph could not find a room so Mary could give birth to Jesus. Jesus was homeless when he was born. An example of how this is done is Habitat for Humanity.
Give drink to the thirsty
Human bodies need water to live. Quenching someone’s thirst is always welcome. Sometimes people will drink water that is polluted because it is the only source available. Companies have bottled water to make a profit. An example of how we do this is building wells in Africa to assist people to get clean water.
Clothe the naked
Clothing keeps us comfortable. It gives us dignity. When people do not have enough clothing we can help them by sharing clothes with them. An example of how we do this is a Coats for Kids campaign.
Visit the sick
When people feel sick they require care and medicine to make them well. Jesus performed many healing miracles. When we visit the sick we can show our care for their well-being. An example of how we do this is to visit a classmate who is away from school for several days.
Visit the imprisoned
Sometimes people do the wrong thing and are put in jail. Their action may be wrong but they still deserve dignity as people. Sometimes people are put in jail and they have not done anything wrong. John the Baptist was put in jail for making the king angry. St. Paul also spent time in jail. By visiting those in jail we show them respect and compassion. An example of how we can do this is to write letters with our parents to send to those in jail.
The poor need help. They may need food, shelter, clothing and many other things. Jesus invites us to take care of them. The poor are more vulnerable because they may not be able to provide for themselves. An example of how we do this is to fundraise with the money going to the St. Vincent de Paul Society.
Bury the dead
Once someone dies they cannot take care of themselves. It is important for us to make sure that the body is prepared for burial. It is also necessary for the body to be buried. Attending someone’s wake or funeral is one way that we can honour the dead and their families who grieve.
Activity Nine – Canada’s Newest Saint – Brother André
Purpose: to introduce students to St. André Bessette, a model of serving with compassion.
Materials needed: a picture of St. André or the video made by Salt & Light, a biographical sheet with key points of St. André’s life (Wikipedia as a source)
Directions: Ask students – What is compassion (with heart, with love)?
What does it mean to serve with compassion?
Do you know the name of Canada’s newest Saint (St.André Bessette of Montréal)?
Tell the students about St. André, stressing his simplicity (humility), his faithfulness and his compassion for the sick. If it is possible to get pictures of the canes and walking sticks on the wall of the Oratory to show the students how many people have been healed by intercession of St. André, they may be inspired to follow in his footsteps. If a copy of the video is available, show the video and stress the points above.
Sub-theme Four – Serve with Justice Activity Ten – If You Only Had Ten Minutes to Serve the World Purpose: to invite students to think about how long ten minutes is and what they could do to serve the world within that time frame.
Materials needed: a timer, paper and pencils
Direction: Have the leader ask students to sit down on the floor. Give each student a piece of paper and a pencil. Ask students to write down all of the ways they would make the world a better place if they only had ten minutes to do it (a list of things that take ten minutes or less). The leader sets a timer for ten minutes and invites the students to begin. After ten minutes, the leader says stop. Ask students to share their best idea with the group. Invite the students to practice their ten minute service projects in the next week to see what difference they can make.
Activity Eleven – Noli’s House Purpose: for students to learn how people live in houses very different than their own.
Materials needed: Noli’s House story, cardboard boxes, plastic sheets, tarps, house making stuff but no tape/scissors/glue
Direction: Have someone read the story below. If time permits, have students try to build a house out of materials that could be found in a dump. Do not give adhesive material, or cutting materials, as people in these countries would not have access to these. Have students try to build a house for two people to be able to sleep in. If activity can be done outdoors, this is ideal. It is important to make sure all the building materials return indoors once activity is completed (no littering happening in the construction process).
NOLI’S DREAM HOUSE – A story from South Africa
Introduction: In South Africa, people live in different kinds of houses, depending on what they can afford. Some houses are big and beautiful, some are nice and a good size, others are small and poor. In this story, you will learn about a child who has no house. You will see how the family creates a shelter to live in.
Hi! My name is Noli and I live in a shantytown. We cannot afford a house, so we build ours out of anything we can find. We use cardboard boxes, any length of boards and sheets of tin. You name it and we’ll find a way to use it to build a house. That house over there has a wall made from a package that carried soda from the United States. Some people have found metal to make roofs. Mostly, though, we pull plastic sheets over the tops of our houses. That keeps the rain out pretty well. The wind can tear these off, of course, so we pile old tires on top to keep the roof in place. We use old tires to make fences too. What do you use old tires for?
I am always looking for things people throw away. The other day, I found a window in a dump! The glass wasn’t even broken. The window was heavy, but I dragged it home. My mom was so happy! We moved some boards around and made room for the window. Our shanty is really tiny, but with more light coming in, it seems bigger. It’s still very dark at night because we have no electricity.
We do have water, though. A pump is nearby, protected by two big tires. We take our bucket there, wait in line and then pump the water.
The whole shantytown is built on very sandy ground. Who else would live here but people too poor to own land? There are only a few trees. Mostly, it’s sand and garbage. My mom dragged home a piece of carpet someone had thrown out. We laid it down on the ground that our shanty stands on. That rug makes it a lot warmer than just living on the ground.
I wish I lived in a real house. A lot of people are working here to build real houses that folks like us can afford. I’ve seen them: row after row of cement block houses. Each one has four strong walls, a couple of windows and a door that locks! There are even little yards where people plant flowers. They can also hang their clean clothes out to dry. My mom’s hope is that some day we will get one of those houses. My hope is that it happens before I grow up.
Story borrowed from Teaching Compassion and Justice through Stories and Activities, Anne E. Neuberger, Twenty-third Publications, Mystic CT, page 59.
Activity Twelve – The Importance of Forgiveness in a World of Justice
This activity needs to be lead by a teacher or counsellor
Purpose: to practice saying “I am sorry for … and next time I will try …” and “I forgive you.”
Note to teacher: If time allows, ask students how it feels when they don’t forgive others. An Africa folklore says “that to not forgive is like drinking poison and expecting it to harm the other person.” Materials needed: put the two phrases above on chart paper in large print so everyone can see them.
Direction: Ask students to get a partner then with a partner discuss what you would do in the following situation: Someone calls you a bad name. What would you do?
Ask students to think of the last time someone said something to hurt their feelings.
If the person did say it, ask them: Did you say “I forgive you”?
If the person did not say it, ask them: Did you forgive them?
Ask students to think of the last time they said something to hurt the feelings of someone else.
Once students remember the situation, ask them: Did you say “I am sorry”?
If they did say it, ask them: Did the person you hurt say “I forgive you”?
If they did not say it, ask them: Why did you not say it?
Short little talk: It is so important to say these two simple sentences. “I am sorry.” “I forgive you.” It helps to make our lives more peaceful. It helps our conscience to be healed. It helps us to be in good relationship with others.
Ask students: Who do you disagree with more – your family members or your friends? Why?
Short little talk: Sometimes we disagree with our family more than our friends because we think that our family has to love us and forgive us but our friends do not have to. We may be afraid that our friends won’t like us if we disagree with them. It is important not to take our family for granted. We need to practice saying “I am sorry” and “I forgive you” when we are aware that we have hurt someone. Let’s practice together.
The response to each phrase is “I am sorry.”
For the times I say something hurtful ~ lift arm up to indicate that a response is required.
For the times I do something that causes someone pain ~
For the times I do not do something I should do ~
For the times I yell at someone ~
For the times I swear at someone ~
For the times I bully someone ~
Let us pray …
Loving God, help us to say these two special sentences.
Guide our consciences and help us develop a good sense of right and wrong.
We want to live in a world of justice and peace.
Let us do our part to serve in the love of Christ. Amen +
Sub-theme Five – Serve with Joy Activity Thirteen – My Family’s Love Wind Charm Purpose: to celebrate the gift of family.
Materials needed: 8” twig or stick, craft foam, thin yard, rope, fishing line or dental floss, hole punch, small jingle bells (5 per child), scissors
Preparation: Cut five leaf shapes per child from your craft foam.
Punch a hole at the top and the bottom of the leaves.
Tie a 7” piece of string to the top of your leaves.
Using a shorter piece of string, tie a jingle bell to the other end of each leaf.
Tie a 12” piece of string to each end of the twig (for hanging the wind charm at home)
Assemble kits. Each kit should have: one twig with a hanger string and five leaves with bells and string attached.
Craft time: Write the names of your family members on each side of the leaves. Tie the leaves evenly spaced from the stick/twig. Hang at home and celebrate the gift of family.
Activity Fourteen – An Earthly Gift – Pinecone Bird Feeder Purpose: to create a beautiful pinecone to feed and nourish our beautiful friends the birds. Birds’ songs bring a gentle joy to ears who can hear them.
Materials needed: pinecones (one for each child), craft sticks or plastic knife, 12” long yarn or string, bird seeds, paper plate for shortening, shortening, plastic sandwich bags, large plastic container
Preparation: Tie yard around the large end of the pinecone so it will hang down. Fill a large container with bird seed. Assemble kits. Each kit includes: one pinecone, one plastic bag, one craft stick or plastic knife and one paper plate.
Hand out pre-assembled kits. Or an older student gathers one of each of the items required to complete the craft.
Place a scoop of shortening onto each paper plate, so there is less waste, be fragile with the scoop, they can always come back for more.
Using the craft stick/plastic knife, smear the shortening all over the pinecone.
Drop the pinecone into the plastic container of bird seed and roll around. Make sure the bird seed covers the majority of your pinecone.
Finally, hang your new bird feeder in a tree at home or at school and enjoy watching God’s creation. If the students are taking them home, place the finished pinecone into the plastic bag for safekeeping.
Idea taken from 37 Catholic Classroom Crafts … in 20 Minutes or Less! Pages 13-14
Activity Fifteen – Sabbath moment – rest often brings joy Purpose: to enjoy a rest and a treat.
Materials needed: a treat – one for each participant (treat should meet with the new Food & Beverage Policy), play joyful music – YouTube video called “Happy” by Pharrell Williams OR show clips of the movie “Happy Feet” while students eat their treat.
Structure: Invite students to enjoy the treat and the rest from activity. This is like a Sabbath moment. God rested on the seventh day. God showed us it is important to take a break from activity and enjoy the moment.