I’ve been working on a lot of curricular resources in the background these past few years, and it’s time to start sharing them! As I am working on books filled with room design tips (to teach through space) and lesson plans, I want to share some basic tools that will help all Sunday school teachers share access to the faith.
Here’s what you need to get started:
Use some of these worksheets or print outs to find patterns that recur throughout salvation history in the Bible, saints’ lives, hymns, Divine Litury/Mass, and our own lives with God! Sensory Anchors (or somatic markers) are explained in my book Of Such is the Kingdom: A Practical Theology of Disability, available from (aff link) Amazon or the Ancient Faith Store. Identifying these markers not only builds theological reasoning, discernment, and awareness of God in our lives, but it is vital to the formation of long term memories, especially when we combine study with gross motor movements and room design.
Print these out and have them available in several places around your classroom or as laminated sets, so that all students have access to them. If you have visually impaired students, consider getting the physical example of that week’s anchors and bringing them in so the students can touch it.
That week’s anchors? How will I know? Well…
LECTIONARY LEARNING TEMPLATE & EXAMPLE
While I have not yet compiled a full year of lessons to share, I have a template for you today as well as an example lesson prep form for this coming Sunday’s Gospel in the Western Rite Orthodox jurisdictions. Over the course of the year, I will be compiling Western Rite and Eastern Rite Orthodox Lectionary guides, which I will list as low cost PDFs or paperbacks in the Park End Books store as part of the Accessible Church School project. But for now, here’s what we have.
These templates help you look ahead over the course of the month or season, sketch out the Gospel readings, summarize, identify the virtues and sensory anchors, and plan for discussions. As is, using them will give you all you need to teach HIGH SCHOOL LEVEL and ADULT students, alongside physical examples of sensory anchors (show and tell), acting out lessons with brief skits or conversationally, outdoor lessons, or with full-scale artwork if you’d like. You can incorporate the insights gained from these worksheets into learning conversations while kids paint artwork or try out an activity (like rope weaving) in a saint’s life.
For younger children especially, it’s important that you ADD GROSS MOTOR EXPERIENCES such as sensory bins, building with large foam blocks, moving through a classroom as a group, processing around a prayer path, and other movement-based teaching. Read more about this in my book Of Such is the Kingdom. Younger children will likely need two or three weeks to practice very important lessons like those from the parables. But even for preparing to teach young children, this template is an excellent TEACHER PREPARATION TOOL. When you know the context, you can be flexible with the young children and teach them more of the faith in a child-led inquiry.
Here’s the template alone in PDF:
Let’s take a closer look:
The top section is for you to add which Sunday in which season, for instance the 3rd Sunday after the Epiphany, or the Fourth Sunday after Pascha. The Gospel is where you will write the scripture reference, such as Matthew 8: 1-13. Below that, there are spaces to list the sensory anchors you notice in the passage as well as the virtues you see in the passage. If you happen to be teaching a passage with vices in it, you can identify the opposite virtue. Lower down, there are prompts for noting where else the sensory anchors show up in the life of faith. Your students can help you brainstorm these, too, but this is important to go over on your own at first in order to get started. For saints’ lives, start with the ones closest on the calendar, and then add ones that particularly stand out, either for their related sensory anchors, virtues, or because they’re in the scripture. Next, note some of the most important passages so you can prompt the kids to act those out. For instance, if Jesus heals someone, you will want to have that part acted out. Finally, if there are things in your parish’s life, current events more broadly, or something appropriate to share that occurred to you from your own life, note those things at the bottom of the page.
Here’s an example of a filled in form to help teachers get started. Notice that there’s room for more. You should always ask the kids to add what they know first in discussion, and then you can add more to fill out the lesson. But for preparation, it’s important that you go through the whole process yourself, too. When you’re teaching, write the students’ responses on a white board or a large piece of paper taped to the wall. This will encourage participation by giving immediate feedback that they are being heard.
CHRISTIAN EDUCATION/SUNDAY SCHOOL DIRECTORS
If you’re preparing one of these templates for your teachers, make sure to include a print out (and paste into an email) the full Gospel passage as well as scriptural references for the Old Testament anchor passages. I usually use a site such as Oremus or Bible Gateway to find and print out the scripture passages in whichever translations we need.
If you’re interested in moving your program towards accessibilty, please contact me at summerkinard at gmail dot com. I consult with parishes for a fee. Also please look through the generous list of free resources on my Disability Resources tab.
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