This week, I put together an introductory lesson on patron saints and namedays in preparation for our year-long project on our class’ patron saints. The goal of this lesson was to review, or introduce (depending on the student), the celebration of namedays and how our patron saint plays an active role in our daily life.
Above, you can print the Week 2 teacher lesson plan, as well as the student worksheet.
Begin the lesson with a discussion about saints – Who are saints? Are they some sort of super heroes that are born with special abilities? No. They are people who “take their faith seriously all the time.” They are holy people who have clearly chosen to follow Jesus Christ every single day of their life.
Saint Paul writes letters to groups of people in cities and also to individuals. We read these letters (epistles) during the Divine Liturgy. Talk about how we begin a letter with a salutation – Dear Mr. Smith… Saint Paul begins his letters with salutations as well. Read the salutation in Romans, Corinthians, Ephesians, and Philippians. How does he address the people? He addresses them as saints. Were all the people of Rome and Corinth saints? No, but what he was telling them is that we are all called to be saints and we are all capable of becoming saints IF we live a holy life and follow the example of Christ every day of our lives.
When looking at an icon of a saint, what does the halo around their head mean?
It shows the light of Christ shining forth from within them, sometimes literally (left) and other times through our actions.
Our Patron Saints Bulletin Board Project
1. In our classroom, I put up a timeline of our class’ patron saints on our bulletin board. If you do not have a bulletin board in your classroom or teaching area, could you use part of the wall? Is there a spot in your hall or a hallway where you could do this project? Could you get a roll of fax paper or a roll of art paper to make a timeline and then roll it out onto the table when it’s time to work on the project?
The saints are arranged according to the date of each child’s nameday, starting in September – for the beginning of the ecclesiastical year as well as the school year. I searched for icons of each of my students’ saints and the saints included in our 4th grade curriculum on Google Images. I saved the icon into a document and then brought the document via a thumb drive to FedEx to print them on their self-serve copier. (For all of the icons, I spent less than $10 for color copies.)
Note: I printed the icons for practical purposes. Please do not throw away these prints! Either use them for next year or find a special way to send these icons home with each of the students at the end of this year.
2. I bought a small world map ($4) at my local teacher supply store. I have also seen large, laminated world maps for a reasonable price ($16) at Costco. Look around for a map that fits your size needs and budget.
3. My plan is to learn about each of these saints the week prior to the children’s namedays. We will read stories, discuss how we can emulate these saints in our lives today, and locate where these saints lived on our world map. You could do an even more in-depth study of each of the saints, if desired.
4. At Home: If you wanted to do this lesson with your children at home, you could study not only your immediate family’s patron saints but also grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and godparents. It’s a great lesson that includes learning more about our faith, geography, history, as well as reading and writing skills.
This project in our main hallway is an extension of our patron saints project on the bulletin board in our classroom. I used the idea of the ever popular “About Me” projects and adapted it for learning more about our patron saints.
Each child receives this handout 2 weeks prior to their nameday. They complete the activity at home and return it the following Sunday. Each student can share their work with the class before learning more about their saint for our classroom bulletin board. These handouts are hung up in our hallway to display for parents.