My Orthodox Family


Introduction (Ages 4-6)

" For whoever does the will of My Father in heaven is My brother, and sister and mother. "    - Matthew 12:50

My Orthodox Family , a parish-wide, self-study program, is designed to help us discover and develop ways we can continue to become living examples of Christ in our lives, while we help to build up society (i.e. “the world”).   We are responsible for our behavior in all the communities and “families” in which we live:   home, church, school, neighborhood, government, the environment, etc.   Our coming together as a community in Christ is the essence of our faith. “The word church, as we remember, means a gathering or assembly of people specifically chosen and called apart to perform a particular task.”  (Hopko, The Orthodox Faith II, Worship). No matter what our background, this is what binds us as Christians, and family members of His Holy Church.

The journey begins when Christians leave their homes and beds.   They leave, indeed, their life in this present and concrete world, and whether they have to drive fifteen miles, or walk a few blocks, a sacramental act is already taking place, an act which is the very condition of everything else that is to happen.   For they are now on their way to constitute the Church, or to be more exact, to be transformed into the Church of God.  - Schmemann, For the Life of the World

As Orthodox Christians in America, we are a diverse mixture of peoples from throughout the world.  Looking back on four or five generations, many of us can trace our families to immigrants from Greece, the Middle East, Russia, Central and Eastern Europe, Siberia and the Far East.   Traveling long distances, our ancestors established new families and communities on the North American continent.  They discovered here the same Orthodox faith that Native Alaskans had adopted in 1794 from Russian Missionaries to America.  In a little over 200 years, Orthodox parishes have populated North America with more than 4-5 million people!

Our parish communities today include many new people who have found their home in the Orthodox Church.   They or their ancestors have come from a multitude of nations—Irish, Italian, English, Scandinavian and German cultures from Western and Northern Europe, as well as a mixture of traditional cultures from Africa, Asia, Mexico, and South America.   We not only live in multicultural societies, but in multicultural parishes in Canada, the United States, and Mexico.   As Orthodox Christians in America, spending time finding out who we are and where we want to go as an Orthodox community will help us see ourselves as a part of our local, regional, national, and world communities.  Along with those roles comes responsibility.   Every person within the parish community has a role to play; from the newly baptized, to the oldest.   How we see ourselves and our role as a Family of God is critical to the survival of the parish, as well as the entire Church in this world.

As God’s children we are called to witness our faith.   We are called to understand who we are as Orthodox Christians, and to bear witness to God with our families and friends by being good neighbors, reaching out to help others, and standing up and protecting those who are being mistreated, or are victims of discrimination or prejudice.   We are also called to know and live our faith; to correct misconceptions and wrong information about our beliefs, as well as to respect people of other faiths.  

Overall Objectives of the Unit

Throughout the duration of this FOCUS Unit, teachers will find it helpful to keep two main overarching objectives in mind:

  • Identify ourselves as Orthodox people, bound together as a family in Christian Love.
  • Understand that, as faithful Orthodox Christians, we must commit ourselves to His Commandment to love one another through acts of compassion and charity to all of God’s people.

Objectives are things which the students should be able to do as a result of the session. Keeping the two main obj,ectives in mind can help us, as teachers, focus on the important fact that our parishes were established for the purposes of worship, community, mission, and good works for each other, and for those in the world around us.  

God made us His People through the sacraments of the Church.   We became God’s Children in Baptism.  He anointed us with the Holy Oil of Chrism and called us to be His People; to hear, understand, and proclaim His Word as God’s prophets; to protect and care for the world as His anointed Kings—clothed in the white garment of Holiness; and to offer up to Him everything we are and do as a holy gift and service, as gifts offered by priests.   God calls us to restore the world as the Paradise He created for His people in the Garden.   He calls us to everlasting life in His Kingdom.   It is through life in the Church that we become His holy people who are called to do His work in this world!

How the Unit is Arranged

The unit is comprised of six sessions of about 45 minutes each.  The first five deal with identity, self-study, and involvement within our parish; while the last focuses on our involvement within our communities. The suggested prayers are just that.   Singing the Troparion of the parish is certainly appropriate as an opening prayer, with the closing being whatever hymn or prayer is your parish tradition for gatherings.  Students at the youngest level should probably keep the same prayers throughout the sessions for consistency.  

The lessons have been developed based on five age levels:  ages 4-6, ages 7-9, ages 10-12, ages 13-17, and 18-older.  Every age level has its own individual lesson plan.  All the lesson plans contain the following parts:

  • FOCUS Unit Title, Lesson Title & Age Level
  • Lesson Objectives
    The lesson objectives are the things measurable by the teacher.  Through questions, discussion and activity participation teachers can measure whether students were able to fulfill these objectives. If they cannot, teachers will know that review or repetition may be necessary.
  • Materials
    Materials are the various items required to teach the lesson.   These include items such as craft materials and classroom Bibles.  
  • Resources
    Resources are items the DCE has provided for use while teaching the lesson.  These include printable icons, line drawings, handouts, liturgical texts, Bible stories, planning worksheets and many other kinds of professionally developed teacher resources to aide in teaching the lesson.  The resources have been categorized into two groups: Required Resources and Supplemental Resources.  Required resources are specifically referred to within the lesson plan.  Supplemental resources are generally useful in gathering background information.  Often, the supplemental resources will be links to external web sites and suggested books for the teacher to read.
  • Lesson Procedure
    This is a step-by step outline of how the session should go. Please be aware that some lessons require advance preparation--read lessons, prepare for them, and think prayerfully about them well before you meet students in the classroom.

Every Family Has a Story (Ages 4-6)

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Overview

Family Is Love - Every family’s story is different and each generation tells a different story about their ways of life, their joys, and their hardships.
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Objectives

By the end of this Lesson, learners should be able to:

  • Hear stories about families and their lives together
  • Compare stories with their own family lives
  • Identify family members from pictures
  • Draw/paste pictures of family members on a page as the beginning step to a unit scrapbook
  • Recall and orally share family/ancestor story with class
  • See themselves as part of the family
  • Give examples of how their family loves them
  • Connect God’s love with the people who love us
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Materials

  • 9x12 construction paper (3 per student)
  • 8.5x11 white lined paper (1 per student)
  • 6' Yarn strips (3 per student)
  • Rounded Scissors (optional to fit photos)
  • Glue Sticks
  • Crayons
  • Pencils
  • Washable Markers
  • Paper Hole Punch
  • Icon for prayer
  • Family Pictures
    Family Members, Special Occasions, Holidays, Vacations, Baptism
  • Written Ancestor Story
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Resources


Required Resources Optional Resources
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Procedure

1

Opening Prayer

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.   Amen.

O Heavenly King, the Comforter, the Spirit of Truth
Who art everywhere and fillest all things.  
Treasury of Blessings, and Giver of Life:  
Come and abide in us, and cleanse us from every impurity,
And save our souls, O Good One.


2

Discussion Starter

Begin by asking the following questions, allowing time for each student to answer:

  • Who lives with us? (Family)
  • What do you love the most about your family?
    Answers should reflect student’s awareness of ways their families express their love. 
  • Can anyone tell me how God shows us He loves us?
    Answers should reflect God’s love.  As students answer, interject statements making comparison of family love with God’s love for us.

3

Story

Share one of the suggested stories listed, or one of your choice.   You could also read portions of one or two stories to build upon background discussion.  Ask students if they can recall the persons in the families described in the story.

Note:  You may skip this step, if your time is limited.


4

Family Scrapbook

An activity that will enable the students to create a Family Scrapbook.

5

Wrap-Up

  • What do we love most about our families? (Allow student responses)
  • How does God show us He loves us?    (Answers should reflect reinforcement of student understanding of God’s love and the parallels with the love of families.)

6

Closing Prayer

O Lord, save Thy people, and bless thine inheritance.
Grant victories to the Orthodox Christians over their adversarie;
And by  virtue of Thy cross, preserve Thy habitation.

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen

7

Extra Activity - Life-Sized Figures

Extra Activity (for use with extra/extended sessions)

 

Note: With younger children, you will need assistance to keep them busy while figures are measured, cut, and outlined. At least one other person will be needed to assist in these tasks while another is working on another activity (see above)

 

  • Life –Sized Figures
    These life-sized, self-portrait figures can be hung in the classroom throughout the year, in the parish center as a display, or with the church-wide projects of My Orthodox Family.
    Materials:
    • Roll of wide butcher paper
    • Crayons
    • Washable markers
    • Rounded scissors
    • Washable paints, fabric pieces, trim (or other materials for decoration), glue (optional)
    Procedure:
    1. Measure and cut a piece of butcher paper, the height of the tallest student. Use this as a sample to cut enough for each student.
    2. Have one student lie on the paper and draw a complete figure outline. If space is a problem, trace a half-figure or head profile.
    3. Students can color, paint, and glue fabric or other materials to desired results.

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Life Together as a Family (Ages 4-6)

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Overview

Family Means Belonging - Families share everything; love, joy, good times and bad. They help and support one another, both physically and spiritually.
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Objectives

By the end of this Lesson, learners should be able to:

  • Identify families as cooperative, supportive, sharing.
  • List what we do at home to help other members of our family.
  • Describe/explore, elaborate on what it means to belong to a family.
  • Connect belonging to a family with belonging to different groups (parish, church school, activities, sports, school)
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Materials

  • Sheets of white or colored construction paper (9x12”) with holes punched (1 per student)
  • Pictures cut from magazines/catalogs/newspapers showing families, activities (swimming, playing games, reading books, board-games, toys, schools/schoolwork, laundry, cleaning and garden tools, …)
  • Copies of photos showing family members doing things together
  • Scissors, paste/glue, markers/ crayons
  • Board, dryboard, butcher paper
  • Chalk, dry markers, markers
  • Copies of family pictures depicting activities
  • 3 small personal items
  • Stories for children about families and cooperation (see in Teacher Resources-Tools: Saints, Literature and Children’s Stories, for summaries), choose one you feel reflect families, relationships, and interaction.
  • Icon for prayer
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Resources


Required Resources Optional Resources
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Procedure

1

Opening Prayer

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.   Amen.

O Heavenly King, the Comforter, the Spirit of Truth
Who art everywhere and fillest all things.  
Treasury of Blessings, and Giver of Life:  
Come and abide in us, and cleanse us from every impurity,
And save our souls, O Good One.


2

Discussion Starter-Bridge

Begin by reviewing last week’s session. Activate prior knowledge by asking students,  Who can tell me what they love about their family? (Allow time for students to share.)
  • Ask students, What did we learn about God’s love for us? (Allow time for students to think before answering. May need to prompt with key words--love, creating families)
  • Building upon prior knowledge, ask students, Where else do we feel loved and like we belong? How about school? Church? Church School? (Allow students to elaborate)

3

Story

Share one of the stories listed, or one of your choice. You may also read portions of one or two stories to build upon background discussion. Ask students if they can recall the persons in the families described in the story.
Note: You may skip this step, if your time is limited.


4

Family Memories Scrapbook

In Advance: Place materials close by for easy distribution to students.
  • Begin with a discussion on families (2-5 minutes); things they like to do together, anecdotes about what they like to talk about when they are remembering events with their families, etc. Ask, What does it mean to belong to a family? (Answers should reflect sharing and cooperation.) Ask, What can we do at home to help other members of our family? (List students' answers on board, dry board, or butcher paper)
  • Ask students to think about how they would like to make a picture of these kinds of things to illustrate their family. Say, Today we are going to look at pictures that might remind us of the things we do with our families. Let’s share these pictures and see what we can find. We can choose the pictures we like, and glue them to our paper to add to our “Family Memories Scrapbook.”
  • Distribute a sheet of construction paper, and pictures (children can exchange pictures that they have examined as they are finished with them). Students may need assistance in gluing.

    Note:
    It is best to begin by allowing students to arrange pictures they wish to use in groups of things that go together, and then glue down their final arrangement.

5

Game: "Whose Is This?"

Have students’ 3 small items placed around the room (Note: In advance, keep track of items by writing child’s initials on small labels and sticking them to an inconspicuous spot on items.). Have children walk around the room, hold up an item and each make one guess as to who owns it. The owner cannot say it belongs to him or her until the class is stumped.


6

Wrap up

  • After completing their collages, have students share with the class the most important things in their collage that tell about their family.
  • Ask: How can we show we belong to our family? (Answers should reflect understanding of cooperation.)
  • Ask, What does it mean to belong to our church? Our church school? Our soccer team? (Again, a connection should be made about the need for sharing and cooperation in belonging.)

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    Closing Prayer

    O Lord, save Thy people and bless Thine inheritance.
    Grant victories to the Orthodox Christians over their adversaries;
    And by virtue of Thy Cross, preserve Thy habitation.

    In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.


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    God’s Story and God’s People (Ages 4-6)

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    Overview

    When God Created People, He Created Family - Some were faithful, and others were not. God sent leaders and prophets and, finally, His Son, Jesus, to show us how to love and help one another.
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    Objectives

    By the end of this Lesson, learners should be able to:

    • Identify families from the Bible
    • Recall a specific fact or incident that happened in a Bible story
    • Share stories of faithfulness and love in families
    • Discuss the meaning of turning away from God and why this is hurtful to us as people of God
    • Compare families from the Bible with their own families
    • Illustrate a story about Biblical families
    • Design a mural of family Bible stories to be ongoing throughout unit
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    Materials

    • Plain white drawing/construction paper (9 x 12”) , one per student, with holes punched 
    • Crayons, washable markers
    • Large foam board for Bible family stories
    • Colored construction paper
    • Plain white drawing paper without holes
    • Glue
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    Procedure

    1

    Opening Prayer

    In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.   Amen.

    O Heavenly King, the Comforter, the Spirit of Truth
    Who art everywhere and fillest all things.  
    Treasury of Blessings, and Giver of Life:  
    Come and abide in us, and cleanse us from every impurity,
    And save our souls, O Good One.


    2

    Discussion Starter-Bridge

    • Ask students, Who can tell me about what we learned about families and belonging last week? (Allow students to share, prompting them with key words like sharing, cooperation, working together).
    • Ask, Where else do we feel like we belong? (Answers should activate prior knowledge of community, i.e. parish, church school, school, sports team, or activities).
    • Preview lesson by explaining how families in the Bible are the same as families we have talked about. Say: God created people and families. His faithful families became God’s people. Some of God’s people turned away from God. They sinned against Him, separating themselves from God and each other. God called many leaders and prophets to help them give up their evil ways and return to Him, but many did not listen. Then God sent His own Son, Jesus Christ, to bring His people back to God. Jesus taught us to repent from our sins. Does anyone know what repent means? (Allow for responses.)
    • Then say, Repent is when we do something wrong and we are sorry. We try to make up for it by being better and not making that mistake again. Can anyone think of things you have done wrong and are sorry for? (Allow for students to give their reactions by citing examples: not listening to our parents, fighting with people in our family or our friends, choosing not to tell the truth.)
    • Continue by saying, So now we know that if we are sorry when we do something wrong and try to change, we are pleasing God. His Son, Jesus, taught us this. He also taught us how to care, to love, and to help one another. God’s Son, Jesus, gave His own life for us, so that we might turn back to God, to do His will, and again become His faithful people.

    3

    Bible Stories

    • Share stories about families from the Bible, using texts previously mentioned.
    • As you read about 2-3 families, ask students to:
      + Identify the persons in the stories.
      + Recall a specific fact or incident from the story.
      + Relate what they have heard to what was previously discussed about families and turning to God.

    4

    Family Memories Scrapbook and Class Mural

    • Using white construction paper with holes, ask students to draw a picture of what happened in one of the stories.
    • You may have to review them to assist in recalling persons and events
    • When they have finished, identify the story by writing a title and place illustrations in their "Family Memories Scrapbooks"
    • Using white paper without holes, ask students to draw another picture of one of their favorite stories to mount on the class mural. If this proves too tiresome, forego the mural for a future activity.
    • As students are working, you can give a synopsis of the previously read stories or ask them to tell about a special family time or activity shared during the past week.
      Note: If there is time, finish any previous activities from Sessions 1 and 2, or play “Whose is This?” from Session 2

    5

    Wrap up

    Ask students to recall who their favorite Bible person was and why. Ask if they thought the families in the Bible stories were part of God’s faithful people. Have student apply what they have learned by asking, How are our families like the ones we talked about from the Bible? (Allow students to elaborate)


    6

    Optional-Take Home

    God Loves Us , Take Home Numbers 10,16 [OCEC, 1.800.464.2744]

    7

    Closing Prayer

    O Lord, save Thy people and bless Thine inheritance.
    Grant victories to the Orthodox Christians over their adversaries;
    And by virtue of Thy Cross, preserve Thy habitation.

    In the Name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.


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    Members of God’s Family (Ages 4-6)

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    Overview

    We Become Members of God’s Family When We Are Baptized - Just as our families have stories, our church family has stories about how it began, where its people came from, how it grew, and important events and special times.
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    Objectives

    By the end of this Lesson, learners should be able to:

    • Identify and name members of their parish (priest, deacon, church school teachers, classmates, choir members, and others they may know)
    • Relate names and photos of the leaders and groups in their local church family to roots of a Family Tree that provide strength and support to the church school and parish as a true community in Christ
    • Use photos to construct a Family Tree consisting of their immediate families, parish and church school family
    • Relate those in their immediate families with their church family through the roots and branches of the Family Tree
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    Materials

    • Large (12’’ x 18”) sheets of green construction paper, pre-cut into large, wide, bushy shapes. 1-2 per student, for the tree top
    • Several large (12" x 18”) sheets of brown construction paper for tree trunk and roots
    • Strips of brown and black crepe paper
    • Copies of family pictures (several per child)
    • Plastic round tops from small containers, plastic glasses, or any item which can be used to trace circles (1 ½ - 2” in diameter, graduated sizes)
    • Pencils
    • Rounded or blunt scissors
    • Paste, glue, or glue sticks
    • Sheet of small 1-1 ½” wide white stickers
    • Copies of parish photos of parishioners from past generations
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    Procedure

    1

    Opening Prayer

    In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.   Amen.

    O Heavenly King, the Comforter, the Spirit of Truth
    Who art everywhere and fillest all things.  
    Treasury of Blessings, and Giver of Life:  
    Come and abide in us, and cleanse us from every impurity,
    And save our souls, O Good One.


    2

    Discussion Starter-Bridge

    • Begin by asking students what they remember about their Bible families. Point to mural to assist with recall. Say, Who can tell me who this person in the Bible was? What did he (she) do? How did they show their love for God and their families? (Allow time for students to share)
    • Ask students to recall how Bible families are like theirs. Allow students to reflect and share their comparisons
    • Say: We will now begin to see who is in our church family

    3

    Teaching Pics, Parish Photos

    Have students look at various pictures in Teaching Pics (OCEC). Show them pictures of the priest, deacon, altar boys, children in processions. Ask students to identify who is in the pictures (i.e. priest, deacon, altar boys, children in procession, choir, etc.). Using parish photos, repeat the process in the same manner.


    4

    Family Tree

    Print out Family Tree Activity from Teacher Resources-Activities. This project can be used as a display in the church school room, parish hall, or designated area for unit project displays. [See Teacher Resources-Activities: Roots Coffee Hour ]

    5

    Wrap up

  • As students are finishing their project and cleaning up, ask them to point out various parts of the family tree
  • Student should be asked, Can you see how the roots and trunk of the tree hold us up as a family? (Allow them to explain what they see and elaborate on their observations)

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    Optional Take Home

    Together with God , #1, “God’s Family” [OCEC 1.800.464.2744]


    7

    Closing Prayer

    O Lord, save Thy people and bless Thine inheritance.
    Grant victories to the Orthodox Christians over their adversaries;
    And by virtue of Thy Cross, preserve Thy habitation.

    In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

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    God Calls Us To Love All People (Ages 4-6)

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    Overview

    Being an Orthodox Christian in a Parish Family - Being Christian and being Orthodox should tell us who we are as right believers who celebrate our faith, and respond to those in our parish family, our community, and to those around us.
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    Objectives

    By the end of this Lesson, learners should be able to:

    • Describe how they become members of the parish and larger church through Baptism
    • Learn the name of their parish, and the feast or saint for whom it was named
    • Draw and explain what parish members do together in church (pray, sing, light candles, listen to the Gospel, receive Holy Communion, take part in processions, etc.)
    • Describe favorite family holidays and/or celebrations
    • Explain the connection between home celebrations and church feasts
    • Compare family and church celebrations with those of their friends and neighbors
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    Materials

    • Cardboard or foam poster board for backing
    • Several large pieces of colored poster board to cut out as frames
    • Several large pieces of colored construction paper
    • Drawing paper (8 ½” x 11”)
    • Crayons, washable markers, pencils
    • Rounded/blunt scissors
    • Copies of students’ Baptism pictures
    • Copies of student family celebration pictures
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    Resources


    Optional Resources
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    Procedure

    1

    Opening Prayer

    In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.   Amen.

    O Heavenly King, the Comforter, the Spirit of Truth
    Who art everywhere and fillest all things.  
    Treasury of Blessings, and Giver of Life:  
    Come and abide in us, and cleanse us from every impurity,
    And save our souls, O Good One.


    2

    Discussion Starter-Bridge

    Begin by pointing to the Family Tree and asking, Who can tell me what this is? (Allow time for students to recall.)

    • Point to the various parts of the tree and ask students to identify them and their uses. Ask why people were placed in those parts of the tree.
    • Ask students if the know the name of their parish. If they answer correctly, ask which Feast Day, or saint the church was named for.
    • Ask: What are some of the things we do in church as a parish family? What do you like to do the most when you are in church? (Answers should reflect understanding of how we come together as a parish family and God’s children--pray, sing, light candles, share special feasts, etc.)
    • Show a selection of Teaching Pics , and have students point out examples of their answers.
    • Select various issues of Little Falcons to point out actions of parish family members in church and in the parish community.
    • Show some of the students’ Baptism pictures and ask students to describe what is going on in the pictures. Then say: When you were Baptized, you became part of God’s family and the parish family.
    • Ask students to talk about their favorite times in church; Holy Days, special occasions, family times.
    • Ask if they have times they celebrate with their friends, neighbors, or at school. Ask whether they feel that these times are special as well. (Yes, because it helps us grow as Christians to appreciate all of God’s people.) Explain that their church family helps them grow to be good people of God and to love and show kindness to others around them.
    • Say: We are now going to draw some pictures of the some of our favorite things we do together in church.

    3

    Church Family Collage

    Note: You may need several adults to assist in this project.

    • Gather materials and distribute drawing paper and art supplies to have students draw and color pictures of themselves and others in church.
    • Have students recall what was discussed about their favorite activity in church.
    • Recall their Baptism pictures and assist them in mounting the pictures on construction or poster board to put on collage.
    • Ask students to pick a favorite time in church and draw a picture of it. They can look at resources previously presented, if they need an idea.
    • As students are drawing, sing some familiar Tropars or hymns to keep them focused.
    • As students finish, ask the name of their parish, their priest, their teachers, their friends, some of the parishioners they know and with whom they are familiar.

    4

    Wrap up

    Ask: What do we like best about being in church? Why? What things can we do help make our parish even better? (Answers should reflect what they’ve learned about belonging to a family; clean up after ourselves, be kind to others, help other people who need assistance, cooperate, share, etc.)

    5

    Optional-Take Home

    New Life in Jesus , Take Home Numbers 2,4 (OCEC, 1.800.464.2744)

    6

    Closing Prayer

    O Lord, save Thy people and bless Thine inheritance.
    Grant victories to the Orthodox Christians over their adversaries;
    And by virtue of Thy Cross, preserve Thy habitation.

    In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

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    The Work of God's People (Ages 4-6)

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    Overview

    We Are Accountable To God For Our Lives And Those Around Us - As Orthodox Christians, we reveal our commitment to God through our steadfastness, integrity, compassion, and responsibility for all of God’s people.
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    Objectives

    By the end of this Lesson, learners should be able to:

    • Identify the love of family, parish family and those around us as a part of Gods plan
    • Describe ways we respond to Gods call as caring Orthodox Christians
    • Name and practice ways to show kindness and be helpful to family, neighborhood, parish and school
    • Plan to do something nice for a family member, classmate, neighbor, parishioner
    • Plan to assist a person in need by preparing gifts, bringing flowers, sharing a favorite dessert, or take a nice card or homemade item to a neighbor who lives alone
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    Materials

    • Large roll of of brown butcher paper, brown packing wrap, or bulletin board paper (get this at teacher supply or art supply store)
    • Colored construction paper pre-cut into 5”-6” tall by 3”-4” wide leaves (green, orange, yellow, red, brown). If students are able, make several patterns from cardboard for then to trace and cut out themselves
    • Rounded/blunt scissors
    • Black crayons, washable markers
    • Scotch Tape
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    Procedure

    1

    Opening Prayer

    In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.   Amen.

    O Heavenly King, the Comforter, the Spirit of Truth
    Who art everywhere and fillest all things.  
    Treasury of Blessings, and Giver of Life:  
    Come and abide in us, and cleanse us from every impurity,
    And save our souls, O Good One.


    2

    Discussion Starter-Bridge

    Begin by pointing to the Church Family Collage Poster. Ask: Can anyone tell me what this is? (Allow time for students to recall and respond.) Ask students to step up, one or two at a time, point out, and identify some of the pictures and drawings.
    • Say: Each of us is a member of a family. Each family has a story:
    • Who are the different people in your family?
    • Who are the people in your parish family?
    • What can we do at home to be helpful to our family?

    3

    Story

    Share a story from one of the above choices, or one you have chosen with the theme of helping and giving to others.
    • As you read, ask students if they know of anyone in their family or parish family like the characters in the story.
    • Ask, Do you know of anyone we could help as a family or parish family? (Allow for students to ponder; prompt with people of who you are aware need help—i.e. an elderly person living alone, someone who is ill or in the hospital or nursing home).
    • How do you think we can help them? (Allow students to explore ideas. Answers should include: visit, give a card, flowers, or a small homemade gift, call and say hello.)
    • Say: Let’s see if we can find ways to help those in need.

    4

    Caring Tree

    Make an outline of a tree on a large wall, with a trunk and empty branches.
    • Using sturdy brown paper, have students from several middle-junior high classes cut out leaves to be taped on the branches (it is easier if you make several "patterns" of leaves, approx. 5-6" tall by 3-4" wide. These should be cut out of a sturdy card stock, with enough for one pattern per student.)
    • Distribute a pattern to each student, together with several 12" x 18" sheets of green, yellow, orange and/or red construction paper. Have them trace the outlines of the leaves on the paper and cut them out.
    • Collect in advance names of parish members and those from other Orthodox parishes, as well as neighbors and friends who are ill, and names of people in nursing homes located in different areas of the city where parishioners live. Be sure to get addresses and phone numbers of their homes, group home, nursing home or hospital where they are located. (Check with nursing homes and children's hospitals in advance to check their policies on visitors. You can also check to see if they have a person who can give a "briefing" or "orientation" to groups that are interested in making visitations.)
    • Collect also names of persons or organizations that need clothing, shoes, toys, etc. for children, teens or adults. Check also with community organizations or state or county offices about community projects or clean-up workgroups in which parish members can participate (check if there is a minimum age for children or teen participation).
    • Write on each leaf, the name of the person, group home or institution that needs a visitor, phone call, greeting card, clothing, shoes, boots, etc. (especially for winter).
    • Have students tape the leaves to the tree with a small piece of tape.
    • Have students ask parish members or family "adopt" a person or group by taking a leaf off the tree and pledging to fulfill their commitment on a regular basis

    5

    Wrap up

    Ask students to point out some of their leaves and describe what some of them say.
    • Review with students the importance of helping others as a sign of being a faithful Orthodox Christian.
    • Say: What would you like to do to help make our Caring Tree bloom? (Allow students to contemplate and share their ideas. Guide them with key words: clothing, shoes, boots, mittens, hospital, nursing home, cards, flowers, homemade gifts, phone calls. Answers should reflect session objectives of Christian Love and Charity.

    6

    Optional-Take Home

    God Loves Us, Take Home #21 [OCEC, 1.800.464.274]


    7

    Closing Prayer

    O Lord, save Thy people and bless Thine inheritance.
    Grant victories to the Orthodox Christians over their adversaries;
    And by virtue of Thy Cross, preserve Thy habitation.

    In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

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