I teach at a Catholic school, and this year I have Grade 2s for the first time (in a 2/3 split) which means I get to help prepare the students for two sacraments, First Reconciliation (which was in the fall) and First Eucharist (also known as First Communion), which will be taking place next weekend.
It’s a tradition at our school to hold a day-long First Eucharist retreat at the Parish Hall across from the school. I was a bit overwhelmed by the planning of the event, and woke up in the middle of the night a few weeks ago with a brainwave: I should contract my mom to help organize this! (I would say that I get the organizational gene from her, but in fact I get it from both sides, in different ways. My Dad, for example, has an alphabetized list of every book he’s ever read, and very precise systems for loading the dishwasher and rotating ice cube trays.)
Thankfully, my mother (a retired teacher herself) agreed to help out, and I owe her a huge debt of gratitude. From buying supplies to preparing materials to testing out the activities, she put in hours and hours of time on top of any work I did. We used many of the centres that my creative and talented predecessor shared from her years as our school’s Grade 2 teacher, as well as a couple of ideas provided by our school board’s Religious Education Consultant, and one or two we came up with on our own.
I am also extremely grateful for the parent and grandparent volunteers who joined us. The centres ran so smoothly and were cleaned up in a jiffy with so many hands to help, and the ladies were all great company for our pizza lunch (which we dug into while the kids were still busy playing outside!)
Here are some shots of the retreat activities (I’m choosing not to show any of the children, but you can still get an idea of what we did) partly in case the ideas can be of help to any other teachers, and also as a way to visually keep track of what I may need to remember for next year! The centres were 20 minutes each (4 kids per centre), and I gave the students a booklet of First Eucharist word searches and colouring pages to work through if they finished any centre early.
It seems like only yesterday that Frannie made her First Eucharist, but it was actually a whole year ago. Just since I love this photo so much, let’s reminisce, shall we?
Next year it will be Maggie’s turn, but for now it’s all about my beautiful students and their special day next Sunday. Please say a prayer for us!
P.S. Feel free to ask if you’d like any details about our retreat activities!