SPARK Elementary Religious Education (Grades 1-5)
Program Coordinator/Contact Person: Mrs. Frances T. Toups
(includes Schedule for SPARK Elementary Sunday Sessions and Summer Religion Program
as well as First Communion Prep classes, EDGE middle school,
and IGNITE high school classes, and Confirmation activities)
Here is a description of our SPARK Elementary Program in a "typical" year:
Our SPARK Elementary Program consists of two components: Elementary Religious Education and Sacramental Prep for First Confession and First Communion.
- The grade-level religious education component of our SPARK program is designed for Grades 1-5.
- On four Sunday mornings during the school year, the children gather with volunteer teachers for on-site, 75-minute, grade-level religion classes called "Sunday Sessions." Over a period of five years (Grades 1-5), students and their teachers work through 20 separate lessons (four lessons per grade level) prepared by our program coordinator. The lessons often include grade-level "expectations" which are mandated by the Diocese of Lafayette's Office of Catechetics as well as an introduction to age-appropriate traditional, sacred prayers and Catholic doctrine.
- In addition, the students return for a two-week (40-hour) summer religion program in the month of June. [NOTE: The elementary summer religion program is the final program in our church parish's fiscal year, so students are not promoted to the next grade level until the summer program ends. In other words, they attend the summer religion program in the grade level they just completed in their public school.]
- When elementary students are absent from a Sunday Session or any day of the Summer Religion Program, parents are encouraged to download a make-up packet for the day on which the child was absent. The make-up lessons are written in a conversational tone which makes it comfortable/easy for a parent and child to discuss the topic(s) at hand. Each make-up packet includes age-appropriate information and/or instructions as well as a page that the parent must sign and return to our church office we we will know that the work has been made up with the help of a parent. Both sets of make-up packets (Sunday Sessions and Summer Religion Program) are linked at the bottom of this web page.
- The second component of our SPARK Elementary Program deals with Sacramental Prep classes for First Confession and First Communion.
- Children in Grade 2 attend Sacramental Prep classes on Thursday evenings to prepare to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation (Confession) and the Sacrament of Eucharist (Communion). A thorough description of those evening classes and the make-up packets (for Candidates when they are absent from the evening Sacramental Prep classes) are available on the First Communion page of this website.
- Knowing that families are sometimes distracted by a different path in life (serious illness/injury, death, unemployment, relocation/transfers, etc.), we always welcome older Sacramental Prep Candidates in Grades 3-12. We refer to our Sacramental Prep classes for older Candidates as:
- SPARK "On Ramp" for Candidates in Grades 3-5,
- EDGE "On Ramp" for Candidates in Grades 6-8, and
- IGNITE "On Ramp" for Candidates in Grades 9-12.
- These "On Ramp" classes are similar to an interstate "on ramp" which merges "new" traffic into the midst of traffic which is already traveling in the same direction on that particular interstate. That visual image expresses our desire to welcome and help older candidates (who may have been away from the practice of their faith for a while) maneuver through the school year and, when possible, using age-appropriate RCIA instruction, help them gain knowledge and provide some of the experiences which have been missed during their time away.
- SPARK On-Ramp (Grades 3-5) Candidates are usually grouped together in a class and follow the same Thursday evening schedule as Grade 2.
- EDGE On-Ramp and IGNITE On-Ramp Candidates typically meet with Mrs. Frances for weekly age-appropriate RCIA classes after the local public schools dismiss. On days when public schools are closed for holidays, parent-teacher meetings, or public teacher inservice meetings, our On-Ramp classes do not meet.
An Overview of our annual Elementary Summer Religion Program (in June):
Our two-week Elementary Summer Religion Program (in June 2020) was cancelled due to the COVID pandemic, but here's a description of our two-week summer program for future reference. We've also linked June 2020 make-up packets below the following description and encourage parents to download packets to review information with their children.
NOTE: In recent years, we have been fortunate to retain the volunteer help of a retired nurse or "Camp Mom" to help us address the individual needs of campers throughout the ten days of the summer program. Having that extra support allows Mrs. Frances to focus on other daily details and periodically check in on all of the other learning centers throughout each morning.
The daily schedule of our 10-day Summer Program features a format similar to VBS programs.
- Each morning begins with a large-group assembly where the day's main topic (usually a Bible story) is introduced.
- Campers in each grade level (Grades 1-5) are divided into four crews. Each crew in Grades 3-5 has a Crew Leader while crews in Grades 1-2 have a Crew Leader and an Assistant Crew Leader. (Crew Leaders and Assistant Crew Leaders guide crews from station to station, monitor behavior, and assist campers in all activities throughout the morning.) An entire grade level rotates through five 25-minute learning centers throughout the morning:
- Crafts: As often as possible, crafts reinforce the main topic(s) of the day.
- Bible Theater: Each day, this learning center features a 15-20 minute segment of an animated video and/or games to help reinforce the main topic of the day.
- Prayer Center: Based upon the list of prayers which were assigned to each of our grade level years ago (and approved by our current pastor), the station leader and crew leaders help the children learn/review and memorize traditional, sacred prayers. Links to all of our grade-level Prayer Sheets may be found on the Prayers page of this website. When campers feel prepared and ready, they recite memorized prayers for our volunteer Prayer Partners. (NOTE: When the diocesan list of elementary grade-level expectations includes a prayer that is not on our grade-level prayer sheet, we introduce/review that particular prayer in a Sunday Session for that grade level.)
- Catechism Corner: As often as possible, a professional elementary school teacher serves as the leader in this learning center. Crews within each grade level read and discuss short Catechism lessons using easy-to-read, age-appropriate, traditional Baltimore Catechism textbooks, and when time permits, play games or use writing/drawing activities to reinforce the topics in each day's lesson.
- Outdoor Games/Indoor Prayer Time: Unless a child produces a "written excuse" from a parent, all children in each grade level participate in daily exercise. After a few minutes of warm-up exercises, the Outdoor Game Leader introduces the day's game/relay. Students may choose whether they want to go into church for a few minutes of quiet prayer time or remain outside to play the game. At least one crew leader always accompanies the children into the church while the rest of the crew leaders remain outside to help the Station Leader monitor the outdoor activity. A water cooler and plenty of paper cups are always at hand for a quick water break.
- Snack Time: At mid-morning, students and volunteers enjoy a simple snack (usually a juice pouch and chips or cookies). Campers, crew leaders, and other volunteers who have food allergies are allowed to bring their own snack. Backpacks must remain on the stage until snack time begins and, after snack time ends, are returned to the stage until dismissal. Unless a parent specifically notifies us that medical supplies must accompany a camper throughout the morning, book sacks cannot be carried during the rotation through learning centers.
- Review Music for Day 10's Mass: Each day, approximately 10 minutes are dedicated to reviewing the music which will be sung during Day 10's Mass.
- Each morning ends with a large-group Daily Finale assembly featuring a quick skit or game to review of the daily topic or Bible story, a short talk from one of our Summer Seminarians or our pastor, and/or music.
Make-Up Packets for 2020 Elementary Summer Religion Program (cancelled by the Covid pandemic):
- Day 1
- Day 2
- Day 3
- Day 4
- Day 5
- Day 6
- Day 7
- Day 8
- Day 9: In preparation for Day 10's Mass, we always review/introduce the Lord's Passion, death, Resurrection, Ascension, and the Descent of the Holy Spirit in the morning assembly and Bible Theater on Day 9. Instead of playing in Outdoor Games, campers are brought into church to find the pews in which they will sit for Day 10's Mass and, while they are there, Mrs. Frances reviews/introduces proper Mass etiquette and the preferred and acceptable ways to receive the Body of Christ in Holy Communion. (Of course, campers in Grade 1 and those in Grades 2-5 who have not yet received the Sacraments of Confession and Communion are reminded that they may receive a "sign of God's peace," but not Holy Communion.) In addition, Day 9's Prayer Center and Catechism Center provides opportunities for campers to prepare for Day 10's Confessions, Adoration, and Mass.
- Day 10: Because the children spend time in church for Confessions and Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament in church before attending 11:00 a.m. Mass, we do not play outdoor games on Day 10. Instead, the parish hall is divided into multiple areas so campers can enjoy a variety of indoor game activities: dancing using a Wii game system, playing a large variety of board games, shooting baskets (using small, portable basketball goal), throwing passes with nerf footballs, etc. As the campers rotate through 25-minute learning centers before Mass begins, each grade level also attends an age-appropriate Safe Environment presentation (following a diocesan-approved curriculum) and a grade-level Catechism and/or Bible Story review activity/game. Reminder: Parents, grandparents, parishioners, and friends are always welcome to attend Day 10 Mass with us, however, the campers report back to the parish hall for closing remarks before being dismissed.
Make-Up Packets for Elementary Sunday Sessions (Grades 1-5):
- Because the October Sunday Sessions for Grades 2-5 feature a review of some of the Bible stories that were presented in the previous Elementary Summer Religion Program, the lesson plans for Grades 2-5 do change from year to year. (Those make-up packets are linked below as soon as they are tweaked and finalized.)
- Although the rest of the Sunday Session lesson plans may be tweaked from time to time, they rarely receive significant changes.
Make-up packets for "Elementary Sunday Sessions":
- Sunday Session 1-a in October: Grade 1 and Grade 2
- Sunday Session 1-b in October: Grade 3, Grade 4, and Grade 5
- Sunday Session 2-a in December (OMITTED in Spring 2021 program): Grade 1 and Grade 2
- Sunday Session 2-b in December (OMITTED in Spring 2021 program): Grade 3, Grade 4, and Grade 5
- Sunday Session 3-a in February: Grade 1 and Grade 2
- Sunday Session 3-b in February: Grade 3, Grade 4, and Grade 5
- Sunday Session 4-a in March: Grade 1 and Grade 2
- Sunday Session 4-b in March: Grade 3, Grade 4, and Grade 5
Our current Schedule of Classes for SPARK Elementary Religious Education (Grades 1-5) and First Communion prep programs and our current Registration Packet is linked at the top of this webpage.