Lesson Title: "Let Me Count the Ways"
Grade Level or Age Group: I have seen a similar assignment done with grade 9 students preparing for confirmation. It could easily be adapted for younger students as well.
Lesson Objectives: The student will make a list of possible loving actions and implement a few of them.
1. Read the story of Saint Nicholas and the three unfortunate young sisters
2. Ask the students to make a list of 100 acts of charity/kindness they could do themselves. You can obviously reduce this number, but I believe it is important to challenge the students to stretch themselves in envisioning ways of loving others. This list could be done in groups of two or three. Stress that the list must include only actions that they could realistically accomplish in their present situation. You could ask them to make sure that they have items that apply to each of their following areas: their family, their friends, their school, their city, their country, the world. It would be a good idea to give them a few examples of acts of charity/kindness for each of these areas.
3. Ask each student to fill out their Gift List. Invite the students to choose two or three acts of charity that they are willing to do before a predetermined time. The actions they pick should be described as fully and as concretely as possible.
One option would be for the students to do the list and to fill out their gift cards at the beginning of Advent. In the week before Christmas, you could have a prayer celebration in which you ask the students to deposit their Gift List in a basket in front of a nativity scene. A Scripture reading and a brief prayer could help make this gesture more meaningful.
Another possible option is to do the list at the beginning of Lent, to set the deadline by Holy Week and to organize a prayer celebration during which the students will be invited to deposit their Gift List at the foot of the cross. Again, a Scripture reading and a brief prayer could help make this gesture more meaningful.
Needless to say that if you choose to have such an extended period of time before the deadline, you will have to take steps to ensure the students do not loose their Gift List and that you should remind them periodically that the deadline is approaching.
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