Teach It: Penance and Reconciliation

Book cover: 'Teach It: Penance and Reconciliation'
Joseph D. White, Ph.D.
Ana Arista White
1 931 709 882
Our Sunday Visitor
Number of pages: 
142 pages

Imprimatur: John M. D'Arcy, Bishop of Fort Wayne-South Bend, 2003

Designed to be used in Religious Education programs, this manual is also "homeschool friendly". First and foremost, it is faithful to the teachings of the Church, based on both the Catechism for the Catholic Church (1997) and the Holy Bible (Catholic Edition of the Revised Standard Version). Second, the authors emphasize in the Introduction that "a child's own parents occupy a special role in the formation of their children for the sacraments" (page 12) and they include practical means for getting parents more involved in a Religious Ed program. Finally, the majority of the educational activities in the book could be used just as easily in the home as in the classroom.

The manual is divided into 8 lessons: "God's Great Love", God's Rules for Living", "Sin and Conscience", "Baptism and Other Sacraments", "Forgiveness", "the Sacrament of Reconciliation, Part I", "Sacrament of Reconciliation, Part II", and "Living Reconciliation". Each lesson has a "Know It" section for the catechist, which summarizes Church teaching on the topic and presents information about the developmental level of children preparing for their First Confession (assumed to be around the age of reason, ages 6 or 7). The next section is "Teach It", with reproducible pages of practical teaching suggestions, games, crafts, and activities for the classroom. Finally, there's a "Share it" page, in both Spanish and English, which is a reproducible letter the catechist would send home to the parents.

Many of the "Teach It" suggestions involve movement and activity, ideal for kids at this age (especially little boys). For example, there are directions for acting out the story of the Prodigal Son, and for a "lost sheep" hunt in the classroom. Other "Teach It" ideas include small-motor activities such as coloring a small booklet about Baptism, and playing a matching game about the Seven Sacraments. I intend to use some of the exercises this year for my seven year old son as we prepare him for the sacraments.

Most of the suggestions combine good catechesis and age-appropriate work. However, in an attempt to present the Ten Commandments in a "form they [children] can understand" (page 30), the authors use an alternative translation, with an emphasis on the positive rather than the "shalt nots". For example, the Fifth Commandment is given as "Be kind to the people and animals God made" instead of the powerful and attention-grabbing "Thou shalt not kill". I'm not sure this is necessary; children are capable of learning the traditional version and then how it applies to their young lives (no hitting, no mean words, be kind, etc.) The other commandments are presented in a way that's closer to the traditional language (for example, "Tell the truth" for the 8th Commandment).

Overall, Teach It: Penance and Reconciliation does a good job of accurately presenting the truth about sin and forgiveness, with activities that take into consideration a small child's developmental level.

Additional notes: 

Imprimatur: John M. D'Arcy, Bishop of Fort Wayne-South Bend, 2003

Review Date: 
Reviewed by: