Overview (Schedule, Recipes, etc..)



AGES 3-5

This possible schedule is provided for your convenience as church school directors. Feel free to fill in your own teachers and dates.




   Date                         Topic                                       Teacher                        Special Notes             


Sept.    8          Gala Opening Outdoor Movie Night                          Quo Vadis

                        Outdoors, with bonfire, entire parish

              9          Pentecost/Philip & Eunuch                                        


16        Stephen                                                                                                                      


23        Conversion of Saul                                                                            


            30        Peter and Cornelius                            


Oct.      7         Council of Jerusalem                          


           14        Spread of Gospel                               


           21        John/Revelation                                 


          27        Movie Night                                                                Ben Hur

          28        Paul and Journeys                                                       12:30 All Saint’s Party


Nov.     4         Paul and Journeys                              


11        Peter                                                               


18        Dormition                                           


          25        Persecutions                                       


Dec.     1         St. Nicholas Festival                                                   Rehearsal of play

            2         St. Nicholas Play                                                         12 Noon Parish

                                                                                                         1 PM Nursing Home


            9          Constantine                                                                                                    


            16        Elevation of the Cross           


23        St. Mary of Egypt                              



30        Canon of Scripture                                                     Memory: Books of Bible

Gospels and Acts ages 3-7

                                                                                               Theophany jars following     

Jan.      6         Athanasius/Creed/Council of Nicea                12:30 PM Three Kings Party


13        Chrysostom/Liturgy                                                    Memory Work: Creed


20        Three Hierarchs                                                          Homeless Bags


          27        Cyril of Alexandria/Councils                         


Feb.     3          St. Nina/St. Patrick/Councils             


            9          Movie night after vespers                                           El Cid

          10        Fall of Rome                                      


           17        Byzantine Empire/Justinian                                        Memory: Trisagion Prayers                                                                                                                                      (3-5 just thrice holy)

24        Rise of Islam                                      


March     2          Icons/St. John of Damascus                                        Art Day after Church School


              6         Movie Night after vespers                                          Becket/Man for All Seasons

 9         Monasticism/ St. Anthony/St. Seraphim   


16        Cyril and Methodius/Baptism of Russia                  


23        St. Gregory Palamas                                                   Memory work: Jesus Prayer


30        The Crusades                         


April    6         Fall of Constantinople                                   


            13        Protestant Reformation                      


20        Protestant Reformation                      


  1. PASCHA – no Church School
  2. Easter Egg Hunt and Cookout


 May    4          Armenia/Antioch                              

           11         Ethiopia/Alexandria                           


16-18   Camping Trip: No Class                     


25        Greece/Constantinople                                                Memory: Lord Have Mercy                                                                                                                            5 languages (3-5  one)

June     1         Serbia, Romania, Bulgaria                                         


             8         Japan                                                  


            15        Ukraine, Russia, OCA                                   


            21        Rehearsal after vespers                                               Balailaka on the Onion Dome

            Movie night                                                                 Scarlet and Black

22        End of Year Play                                                        Parish and Nursing Home

            Awards Presentation





Stock Craft Supplies: available in your cabinet; let me know if you use the last of something, or replace it yourself before the next week.

            Crayons                       Pencils                         Magic Markers

            Popsicle sticks             White glue                   Glue sticks

            Construction paper      White paper plates      Scissors

            Stapler                         Clear tape                    Pencil sharpener

            Chenille sticks


References for this course:

            Each child in the younger classes has a copy of the Children’s Bible Reader; older children have the Bible itself. The Children’s Bible and Read with Me Bible are also used in the younger classes for the first few lessons; there is a copy for each teacher. Much of the rest of the year for the younger classes looks a bit like the “saint of the week”. This is OK. The small children can learn of the lives of the major players in the events like the church councils, while the older children study the doctrinal issues and decisions. Please read the story and tell it to these young children. There may be more detail than is necessary or good with their attention spans, but the extra detail is always good if the teacher is to answer their questions.

            Each lesson is followed by one or more craft ideas.  Please feel free to use the suggested craft, or your own!  Learning game suggestions are also included.


Paperwork and insurance regulations:  Each of us must “apply” each year for our volunteer position; our references will be checked as per diocesan regulations.  We will also have a parent volunteer who could come into any classroom at any time as required by the insurance company.  Please be sure not to send small children to the bathroom unattended and accompany your charges back to the church building after class – again new safety regulations. 


Lesson plan:

            We will be dismissed first from liturgy for the children to get refreshments; while they eat, we will have opening exercises.  In about 10 minutes, lessons will begin and should last about 30 minutes.  Begin with a prayer and introductions for any new students.  Tell the story. Each lesson is followed by one or more craft ideas.  Please feel free to use the suggested craft, or your own!  Learning game suggestions are also included.

Review the story.  Recite memory work.  End with prayer.  If you are unable to teach on your assigned day, please trade with someone and then let me know (to avoid mid-Liturgy panic when I don’t see you in the congregation).


Curriculum:  With each lesson, I have included True/False questions. If you have any 3-5-year-olds, make your classroom elephant now. He’s very easy, and each week, when we tell a story, we do true/false afterwards by writing the statements on paper peanuts and feeding the elephant the true ones and stomping on the rotten (false) peanuts. Just take a cardboard box, tape the top shut, and glue on an elephant face out of construction paper (or foam). Cut out a mouth big enough for paper peanuts to fit through. Glue on ears and a trunk, being sure to glue the trunk only above the mouth so the children can lift it to insert the good peanuts. Color in wrinkles and eyes. Then, each week, write the true/false statements on construction paper pieces cut like peanuts and go around the circle. Each child selects a “peanut”, you read it to him, and the class decides whether he should feed it or stomp it! Just be sure you have at least one paper peanut for each child!


Movie Nights and Parties: We will have pizza after vespers on Saturday night while showing a small children’s movie. Older children should bring a sleeping bag for a lock-in with “feature” presentation; we must have at least 2 adults at each overnight.


Plays: Play rehearsal for St. Nicholas play and end-of-year play will occur during  opening exercises and should not disrupt your lessons + after the St. Nicholas Festival.  If you are assigned on the day of the play, that means you can help with costumes, etc.; we need all the help we can get!




                            CLAYS                                                                  PAINTS

SALT DOUGH                                                         FINGER PAINT (4 WAYS)

2 cups flour                                                                 Use pudding with food coloring!

1 cup salt                                                                     Mix liquid starch and food coloring.

about 1 cup water                                                       Mix 3 T sugar, ½ cup cornstarch, and

food coloring                                                                          2 cups cold water. Cook over

bath oil, vegetable oil, peppermint oil                                   low heat, stirring, till thick.

            Mix flour and salt. Add water                                    Pour into muffin tin. Add

slowly and mix with your fingers until                                   food coloring to each cup.

it makes dough. Knead in a few drops

food coloring and a splotch of oil (if                          SAND PAINT

desired). Store in air-tight container.                          Add dry tempera paint to corn meal.

                                                                                    Sprinkle over areas “painted” with thinned white glue


1 cup sand                                                                    for a sand effect. Shake off excess.

½ cup cornstarch

1 tsp powdered alum                                                                          PASTES

¾ cup hot water                                                          PRIMARY PASTE

Food coloring if desired                                             Mix ½ cup water and 1 cup flour

            Mix sand, cornstarch and alum                                   in a bowl. Spoon into a jar

in large pot. Add hot water and stir                                       or squeeze bottle to store.

vigorously. Add food coloring if

desired. Cook over medium heat                                PAPIER MACHE PASTE

until thick, stirring constantly.                                    3 cups water

After cooling, store in airtight container.                    1 ½ cups flour

                                                                                                Mix flour with cold water until lumps are gone.

SAWDUST CLAY                  

2 cups fine sawdust                                                    Dip strips of newsprint in paste and mold around

1 cup flour                                                                   surface to be shaped. Air dry.

            Mix sawdust and flour in bowl

or bucket. Add a little water at a time,                       CORNSTARCH DOUGH

stirring till it is stiff but pliable. Knead                       2 cups cornstarch

till it’s elastic and easy to shape. Store                       4 cups baking soda     

in airtight container. Air dry.                                      2 ½ cups water

            Mix cornstarch and soda in large

            pot. Add water. Cook, stirring, over medium

heat until thick like mashed potatoes. Afte

cool, knead on wax paper for 5 minutes. Store in an airtight container. Air dry.

Pentecost/St. Philip and the Eunuch



  1. Understand that Pentecost is the birthday of the Church.
  2. Know that the Holy Spirit descended at Pentecost
  3. Understand the importance of baptism and chrismation.

Possible Lesson Plan:

  1. Open with prayer.
  2. Read the stories in the CBR pp. 268-269 and Read with Me Bible, pages 411-414, and/or the Children’s Bible, pages 462-463. Review with the students the story of Theophany, the baptism of Jesus.  Where was he baptized? By whom?  Who spoke and what appeared?
  3. Feed the Elephant True/False Questions:

True                                                     False

                 The Holy Spirit came as tongues of           The Holy Spirit came as a dove at

                        fire at Pentecost.                                             Pentecost.

                 Chrismation is the sacrament of the           Peter baptized the eunuch.

                        coming of the Holy Spirit                  

                 The eunuch was from Ethiopia.                 Theophany is the feast of Jesus’s birth.

                 Philip baptized the eunuch.                        The eunuch did not believe in Jesus.


  1. A baptism is a very special time. Ask the children if they have seen a baptism?  Who is present? What happens? Take them to see the font. Show pictures of a baptism.  Ask if they were baptized? Who are their godparents? Explain that their godparents held them and held a candle and promised to help them grow to be strong and love God.  Explain that they were undressed and dipped in the water three times, then dressed in white, new clothes.  Their hands, feet, chest, forehead, eyes, ears, mouth, and throat were all blessed with holy oil; with small children let them touch each part.  With older children, explore why these parts were chosen.  They were given a cross; are they wearing a cross today?


  1. Role-play a baptism – Dress an immersible baby doll in a blanket.  Have a baptismal outfit ready.  With younger children, the teacher will have to be priest and tell the others what to say; older children can read the “script”:


Priest (making sign of cross in water in tub): May this water be sanctified with the power of the Holy Spirit.

All: Amen.

Priest (with hand on head of baby): In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, I lay my hand upon your servant (name) who has come to be a part of your family. Since this baby cannot speak for himself, who will answer for him?

Godparents (1 holding baby and 1 a candle): We will.

Priest: Do you hate Satan, the devil, and all of his evil ways?

Godparents: We do.

Priest: Turn and spit on him. (Godparents do this.) Do you want to be baptized?

Godparents: I do.

Priest: Do you believe in Jesus Christ?

All: Recite the creed. (Godparents now remove the blanket)                          

Priest (anointing baby using cotton swab dipped in oil making sign of cross):

The servant of God (name) is anointed with the Oil of Gladness in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

All: Amen.

Priest (taking naked baby and immersing 3 times in a tub of water): The servant of God (name) is baptized in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.     

All: Amen.

Priest (after godparents dress baby in baptismal robe): The servant of God (name) is dressed in the Baptismal robe in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

                 All: Amen.


  1. Sing “As many as have been baptized…” 3 times while the “baby” is marched 3 times around the room.             


7.   Make a Come Alive Mural of Philip and the Eunuch, with some children lying down

      on a large piece of mural paper, the others drawing around them to make Philip, the    

      Eunuch, the horse. Draw in the chariot. Cut out the faces and let the children color the 

      mural and take turns standing behind the characters while telling the story.                             

















  1. Close with prayer: Lord, help me to share your love with someone each day, as Philip did with the eunuch.


St. Stephen




  1. Know that Stephen was the first martyr.
  2. Know that a martyr is someone who dies for his belief in Jesus.


Possible Lesson Plan:

  1. Open with prayer.


  1. Read the story in the CBR pp. 269-271 or Children’s Bible, pages 466-467. Review here the definition of martyr and have each child say the word.


  1. Feed the Elephant True/False Questions:

True                                                     False

                 Stephen was the first martyr.                     Peter was the first martyr.

                 Stephen died by stoning.                           Stephen was crucified like Jesus.

                 A martyr is someone who dies for Jesus.   A martyr doesn’t believe in Jesus.


  1. Stephen was one of the first deacons. Peter and the other apostles chose seven men to help them in caring for the early Church. Say the word “deacon”. Talk about a deacon:  He is a priest’s helper.  He helps in the Divine Liturgy and helps the priest by visiting the sick, praying for people, etc.  Do we have a deacon?


5.   Make “Pet Rocks” to commemorate the stoning of Stephen: Go on a little hike around the churchyard. There are lots of rocks to select from. Be sure the children select paperweight size rocks – not tiny pebbles or boulders. Bring them back to class and wash and dry them. Paint with tempera paints and glue a piece of felt on the bottom. Write “Stephen, the first martyr” on the top of each rock with a magic marker.


6. Close with prayer: Lord help me to love you so much that, like Stephen, I would be willing to die for you.


Conversion of Saul




  1. Who was Saul?
  2. What was Saul doing at Stephen’s stoning?
  3. How did Saul meet Jesus?


Possible Lesson Plan:

  1. Open with prayer.


  1. Read the story in the CBR pp. 272-277 or Read with Me Bible, pages 415-421, and/or the Children’s Bible, pages 467-469. Repeat the names “Saul” and “Ananias” with the children.


  1. Feed the Elephant True/False Questions:

True                                                                 False

                 Saul held the coats of the stoners of Stephen.       Saul always loved Jesus.

                 Saul was struck blind.                                            Saul was crucified.

                 Jesus spoke to Saul on the road to Damascus.       Jesus spoke to Saul in Galilee.

                 Ananias healed the eyes of Saul.                           Peter healed Saul’s eyes.


  1. See what it’s like to be blind: In a pillowcase, put various objects of different textures and shapes. Blindfold the children and see how many they can identify. Fill various small bottles with smelly objects (banana, cinnamon, garlic, pickle, peanut butter, onion, etc.) See if the blindfolded children can identify the things by smell alone.


  1. Make an “Open My Eyes” picture: Take a piece of construction paper. Cut from the long side two strips about 1 ½ inches wide; cut 2 3-inch pieces from one of these strips. Draw and color a face in the center of the big piece. Cut out the eyes. Turn the picture over and tape the two short pieces as holders on either side of the face. Draw a pair of closed eyes and a pair of wide-open eyes on the long strip and slide it back and forth in the holder behind the head. Label the picture.


  1. Close with prayer: Lord, may I keep my eyes open to all that You do in my life.


St. Peter and Cornelius



  1. Children should be able to tell the story of Peter and his vision.
  2. Children should know the meaning of the words “Jew” and “Gentile”.
  3. Children should know that Jesus loves all people.

Possible Lesson Plan:

  1. Open with prayer.
  2. Read the story in the Children’s Bible, pages 470-471. Discuss the meaning of the word, “Jew”, and say it a few times. Remind the children about the story of Abraham (or reread it) and how God chose this people. For what purpose? To prepare for Jesus, the Messiah. The Jewish people called all other people “Gentiles” and did not associate with them. Remind them also (or reread) that God gave a strict law to Moses that included which animals were “clean” and which “unclean”. “Unclean” animals were not allowed to be eaten, just as we do not eat meat during Great Lent. Review the definition of clean: animals that have divided hooves and chew cud and sea creatures with fins and scales. Look at pictures of animals to see the hooves and fins and scales; bring pictures of animals (or a book from the library) to class as a reference for the next activity.


  1. Feed the Elephant True/False questions:

This time have the children feed the elephant only clean animals; choose from those below and look at pictures and discuss their eating habits to make your decision.

Clean                                                                     Unclean

Cow                                                                      Pig      

Lamb                                                                     Rabbit

Goat                                                                      Dog

Salmon                                                                  Shrimp

Bluefish                                                                 Oyster


  1. Re-enact the vision with a sheet and stuffed animals (or the vast array of animal puppets we have in the cabinet). God told Peter to eat all animals; that God makes all things He blesses clean. Have the children tell stories of their favorite pets or stuffed animals. Do they love them, even the ugly ones? Even the “unclean”ones?


  1. Remind the children that Jesus loves all people, everywhere, and commands us to do the same. Bring pictures of children of other lands with dress, skin color, customs different from ours. Sing “Jesus loves the Little Children” several times.


  1. Make paper plate masks, this time of unclean, but lovely in God’s eyes, animals. Use the list above for ideas. Some others are cat, lion, raccoon, camel, whale, shark. Cut holes for eyes, punch holes on each side for tying string, color and decorate with yarn, etc.


  1. Close with prayer: Lord help me to love everyone this week with Your love.

Council of Jerusalem



  1. Who was there?
  2. Where did the first council meet?
  3. What did they decide?

Possible Lesson Plan:

  1. Open with prayer.
  2. Read the story below:

Not long after Peter and Paul began to tell the Gentiles about Jesus, many

Gentiles became Christians. But, the Jewish Christians were upset. The Gentiles did not obey the laws of Moses; they had never known the Old Testament Scriptures. And they were not circumcised, as God had commanded Abraham for the Jewish people. Many of the Jewish Christians tried to tell the Gentiles that they had to become Jews first in order to be Christians.

            Saul, now called Paul, and Peter went to Jerusalem, the holy city of the Jewish people. There they told the other James, the bishop of Jerusalem, and the apostles and elders of the church about their visions (Remember Peter’s? Remember Paul’s?) and about the love the Gentile believers had for Jesus. Peter told how God had sent the Holy Spirit to Cornelius and his family, just as He had to the Jewish believers. Finally James spoke: The Gentiles would not have to become Jews, but only not eat from meat sacrificed to idols. All the elders agreed that this was fair and right and James wrote a letter to all the churches about this important decision and sent it with Judas (a Jewish believer) and Silas (a Gentile).


  1. Enjoy Jewish culture a bit: Talk about Hanukkah – dreidls and potato latkes – and Passover. Remember the story of Moses and God’s people escaping from Egypt. Show a picture from a library book of a Jewish wedding with the canopy. Look at pictures of synagogues and Jewish people in prayer shawls. Many of these customs are like ours but many are not. Talk a little about our customs and holidays. It’s fun to learn about other people’s customs, but how would you like to be told you had to dress and eat and celebrate exactly like your Jewish friends?


  1. The earliest non-Jewish believers were mostly Greeks. Take a look at the Greek alphabet. If you take the first letters of the words, “Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior,” in Greek and put them together, you get the Greek word for “fish”. For this reason, early Christians often identified themselves to each other with a simple drawing of a fish. Have the children practice drawing fish on paper or in a sandbox.


  1. Make a “Talking Fish”: Cut a fish shape out of a piece of construction paper. Fold about one-third of the fish back at the mouth end and cut a 2-inch slit thru both thicknesses of paper. Fold back the triangular sections. Pop the mouth inside the fish and recrease the folds so they make the mouth stick out when the fish head is folded back flat. Color the fish. Why did we make a fish?


  1. Close with prayer: Lord, help us to make decisions fairly and wisely every day.

Spread of the Gospel




  1. Students should be able to name the early apostles.
  2. Students should know where at least some of them traveled.
  3. Students should be able to tell what “evangelism” means.


Possible Lesson Plan:

  1. Open with prayer.


  1. Tell the story of the apostles as given on the next two pages, shortening or focusing on certain apostles if time or attention span require:


                LIVES OF THE APOSTLES (IN BRIEF)       

            Where did they all go, these men who followed Jesus so closely? Let’s look quickly at their lives after the Ascension and Pentecost.

            St. Andrew, the first-called, a fisherman by trade and brother of Peter, traveled to Scythia, Greece, Byzantium (later known as Constantinople), and finally to Russia. He is the patron saint of Russia and finally died on an X-shaped cross, preaching the whole time he was on the cross until his death.

            St. Thomas, better known as “Doubting Thomas” because of his doubts about the Resurrection, surely had no doubts after he saw Jesus with his own eyes. He traveled to far-off India to spread the good news of his faith and there, he died.

            St. Bartholomew also is believed to have traveled to India and began the Christian Church there. He then traveled to Armenia, where he preached for many years. Finally, a wicked king named Astyages ordered Bartholomew killed.

            St. Simon (the Zealot) left Palestine and traveled first to Egypt to preach about Jesus. St. Jude left Jerusalem after Pentecost and traveled to the land of Mesopotamia. In and around the city of Edessa he preached the good news of Jesus and the resurrection. Finally, he went to Persia with St. Simon and there, in Persia, both of these courageous apostles died for their faith.

            St. James the Greater, son of Zebedee and brother of St. John the Beloved, traveled to Spain to preach; he is the patron saint of Spain to this day and is known there as Santiago (Our own San Diego is named for him.). He returned to Jerusalem to try to influence the Pharisees to accept Christ. But, the Jews still hated the Christians and begged King Herod Agrippa to put James to death. James was the first of the apostles to die and the second martyr (after Stephen).

            St. Philip married and had three daughters who also became Christians. He traveled to Phrygia in Asia Minor. There he preached to the people of Hierapolis. These people worshipped a huge snake; Philip prayed and the snake died. Many of the people then believed in Jesus, but some were so angry they put Philip in prison. When Philip would not deny Jesus, he was crucified, head down, and went to heaven to be with his Lord.

            St. Matthew remained for many years in the land of Israel, teaching the Jewish people about Jesus. He wrote the gospel of Matthew to tell the story of Jesus to his people. Finally, he traveled to Ethiopia to preach and was killed by those who hated Christians in that African land.

            St. James the son of Alpheus, also known as James the Less and brother of St. Matthew, traveled after Pentecost first to the city of Eleutheropolis and then to Egypt. There he preached and performed miracles with great success and churches were founded. Finally he was killed in the town of Ostracina, being crucified by pagans.

            St. Matthias was chosen by casting lots to take the place of Judas Iscariot, who betrayed Jesus. He had been on of the 70 men sent out by Jesus to preach and perform miracles. He was with the other 11 disciples at Pentecost and preached in the land of Judea. Then he traveled to the land of Cappadocia and began the church there. He also died for his faith.

            There are several other men we meet in the book of Acts who were not part of the twelve, but worked with them. St. Barnabas was actually named Joseph; the apostles changed his name to Barnabas, which means “Son of Encouragement”. We see glimpses of his work in the book of Acts. He was one of those who sold all he had in the early church in Jerusalem. Next we see him leading the newly converted Saul back to Jerusalem to meet the other Christians there. He was sent by the church in Jerusalem to Antioch, where believers were first called Christians. After a year in Antioch with Paul, the two set out on their first missionary journey. Barnabas also traveled with Paul to Jerusalem for the first church council. But, when Paul refused to trust John Mark to come on his next journey, Barnabas took Mark to Cyprus. They preached there together for many years until Barnabas was stoned to death in Salamis.

            Finally, St. Luke, the Evangelist, was also an early companion of Paul. He was a Roman citizen and physician from the city of Antioch. He traveled with Paul through Asia Minor on Paul’s second missionary journey. He wrote down all they did and all he learned about the life of Jesus; we can still read these today in the Acts of the Apostles and the Gospel of Luke. He painted an icon of the Virgin Mary, which he gave to the Theotokos herself; this is still a prized possession of the Patriarchate of Constantinople. Luke lived to be an old man and died in Thebes at the age of 84.


  1. Feed the Elephant True/False Questions:

True                                                     False

                 St. Luke was a doctor.                               St. Luke was a lawyer.

                 St. Thomas went to India.                         St. Philip had three sons.

                 St. James is the patron of Spain.                St. Matthias was one of the original 12.

                 St. Andrew took the gospel to Russia.      Barnabas means “Ugly Son”.


  1. The lesson is so long today, there won’t be a lot of time for extra games or activities. One could write a little ditty, having the children pick out one fact they think is important about each character and singing to the tune of the 12 Days of Christmas – for example:

The first of the apostles was Andrew; he is the patron saint of Russia.

The next of the apostles was Doubting Thomas, India was his goal and Andrew Patron saint of Russia.

The next of the apostles was Simon Zealotes, traveled to Egypt; Thomas went to

India, and Andrew patron saint of Russia. Etc., etc.


  1. Say the word “evangelism” several times. What does it mean? Are we evangelists?


  1. Make “Good News Telephones”: Take two Styrofoam cups. Decorate them and punch a hole in the bottom. Add a string and tell a friend about Jesus.


  1. Close with prayer: Lord, make me as brave as the apostles in telling everyone about You.



St. John and The Revelation



  1. Students should be able to identify the apostle John.
  2. Students should be able to identify the Book of the Revelation as John’s writing.
  3. Students should be able to identify the Second Coming.

Suggested Lesson Plan:

  1. Open with prayer.
  2. Read the CBR 292-295. The Children’s Bible has a short section on John on pages 509-510 and the Read with Me Bible on pages 436-437.  Supplement with the following story; have ready the icons of the Transfiguration, Crucifixion, Ascension, and Pentecost to identify John in each (and break up the story):

A very, very old man sat alone in the hot sun. It was Sunday and the man was

praying. Suddenly the silence of the deserted island was split by a loud voice like the sound of a trumpet, telling the old man, “Write in a book what you see, and send it to the seven churches.” The man turned to see who was speaking to him and saw the Lord Jesus in all His glory, risen and surrounded by angels. Jesus gave the man messages for the churches. Then He showed the man the glory of the heavenly kingdom, with the heavenly creatures and angels and risen Christians worshipping the Lord forever and ever. The man saw a vision of the end of all the earth and the victory of the Lord over all His enemies, a mighty and fearful vision. The man wrote down all he had seen, just as the Lord had commanded.

            Who was this old man? His name was John, one of the twelve apostles who had known Jesus and traveled with Him in the land of Galilee. John had been a young man when Jesus had called him and his brother James while they were mending their fishing nets. The two brothers, sons of Zebedee, had followed Jesus and listened to His teachings and watched His many miracles. John had seen the Lord Jesus revealed in power at the Transfiguration. He had seen the raising of Jairus’s daughter and later of Lazarus from the dead. He had helped Peter prepare the Last Supper. He had been with the Lord as Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane. He had seen the Lord taken by the soldiers and condemned to die on the cross. John had been the onlyu one of the disciples to stand at the foot of the cross with Jesus’s mother Mary and the other faithful women. Jesus had looked down from the cross and told John to care for His mother, and John took Mary into his own home from that day. When Mary Magdalene ran to the frightened and hiding disciples to tell them the Lord was risen, John and Peter had run to the tomb to see for themselves. After the Resurrection, John had seen and talked with Jesus many times until Jesus ascended into heaven. All of these things – the life and death and Resurrection of Jesus that John had seen and heard with his own eyes and ears – he wrote down for all of us in the book we now call the “Gospel of John”.

            After the Resurrection, John was one of the leaders of the early Church. He helped Peter and James in guiding the church in Jerusalem. Then, John traveled to Asia Minor and settled in the city of Ephesus. From Ephesus he led the church in Asia. John was known for the loving concern he had for his brothers and sisters. A story is told that, while traveling in a certain city, John saw a young man and entrusted him to the bishop of the city to teach him about the Lord. But, when John came back to the city, he was told that the young man had made bad friends and had become a robber. This made John very sad, and he went into the mountains where the robbers lived. He was captured by the robbers and found the young man and told him that Jesus still loved him. The young man then cried and said that he was sorry for his evil way of life and went back to the church. So, the apostle John cared for his churches with love and charity.

            When John was already an old man, loved by Christians everywhere, he was the only one of the twelve still alive. When the Emperor Domitian, a cruel and wicked ruler, came to the throne, he ordered John captured by the soldiers and brought to the Emperor in Rome. There, he tried to kill John in a pot of boiling oil, but John was not hurt at all. (Remember the story of the three men in the fiery furnace?) Since he could not kill the apostle, the emperor sent him to the deserted island of Patmos. There John had the great vision of the Lord and wrote the book we now call “The Revelation” in the Bible.

            Finally, Domitian died and John was able to go back to Ephesus. From there he wrote three letters, which we now have in our Bible as the “Epistles of St. John”. As an old man, John told the people over and over to love each other. John died peacefully in Ephesus and joined the Lord he had loved so well.


  1. Feed the Elephant True/False Questions:

True                                                     False

                 John was a fisherman.                                John was a carpenter.

                 John took Mary into his home.                  John was too scared to come to the cross.

                 John had a vision on the island of Patmos. John was killed by boiling in oil.

                 John died peacefully as an old man.          John was known for his hatred.


  1. The Book of the Revelation is much to complex and the subject of too much

theological controversy to approach with this age group. But – all children have dreams. Let them discuss their dreams. What is the difference between a dream and a vision? There are many instances of dreams and visions in the Old Testament that we already have studied – the dreams of Pharaoh, the dreams of the butler and the baker, the vision of Samuel, the visions of the prophets (e.g. Ezekiel and the bones). And in the gospels, Joseph had two life-changing dreams – when God told him to marry the Theotokos and when the angel told him to escape from Bethlehem to Egypt. Review these stories – look at the pictures in their Read with Me Bibles. God can speak to us in both visions and dreams. John’s vision was full of angels and trumpets – an end-time parade. March around the room being angels playing your trumpets for the Lord Jesus.


  1. What is an angel? Ask to children to describe as they understand angels. Angels are God’s attendants and messengers. The Orthodox Church teaches that there are 9 “choirs” of angels: angels, archangels, powers, authorities, principalities, dominions, thrones, cherubim and seraphim. Do the students remember any of these mentioned in our liturgy? Angels are invisible (most of the time; can you think of an exception? The Annunciation!), of tremendous power and strength. They don’t have bodies as we know them. Try to fill these blanks with either “people” or “angels” or “angels and people”:

_______________ were created by God.      _________are always young.

_______________have bodies.                      _________think and do things.

_______________never die.                          _________need to eat and drink.

_______________have names.


  1. Make an angel (or several for a mobile):

Cut an angel shape from white construction paper (or a doily). Color hair and draw eyes and mouth. Cut wings; decorate wings with feathers if desired. Attach wings with a brad. Use gold glitter for halo and trimmings on gown. If you want, make several and hang at different heights from a hanger for a mobile.


  1. Close with prayer: Lord, let me see You this week all around me in my dreams and in your invisible helpers, the angels.


St. Paul and his Journeys #1



  1. Students should know that Saul and Paul are the same person.
  2. Students should learn the general plan of Paul’s travels, all around the Mediterranean.
  3. Students should know that Paul traveled first with Barnabas and John Mark.


Possible Lesson Plan:

  1. Open with prayer.
  2. First review the story of Saul’s conversion. Read the 1st part of the story of Paul in the CBR 275-277 or Read with Me Bible, pages 422-423, or the Children’s Bible pages 473-477. While the distances and continents involved are beyond the comprehension of this class, ask the children about trips they have taken. How did they prepare? Where did they go? How did they travel? Who went with them? Why did they go? Compare and contrast with Paul’s journeys.


  1. Feed the Elephant True/False Questions:

True                                                                 False

                  Saul and Paul are the same person.                       Peter and Paul are the same person.

                  Paul escaped from Antioch in a basket.                Paul escaped Antioch in a balloon.

                  Paul went on his first trip with Barnabas.             Paul went on his first trip with Judas.

                  John Mark went with Paul and Barnabas.            John Mark stayed for the whole trip.


  1. Do you suppose Paul and Barnabas were “best friends”? They met in Antioch. Barnabas helped Paul escape and took him to Jerusalem. They went back to Antioch as a team to lead the church there. Then the church sent them off on a missionary trip together. They came back together, but without John Mark, and when they were ready to set out on the next trip, Barnabas wanted to take Mark and Paul did not feel Mark could be trusted. The two men split up over this argument! How do you suppose they felt? Have any of the children had a best friend move away? Or just quit playing with them? How do you feel if your best friend goes away without you? Paul and Barnabas, even though they were saints, were not perfect and quarreled, but later they forgave each other!


  1. Make Paul’s Basket: Take a 5x12-inch piece of poster board and decorate to look like a wall. Cut a notch at each end. Cut out of brown or yellow construction paper two baskets and out of tan or pink one Paul. Punch two holes vertically about 1 inch apart near the middle of one basket. Thread a 30-inch piece of string through the holes. Glue the baskets around Paul so he’s inside. Wrap the string around the notches in the poster board fairly tightly and knot behind. Move Paul up and down the wall in his basket by pulling

    on the string. The next page has a Xerox of the finished project.


  1. Close with prayer: Lord help me to trust you to take care of me in everything I do.



St. Paul and his Journeys, Part 2




  1. Students should know the general plan of Paul’s travels all around the Mediterranean.
  2. Students should know that Paul traveled later with Silas.
  3. Students should know that Paul traveled last to Rome as a prisoner and died there.

Possible Lesson Plan:

  1. Open with prayer.
  2. Read the story of Paul’s later travels in the CBR pp. 278-291 or Read with Me Bible, pages 424-435, and/or the Children’s Bible, pages 477-507. This is a lot of story to read: My favorites are Paul and Silas in jail in Philippi and the shipwreck on the way to Rome. Review the name “Silas” as Paul’s traveling companion on his later trips. Do the children remember anyone else from earlier lessons who traveled with Paul? (Luke, the physician, Barnabas and John Mark). Who wrote down the story of Paul’s travels? (Luke) In what book of the Bible is this recorded? (Acts)


  1. Feed the Elephant True/False Questions:

True                                                                 False

                  Paul traveled with Silas later in his life.                Paul took Silas on his first trip.

                  Paul and Silas were in jail in an earthquake.         The earthquake killed Paul and Silas.

                  Paul’s ship was wrecked on the way to Rome.    Paul’s ship was wrecked in Antioch.

                  Paul died in Rome.                                               Paul died in Jerusalem.


  1. Discuss “natural disasters”: What is an earthquake? Has any of the students felt one? What happens? What could have happened to Paul and Silas? What were Paul and Silas doing when the earthquake hit? What really happened? What was the end result? What is a storm? Have students describe a storm: thunder, lightning, wind, darkness. Has anyone been in a boat in a storm? What happens to the waves? What can happen to the boat? What was Paul doing in the boat? What really happened? What was the end result? So, God can use natural “disasters” for His own purposes. Do we need to fear earthquakes, storms? Try singing the song from the Sound of Music, “My Favorite Things” with these words:

Earthquakes in jail cells that break open the chains.

Storms in the ocean that lead ships to land.

Soon people hear of the word of the Lord,

These are a few of my favorite stories:

When the snake bites, when the rocks sting, when I’m feeling sad.

I simply remember my favorite stories and then I don’t feel so bad.

  1. Paul went to Rome as a prisoner. He was beheaded there. So, Paul, too, was a martyr; review the word. Why was Paul in jail? Was he guilty of a crime? What crime? Is it illegal today to be a Christian? In our country? In other countries?


  1. Make Paul’s Chains: These are really just the usual paper chains made with strips of colored construction paper, but see if you can write the name of Paul and a companion of his on each link.


  1. Close with prayer: Lord, help me to be brave and trust you through all the scary things in life.

St. Peter




  1. Students should know that Peter was one of Jesus’s twelve disciples.
  2. Students should know that Peter started the church in Rome.
  3. Students should know that Peter died as a martyr, upside down on a cross in Rome.


Possible Lesson Plan:

  1. Open with prayer.


  1. First, review the story of the calling of Peter at his fishing boat; pick him out in the icons of the Transfiguration, Ascension, and Pentecost. Who spoke to the crowds at Pentecost? Next review the story of Peter and Cornelius; who was the first to take the gospel to the Gentiles? Peter was also at the Council in Jerusalem. Now continue his story with the Read with Me Bible, pages, and/or the Children’s Bible, pages 472-473 and 464-466.


  1. Feed the Elephant True/False Questions:

Peter was a fisherman.                                          Peter was a doctor.

Peter saw a vision of animals on a sheet.              Peter saw a vision of a fiery furnace.

Peter went to Rome to tell people about Jesus.    Peter lived in Israel all his life.

Peter died upside down on a cross.                      Peter was stoned to death.


  1. Peter was also one of the Lord’s greatest apostles. Work a bit on the words “disciple” and “apostle”. Say the words and have the students repeat them. Peter was both – the disciples were the original followers of Jesus who studied and lived with the Lord during His life on earth. So, a disciple is a student, a follower. How many of the original twelve can the students name? One man was chosen to take the place of the one who betrayed Jesus? Who betrayed Jesus? Who took his place? How was Matthias chosen? “Apostle” is someone sent out by the Lord to establish His Church. So, an apostle is a leader, a teacher. Peter was a disciple who, on Pentecost became an apostle. What happened on Pentecost? Paul never knew Jesus on earth but was sent by Him to establish churches all over the Mediterranean world. See if the students can land these famous people in the right category:

          Disciple      Disciple and Apostle  Apostle        Neither

      Judas Iscariot            Peter                                                        Paul                         Abraham

                                       Thomas                                                   Silas                         David

                                        Andrew                                                    Luke                        Daniel



Are there still apostles in modern times? Watch future lessons for the answer.


  1. Make the “Fishnet”: See next page for patterns and directions.


6. End with prayer: Lord, make me now Your good disciple learner.





  1. Who was at this major event?
  2. What happened?
  3. When did it happen?
  4. Where did it happen?


Possible Lesson Plan:

  1. Open with prayer.


  1. Read the story, using the icons of the Nativity, Crucifixion, and Dormition:  Mary was the Mother of Jesus, the Theotokos. God was His Father. When Jesus was a baby, Mary cared for Him and fed Him and gave Him His bath. But, all that time, she knew that this baby was different from other babies: He was the Son of God. Mary spent thirty years doing all the things a mother and wife must do. She cooked and cleaned and scrubbed and sewed. Her bare feet were dusty from the hard work of her little home in Nazareth.

Later, when Jesus was grown, He left home to begin His life’s work. Mary saw little of her Son during the years of His teaching and miracles. But, she still loved Him as  mother loves her child. Mary was at the foot of the cross when her Son, Jesus, was dying there. Jesus saw her and knew how sad His pain and suffering made His mother. He called out to His disciple, John. John was to care for Mary as if she were his own mother. And so, for the rest of her life, he cared for the Theotokos as a loving son.

      After the day of Pentecost, Mary stayed in the city of Jerusalem, living with the disciple John.  She comforted and worked lovingly with the new Christian church. When Mary was about 50 years old, she was sick and dying. She told her friends that she wanted to be buried in Gethsemane, the garden where Jesus prayed.  At that time, all of the apostles were scattered around the world preaching the Gospel.  When they heard of Mary’s dying, they all returned to Jerusalem. Some made the journey by foot; others were miraculously transported by the Lord Himself.  All arrived in time except St. Thomas, also known as Doubting   Thomas.  The apostles are pictured on either side of Mary, St. Peter at the head of the bier and St. Paul at the foot of the bier. With everyone gathered, Mary “fell asleep” in Christ. She died peacefully, knowing that the resurrection of her Son would also be hers.

      Below the bier in the icon we see Antoninus the Jew.  He was an enemy of the Christian community and tried to break up the burial of Mary by dumping over the bier.  An archangel appeared and cut off the hands of Antoninus to keep him from dishonoring the Theotokos. Antoninus knew now that Jesus really was the Son of God and became a Christian. His hand was healed.

When Thomas arrived, the other disciples took Thomas to the tomb in Gethsemane where Mary had been buried near her parents, Joachim and Anna.  But the tomb was empty!  The Church believes that Mary was resurrected bodily and taken to heaven, just as we all will be in the future.


  1. Feed the Elephant True/false Questions:

True                                         False

                  Dormition means “falling asleep”.            Below the bier in the icon we see Jesus.

                  Sts. Peter and Paul are in the icon.           Thomas arrived on time to see Mary.

                  The apostles returned for Mary’s death.   Mary died in Rome.

                  Mary died in Jerusalem.                            Antoninus was Mary’s friend.

                  Thomas found Mary’s empty tomb.         Mary lived to be 100 years old.


  1. Discuss the association of flowers with this feast.  According to tradition, when the apostles went to visit the tomb of Mary, instead of finding her body, they found only the burial cloths and the tomb was filled with the fragrance of flowers.  We bring flowers to church to be blessed and place them at the icon of the Theotokos.  We can then take home the flowers to give her fragrance to our homes.


  1. Make a Story Wheel with the icon of the Dormition.:


Color the storywheel composed of sections of the icon on the next page. Glue it onto a paper plate. Take another plate and cut away ¼ of the circle. Punch a small hole in the center of each plate and connect the two plates with a brad as shown. Tell the story again together, turning the plates from Mary dying, to the disciples, to Antoninus, and finally to the victorious Jesus taking Mary into heaven as you go.



  1. Close with prayer: Lord, help me this week to feel the closeness that Mary felt with You and the love she had for You.



Persecution/St. Polycarp




  1. Students should be able to say the word “persecution” and know its meaning.
  2. Students should be able to name Polycarp and tell his story.


Possible Lesson Plan:

  1. Open with prayer.


  1. Read the story of St. Polycarp as follows:

In the early days of the Church, it was dangerous to be a Christian. Many of the

Emperors of Rome did not like Christians because they would not worship the gods of Rome and the Emperor himself. Do you remember the stories of the three young men in the fire and Daniel in the lion’s den? (Review them here; there are pictures in the children’s Bible storybooks.) Just like these men who loved God, early Christians were burned and eaten by lions. The Romans killed Christians just for believing in Jesus. People who are killed for what they believe are called martyrs. St. Polycarp was a martyr. Here is his story:

Polycarp’s parents were martyred when he was a little boy. He was left an orphan on

the streets of Smyrna to find food for himself and a place to sleep at night. But, he had been taught to love Jesus by his parents and know that God would care for him.

            There was a widow in Smyrna named Callista. She was very rich but had no children. She lived in a big house with many servants.  One night in a dream, an angel said to Callista, “Callista, there is an orphan whose name is Polycarp. Take him as your son, for you have no children.” Callista got up right away and brought Polycarp into her home. She loved him as her own son and he had a home and plenty of food.

            One day, Callista went on a journey. She left her servants to watch over Polycarp. Now, Polycarp, like the Lord Jesus Himself, loved the poor people who, like he had been, had no food and were starving. So, while Callista was away, Polycarp opened all the cupboards and gave away all the food in the house; there was a lot of food since Callista was very rich. The poor people were so happy! But the servants were shocked and frightened. How would they explain the empty cupboards to their mistress?

            One of the servants met Callista on the road outside town as she returned home. He told her how Polycarp had given everything away. Callista was very angry with Polycarp. But, when she got home and looked in the cupboards, they were full! She thought the servant had lied and was about to beat him when Polycarp came running up. He explained that, after he had given away the food, he prayed to God and the cupboards were filled with everything good, even more than before! Callista was amazed. She gave Polycarp all her wealth. Polycarp knew what God wanted him to do. He fasted and prayed thru life, giving all to the poor and helping the sick.

            Soon the bishop of Smyrna heard of young Polycarp. He grew to love the young man who so loved the poor. Bishop Vukola ordained Polycarp as a deacon. All the people loved Polycarp for his good works! Later Polycarp became bishop of Smyrna. Finally, when Polycarp was 86 years, an old man indeed, the soldiers came and took him prisoner. The judge begged him to say he would worship the emperor of Rome, but Polycarp would worship only Jesus. They tied him to a pole and lit a fire around Polycarp, but, like the three young men in Babylon, Polycarp was not hurt. Finally, one of the soldiers killed Polycarp with a spear in the heart and this gentle and loving saint died as a martyr during the great persecutions of the Romans against the Church.




  1. Feed the Elephant True/False Questions:

True                                                     False

                  Polycarp was a poor orphan.                     Callista was a poor orphan.

                  Callista was a rich widow.                        Polycarp was a rich widow.

                  Polycarp always gave to the poor.            Polycarp hid his gold in a cave.

                  Polycarp was Bishop of Smyrna.              Polycarp was Bishop of Jerusalem.


  1. Polycarp is listed by the Church as a saint. What are his “saintly” attributes? Was it that he was a bishop? Are all bishops saints? What about his life? In what ways was his life saintly? (gave to the poor, helped the sick) What about his death? Had he done anything wrong to be killed as a martyr? Discuss the word “persecution” and review “martyr”. Say them a few times. What do they mean? Are Christians persecuted anywhere today?


  1. Make a Polycarp Puzzle. Take the icon and color it. Cut out the border and glue it onto a piece of construction paper. Turn the central part of the icon over and draw some puzzle pieces – 5 or 6 is enough. Cut them out. Can you put Polycarp back together?


  1. Close with Prayer: Lord, help me to give to the poor and help people as did Polycarp.

Sts. Constantine and Helen



  1. Students should identify Constantine as Emperor of Rome.
  2. Students should know “In Hoc Signo Vinces” and what it means.
  3. Students should know that with the Edict of Milan, Constantine made Christianity legal in the empire, ending persecutions.


Possible Lesson Plan:

  1. Open with prayer.


  1. Tell the story of Constantine as follows:

As the cruel Roman Emperor, Diocletian, grew old, he decided that when he died the Empire would be divided into four parts. The northern parts, France and England, were given to Constantius Chlorus. Constantius was a wise and just man; his wife, Helen, was a Christian. They had one son, Constantine. But, Constantius was saddened by the cruelty of the other kings, especially against Christians. He took his army against the wicked King Maxentius. In this battle, Constantius was killed and his son, Constantine, became king.

Constantine was not yet a Christian; he worshipped the gods of Rome.  Constantine was at war with the wicked Maxentius. As he was crossing the Moldavian bridge, he saw in the sky a flaming cross. Written beneath this cross were the words in Latin, “In Hoc Signo Vinces,” which means, in English, “In this sign you shall conquer.”  He knew that the cross was the sign of the Christians. He decided to give the Christian God a try. He had his soldiers carry a Christian cross into battle and they won! Constantine had defeated Maxentius! He now knew that Jesus was the true God. When another of the kings, Galerius, died journeying to Rome, Constantine became ruler of the entire Western Roman Empire. His brother-in-law, Licinius, was ruler of the Eastern Empire. The first act of the two brothers was to issue a new law, the Edict of Milan, which said that Christians and all people could worship freely and build churches. But, soon, Licinius broke their agreement and began to kill Christians again. Constantine took his army and defeated Licinius in battle. Now Constantine was Emperor of the entire Roman Empire.

                  Constantine never forgot Who made him ruler of the Empire. He built many churches, including the first church of St. Peter in Rome. As a king, Constantine was known for his strong and wise leadership. He built a great army and navy. But, he was never fond of the city of Rome. He moved the capital of the Empire to the city of Byzantium and renamed the city Constantinople. Constantine established the Christian Church with such strength in the Byzantine Empire that the Christian Byzantine Empire stood for hundreds of years after the fall of Rome and the Western Empire. Finally, Constantine died and left his great empire to his three sons. History books have given Constantine the title of “the Great” and the Church also remembers him and his mother Helen as great, saints “equal to the apostles.”


  1. Feed the Elephant True/False Questions:

True                                                     False

                  Helen was Constantine’s mother.             Mary was Constantine’s mother.

                  Constantine saw a cross in the sky.          Constantine saw a rainbow in the sky.

                  The words in the sky were “In this           The words in the sky were “In Rome

                        sign, you shall conquer.”                                 you shall die”

                  The Edict of Milan gave Christians          The Arch of Constantine gave Christians

                        freedom to worship.                                        freedom to worship.


  1. Discuss for a bit the Roman Empire. Show pictures from a library or history book if possible. How did the people dress? How did they live? What gods did they worship? What kind of houses did they build? Monuments? Can the students name some other emperors? How much of the world did they rule? What is left today of Rome? Be sure the students can say “in hoc signo vinces” and “Edict of Milan”. Even today, in churches, we see “I””H””S” on various articles. Can you wear a toga to class?


  1. Make Constantine’s soldier’s shield: Take a piece of posterboard. On the back, use duct tape to make a strap for the arm of the child. On the front, paint or color or make with red tape a giant cross. Write the words “In Hoc Signo Vinces”. March around the room shouting the words or singing them to the tune of " When the Saints Go Marching In."


  1. Close with prayer: Lord, let me take my cross up every day to defeat all my enemies in your name.

Elevation of the Cross



  1. Children should recognize a cross and how to make the sign of the cross.
  2. Children should know the story of St. Helen and the finding of the Holy Cross.
  3. Why is the cross important to us as Christians? Christ died on the cross. The cross shows us how much Jesus loves us.


Possible lesson plan:


  1. Open with prayer. Practice making the sign of the cross as you pray.


  1. Tell the story of St. Helen and the finding of the Holy Cross, using the icon as a picture to illustrate the story for the students:


The Empress Helen, mother of the great Emperor Constantine, was traveling to the Holy Land, the land where Jesus had lived and died and risen from the dead.  All the palace was in an uproar.  The servants prepared food for the journey, packed the clothing, and made everything ready for the royal family to travel.  The Empress was a Christian – one who believed that Jesus was the true God.  She was going to the Holy Land to find the places and things the Bible told about.

            Soon, the royal party – the empress, her ladies, her soldiers, and her servants – reached the Holy Land.  The royal ship, with its sails of purple silk trimmed with gold, landed at the port of Joppa on the Mediterranean Sea.  There, camels and horses and donkeys waited to carry them inland.  The road was hot and dusty; the sun beat down on them.  Finally, they reached the city of Jerusalem.  They could almost feel the presence of Jesus.  These were the very streets He had walked about 300 years before.

            Empress Helen had the servants put up silken tents on a hill outside the city.  The hill was called Golgotha, a dusty mound with a few bent and twisted old olive trees growing nearby.  What was special about this hill?  The Bible says that Golgotha was where Jesus was crucified.  No one had seen the cross on which the Lord died, but, somewhere on that dusty hill, Empress Helen was sure that she would find three crosses.  The Lord had given her many dreams and visions that had started her on this journey.  He would surely show her how to complete her task.  Helen Prayed.  Then, she told her men to begin digging, not on top of the hill, but in a little gully to the side.  As they dug, the men became more and more excited.  Suddenly, one of them found something wooden.  It was a cross!  Soon, there were three wooden crosses uncovered.  But, which one was the cross of Jesus Himself?

            The Bishop of Jerusalem, Macarius, suggested a way to find out.  He know of a woman who was sick, so sick she was about to die.  He had his servants carry the woman out to the hill.  The woman was tired and wondered what was happening.  Then, the bishop asked the sick woman to touch the first cross; nothing happened.  She touched the second cross; nothing happened.  Then she touched the third cross; suddenly she was full of energy and life and was well again.  Surely this was the true cross of Christ!

            The Empress Helen sent word to her son, the Emperor Constantine, that they had found the true cross of Jesus Christ.  There was rejoicing in all the Christian Churches.  The emperor ordered that a church be built there on the Mount of Olives.  He reminded all the people that, wonderful though it was to find the wooden cross on which Jesus was crucified, we do not worship the cross but the Lord who died on it.  And so it is to this day.


  1. Feed the Elephant True/false Questions:

                        True                                                                 False

Helen was the mother of Constantine.           Constantine found the cross of Jesus.

Helen traveled to Jerusalem.                           Helen found the cross in Constantinople.

The cross was on a hill called Golgotha.         The cross was in the Garden of Gethsemane.

A church was built where the cross was         The bishop threw dice to choose the true

            found.                                                             Cross.

Constantine was the Emperor of Rome.         The Bishop of Jerusalem was Constantine.


  1. Talk about how a cross can look.  Show examples of different styles of cross.  Think about places where we see a cross, or take a “field trip” to the sanctuary to “hunt” for crosses.


  1. Teach and sing, complete with prostrations:


Before thy cross, we bow down in worship, O Master,

And thy holy resurrection we glorify.


  1. Cross Pendant: Cut an oval from pink or blue foam. Cut a cross from gold paper and paste in the center of the oval. Decorate with flower stickers or small silk flowers. Make a hole in the top of the pendant and put yarn through to wear it.


  1. Conclude with prayer, again practicing the sign of the cross.


St. Mary of Egypt




  1. Students should know who Mary was.
  2. Students should know the word “repentance”.
  3. Students should be able to tell the story of her life.


Possible Lesson Plan:

  1. Open with prayer.


  1. Tell the story of Mary of Egypt (complete with roaring of lions, if desired):

Mary was born in Alexandria in the land of Egypt. She was a very beautiful and very rich girl. She didn’t believe in God and said that she could do anything she wanted.

One day, Mary sailed to Jerusalem with her friends looking for fun. Now, it happened to be the time of the feast of the Ascension, and many Christians were going into the Church built over the tomb of Jesus to pray. Mary was curious. What were they doing? She tried to enter the church, but an invisible force pushed her back. She tried again and again, with no luck. She wondered why she could not enter the church. Could it be her sins that were pushing her back?

Suddenly, Mary began to change. She looked at an icon of the Virgin Mary and was ashamed of the way she had been living. She knelt before the icon and cried her heart out. God’s voice came to her and told her to go into the desert beyond the Jordan. At first, life in the desert was hard, remembering all the fun she used to have with her friends and her fine clothes and good food. In the desert, she was hungry and thirsty and had only rags to wear. But the Lord sent her wisdom and peace in her soul.

After fifty years, Mary saw a man walking in the desert. It was a monk, Zossima, who had come to pray. Mary asked Zossima to return the next year on Holy Thursday to give her communion for the first time since her repentance. Then Mary disappeared into the desert.

The next year, Zossima returned as he had promised. He waited on the banks of the river, which was flooded. How would Mary get across? The he saw her on the other shore. Mary prayed and walked across the water! Zossima gave her the beloved communion and Mary prayed the prayer of St. Simeon, “Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace…” Can you sing this great hymn? Do it now. Mary asked Zossima to return the next year.

The next year Zossima came and found Mary’s body; she was dead. She had written in the sand that she wished to be buried her, in the desert, where she had found the Lord in her heart. Zossima sang the memorial service for Mary, but he was an old man and could not dig the grave. Suddenly a lion came and dug the grave with his claws. Thus, Zossima and the lion buried Mary’s body while her soul went to be with her Lord in heaven.


  1. Feed the Elephant True/False Questions:

True                                                                 False

                  Mary was from Alexandria in Egypt.                   Mary was from Jerusalem.

                  Mary traveled to Jerusalem.                                  Mary traveled to America.

                  Father Zossima found Mary in the desert.            Zossima found Mary at McDonalds.

                  Zossima brought Mary communion.                     Zossima brought Mary a pickle.

                  A lion helped Zossima bury Mary.                       An elephant helped Zossima bury Mary.


  1. Discuss repentance: Say the word over and repeat it. We use it a lot in church, but what does it mean? To repent is different from just feeling sorry for what we’ve done. It means to turn around and go the other way. Mary felt sorry in Jerusalem. But, her life in the desert was truly a complete turn-around from her former life. Have the students name some things Mary would have had and done in Alexandria; what about in the desert? Be sure the desert list is not all negative – she had peace and the love of God, etc. Now as the students if they have ever done something wrong? Can they tell about it? In what way have they repented? What would be a good way to show their repentance. For example, if they disobeyed their parents and didn’t clean their room, could they go and clean it extra good now and each time from now on? If they fought with their sister or brother, could they do something especially nice for them and give them a hug?


  1. Make “Mary’s Church Door”: We also have plenty of old bulletin covers, some with Mary of Egypt, if you want to use these in some way.


  1. Close with prayer: Lord, give me true repentance every time I do something wrong.

Canon of Scripture




  1. Students should know how we got our Bible.
  2. Students should know the word “Canon” and what it means.
  3. Students should memorize the names of the 4 gospels plus the book of Acts.


Possible Lesson Plan:

  1. Open with prayer.


  1. How did we get the Bible? In the early Church, the only Scriptures known were the

Old Testament or Hebrew Scriptures. It was written in their language, Hebrew. It was written long before Jesus was born. The Hebrew Scriptures tell about the creation of the world, God’s chosen people, God’s promises of a Savior, and the history of the Jewish people. Do you remember some of the stories from the Old Testament? Some of the books we memorized 2 years ago? Jesus Himself read from these Scriptures when He taught. This was the only Bible read by the apostles! Look at the Old Testament in your Read with Me Bibles.

In the first days after Pentecost, the apostles taught the people about Jesus. The people memorized the stories and loved hearing them. So, even while the apostles were still alive, collections of stories about Jesus began to be written down. Peter probably supervised the writing of the gospel of Mark. Luke traveled and talked to many people to learn all about Jesus to write his gospel. And, of course, Matthew and John were with Jesus from the start and wrote what they had personally seen and heard. These books are called the gospels and tell about Jesus. They are the first four books of the New Testament.

Luke also traveled with Paul and wrote a book about the history of the early Church. This is called the book of Acts. The apostles traveled to many cities, starting churches all over the world. When you travel, don’t you send letters or postcards to those you miss at home or in other towns? So, the apostles wrote letters, or epistles, to others of their churches while they were elsewhere. Most were written in Greek. Paul, Peter, John, James, and Jude all wrote letters. In fact, they wrote a lot more letters than are in the New Testament. Some letters may have been fake or lies. But, from earliest times, certain ones of their letters went from church to church, copy by copy, by foot or donkey or horse or camel. Each copy was made by hand – each hand-carried with love to the next town to share with fellow believers. Even the apostles, in their letters, talked about the letters of the other apostles they had read! These letters were especially precious in the days of persecution, when they had to be hidden carefully from the Romans. In fact, during the reign of Diocletian, the Romans sent spies all over the empire and tried to destroy all Christian writings!

            But, by the second century, many of these letters were well-known through the church. Early Christian bishops, Clement and Polycarp and Ignatius (Do you remember the story of Polycarp?), refer to them as being read in the churches. Finally, Constantine became Emperor and Christians were free to read the Scriptures in their churches openly. But, which Scriptures? Constantine gave the great historian Eusebius, who had lived through the persecution of Diocletian, a great order – to produce 50 Bibles. Eusebius carefully studied all the letters and gospels he could find and came up with a list of 27 books for the New Testament, the same 27 books we recognize today. Can you count to 27? The first are the gospels (Can you name them?), then the Acts, then lots of epistles (or letters), and finally the Revelation of John (Remember what it was about?).


  1. Feed the Elephant True/False Questions:

                                    True                                                     False

      The Old Testament was written in Hebrew.         The New Testament was written in Hebrew.

      The Gospels tell of the life of Jesus                      The Acts tell of the life of Jesus.

      Epistles are letters.                                                Epistles are made of chewing gum.

      There are 27 books in the New Testament.           There are 100 books in the New Testament.

      The Revelation is the last book of the Bible.        Genesis is the last book of the Bible.


  1. Work on the books of the Bible – even the smallest children should be able to say the names of the gospels and know what a gospel is. Memory work for this week is the books of the Bible for the older classes; the smallest children need only know “Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Acts” to get their prize. Look thru their Bible storybooks, showing the Old Testament, the gospels, the Acts. Let them see a “real” Bible and look through it as well. Repeat the word “canon” a few times; this is the list of books that the Church, throughout holy tradition, has accepted as the word of God.


  1. Make a “Bible”: Fold a piece of construction paper in half to make a “book”. On the cover, put the 4 evangelists (pictures on next page) with the words “Holy Bible” at the top and a cross in the center. On the inside, paste a copy of the Bible Bookcase, with the Old Testament on one side and the New Testament on the other. Color the evangelists and the books of the Bible. This illustration, from an old Church School curriculum, does not show the books of the Old Testament as listed in the Orthodox Study Bible, but these small children don't read anyway!

  1. Close with prayer: Lord, may I read your Holy Bible every day of my life.

St. Athanasius and the Creed




  1. Students should know the story of St. Athanasius and be able to say his name.
  2. Students should be able to say the first line of the creed.


Possible Lesson Plan:

  1. Open with prayer.


  1. Tell the story of St. Athanasius:

Athanasius was born at the end of the third century (How long ago was that?) in the city of Alexandria in Egypt. At that time, Alexandria was an important center of education and learning in the Roman Empire and its bishop an important leader in the Christian Church. One day, the bishop looked out his window and saw some small boys walking back and forth at the seashore. When he asked what they were doing, they said that they have made their friend, Athanasius, their bishop and are following his order to baptize the other children.  Athanasius had taught the children all about Jesus and they were ready to follow the Lord! The bishop came to love Athanasius and the boy spent many hours in the bishop’s home reading and studying.

      By the time he was 20 years old, Athanasius was writing books about the Lord. He believed that Jesus was truly God as well as truly man. But, another priest in Alexandria, named Arius, believed just the opposite. He believed that Jesus was a “superman” but not really God. He began to tell people that Jesus was a great hero. Even the Emperor Constantine heard of this great disagreement in the Christian Church and was upset by the arguments. So Constantine decided to hold a council of all the bishops. This council was held at Nicea in Asia Minor in 325 AD. Constantine himself was the presiding judge. Athanasius, still a young deacon, spoke to the bishops about the dangers of this new belief that Arius was spreading. Arius also spoke. The Council decided against Arius and wrote a creed, or statement of belief, that says, “Jesus Christ…being of one essence with the Father” to end the disagreement.

      Athanasius soon became Bishop of Alexandria. But Arius was still alive and even the Emperor allowed Arius to keep teaching. Then he spread rumors that Athanasius had murdered a man. Athanasius went to Constantinople as a prisoner, but he showed them alive the man he was supposed to have killed! Even so, Athanasius was sent into exile – a prisoner in France for many years. When he finally came home to Alexandria, he again became Bishop. But, when a new Emperor arose who believed with Arius, Athanasius had to escape to Rome. He would try over and over to go back to Alexandria, only to have to flee – finally to the desert. But, he never stopped writing about his beloved Jesus. Finally, as an old man, he was able to go home to Alexandria as its beloved bishop.


  1. Feed the Elephant True/False Questions:

True                                                     False

            Athanasius was from Alexandria.                   Athanasius was from Rome.

            Athanasius believed that Jesus was God.       Athanasius believed Jesus was superman.

Arius believed that Jesus was a hero.             Arius believed that Jesus was God.


  1. Athanasius is called “The Great” by the Church. Why? He defended Jesus against false beliefs for many years. Think a bit about how important it is for Christians to know that Jesus is God. Have the students talk about superman (or spider man, batman, etc.) What are they like? What powers do they have? Are they God? What is different about God? Yes, Jesus was powerful and could walk on water, but His birth, death, and resurrection mean nothing if He was just another superhero!
  2. Role-play the council: Have one child be Constantine with a gavel. On one side Athanasius and on the other Arius. The rest of the class are bishops. Put on robes from our costume closet if you want. Constantine should pound his gavel. Arius shouts “Jesus is superman!” and Athanasius answers, “Jesus is God and man!” Repeat till the whole class knows the cries of each man.


  1. Practice the sign of the cross. The three fingers stand for God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. And the two fingers down on the palm stand for the 2 natures of Jesus – God and man – who came down to earth. Have the students practice. Do they know what the fingers stand for?



  1. Work on the creed. The memory work for the next few weeks is the Creed for the older classes; the smallest children will only need to know the first line, “I believe in one God the Father Almighty, Maker of Heaven and Earth.”


  1. Make “Constantine’s Gavel”: Emperor Constantine himself was the judge who ruled at the Council of Nicea. Take a crab mallet. Write on one side, Constantine, and on the other, Council of Nicea. Decorate with paint, glitter glue, etc., or glue on a small picture of Constantine from our file of old bulletins.


  1. Close with prayer: Lord, help me to be strong in what I know is true, even when everyone else disagrees with me.

St. John Chrysostom and the Creed



  1. Students should be able to say the name, St. John Chrysostom, and tell his story.
  2. Students should know that he wrote the Divine Liturgy we celebrate most Sundays.

Possible Lesson Plan:

  1. Open with prayer.
  2. Tell the story of St. John Chrysostom:

St. John Chrysostom was born about 300 years after the time of Christ in the city of Antioch in the land of Syria. His parents, Secounthos and Anthousa, were very rich. They became Christians before John was born, and John was baptized when he was very young. Secounthos died when John was a boy, and Anthousa taught him carefully about Christ Jesus and the Christian life.

When he became a young man, John went to Athens to study in the university there. In Athens, he soon became known for his wonderful preaching. He became famous all through the land. In face, his name “Chrysostom” is not his last name at all but means “Golden-Tongued” and was given to him because of his wonderful speaking. One day, John was telling men who believed in other gods about the Lord Jesus. One of these men, Anthemios, fell down to the ground shaking after denying the true God. John prayed for Anthemios and he was healed. Anthemios and many others of the learned men then became Christians and were baptized.

When John finished his schooling, he returned to Antioch and became a monk. During this time, many people who were sick came to him for prayer and were healed. Some farmers even came to him because they were afraid of a lion which killed many people. John told them to pray to God and gave them a wooden cross to place on the road. The next morning, the lion was found dead in front of the cross. St. John lived in the monastery for four years, performing many miracles and serving as an example of Christian life. He then left the monastery to live alone in the desert a life of prayer. But, John became ill and had to go back to Antioch. He was ordained a deacon and served the Patriarch, St. Meletios, for five years.

When Patriarch Meletios died, the new patriarch, Flavianos, saw a vision telling him to take John to Constantinople and there ordain him a priest. The next day, they left Antioch for Constantinople. As the patriarch was ordaining John, a white dove appeared and sat on John’s head, showing the blessing of the Holy Spirit. (What other time did the Holy Spirit appear as a dove?) John went back to Antioch as a priest. Soon, the Patriarch of Constantinople died and John was named patriarch. He had to be sneaked away from Antioch in a carriage because the people loved him so much they did not want him to go. During John’s time as Patriarch of Constantinople, John continued to preach the Word of God with great wisdom. He also wrote many books of sermons and interpretations, composed hymns, and gave us the Divine Liturgy still celebrated today.

But, John was never afraid to speak out against those who did not live  the way of Christ. Because of this, he made many enemies, including the emperor’s wife, whom he criticized for her greedy and selfish way of life. Finally, she brought a list of lies against John to the bishops and had John sent away. The people tried to stop this, and hundreds of Christians were killed by the empress’s army. John spent his last four years as a simple priest in the village of Cacussus.


  1. Feed the Elephant True/False Questions:

True                                         False

            “Chrysostom” means “Golden tongued”.       John’s last name was Chrysostom.

            The lion was killed in front of cross.              The lion died in front of a mouse.

            A dove sat on John’s head.                             A crow sat on John’s head.

            John was Patriarch of Constantinople.           John was Patriarch of Jerusalem.


  1. St. John Chrysostom (Have the children repeat his name.) wrote the Divine Liturgy as we celebrate it most Sunday’s of the year. Have the children repeat until they can say correctly “divine liturgy”.  Explain that this is the special service that we have to worship God. Review the parts of the liturgy; children should be able to chime in with answers as they recognize the things they have heard and sung for years:
  • Litany: Here we pray for the whole world.  Who else do we pray for? (travelers, prisoners, leaders of our country, bishops, priests, deacons, rain and sun, food to eat, and we especially remember Mary the Theotokos) What do we respond? (Lord have mercy. Grant it, O Lord.)
  • Hymns of worship: 1st and 2nd antiphons, troparia and kontakia, Trisagion -- review these words.  Try singing the antiphons we use each Sunday.
  • Epistle and Gospel: Here we hear God’s word from the Bible.  God speaks to us from His special book, the Gospel Book, which is kept on the altar table.  The priest carries out the Gospel and tells us to pay attention to God’s word.
  • Cherubic Hymn: God makes us His special guests, along with the seraphim and cherubim, His angels in heaven.  The priest uses incense as he prays, reminding us that the prayers go up to God the same way the smoke rises. The discos holds the holy bread and the chalice the communion wine.  The tabernacle on the altar holds communion for those who are sick and cannot come to church.  The priest carries the chalice and discos in the Great Entrance, while praying for us all!
  • Creed: We all recite the creed –review the writing of the creed by the Fathers of the Church in Nicaea under Constantine the Great.
  • Preparation for Communion: Review the story of the Last Supper.  Here the priest prays for the bread and wine to become the true body and blood of Jesus.  We say “Amen” and bow to the altar.
  • The Megalynarion: We honor Mary the Theotokos with a special hymn.
  • The Lord’s Prayer: Can we say it together? Jesus gave us this prayer himself.
  • Holy Communion: Review crossing the arms, opening the mouth, kissing the chalice.  Have the children practice this.
  • Benediction: The priest blesses us and dismisses us. We all kiss the Cross.


  1. Make a Coffee Filter Lion: Draw a lion’s face in the center of a coffee filter. Color the edge of the filter yellow or brown to be the mane. Fringe the mane section. While doing this, remind the children of the story of St. John and the lion, probably the most exciting part of today’s lesson. Glue the lion onto a piece of blue construction paper. Cut out a brown cross (or make with Popsicle sticks) and glue in front of the lion.


6.   Close with prayer: Lord, help me to use my tongue to speak only what you want me to say.

The Three Hierarchs/St. Basil the Great




  1. For these youngest children, concentrate on St. Basil the Great – his life and how he served the Lord.
  2. Students should know that the other two hierarchs are St. Gregory the Theologian and St. John Chrysostom.. What do they remember from last week’s lesson?
  3. Students should know the word “hierarch” and that it means bishop.



Possible Lesson Plan:

  1. Open with prayer.
  2. Tell the story of St. Basil:

Basil was born in the city of Caesarea some 300 years after the time of Christ. He was raised by his grandmother, Macrina, who told him and his brothers and sisters about how his grandfather had been killed by lions because of his faith in Jesus. Basil wondered about this. Why would someone waste his life for just a belief?

When Basil grew up, he went to study in the great university at Athens. There he began to think that he was very wise and argued with the other students about all sorts of things, forgetting about Jesus. Then, one day, a messenger ran up. He told Basil that his brother Naucratius had died all of a sudden. Basil could hardly believe the news. He went right away to Caesarea. Here he realized that Naucratius, while not as smart as Basil, had shown love and joy in his whole life because of Jesus. Basil prayed and told God he was sorry he had forgotten the teachings of his grandmother about Jesus. Now, Basil was ready to serve the Lord, but how and where would he go?

Basil first went to the desert. There he learned about men who served the Lord alone in the wilderness. Do you remember a woman who also did this? Basil decided to begin a monastery – a place where men called monks could live a life of prayer and holiness together. They wore simple clothes and raised their own food. Every day they would pray, but they would also serve the poor and needy. Basil started hospitals and homes for old people and orphanages for children with his monks. The rule of St. Basil (Does your family have rules?) about how to run a monastery is still followed all over the world today.

Then, Basil went home to Caesarea. There he was ordained a priest. One day during Liturgy, the earth began to shake. It was an earthquake! (Try some sound effects and shaking here.) The whole church fell down around Basil, but he was protected by the Lord. The whole city had fallen down and was on fire (Build a city of blocks and knock it over?). Basil gathered the Christians and took care of people who were hurt and brought food for the hungry. Because of his loving service, Basil became bishop of Caesarea. Once, when people had no money or food, Basil asked the rich people for some money and had bakers make loaves of bread with the money inside! He gave it to the poor people. Many people remember this by making a special bread called “Vasilopita”, or Basil’s bread.

Meanwhile, in other cities, many people began to leave the true teachings of the church and believe the false teachings of a man called Arius. Do you remember him? He taught that Jesus was not God but some sort of superman. Even the new emperor believed the teachings of Arius. Basil was arrested by the soldiers and taken before the emperor. Would he, like his grandfather, have to die for his beliefs? He stood, an old man, before the emperor and proposed to test whose belief was right. The church doors were closed and everyone moved away. Whoever’s prayers God answered would be allowed to worship. First, the Arians would pray and see if the church doors would open; they prayed and nothing happened. Then, Basil prayed and the doors opened all by themselves! Basil and the true Christians were safe from the emperor. God’s power was proof.

In the last years of his life, Basil wrote many books, taught in the monastery, and cared for the poor. He wrote down the Divine Liturgy known to this day as the Liturgy of St. Basil and celebrated on many feast days of the year. (Whose liturgy is celebrated most of the time?)


  1. Feed the Elephant True/False Questions:

True                                                     False

            Basil was born in Caesarea.                            Basil was born in Jerusalem.

            Basil began the first monastery.                      Basil began the first desert.

            Basil was saved in an earthquake.                  Basil was killed by an earthquake.

            The church doors opened when Basil             Basil was killed by the emperor.



  1. Discuss hospitals a bit: Who goes to a hospital? What do they do there? Have any of the children been to a hospital? As a visitor? As a patient? Let them share their experiences. What would it be like to have no hospitals? Basil founded the first hospitals, as well as the first monasteries. The monks cared for the sick people. Who care for the sick people today? Does anyone know a doctor or a nurse?


  1. Make Vasilopita:

Mix ½ cup warm water, 1-2 pkg quick dry yeast, 2T sugar and let yeast get bubbly.

Mix ½ cup melted butter, 3 eggs, 2 cups warm milk, ½ tsp salt, 1 cup sugar, ½ tsp

      cinnamon, ½ tsp nutmeg, 1 tsp grated orange peel.

Add yeast mixture.

Add about 6 cups flour and knead till nice elastic dough.

Bring it to church and allow to rise during Liturgy to double its size in warm place.

Give each child a piece of bread or dough for one small loaf and knead it. They love kneading. Be sure to wash hands first. Then, give each child a carefully washed coin and have him insert it into his loaf. Paint on egg coating and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Let each child decorate with a cross of sliced almonds and cinnamon stencils. Put each loaf on a small aluminum pan for the child to take home if you can’t let it rise for 30-60 minutes in Church School. Bake at 350 degrees until done. The family should share the bread and the lucky person who gets the coin gets to keep it!


  1. Close with prayer: Lord, help me to care for the sick and the poor as did Basil. Think for a moment about special ways to do this – can your class collect canned goods this week or visit a nursing home. We will make “homeless bags” after Church School in the hall; encourage the children to stay and participate. They can even bake their breads while helping!

St. Cyril of Alexandria



  1. Students should know who he was and what he did.
  2. Students should know the word, “Theotokos”, and what it means.


Possible Lesson Plan:

  1. Open with prayer.


  1. Read the story of St. Cyril of Alexandria:

Cyril was born in Alexandria in Egypt nearly 400 years after the time of Jesus. (Do you remember any other things that happened in Egypt? Joseph, Moses, etc.) His uncle was bishop of Alexandria. Cyril was not really a very nice boy – he like to fight and argue, even with his friends. But he loved the Lord and tried to serve God all his life.

When Cyril grew up, he became bishop, or “patriarch”, of Alexandria. The bishops of the five largest churches were often called patriarchs. Can you name these big cities of the ancient world? Rome, Constantinople, Antioch, Alexandria, and Jerusalem. Can you say the word, “patriarch”?

There was, at the same time, in Antioch, a bishop named Nestorius who came up witha very upsetting new teaching. He decided that Mary could not really be the mother of God but only the mother of Christ, the man. Again, someone was trying to split Jesus up into two people, God and man. Who else had a false teaching along the same lines? (Arius) We call Mary “Theotokos”, meaning “mother of God”. But Nestorius wanted to call her “Christotokos” instead. The emperor called another big council of bishops, this time in the city of Ephesus. Cyril argued for Mary to be called “Theotokos” and Nestorius argued for “Christotokos”. But, after Cyril’s explanation, Nestorius agreed that Mary should be called “Theotokos”, as she is to this day. Can you say the word? Do you know what it means? Because of the faith of St. Cyril of Alexandria, we call Mary “Theotokos” and honor her as the mother of God.


  1. Feed the Elephant True/False Questions:

True                                                     False

            Cyril was bishop of Alexandria.                     Cyril was bishop of Constantinople.

            Cyril believed Mary was Theotokos.              Nestorius believed that Mary was Theotokos

            Nestorius believed Mary was Christotokos.   Cyril believed Mary was Christotokos.

            Theotokos means “mother of God”.               Theotokos means some old lady.


  1. Discuss mothers: Let children share about their mothers. What characteristics does a mother have? What does she do for/with her children? Jesus was a baby and a child. What would Mary have done for Him? How do we honor our mothers? (e.g. Mother’s Day) Mary was even more – she was “Theotokos”.  Review the word and its meaning. How did she become the Mother of God? Review the story of the Annunciation; look at the picture in the Bible storybook. How did Elizabeth, her cousin, honor Mary? How should we honor Mary? Practice venerating an icon of Mary. Let each child bow and cross himself and kiss the icon.


  1. Make the icon of the Theotokos. See pattern next page. If you don’t want to do the three layers, you can use glitter glue for the halos and decorate paper plate as frame.


  1. Close with prayer: Lord, we worship You and honor Your mother, Mary, the Theotokos. Remind children to put the icon of the Theotokos in their icon corner this week; can they put flowers to honor her?


Evangelism/St. Nina



  1. Students should be able to identify St. Nina and tell her story.
  2. Why is she called “equal to the apostles”?


Possible Lesson Plan:

  1. Open with prayer.


  1. Tell the story of St. Nina.

Hundreds of years ago, there lived in Jerusalem a girl named Nina. Nina loved God with her whole heart. One night, the Theotokos appeared to Nina in a dream and told her to go north to a land where no one knows about Jesus and tell them His story. Nina was afraid, but the Theotokos gave her a cross to carry with her. When Nina woke up, the cross was in her hands.

On the road, Nina had many adventures and met many different people. Finally, she reached a land called Georgia, near the Black Sea. She found a bush shaped like a tent outside the city walls and decided to live there. Inside the town lived a boy from a rich family. The boy was very sick, but Nina prayed and the boy was healed. This family became Nina’s friends and helpers. Nina told them about Jesus, and they became Christians.

A little while later, the Queen became sick, too. Her name was Queen Nana. She heard about Nina healing the little boy and had her servants carry her out on a stretcher to Nina’s bush. There Nina prayed and touched the Queen’s forehead with her cross. Queen Nana was healed and believed in Jesus, too. She went home and told the King, her husband. While he was happy to see her well again, he was not ready to believe in Jesus.

One day, the King was hunting in the forest. The sun went dark and the sky went black. The King was lost and frightened. (Have you ever been lost and frightened?) Then the King had an idea. He prayed that, if Jesus really is God, He would make the sun shine again. Suddenly, the sun came out and the darkness was gone. The King could see his way home. As soon as he reached the palace, the King sent for Nina. Nina told him all about Jesus. The King and Queen both became Christians and built a Church. All the people of the land were baptized. And so St. Nina is remembered as the apostle to the land of Georgia. (Do you remember what an apostle is?)


  1. Feed the Elephant True/False Questions:

True                                                     False

            The Theotokos appeared in a dream to Nina. A lion appeared in a dream to Nina.

            The Theotokos gave Nina a cross.                  The Theotokos gave Nina a snake.

            Nina lived in a bush.                                       Nina lived in the palace.

            Nina prayed and the Queen was healed.        Nina prayed and the King was healed.

            The King was lost in the dark forest.              The little boy was lost in the dark forest.


  1. Use this opportunity to review the definition of an apostle and the lives of other apostles. An apostle is one sent out to begin churches. Can the students name some other apostles we’ve studied? Where did they go? Look back at Peter, Paul, Thomas, James, Philip, etc., in our earlier lessons. What is the life of an apostle like? Did Nina have a comfortable life? Where did she live? Did she have a soft bed, fancy clothes, rich food? Do you think it was easy for Nina to leave her home and family and travel so far? The people of Georgia were very different from those of her home in Jerusalem. The land was very different. Are there forests in Israel? If possible, show pictures of the two lands. But, Nina obeyed God and trusted Him to take care of her. Do you remember someone else who left his home and set off for a new land? (Abraham?)


  1. Nina is usually remembered with a sun and a cross. Take a sheet of wax paper. Cut out a circle of yellow tissue paper and lots of small strips of orange, yellow, and red tissue paper. These will look better if somewhat irregular in shape and size. Cut a cross out of black. Arrange the sun and cross on the wax paper. The pieces of tissue paper can overlap. Cover with another piece of wax paper and iron gently on low until the two layers of wax paper adhere. Be sure to have some space between at least some of the pieces of tissue paper and around the edges of the wax paper. Hang in a window as a “Stained Glass” reminder of the story of St. Nina.



  1. Close with prayer: Lord, help me to obey You when You ask me to do something hard, just as Nina did.


Fall of Rome




  1. Students should know that the capital of the Western Empire was the city of Rome.
  2. Students should know the story of St. Leo, bishop of Rome, and Attila the Hun.

  3. Students should know the name of the new capital of the Roman Empire, Constantinople.


Possible Lesson Plan:

  1. Open with prayer.
  2. Tell the story of the fall of Rome:

Do you remember the Emperor Constantine? He founded a new city, named for himself, Constantinople and moved the capital of the Roman Empire to his new city, far to the east of Rome. The new city was Christian from the start, full of churches. Councils were held here. Do you remember that St. John Chrysostom was bishop of Constantinople.

Far to the west, in Rome, things were not going so well. Many wild tribes lived to the north. They were fierce warriors and knew nothing of Christianity or the great Roman cities and culture. They were called “barbarians” by the Romans because they didn’t even speak Latin or Greek. When they talked, it sounded to the Romans that they were saying, “bar-bar-bar.” They lived in little villages and tribes. But, they wanted more and more land. One of these tribes was called the Huns; their chief was Attila the Hun. Can you say that? They were wild and fierce and rode little, hairy ponies. Attila moved his army down Italy toward Rome itself. They burned and destroyed everything in their way. Finally they were at the gates of Rome. The bishop of Rome in that day was named Leo I (the first). Leo means “lion” but this Leo was not a soldier or a fighting man. But he wanted to save his city and his people. He went out the gates of the city, dressed in his gorgeous robes, with all the bishops and priests. He carried no shield or sword or spear. Would Attila and his men slaughter them like lambs before the wolves? Attila and Leo met outside the walls of Rome. Then, Attila and his army turned around and left Italy – marched away without even entering the city or killing anyone. Leo may not have been a fighting man, but he had the courage of a lion!

Soon after, the Vandals, another wild tribe, captured northern Africa. A man named Augustine was Bishop of the city of Hippo at this time. Augustine had been a great teacher and writer of the western Church. But, Augustine was old and ill and died while the Vandals were attacking the city. They sailed up the Tiber River to Rome. They captured the city and stole all its treasures! Then another tribe called the Teutons divided up the empire. Just like Humpty Dumpty, Rome had a great fall – broken into many pieces by the barbarian tribes and never to be put back together again. Each tribe had its different customs and wanted to rule its land in its own way. The last Emperor was named Romulus Augustulus. Old Rome was beaten. It was the year 476 AD. But, the Empire in the East, with its capital in the great city of Constantinople, would continue for another thousand years.


  1. Feed the Elephant True/False Questions:

True                                                     False

            Leo was the bishop of Rome.                         Attila was the bishop of Rome.

            Attila was the chief of the Huns.                    Attila was a lion.

            Leo turned Attila away from Rome               Leo fought a great battle with Attila.

                        without fighting.

            Leo means “lion”.                                           Leo means “monkey”.




  1. Try reinforcing this lesson with a little ditty to the beat of “Humpty-Dumpty”:

Good old Rome had very strong walls.

Good old Rome had a great fall.

Vandals and Teutons and Attila the Hun

Couldn’t put old Rome together again.


  1. Another song can teach the first 5 Patriarchates, to the tune of “Row your Boat”:

Chorus: Five centers in the Church, in the early Church;

              Preaching, teaching, praying, sharing, in the early Church.

  1. Way out, to the west, was the Church of Rome;

Preaching, teaching, praying, sharing, was the church of Rome.

  1. Constantinople had the Church, “Holy Wisdom”,

Preaching, teaching, praying, sharing, “Haggia Sophie”.

  1. All “Christians” got their name, out of Antioch;

Preaching, teaching, praying, sharing, all in Antioch.

  1. The very first church of all, was in Jerusalem;

Preaching, teaching, praying, sharing, in Jerusalem.

  1. Last of all was Egypt’s church, in Alexandria;

Preaching, teaching, praying, sharing, in Alexandria.


  1. Discuss courage: What’s a lion like? Have the students come up with some characteristics of a lion. Look at a picture of a lion. How was Leo like a lion? How different? Ask the students if they have ever met a bully – someone who was mean and nasty to them. Were they afraid of the bully? What did they do – run and hide? Fight? How did Leo face Attila the Hun? Do you suppose he was afraid? Did he run away? What would have happened if he had run away? Did he fight? Would he have won if he had?


  1. Make a coat of arms for Leo’s bishop’s hat. Cut two bishop’s hat shapes out of tagboard, foam, or construction paper. Staple together to make a hat. On one side, glue a cross cut from construction paper. On the other, glue a golden lion cut from gold wrapping paper. Review how the cross and the lion are involved in the story of Leo and Attila the Hun.


8. Close with prayer: Lord, help me to trust You whenever someone is mean and nasty.




Byzantine Empire under Justinian



  1. Students should know the name of the Byzantine Empire and its capital, Constantinople.
  2. Students should be able to name Justinian as a wise Emperor and list 2-3 of his accomplishments.

Possible Lesson Plan:

  1. Open with prayer.
  2. Tell the story of the Byzantine Emperor and Justinian:


About 50 years after the fall of Rome, Justinian became emperor in the East. In this day, Constantinople was the greatest city in the world. The waters around the city were filled with boats; it had high walls to protect it from enemies. People came from all over the world to see the beautiful city and study in its many famous schools and worship in its churches. Justinian saw his city as the Second Rome, greater and finer than Rome ever was.

Justinian also began to collect all the laws of his land. Until this time, each city and state had its own rules and judges. Justinian sent wise lawyers throughout the land and gathered all these laws. They chose the best from each city and wrote a law that would be true throughout the land, the Code of Justinian.

Justinian wanted to take back the lands of the west that had been lost to the barbarians. He first sent his mighty army against the Vandals in North Africa. He took back northern Africa and went from there to Italy and southern Spain. His empire went around the Mediterranean, although he never retook France or England.

Justinian also had architects throughout his empire build beautiful churches. The greatest of these was Haggia Sophia, the Church of the Holy Wisdom, in Constantinople. This magnificent church is topped with a huge dome. Artists painted beautiful icons and worked mosaics of tiny pieces of stone and glass. A mosaic could cover the entire wall of a church or monastery. Goldsmiths made beautiful jewelry set with precious stones. The Byzantine Empire became the art and cultural capital of the world.


  1. Feed the Elephant True/False Questions:

True                                                     False

            Justinian was Emperor of Constantinople.     Justinian was Emperor in Rome.

            The Code of Justinian is made of laws.          The Code of Justinian is used by spies.

            Justinian took back Italy and north Africa.    Bishop Leo took back Italy and Africa.

            Haggia Sophia means Holy Wisdom.             Haggia Sophia is a girl’s name.

            Haggia Sophia is a church.                              Haggia Sophia is a piece of furniture.


  1. Make a class model of Haggia Sophia: Take a rectangular box and put a dome on top with a salad bowl. Add two towers of paper towel rolls. Now the fun begins: Take play doh and cover the dome with gold, the box with white or blue, the towers can be red. Give the towers a top. Point out the architectural features – dome, nave. You can even cover the outside with a paper or wood chip mosaic pushed into the play doh. Sprinkle gold glitter on the dome. Let it dry for next Sunday. The students can each shape a small one of play doh to take home.


  1. Close with prayer: Lord, give me a love of the beauty of Your Church as Justinian had.

Rise of Islam




  1. Students should be able to name Mohammed as the founder of Islam.
  2. Students should be able to name “Allah” as the god of Islam.


Possible Lesson Plan:

  1. Open with prayer.
  2. Tell the story of Mohammed – have pictures of deserts and camels to show; to make the story more fun, how about everyone making a hump shape with their hands every time you say the word “Mohammed”?

In the world of the Arabs in northern Africa, a world of camels and deserts, there arose a new teacher. His name was Mohammed. Mohammed was born in the city of Mecca about 600 years after the time of Jesus. He was just a poor camel driver, a servant of a wealthy Arabian lady. The lady fell in love with the servant and they were married. And for many years, the camel driver and his wife lived a quiet life in the town of Mecca. Then, when he was forty years old, Mohammed thought that an angel told him that he should write a new book of teachings about a god he called Allah. He called his book the Koran. Mohammed did not believe that Jesus was the Son of God or that Jesus rose from the dead. In fact, Mohammed believed that he himself was greater and wiser than Jesus! His wife believed Mohammed and became his first follower.

At first, the Arabic people laughed at Mohammed and plotted to get rid of Mohammed. But, Mohammed heard of the plot to kill him, and ran away with his wife and friends. He fled to the town of Medina. For awhile Mohammed taught his new ideas in the city of Medina. He called his new religion Islam and his followers were called Moslems. But soon, Mohammed was not happy to have only the followers who liked his new teachings. He told all of his followers that they would go right to heaven if they were killed following him in battle. They began to force people in Arabia and in other lands to become Moslems or die. Soon, Mohammed and his followers conquered all of Arabia. Mohammed died, but his followers continued to fight wars to conquer lands for their new ideas. They traveled to Persia, to all of northern Africa, to Spain and to France, conquering the Christian lands, until they were stopped in France by the great warrior, Charles the Hammer. They even conquered Jerusalem and the Holy Land where Jesus had taught and lived! Soon they were at the doorstep of Constantinople, the capital of the great Christian Byzantine Empire built by the Emperor Constantine 400 years before.

For many years the Arabic followers of Mohammed tried to conquer Constantinople. Battle after battle was fought. The people of Constantinople poured boiling oil on the attacking Moslems. Finally, Emperor Leo III defeated the Moslems in 717 AD and made them flee behind the mountains. They did not attack Constantinople again for hundreds of years. Christians were safe to worship the Lord in the lands of the Byzantine Empire again.


  1. Feed the Elephant True/False Questions:

True                                                     False

            Mohammed lived in Arabia.                           Mohammed lived in Rome.

            Mohammed’s new god was called Allah.       Mohammed’s new god was called Pharaoh.

            Mohammed’s followers are called Moslems.  Mohammed’s followers are called camels.


  1. Who were the Arabs? Remind the students of the story of Abraham, and his sons Ishmael and Isaac. Look at the pictures in their picture Bibles and retell the story. The Arabs were the great-great-great-great…grandchildren of Ishmael, who fled with his mother Hagar into the desert. The children of Isaac became what people? (the Jews or Hebrews) Look at pictures of Arabic life – of camels, tents, deserts.
  2. Make a camel: Cut two bumps from an egg carton. Poke six holes for legs, head, and tail. Use pipe cleaners for legs and head/tail – 3 in all. Paint brownish-tan.


  1. Close with prayer: Lord, help me not to be led away from You by false teachers with new ideas.


Sunday of Orthodoxy/St. John of Damascus



  1. Students should be able to say “Sunday of Orthodoxy” and know that we celebrate the return of the icons to the church.
  2. Students should know what an icon is.
  3. Students should know that the Empress Theodosia and St. John of Damascus fought for the return of the icons.

Possible Lesson Plan:

  1. Open with prayer.


  1. Tell the story of the Sunday of Orthodoxy:

From its earliest days, Christians made pictures of Jesus, Mary, and important events in Christian history. They drew them on the walls of their tombs, deep in the catacombs under the city of Rome. They drew on the walls of their churches and monasteries. Most people could not read in those days. They did not worship these pictures but used them as “windows to heaven” – to remember the life of Jesus, His teachings, and the lives and teachings of His holy ones, the saints.

But, there came a day about 700 years after the time of Jesus, when a wicked emperor in Constantinople, another Leo, decided to get rid of the icons. He, and later his son, another Constantine, burned the monasteries and killed the monks and looted the churches, trying to destroy all the icons. Icons were hidden to keep them safe.

At this time, there lived in Damascus, a city under the rule of an Arab caliph (or king), a man named John; we know him now as John of Damascus. John was wise and charming; soon he was the caliph’s second-in-command. The caliph was a Moslem, but John was a Christian. John taught and wrote about his love of icons. Emperor Leo did not like this and tried to have John killed. He told lies to the caliph, saying John was going to betray him to the Greeks, and the caliph believed Leo. He had John’s hand cut off. John prayed and his hand was healed! Then John left the palace and went to live in a monastery. There he wrote many hymns and prayers and even invented the series of eight tones for singing we use today in church.

Finally, the Empress Irene called for a council of the bishops. This was the seventh and last church council. The church stood firmly for bringing the icons back! But, the emperors were still opposed. Finally, the Empress Theodosia brought the icons back into the churches. There was such rejoicing. And, to this day, we celebrate the return of the icons with a great procession of icons on the “Sunday of Orthodoxy”.


  1. Feed the Elephant True/False Questions:

True                                                     False

            Icons are “windows to heaven”.                     Icons are pictures of pigs.

            Emperors Leo and Constantine burned          Emperor Leo loved icons.

                        Icons and killed monks.

            John of Damascus loved icons.                       Emperor Leo loved John of Damascus.

            Empress Theodosia brought the icons            Emperor Constantine brought the icons

                        back into the churches.                                   back into the churches.

            Sunday of Orthodoxy celebrates the              Pentecost celebrates the return of the icons.

            return of the icons.


  1. Discuss icons: What are they? Let the students discuss a bit. A display of icons or pictures of famous icons will help. How are they different from other pictures? How do we venerate an icon? (practice kissing and making the sign of the cross) Where do we put it? Does the student have an icon corner in his home? In his room? Maybe this would be a good time to start. Take an icon of a feast and show how it tells the story of the feast. Could someone learn this story even if he couldn’t read? Role-play the Triumph of Orthodoxy, marching around the room carrying icons.

  1. Make “Empress Theodosia” :















  1. Close with prayer: Stand before your class icons and venerate first, then pray, Lord, may I honor Your life and Your Mother and all Your Saints each day of my life.

Monasticism/St. Seraphim of Sarov



  1. Students should be able to say the word “monasticism” and to know a little about the life of a monk.
  2. Students should be able to tell the story of St. Seraphim and say his name.


Possible Lesson Plan:

  1. Open with prayer.


  1. Tell the story of St. Seraphim of Sarov:

Many years ago there lived in the land of Russia a boy named Prohor. Prohor was very sick as a child, but the Theotokos told him in a dream that he would soon be well. In a few days, a procession with an icon of the Theotokos came by his house. His mother took Prohor out and , when he venerated the icon, he was healed. Soon Prohor wanted to be a monk.

When he was a young man, Prohor set out on a journey. His mother gave him a metal cross. He wore this cross the rest of his life. He walked through the forests of evergreen trees, with streams and flowers and meadows, and finally came to the great monastery of Sarov. There Prohor entered as a novice. He worked in the kitchens; he read and prayed. Especially, he liked to carve crosses out of cedar wood. Finally, young Prohor became a full monk and was given the name Seraphim.

After several years, Seraphim decided to live alone in a hut in the woods – a life of constant prayer. He had only one room with a wood stove. All kinds of animals came to visit. Even a bear became his friend and brought honey. Seraphim fed the bear bread with his own hands. He became so close to God that people said his face shone.

Some thieves came to steal Seraphim’s riches. They beat him up, but found only a few potatoes. From that day on, Seraphim had to walk with a cane.

Finally, God told Seraphim to move back to the monastery. People all over Russia had heard of this holy man and came for his prayers and advice. Thousands were healed when Seraphim prayed for them. A little girl named Natasha was badly burned with boiling water. She went to sleep with a picture of Seraphim in her arms; that night Seraphim appeared to her in a dream and Natasha was healed. She later visited Seraphim and recognized the old man of her dream. It is impossible to tell all the stories of people who loved Seraphim, the monk who shone with the love of Jesus in the forests of Russia.


  1. Feed the Elephant True/False Questions:

True                                                     False

            Seraphim’s childhood name was Prohor.        Seraphim’s name was Peter.

            Seraphim had a friend who was a bear.          Seraphim had a friend who was a tiger.

            Seraphim lived in the land of Russia.             Seraphim lived in America.


  1. Discuss monastic life: What is a monk? How does a monk live? Some live alone and some in communities called monasteries. Repeat the words “monk” and “monastery.” Ask the students what a typical day in their lives is like – what do they do, eat, wear, type of home, etc. Now take a monk in a monastery and contrast each aspect. Then a hermit. Try a game of “silence”; how long can the students stay silent?


  1. Make St. Seraphim’s bear: Cut each of the three pieces out of brown construction paper or cardstock. Draw eyes and mouth and color. Cut slits as shown. Insert tabs of head into smaller oval, and tabs of smaller oval into larger outline, making a 3-dimensional bear.


  1. Close with prayer: Lord, I ask St. Seraphim to pray for me that I will grow closer to You every day.

Sts. Cyril and Methodius/ Baptism of Russia




  1. Students should know the names Cyril and Methodius and that they told the people of Russia about Jesus.
  2. Students should know the names of King Vladimir and Queen Olga, the first Christian rulers of Russia.


Possible Lesson Plan:

  1. Open with prayer.


  1. Tell the story of the Baptism of Russia:

In the city of Thessalonica lived two brothers named Constantine and Methodius. Can you say their names? Practice a few times. They lived about 800 years after the time of Jesus. They had friends who were Greek and friends who were Slavic, from countries to the north who spoke a different language. Methodius became governor of a province in Asia and Constantine went to Constantinople to work for the Patriarch. But, soon both brothers decided to become monks.

Later the king of the Khazars, in southern Russia, sent a messenger to the Emperor asking for someone to be sent who could tell them about the Christian faith. The people were confused by so many different religions. Constantine and Methodius left their monastery and went to Russia. There they taught the king all about the Christian faith. Many people were baptized. Finally, the brothers headed back to Constantinople. They went back to their monastery.

The next year, another messenger came, this time from the land of Moravia. The king there wanted someone to come who could teach the people in their own Slavic language. The emperor immediately thought of Constantine and Methodius, who learned from their friends in childhood. But, how to teach in the Slavic language? There was no alphabet for the sounds, so Constantine had to make up an alphabet to write down the teachings of Jesus. Then, the brothers wrote down the liturgy and parts of the Bible in the new alphabet. When they got to Moravia, they taught the people to read in their own language and started churches with liturgy in their own language. After several years, the brothers went back to the monastery. Constantine was very sick, and was tonsured a monk and given the name of Cyril. So the alphabet he invented is known to this day as the Cyrillic alphabet. Cyril died soon after, and Methodius went back to the Slavic countries as a bishop. He started more churches and trained Slavic priests. The Slavic people were so happy to have their own alphabet and Bible and Liturgy books. Finally, as an old man, Methodius died, still serving Jesus in the Slavic countries.

Even farther north lived a queen named Olga. Olga made a visit to Constantinople and became a Christian and was baptized. But her people were still worshipping gods made of wood. Soon her grandson, Vladimir, became prince. He was not sure what religion was true. So Vladimir sent a group of men to each country to see if its religion was true. The men found beauty and truth in the Christian churches of Constantinople. But, Vladimir was still not sure what was best for his people. Vladimir offered to marry the sister of the Emperors Basil and Constantine. Her name was Anna. Anna did not want to go to Russia, but hoped that she could help the land of Russia to believe in Jesus. Vladimir, meanwhile, had gone blind; he could not see. He was told that he would not see until he was baptized. Vladimir decided this would be a test to prove the true God and was baptized. He was healed!

Now Vladimir wanted his people to know the true faith also. He burned their idols of wood – nothing happened. These were false gods with no power. Then he told all the people, rich and poor, young and old, to meet him on the banks of the Dneiper River the next morning. Prince Vladimir told them all about Jesus and their need to be baptized. They waded right into the river -- mothers, fathers, children, babies – all were baptized that day. So Vladimir is remembered as the “Baptizer of Russia”, equal to the apostles.


  1. Feed the Elephant True/False Questions:

True                                                     False

            Cyril made a new alphabet for the Slavs.       Cyril made the Slavs learn Greek.

            Cyril and Methodius were brothers.               Cyril and Methodius were father and son.

            Queen Olga of Russia became a Christian.     Queen Olga of Russia worshipped idols.

            Prince Vladimir baptized Russia.                    Queen Olga baptized Russia.


  1. Work on the difficult names of these important saints: Cyril (originally Constantine), Methodius, Vladimir, and Olga. Does any student or their relative have one of these names; what about Walter, the English name for Vladimir? Which ones were missionaries/evangelists? Which were rulers? Which were monks?


  1. Make 2 stand-up puppets, a king and a queen. Cut the bodies out of white and decorate with gold glitter glue crowns, color faces, yarn for hair or beard if desired. Cut robes from colored construction paper. Glue body inside center section of robe. Fold robe sides forward. Write their names – Olga and Vladimir – inside and stand side by side.


  1. Close with prayer: Lord, help me to love people who are different from me and speak other languages and to tell them about Jesus and bring them to Church to hear about You.


St. Gregory Palamas



  1. Students should know his name and be able to tell his story briefly.
  2. Students should know that Gregory defended the Holy Spirit in the Trinity.
  3. Students should memorize the Jesus Prayer.


Possible Lesson Plan:

  1. Open with prayer.
  2. Tell the story of St. Gregory Palamas:

Gregory was born in the royal city of Constantinople more than a thousand years after the time of Jesus. At age 7, both of his parents died, and Gregory was an orphan. But, the orphan boy was a favorite of Emperor Andronicus II, who sent the boy to school, where Gregory studied all about science. Science, howev­er, did not interest Gregory; his interest was in the Lord Jesus. He soon began studying about the Lord and gave up his life in the court of the emperor to spend his time in monasteries.

When Gregory was 30 years old, he became a priest. He had learned well from the monks around Constantinople and Mt. Athos. They had taught him the Hesychast Prayer, or Jesus Prayer. The monks would bow in prayer, concentrate on the Lord, and recite, “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy upon me, a sinner.” As the monk prayed and prayed, over the years he would grow closer to the Lord and experience the light of the closeness of Jesus. With Jesus as the sun, Gregory and the other monks could feel the light and warmth of His shining rays.

But, in those days, a man named Barlaam was teaching also. Barlaam had never been a monk; he had studied about Jesus but had not spent years in prayer just getting to know Jesus. In fact, Barlaam didn’t believe that people could get to know Jesus, not to really feel Him near, until after they died. He made fun of the monks and called them “Belly—button-gazers” because they spent so much time kneeling and bowing in prayer.

Gregory knew that Barlaam was wrong. Gregory knew Jesus in his heart and had felt His presence with him. Gregory had seen and felt the light of God -- the same light that St. Stephen saw as he was being stoned, that St. Peter saw when Jesus was trans­figured on the mountain, and that St. Paul saw on the road to Damascus. He knew that the Lord was present with all of His followers since the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. This Holy Spirit, the same Spirit who appeared from heaven when Jesus was baptized in the form of a dove, was just as much a part of God as God the Father or God the Son, Jesus. Gregory defended the monks and their vision in his teachings as a priest and in his writings. He told the world that Barlaam was wrong -- that every Christian can draw near to God through prayer.

Later in life, Gregory was made Archbishop of Thessalonica. He suffered many times because of his teachings; he was thrown out of his home, was thrown in prison, and was even captured by the Moslem Turks. But, finally, before his death, two church councils in Constantinople held firm for Gregory’s teachings and told all of us that we can know and feel the presence of God in our daily lives.

  1. Feed the Elephant True/False Questions:

                        True                                                     False

Gregory was a monk.                                      Gregory was a monkey.

Gregory taught the Jesus Prayer.                    Gregory hated Jesus.

Gregory loved the Holy Spirit.                       Barlaam loved the Holy Spirit.


  1. First discuss the Holy Spirit: Review the stories of the dove at Jesus’s baptism, the tongues of fire at Pentecost, the Transfiguration, the death of Stephen, and the conversion of Saul. These are in the students’ story Bibles. Who are the persons of the Holy Trinity? Remember the sign of the cross and the three fingers. Can you feel Jesus in your heart, as did Gregory Palamas?
  2. Make a St. Gregory bag puppet:
















  1. Close with prayer: Practice bowing and saying the Jesus Prayer with the children until they know it by heart!





  1. Students should know the word, crusade, and that these were wars to take the Holy Land from the Moslems.
  2. Students should know that the crusaders did not win the Holy Land for Christians in the end.
  3. Students should know that the crusaders broke into the city of Constantinople and killed its Christian people and stole its treasures.


Possible Lesson Plan:

  1. Open with prayer.


  1. Tell the story of the Crusades:


             We studied in an earlier lesson how the followers of a man named Mohammed conquered the Holy Land and the city of Jerusalem, the land where Jesus had lived, died, and was buried. Do you remember the story of Mohammed, the camel driver? What were his followers called? All thru the ages, Christians from all over the world would come to see the places where Jesus had lived, but these lands were now in the hands of Moslems.

              Christians in the Western lands of Europe were very angry about the rule of the Moslems in the Holy Land. The Bishop of Rome, called the Pope (or Big Dad) by the Western Christians, called on his people to leave their homes and families behind and go to attack the Moslems. These new soldiers sewed great crosses on their clothes and painted them on their shields and armor; they were called Crusaders. Can you say Crusade? This means a war for the cross. Before long, thousands and thousands of people, young and old, men and women had joined the Crusade to go to Jerusalem. Poor people left their farms and huts, nobles and princes left their castles. Some rode on horses; some walked by foot. They traveled for four years and finally reached the walls of Jerusalem. There they thanked God for bringing them safely to the end of their journey and then they attacked the city. The first Crusaders captured Jerusalem! They built castles and claimed the land for themselves. They even had their own king.

             But, soon the Moslems won the city back. It didn’t stay captured for many years. So, over the next two hundred years, every so often there would be another Crusade. Sometimes the Western Christians would win the city back again, but not for long; sometimes they didn’t win it back at all.

             The Third Crusade was a famous one – three kings led the Crusade. Frederick Red Beard of Germany started out, but drowned in a river along the way. Philip of France ran away back home because he was jealous of the third king. The third king was Richard of England. He was known as Richard the Lion-Hearted and loved by all. In fact, Richard even made friends with Saladin, the Moslem ruler of Jerusalem, who decided to let the Crusaders worship at Jesus’s tomb without even fighting with them! But, on the way home, Richard was captured by his enemies. He took so long coming home, that Robin Hood had to save England from his wicked brother, Prince John. Do you know the story of Robin Hood and his merry men? Did you know that the Crusades were the reason for King Richard’s disappearance?

Another Crusade was the Children’s Crusade; it was a crusade of children only. Children from all over France left their homes and mothers and fathers and marched to the sea. There some sailors told them they would take them to Jerusalem. But, they were really pirates and sold the children as slaves! (Do you remember another child sold by pirates as a slave? St. Patrick)

Many of the Crusaders truly loved the Lord. But, some saw the rich lands of the East as a way to get richer themselves. As they traveled toward the Holy Land, they stole from even the houses and churches of Christians in the lands they passed through. They conquered Christian cities and made themselves rulers over the people, killing their Christian kings. Greedy men who attacked the city of Constantinople itself and, on Good Friday, broke into the city, looting the monasteries and churches. The Eastern Christians could not understand this; why were their Christian brothers from the West attacking them instead of the Moslems?  There were eight Crusades in all, and in the end the Holy Land was still ruled by the Moslems!


  1. Feed the Elephant True/False Questions:

                                    True                                                     False

The Crusaders decorated their clothes with crosses.  The Crusaders wore camels.

The Moslems ruled the Holy Land.                            The Jews ruled the Holy Land.

The Crusaders looted Constantinople.                       The Crusaders only killed Moslems.


  1. Talk a bit about the difference in life at this time in the East and in the West. Look back at the lesson on Justinian. In the East, there was learning, beauty, art, jewelry, and beautiful churches. But, in the west, people lived hard lives, often hungry and dirty. Even the rich nobles lived in castles, dark, smelly, and cold in winter. Food was scarce for most people. Show pictures of feudal life in the West and of Byzantine life in the East. Was it any wonder that the Westerners were tempted by the riches of the East?


  1. Make Crusaders from toilet-paper tubes: Glue a strip of white at the bottom for the tunic, pink for the face, and red or blue for the helmet. Arms can be made of construction paper and glued on, or of a pipe cleaner stuck through the tube and shaped on either side. Draw on face. Then draw a cross on the tunic in red.


  1. Close with prayer: Lord, may I love your cross more and more each day.


Fall of Constantinople




  1. Students should know that 1000 years after the fall of Rome, Constantinople fell to the Moslems named Turks.
  2. Students should have some idea why this is important in history.


Possible Lesson Plan:


  1. Open with prayer.


  1. Tell the story of the Fall of Constantinople:


In 1451 the Moslem Turks had a new king, Mehmet. Mehmet had only one idea in his mind; he told his generals, “There is only one thing I want: Give me Constantinople!” Mehmet was sure he could conquer the great capital of the Byzantine Empire. So, he gathered a great army to prepare for his attack, and built huge numbers of ships until he had the greatest navy in the East. He also built a great cannon, so big that it had to be drawn by 60 oxen and loaded by 200 men. No city had ever been attacked by a cannon before.

Constantinople, weakened by the Crusaders, had only an army of 8000 soldiers and 30 ships. But, the city was built on a peninsula —— a strip of land surrounded on three sides by the sea. There were huge walls around the whole city; these had held off many Moslem armies over hundreds of years.

Mehmet moved his army into place on the day after Easter in 1453. He asked the Emperor to surrender and give the city to the Moslems; the Emperor would not give up that easily. Soon the huge cannons were pounding the walls, but the walls held. Mehmet’s ships held the waterways and kept food from reaching the city. But, he could not enter the city. Finally, Mehmet built a huge pontoon bridge across the water. Now his armies could attack from both sides. The Christians were hungry and weak. But, they continued to fight.

Finally, the Turks prepared for their last big attack. The Emperor spoke to his people and told them to be ready to die for their Lord and their homes. Then the Christians all took commun­ion in the many churches of the city and went to the walls to be ready for battle. In the middle of the night, Mehmet attacked. The thick walls of the city were no match for the huge cannon. This time his troops rushed up the walls of the city and charged into Constantinople. For three days, the Moslems sacked the city, killing all Christians they could find, stripping all the riches of the homes and churches, and burning whole sections of the wonderful city. The great Church of St. Sophia was renamed a Moslem mosque. The Byzantine Empire, outliving Rome by a thou­sand years, was finally defeated.


  1. Feed the Elephant True/False Questions:

                                    True                                                     False

Mehmet was king of the Turks.                      Mehmet was Emperor of Constantinople.

Mehmet attacked with a cannon.                   Mehmet attacked with bows and arrows.

Mehmet conquered Constantinople.              Mehmet ran away in fear.


  1. Discuss for a bit weapons of war. Boys will like this lesson. What weapons can they think of? What were some early weapons? (bows and arrows, spears) Draw them. How might an army attack a city like Constantinople with these weapons? How did a war with these weapons sound? Look? How might the city be defended? How would a city be built so as to be easy to defend? With the invention of gunpowder and cannons (and later, guns), all war was changed. How might an army with cannons attack a city? What about sound and sights now? War has now become noisy! How can the city be defended? Were castles and walls as important as before?



  1. Make the Walls of Constantinople: Take a piece of construction paper. Decorate like a stone wall and fold like a fan starting at one 9-inch end. Spread it out – the walls of the city. Collapse it and the walls fall down. If you want to be really fancy, take a toilet paper roll and two paper plates. Cover the roll with black construction paper and cut wheels from the plates. Attach wheels with brads to the cannon. You can staple the wall-fan inside the cannon muzzle as a handle and use the fan!


  1. Close with prayer: Lord, give us  the courage of those brave Christians in Constantinople when Mehmet attacked.








Protestant Reformation, Part 1



  1. Students should know who Martin Luther was and what he did.
  2. Students should be able to name some of the Protestant denominations.


Possible Lesson Plan:

  1. Open with prayer.
  2. Tell the story of the Protestant Reformation up through Martin Luther.


As the years went by after the fall of Rome in the West, the church there came to be led by only one bishop, the Bishop of Rome, known also as the pope. He began to teach that he was the ruler of all the Christian church and that he alone could tell the true teachings of God. The churches in the West began to teach that a man had to pay for any sins he committed on earth and they sold indulgences to Christians to help them pay for their sins. Soon the church was wealthy, but the people had lost touch with the real Jesus in many ways.

Finally, a monk named Martin Luther stood up against the church officials. He opposed the wealth of the church and the selling of payment for sins. He made a public announcement of his views by nailing a paper with 95 questions on it to the door of the cathedral, or church, of Wittenburg. But, the Pope was not happy with Martin Luther. He issued a decree throwing Luther out of the Church! Martin Luther built a bonfire and burned the decree. Luther had meant only to talk the church into going back to the old teachings of the apostles, but now he had no church at all. The Pope asked King Charles of Spain to talk to Luther. King Charles ordered Luther to come to the city of Worms – funny name for a city, right? When Luther got there, King Charles ordered Martin Luther to stop talking about the things he believed. Martin Luther refused. Some of Charles’s nobles thought Luther should be burned at the stake, Charles let him go and his friends hid him from the angry nobles. So, Luther formed his own church, soon called the Lutheran church. He translated the Bible into German, the language of his people, and soon had many followers who call themselves Lutherans.

In other countries, other men were also protesting the teachings of the Pope. John Calvin in Switzerland formed the Reformed Church. In his church, he began to choose those teach­ings of the Church Fathers that he would follow and those that he would not. For example, Calvin got rid of all monks, bishops, and priests. Soon his followers, known as Calvinists, had stripped their churches of all pictures, stained glass, candles, and robes; they would not dance or play games or go to the thea­ter. And, even though at first Calvin had been attacked by the Pope, soon the Calvinists were punishing those who disagreed with their beliefs in Switzerland.

In the land of England, the church of Rome was also losing power; but for a different reason. King Henry the Eighth wanted to get rid of his wife and marry his new girlfriend and the Pope wouldn’t let him. So, Henry declared himself head of the new Church of England and took from the bishops and monks all the lands and churches of the Pope. When people from the Church of England came to the new land of America, they became known as the Protestant Episcopal Church of America.

Soon there were many new teachers, each forming his own church with his own choice of teachings. A teacher named John Wesley pursued a way of life of Bible study and prayer; his followers became known as Methodists. Another group of Chris­tians believed that people should only be baptized when they are grown up; these were called Baptists. Another believed that Christians should worship on Saturday, the seventh day of crea­tion; these were called Seventh Day Adventists. By now there are hundreds of groups of Christians, called denominations, in the West, each with its own set of customs and beliefs. While all these groups believe in Jesus Christ, each has chosen only parts of the teachings of the early Church and left other traditions behind.


  1. Feed the Elephant True/False Questions:

                        True                                                     False

Martin Luther nailed his paper to the                         Martin Luther mailed his paper to the king.

            Cathedral door.

King Charles ordered Luther to come to                    King Charles ordered Luther to come to

            the city of Worms.                                                          Constantinople.

Martin Luther translated the Bible into                        Cyril and Methodius translated the Bible

            German.                                                                          into German.


  1. Play with hammer and nails. Get some wood and nails and paper; we have hammers in the closet. Bang to your heart’s content, remembering the door of the Wittenburg Cathedral.


  1. Try singing 3 verses of the “Ants Go Marching”:

                        The Christians go marching one by one…the Orthodox Church is the only one

                                    And they all go marching down, to the church, to worship the Lord.

                        The Christians go marching 2 by 2…the Roman Catholics make the church two

                        The Christians go marching 3 by 3…Martin Luther nails up his scroll.


  1. Make Martin Luther’s Scroll: Take a piece of paper. Color it to look like writing. Roll as a scroll. Take a hammer and nail and nail it to a piece of wood to take home. The teacher can add the title “Martin Luther’s 95 Theses”.


7. Close with prayer: Lord make Your Church one again as we once were one.

Protestant Reformation, Part 2




  1. Children should know the name of Henry the Eighth of England and that he started the Church of England.
  2. Children should know that, sadly, the church is divided into many little churches today.

Possible Lesson Plan:

  1. Open with prayer.


  1. Read the second half of the story of the Reformation above.


  1. Feed the Elephant True/False Questions:

True                                                 False

 Henry VIII was King of England.                      Henry was King of Jerusalem.

 Henry started his own church so he              Henry started his own church because

           could get rid of his wife.                                he loved the Lord so much.

 Baptists believe you must be all grown          Baptists worship John the Baptist.

           up to be baptized.


  1. Talk a bit about the unity of the Church. Jesus prayed a whole chapter for His Church to be one. When did He pray this? (on Holy Thursday at the Last Supper) For 1000 years, there was only one Christian Church. But, in the West, as time went on, people couldn’t agree on exactly what to believe and how to worship. How did the Church in the first 1000 years settle any disagreements? They called a Church Council and made a decision all together. Now, without the councils, there is no one to decide. So, each teacher just makes his own church. How would Jesus feel when He sees His Church all divided up now? Do we feel sad, too? Jesus calls His Church His body. How would you feel if someone cut off a finger or a toe? Does it hurt to break the body of Jesus? Do you know anyone who goes to a Christian Church that is not Orthodox? A Roman Catholic? A Baptist? A Methodist? Do they love Jesus, too? Do you love them just like Jesus loves them?


  1. Make the broken body of Christ. Take an icon of Jesus; we have lots of these in our bulletin cover file. Glue it to one side of a piece of construction paper. Take another copy of the same icon. Cut all the body parts apart. Glue the parts all over the other side of the paper in random order. Title one side, the Body of Christ, and the other, The Christian Church today.


  1. Close with prayer: Lord, make your Church one, just like You are One.


St. Gregory, Enlightener of Armenia




  1. Students should know the name of Gregory and be able to tell his story.
  2. Students should know the name of Tirdat, King of Armenia.


Possible Lesson Plan:

  1. Open with prayer.


  1. Tell the story of Gregory, Enlightener of Armenia.

                        For many years, Tirdat, young King of Armenia, lived in Rome. Finally, King Tirdat was coming home to his land of Armenia. On the way, he met a young man named Gregory. Young King Tirdat liked Gregory and invited him to come to Armenia with him and be in his court. Gregory went with Tirdat.

                        Soon they were home to Armenia. What a celebration! The Armenian people cheered for their young king as he rode through the streets. Tirdat went right away to the statue of the goddess Anahid, goddess of the earth. He put a wreath in front of the statue and worshipped the statue. All the other people did the same – all but Gregory. Gregory was a Christian. He told King Tirdat that he worshipped only Jesus, the Son of God.

                        King Tirdat was very angry. How dare Gregory disobey him, the king. He ordered Gregory thrown into prison. There Gregory stayed for many years in a dark pit. An old woman secretly brought the Christian prisoner food. After many years, King Tirdat became ill. His sister loved her brother and had dreams about the young man in prison. Maybe Gregory could help her brother, the king. She made up her mind to send for Gregory to be brought to the palace. There Gregory prayed for King Tirdat and he was healed.

                        Now that Gregory was out of prison, he began to tell the Armenian people about Jesus. He wanted to build churches for them to worship the Lord. One day he saw a vision of a column of fire with a cross on top. Here he would build his church – the first in all Armenia. Soon there were churches all over the country. Gregory went everywhere, telling people about the Christian faith, building churches, and helping the poor.

                        King Tirdat and all his family gathered by the river. One by one they were baptized by Gregory, now a bishop, and had communion for the first time. Armenia was now a Christian country. And the king who had thrown Gregory into prison became his greatest helper and friend. We call Gregory “Enlightener” because he brought God’s light to the Armenian people.


  1. Feed the Elephant True/False Questions:

                                   True                                                     False

King Tirdat was from Armenia.                                 King Tirdat was king of Rome.

King Tirdat gave a wreath to the goddess.                Gregory worshipped the goddess.

Gregory saw a vision of fire and a cross.                   Gregory saw a vision of a lion.

Gregory is called the Enlightener.                              Gregory is called the Endarkener.


  1. Sing “This little light of mine; I’m gonna let it shine.”

              “Gregory worshipped the goddess, NO! I’m gonna let it shine…”

              “Tirdat threw him into jail, I’m gonna let it shine…”

               Gregory prayed, the king was healed, I’m gonna let it shine…”

               Fiery cross a church to build, I’m gonna let it shine…”

               Enlightened all of Armenia, I’m gonna let it shine…”

               This little light of mine…”


  1. Have the teacher light a candle. Turn out the lights. What can you see? How bright is the candle? Does it give light to the room? Armenia was dark without God. But Gregory showed them the light of Jesus and then they could see.



  1. Make Gregory’s Vision: Take a paper plate, color it blue. Color or cut out a black cross. Cut flames from yellow, orange, and red construction paper or draw with glitter glue. Finish by stretching out cotton balls and pasting around the plate as clouds.


  1. Close with prayer: Lord, help me to trust You even when things get bad, as did Gregory in the pit.



St. Frumentius of Ethiopia



  1. Students should be able to name Frumentius and Ethiopia.
  2. Students should be able to tell the story of Frumentius.
  3. Students should know why the coins of Ethiopia changed from a crescent to a cross.


Possible Lesson Plan:

  1. Open with prayer.


  1. Tell the story of St. Frumentius:

Once there lived a boy in the land of Phoenicia named Frumentius. Now, Phoenicia is on the sea and the people of that land are good sailors. So, a rich man named Meropius decided that he would sail to India to learn of the wisdom of that land. Meropius took with him 2 boys, Frumentius and his friend Edesius. But, the ship ran out of food. They came to a town on the coast of Africa and landed the ship to buy food. But the people of this region hated the Romans. They killed Meropius and the sailors and took the two boys to the king as slaves. This is how Frumentius came to the African land of Ethiopia.

Now, there were already Jews and Christians in Ethiopia. Do you remember the story of the Queen of Sheba. She visited King Solomon and their son became king of Ethiopia. Many Jews settled there. And, do you remember the story of Philip and the eunuch of Ethiopia. He also returned home and taught people about Jesus. But, the king was not a Christian.

The king could see that the boys were smart and well-mannered. He decided to let them live as his servants. Edesius became his cup-bearer and Frumentius a keeper of scrolls. They served the king well. But, the king died young. The queen asked Edesius and Frumentius to help her young son learn to rule the land and they agreed to serve the people of Ethiopia. Frumentius was now free to travel around the country. He gathered the Christians together and told people about Jesus. Soon, there were more and more Christians in the land.

Frumentius traveled to Alexandria to meet with the young bishop, Athanasius. Doyou remember the story of Athanasius? He told Athanasius how much the people of Ethiopia needed a bishop to build churches and teach. Athanasius could see the love of the Lord and His people of Ethiopia in the eyes of Frumentius. Frumentius himself was ordained bishop and sent back to Ethiopia!

King Ezana, the young boy, had grown into a man. He also became a Christian because of Frumentius. We know this because of the coins of the land. Those from his early reign have pagan half moons on them; those from his later life have crosses.

Like his friend Athanasius, Frumentius did not follow the false teachings of Arius. Do you remember what those were? He continued to build churches and teach the true faith. When Athanasius was taken prisoner, the followers of Arius came also for Frumentius. But, the people of Ethiopia so loved their “Aboona”, or father, that they would not let him be taken prisoner. He is remembered in Ethiopia to this day as the “Revealer of Light”.


  1. Feed the Elephant True/False Questions:

True                                                     False

            Frumentius was born in Phoenicia.                 Frumentius was born in Ethiopia.

            Frumentius was taken as a slave.                    Frumentius was shipwrecked.

            Frumentius was the first bishop of Ethiopia.  Frumentius was bishop of Rome.


  1. Review the stories of King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba and Philip and the eunuch. There are pictures in their story Bibles. Isn’t it amazing that so many years later the Lord sent Frumentius to finish the work He’d begun in Ethiopia more than a thousand years before.


  1. Show some pictures of Africa. What do people look like? What kind of houses do they live in? What kind of clothes do they wear?  What kind of animals are there in Africa? All this must have been very strange to Frumentius. His friend, Edesius, became homesick and went back to Phoenicia when the young king grew up, but Frumentius’s love for the people of Africa was too great to leave them! Do you know anyone who dresses differently or talks a different language or is a different color? Can you love them as Frumentius did? Sing: “Jesus loves the little children…” and then, “Frumentius loved the little children…”


  1. Make the Changing Coin of Ethiopia: Take a gold paper plate or disk of gold wrapping paper. Cut a crescent moon (Think with the students for a moment about the phases of the moon.) out of white paper and a cross out of red or black. Glue one on each side of the gold “coin”. Punch a hole and hang by a piece of yarn. Hold it up and, as it turns from crescent moon (a god) to cross remind the students how, through the love of Frumentius, the people of Ethiopia went from worshipping idols to worshipping God.


  1. Close with prayer: Lord, give me the love of Frumentius for people who look or dress or talk differently from me.

Greece: St. Cosmas Aitolos




  1. Students should be able to say his name and tell his story.


Possible Lesson Plan:

  1. Open with prayer.


  1. Tell the story of St. Cosmas:

About 250 years ago there lived in the land of Greece a monk named Cosmas Aitolos. Cosmas lived for 17 years in the monastery on Mt. Athos. There he grew close to the Lord Jesus and came to love the Lord more and more. But, God told Cosmas to leave the monastery. The Greeks had been ruled for many, many years by the Moslem Turks. Many had forgotten the Lord Jesus. God asked Cosmas to bring His people back to Him.

Cosmas traveled for 20 years all around the land of Greece. He built schools and churches and gave people crosses and icons. Soon, people heard of this holy man and came to hear him preach. Wonderful things would happen while Cosmas was teaching – a tailor with a withered hand was healed, a rich noble could hear again.

Many times Cosmas had to preach outdoors because of the huge crowds. They would stick a large cross in the ground where Cosmas was going to preach to let people know. But, one day, a Turkish soldier pulled out one of the crosses. Suddenly the earth shook and the soldier fell down foaming at the mouth. When he woke up, the soldier knew he had been punished for taking down the cross. He put it back up.

But, many of the people, especially of the Jews and Turks, did not want Cosmas to keep preaching about Jesus. They did not like Jesus or Cosmas. So, the ruler ordered Cosmas to be killed. The soldiers took the old monk and killed him by tying his neck to the trunk of a tree. Cosmas is also called “Equal to the Apostles” because he brought the Greek people back to the Lord.


            3. Feed the Elephant True/False Questions:

                                    True                                                     False

Cosmas was a monk.                                       Cosmas was a monkey.

Cosmas healed many people.                          Cosmas hated sick people.

A Turkish soldier pulled out a cross.              A bear pulled out a cross.


  1. What other saints have we met who are called “Equal to the Apostles”? Review the stories of St. Nina and St. Vladimir. Do you remember the meaning of the word “apostle”? How were these saints like the apostles?


  1. Look at some pictures of Greece. What are its buildings like? The weather? The houses, people, clothing, customs? How are these like us and how different?


  1. Make a St. Cosmas Story Flannel Board Box: Take a pizza box. (Pizza places will often give these to you for free.) Glue a piece of light blue felt to fit the bottom of the box. Add cotton ball clouds and Easter grass glued on the bottom. Color St. Cosmas and the Turkish soldier. Cut them out. Cut out also a large brown cross. Add strips of felt to their backs. Tell the story using your figures.

As a simpler craft, just cut out the figures, color them, and attach a popsicle stick in the back and act out the story with your “puppets”.


  1. Close with prayer: Lord, help me to learn about you so well that I can teach people as did St. Cosmas.

Serbia: St. Sava




  1. Children should be able to tell the story of St. Sava, using their storyplates.


Possible Lesson Plan:

  1. Open with prayer.


  1. Tell the story of St. Sava and the devil:

One day, as the devil was walking down a steep mountain path, he saw the good and gentle St. Sava, a priest of Serbia, coming up the path. St. Sava greeted the devil warmly and asked him what he would like best to do. The devil answered, “I would like to grow vegetables, if you would help me.”

So St. Sava and the devil became partners. They decided to grow onions. Soon there were beautiful green shoots coming up all over the field. Since they were partners, St. Sava asked the devil which half he would prefer.  The devil answered, “I’ll take the half above ground and you can have the part under the ground.” St. Sava agreed. Soon the onions were ripe. Above ground were dried up stalks, but underground were beautiful red onions!

The devil was furious. Next they grew cabbages. The devil insisted on having the part under the ground this time. St. Sava again agreed. Soon the cabbages were grown. St. Sava cut the beautiful heads above ground; all that was left was the brown roots underground for the devil.

Now the devil was even angrier. They decided to grow potatoes. The devil asked for the part above the ground. And, again, the devil got worthless leaves, while St. Sava had a crop of beautiful underground potatoes.

                  Next they decided to grow wheat. The devil chose the underground part, and Sava was happy to get the beautiful yellow stalks of wheat. The devil was left with worthless stubble. The devil was in a terrible rage. St. Sava crossed himself and the devil vanished from sight, never to return to match wits with such a good and godly priest.


  1. Feed the Elephant True/False Questions:

True                                                     False

            St. Sava was from Serbia.                               St. Sava was from Baltimore.

            The devil tried to trick Sava.                          The devil got all the good vegetables.

            Sava got all the good vegetables.                   The devil was smarter than Sava.


  1. St. Sava was a real saint in the land of Serbia. Look at some pictures of Serbia (library books, etc.) What is the land like? The people? The clothing? The food? They really do eat onions, potatoes, and cabbage!


  1. Discuss the devil a bit: Who is he? (Lucifer, a fallen angel) Do you remember our lesson on angels? Review that lesson a bit. What is an angel like? What happened to Lucifer? Now he is called Satan, and the lower angels who followed him are called demons.  Does the devil try to help us, or hurt us? Did the devil want to help Sava? Did the devil win? Do we need to be afraid of the devil? Is God greater than the devil? Sing the Veggie Tales song: “God is bigger than the “devil”, man…” a few times, until the children are singing along.


  1. Make St. Sava’s vegetable plate. Color a paper plate brown; this is the ground. Tape the tops and bottoms of the vegetables cut from construction paper above each other. Tell the story of St. Sava.


Close with prayer: Lord, make me wise as St. Sava when dealing with the evil one.

St. Nicholas of Japan




  1. Students should be able to name Nicholas as the evangelizer of Japan.
  2. Students should know a bit about the Japanese culture and language.


Possible Lesson Plan:

  1. Open with prayer.


  1. Tell the story of St. Nicholas of Japan:

John Kasatkin was born almost 200 years ago in the land of Russia. John’s mother died when he was only five years old. John and his father were very poor, but John was smart and studied hard in school. In school, John heard about many lands far away – China and Japan. He wanted to tell the people of these lands about Jesus.

Then one day a note was put up on the bulletin at John’s school. The Russians in Japan were asking for a priest. John had finished his studies to be a priest. He first became a monk, and was given the name, Nicholas. Then he was ordained a priest. He was ready to go to Japan.

But, the samurai who ruled Japan hated all foreigners! They had their Shinto religion and did not want anyone talking about Jesus. Nicholas spent several years waiting, but while he waited he learned the language and customs of the Japanese people. A few came to him in secret and learned about the Christian faith. Many of these early believers were thrown in prison, just as the Romans had the earlier Christians. But, Nicholas never gave up.

Finally, the rulers allowed the Christian faith. Nicholas could print Bibles in the Japanese language and open churches and teach priests. Foreigners were still not allowed in most parts of Japan, but these new Japanese priests could tell the people all over the country about Jesus. Soon there were hundreds of Christians all over Japan. Nicholas opened schools, both for boys and girls. This was new for the Japanese; girls usually did not go to school.  

Nicholas became the first bishop of Japan. He built the beautiful Holy Resurrection Cathedral in Tokyo. He traveled all over Japan visiting Churches. He loved the Japanese people, so much so, that he stayed in Japan during the Russian-Japanese war, even though many of the Japanese rulers thought he was a spy! Nicholas died at the age of 76 in his beloved Japan and is called “Equal to the Apostles”.


  1. Feed the Elephant True/False Questions:

True                                                     False

            Nicholas was born in Russia.                          Nicholas was born in Japan.

            Nicholas learned the Japanese language.        The Japanese learned the Russian language.

            Nicholas is called “Equal to the Apostles”.    Nicholas was a Russian spy.


  1. Talk a bit about Japanese culture: This time, act it out. Have the children take off their shoes and line them up at the door. Bring some small blankets they can lie down on and roll up along the walls of the classroom. Teach a few words of Japanese, bowing a bit when saying “Ko-nee-chee-wah”, or “Hello”. Have a cup of tea, sitting on the floor, bowing to each other. Talk about the importance of learning other people’s ways, which shows you respect their customs. This is what Nicholas did in Japan; he learned the Japanese language, good Japanese manners, ate Japanese food, and lived in a Japanese home. He was loved for this by the Japanese people.


  1. Make a Japanese lantern: Take a piece of construction paper. Fold in half lengthwise. Cut slits at the fold line about 3/4 inch apart and about 2/3 of the way to the edge of the paper. Open up and circle the ends. Tape or staple together. Write “St. Nicholas” on the top and “Evangelizer of Japan” on the bottom. You can put a votive candle inside, but only if it is in a cup since the lantern can catch fire.


  1. Or, make a Hanging Japanese Fish: Draw a large fish from the pattern below on a piece of paper. Cut out 2. Cut one-inch circles from foil or colorful magazines. Glue these on the sides of the fish as scales. Color the head and tail. Staple the two sides of the fish together with crepe paper ribbons inside the tail. Punch two holes in the face for a hanging string. Now you have a hanging “koi” – a Japanese carp.

  1. Close with prayer: Lord, help me to love other people enough to learn what they like and do things their way.


St. Herman of Alaska



  1. Students should be able to name Herman and the state of Alaska.
  2. Students should know he lived on Spruce Island.


Possible Lesson Plan:

  1. Open with prayer.


  1. Tell the stories of St. Herman of Alaska and St. Peter the Aleut:

St. Herman was a monk of Russia. Like Nicholas in Japan, Herman wanted to serve the people of Alaska. He traveled on a sailing ship to Kodiak, Alaska; the land was beautiful with the snow-covered mountains and children playing on the beaches. Herman wanted to teach them all about Jesus and His love for all people, even the people of Alaska. He learned their language (Who else have we studied who did this?) and put the prayers of the church into their language so they could understand them. He built a church at Kodiak. But, then a great sickness came – the flu. Herman helped the people, but still many died. Many children were left as orphans. What could he do to help them?

Herman, the monk, moved to Spruce Island. Spruce trees are big and beautiful evergreen trees that grow in the far north. He built an orphanage and a school for the children who had lost their parents. Little children especially loved Herman. He taught them to love Jesus. When the children saw a great wave coming in from the sea, a tidal wave, they ran to “Apa” Herman, “Grandfather” Herman. Herman took his icon of the Theotokos to the beach and placed it in the sand. He told the children that the huge wave would stop there – and it did! Herman was one of the first saints of the Alaskan church.

            One of the Eskimo boys who heard about Jesus from Herman was named Chunuknuk. When he was baptized, he was given a new name, Peter. Peter learned about God and loved Him with all his heart and soul and mind. Peter also learned from his father and grandfather how to hunt and fish from his little kayak. He even hunted whales!

            Peter went with the Russian fur traders to far-off California, hunting sea otters. There, he was captured by people of another religion who tried to make him change his faith. They even cut off his fingers. But Peter would not deny his Church and faith. Finally, they killed Peter; he was the first martyr of North America. (Do you remember what a martyr is?)


  1. Feed the Elephant True/False Questions:


                                    True                                                     False

Herman was from Russia.                                           Herman was from Greece.

Herman traveled to Alaska.                                        Herman traveled to Japan.

Herman lived on Spruce Island.                                 Herman lived on Oak Island.

Peter was an Eskimo.                                                  Peter was from Russia.

Peter was a martyr.                                                     Herman was a martyr.


  1. Herman’s message was one of love. Sing “Jesus loves me” and “Jesus loves the little children”. The children loved Jesus; they also loved Herman.


  1. Make the Alaskan child: See next page. If you want, use a bit of fake fur and cotton balls to make the parka more realistic.


  1. Close with prayer: Lord, help me to love all Your children, even the unlovable ones.