Welcome to the coloured glass classroom! We hope to provide you with lots of creative ideas and resource links to help you engage the young people in your religious and Christian education classes. This blog is sponsored by the Anglican Schools Commission of the Anglican Church Southern Queensland.

8 February 2018

Science, Faith and Apologetics Conference



Australia’s first “Science, Faith and Apologetics” Conference will see 40 national and international presenters grappling with difficult questions Christians face. The public event in Brisbane from March 23 to 25 will strengthen Christians’ faith and help them engage in conversation with skeptics.

Speakers include astrophysicist Jennifer Wiseman, cosmologist Ken Freeman, and staff of Ravi Zacharias Ministries and the Centre for Public Christianity. Topics include: ‘If God is good, why are bad things happening to me?'; ‘Is the universe fine tuned for life?’; 'How to respond to Australia's assisted dying debate'; ‘Can I believe in miracles and science?’; ‘Teaching science and faith to primary students’; ‘Economics in the service of God’; and many more.


Scholarships/bursaries available – childcare onsite – earlybird pricing ends Feb. 14th.

The conference is for any Christian who wants to think hard about the way Christian faith relates to the culture and issues of our day.

Full details from ISCAST (Christians in Science): Iscastcosac.org

1 February 2018

Time for Learning the A B C of Religion.




Many years ago, while teaching at an Anglican School in Canberra, I was introduced to Ryan’s Thinker's Keys by an amazing teacher.  ‘Thinker's Keys’ is a programme all about teaching students to think effectively.

http://www.tonyryan.com.au/blog/wp-content/uploads/Thinkers_Keys_Version1.pdf

One of my favourite ‘Keys’ is called The Alphabet.

It is simple, fun, engaging and develops knowledge and understanding.
Choose a topic – perhaps Christianity or Buddhism – or indeed whatever you are studying. The students are then to compile a list of words from A to Z which have some relevance to the topic. Let the students be as creative as they wish. This fosters creative thinking and serves to clarify thinking for many. Groups work well and make sure you have time for sharing. Big sheets of paper and lots of coloured pens will help! Make a game of it. Set a timer. Award points. Students love a competition. 
This is also a fabulous activity for reinforcing and developing religious or emotional literacy.
With the youngest students, have a look at Ministry-to-Children Bible Alphabet Colouring Pages.

 https://ministry-to-children.com/a-is-for-almighty-coloring-page/


Younger students will require a little more scaffolding and the resources available on Ministry-to-Children are fabulous and fun.

With older students, this can be a great way to introduce some big questions.  Older students often want to start with A is for Atheism. Don’t worry about this! Grab such a great teachable moment and have a look at the documentary, The Trouble with Atheism. You might choose a snippet from this to use as a provocation or to encourage debate and discussion.





The BBC has a brilliant resource called the A to Z of Religion and Beliefs. However, it can’t be viewed here in Australia. So why not get your class to make their own video clips. Look at the website for some ideas.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/articles/3lKZp31jBVJ2v3C2h1V03kz/a-to-z-of-religion-and-beliefs

Be creative in the way you use The Alphabet Key and it can be a powerful tool. This type of sorting and clarifying activity can be useful to assess prior knowledge, but is also a great way to enhance summative assessment.

Set your class a task and watch the thinking and questioning begin!


25 January 2018

Treat your students with meditation



Are you comfortable leading Christian meditation in your classroom?

Have you ever heard the brush of angels’ wings or stepped in to the coolness of the Jordan River with Jesus? If not, then why not treat yourself and the students in your class?

If meditation is not your ‘thing’ and you lack a little confidence in teaching this,  then relax, breathe deeply, focus – and then find a good book or website to help you.

I have a great ‘oldie but a goldie’ book that is still available to order - ‘Guided Meditations for Children’ by Sydney Ann Merritt. It is a wonderful place to start. 

‘Guided Meditations for Children’ has a fabulous introduction including ‘Suggestions for Success’ – always a great help for teachers.



Start with ‘The Meeting Place’ or similar to settle and engage the students.

In the book, there is a whole section on Lent and Easter. Lent begins on February 14 this year, so perhaps you could begin with a Lent Meditation practice with your students. Instead of giving up chocolate or whatever, you and your class might embrace a new practice. It is a wonderful way to reflect and consider the meaning of the Easter story and the implications for our own lives.

Each meditation in the book is based on a Bible story, linked to the Lectionary and there is a suggestion for music to accompany the lesson. The meditation is written in full – the teacher only has to read from the book. Absolutely no stress!

At the end of each meditation is a prayer to read, followed by some questions for your students to discuss.

Children enjoy the predictability of the regular routine. It allows them relax and feel safe enough to use their imaginations fully as they encounter Jesus in their hearts and minds. Don’t be surprised if you find your class asking for more.

Once you have used this book for some time, you may feel ready to write your own meditations.  If you do – why not share them with other teachers?

(If you are an Anglican RE teacher in Southern Queensland, this will link effectively with the new P-12 Syllabus Strand – Inner Life.) 

7 December 2017

Learning about the Stolen Generations



A new Stolen Generations interactive website has been launched. It provides resources to help people learn about the story of the Stolen Generations. It includes interactive maps and the testimonies of witnesses. 

Of particular interest to religious educators is the section with teaching resources linked to the National Curriculum. There is also a large list of additional resources worth exploring in this section.

16 November 2017

What did the nativity smell like?

One way of helping students to engage with the text of the Bible is to get them use their imagination and senses.

A simple Y Chart can be helpful for this.




Provide students with a copy of the infancy narrative from Luke 2.1-21. As they read it have them fill out a y chart. The headings: feels like, sounds like, looks like, might be used to help students explore the mood and details of the events expressed in the text. Alternatively looks like, smells like, sounds like could also be used. Encourage students to use their imagination and to think about the sights, sounds and smell they would experience if they were there.


An alternate way of exploring the infancy narratives would be to bring some things into the classroom to touch and smell such as hay and lambs wool. 

2 November 2017

A Very Angry Christmas Quiz Part 2



As a follow up to "A Very Angry Christmas Quiz" checkout this video "Retooning the Nativity" which highlights the differences between the traditional popular nativity scene and what we find in scripture. I always make sure I say to children that it doesn't matter if there were three wise men or more. It doesn't matter that we flesh out the story a bit in our imagination. The important thing is to go to the heart of  what it is about: Emmanuel - God with us.

26 October 2017

A very angry Christmas quiz


It is that time of year when I begin to post Christmas resources. This is one of my favourites.

This quiz has circulated around the internet for a long time. I have used it with a variety of age groups. I have often found that students get a bit angry and incredulous when the answers are revealed. They find it outrageous that the 'facts' they know about the Christmas story don't really appear in the Bible but are the result of tradition. In fact while many of the things we have added in tradition may be reasonable assumptions this quiz is a good reminder to us all at Christmas to go back to the source of the nativity stories. Children can find this quiz confronting and I have even had students say to me: Do you even read the Bible?!?!

This is a great opportunity to get students interested in reading the nativity narratives and looking at the closely. Have fun and be prepared for the wrath of your students.

The Questions

1. How many wise men were there?
a. 3
b. 4
c. The Bible does not say.

2. Did Joseph meet the wise men?
a. Yes
b. No
c. The Bible does not say.

3. What animal did Mary ride to Bethlehem?
a. Donkey
b. Small horse
c. Llama
d. The Bible does not say
.
4. The Holy Family named the child "Jesus" because:
a. An Angel told Mary to use the name.
b. An Angel told Joseph to use the name.
c. All of the above.
d. None of the above.

5. What type of building was Jesus born in?
a. Stable
b. Cave
c. Inn
d. The Bible does not say.

6. What animals were present at the Nativity?
a. Cattle
b. Sheep
c. Doves
d. All of the above
e. The Bible does not say.

7. Who besides the wise men saw the star?
a. The shepherds
b. King Herod's astrologers
c. The Bible does not say.

8. How did the star compare in brightness with the other stars?
a. Brighter
b. Equivalent
c. A faint glow over the horizon.
d. The Bible does not say.

9. How soon after Joseph and Mary reached Bethlehem was Jesus born?
a. Within minutes.
b. That night
c. The Bible does not say.

The Answers

1. How many wise men were there?
c. The Bible does not say.

Although tradition suggests there were three wisemen, as in the carol "We Three Kings of Orient Are," the Bible actually does not give the number of Magi. Go to Biblical account of the Magi in Matthew).

2. Did Joseph meet the wise men?
c. The Bible does not say.

Matthew writes that the magi found the Child with Mary, but makes no mention of Joseph. Matthew 2:9-11. Of course, as a good parent, we would probably expect Joseph to have been there.'

3. What animal did Mary ride to Bethlehem?
d. The Bible does not say.

Although it would be a long walk for a pregnant woman from Nazareth to Bethlehem, the Bible does not mention what animal, if any, Mary rode. Luke 2:4-6

4. The Holy Family named the child "Jesus" because:
c. All of the above.

In Luke, the Angel Gabriel tells Mary to use the name "Jesus." Luke 1:30-31 . In Matthew, an angel tells Joseph to use the name. Matthew 1:20-21

5. What type of building was Jesus born in?
d. The Bible does not say.

Although Luke tells us that the baby was placed in a manger, there is no mention of where the manger was located. Luke 2:6-8

6. What animals were present at the Nativity?
e. The Bible does not say.

Despite the line in Away in a Manger that "the cattle were lowing, the poor baby wakes," there is no mention of which animals were present at the Nativity. Luke 2:6-8

7. Who besides the wise men saw the star?
c. The Bible does not say.

Check Matthew's account.

8. How did the star compare in brightness with the other stars?
d. The Bible does not say.

Check Matthew's account.

9. How soon after Joseph and Mary reached Bethlehem was Jesus born?

c. The Bible does not say.

Although every Sunday school Christmas pageant has Mary deliver a baby moments after Mary and Joseph are turned away from the inn, the Bible does not specify a time period. Check Luke's account.