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.

18 February 2019

Room on our Rock

There are two sides to every story - and if you read, Room on our Rock, by Kate and Jol Temple, you will be amazed and delighted at what you and your students will learn.

This special teaching tip to share this wonderful book comes from Chaplain Steph from Churchie. This story provides a fabulous insight in to the concept of Generous Hospitality

Why not ask your school Librarian to suggest other books that would work well with an inquiry in to Generous Hospitality? I know that the Churchie Library staff were always putting aside books for me to use in my classes as they found them.

Room on our Rock will invite all sorts of discussions about concepts such as inclusion, welcoming, fear, empathy, hope, despair and sharing with others. Link this in to what Jesus taught about these matters and see what happens.

It is a fabulous opportunity for children to appreciate that there are two sides to every story.  Enjoy this marvellous book!

There is a great website with plenty of resources at Lamont Books. I have copied some ideas for you directly from the website.


Room on our Rock is a powerful allegorical exploration of the emotions and fears that drive exclusion, persecution, and rejection of refugees. Read conventionally, it tells the tale of a group of seals who fear the approach of a strange pair of seals, one a child, whose rock is being overwhelmed by the sea. The group of rock-dwellers refuse uncategorically to entertain the possibility of allowing the desperate and terrified pair to take refuge with them, stating that there is clearly no room. 

Seeking only safety the endangered pair go from hopeful to despairing over the course of the story. 

However, there is more to this book than a simple one-way reading can reveal, for if you start reading at the back of the book, and read all the pages in reverse order, it becomes an uplifting tale of acceptance, encouragement, and hope. In the mirror-story, the seals on the rock welcome the struggling refugees, assuring them that there is plenty of room for them all, and encouraging them to leave the small beleaguered rock and to come share the much larger and safer one. 

Read either way, Room on our Rock is a heart-wrenching tale of fear and danger, and the seals exemplify the differing attitudes that can be found within human communities to the plight faced by many refugees these days.

1) As a class discuss the cover illustration and title. What do you think might be happening in the story? What does it mean when it says, There are two sides to every story?

2) Read the story from front to back. As a class discuss the story that is told. Some things to include in your discussion are:
• What is happening to the parent and child seal?
• How are the seals on the big rock reacting to them?
• How do you think the two seals feel?
• Why do you think the rock-seals are saying there is no room?
• What do you think the rock-seals are thinking and feeling?
• How much room can you see on the rock?
• What do you think might happen to the two seals if they don’t find a new rock?
• Do people ever act like the seals on the rock? Why might they act like this?
• If you were one of the two seals in the water, what would you say to the rock-seals?

3) Read the story from back to front. As a class discuss the story, and how it is different from the story as read conventionally. Some things to include in your discussion are:
• What is happening to the parent and child seal?
• How are the seals on the big rock reacting to them?
• How do you think the two seals feel??
• What do you think the rock-seals are thinking and feeling?
• How do you think the two seals feel when the rock-seals tell them there is plenty of room on their rock for them as well?
• How much room can you see on the rock?
• What do you think might be different for the rock-seals that they can act welcoming and
friendly in this back-to-front story?
• If you were one of the two seals in the water, what would you say to the rock-seals?

4) As a class discuss the two different stories in the book. Some things to include in your discussion are:
• How did reading the first story make you feel?
• How did the second story make you feel?
• When you look at the pictures of the rock seals during the first story, what do you think the expressions on their faces mean?
• When reading the second story, do the expressions on the seals faces look like they mean something different?
• Which story do you think is the better one, and why?

5) Individually, choose one seal from the first story. Write and illustrate an ‘I feel’ or ‘I felt’ statement from the point of view of that character sharing what they felt, and when they felt it. Write and illustrate a second I feel or I felt statement from the point of view of the same character, on the same page in the second story. For example you might want to say I felt scared when our rock was swamped by the big wave for your first statement and I was happy that we had a new home when our old rock was swamped by the big wave for your second statement.

Now -  this little youtube clip has nothing to do with the book or story - but you might want to use this with your younger students as part of a relaxation at the end of the lesson. Or maybe you just need some relaxation!

1 February 2019

Let’s Celebrate Generous Hospitality

I absolutely love the 2019 Archbishop’s Theme of Generous Hospitality and look forward to hearing about the ways that our religious educators will share this message with their students.

I know I have so much to learn about showing generous hospitality – so here goes. May the year ahead be filled with much learning and growth and may we all be intentional and generous in welcoming and caring for others.

If you are beginning to teach this topic, perhaps you might start with a ‘debating style’ approach and define the topic.
I would let the students find a range of definitions and compare them. The Oxford Dictionary defines ‘hospitality’ as ‘The friendly and generous reception of guests, visitors or strangers.’

Maybe explore a little Greek as well. Philoxenos – Philo (love) + Xenos (stranger).

For younger students, perhaps create Word Wall of Synonyms. Include all the suggestions offered by the students which may include words such as friendliness, welcome, neighbourliness, kindness, congeniality and amicability.

If we look at the concept of Biblical hospitality, we know that in the ancient world, hospitality focussed on the alien or stranger in need.

Look at the Bible Study Tools website for some great ideas.

“Hospitality took several forms. Acts of hospitality included the humble and gracious reception of travellers into one's home for food, lodging, and protectionGen 18:2-8 ; 19:1-8 ; Job 31:16-23 Job 31:31-32 ), permitting the alienated person to harvest the corners of one's fields Lev 19:9-10 ; Deut 24:19-22 ; Ruth 2:2-17 ), clothing the nakedIsa 58:7 ; Ezekiel 18:7 Ezekiel 18:16 ), tithing food for the needyDeut 14:28-29 ; 26:1-11 ), and including the alien in religious celebrationsExod 12:48-49 ; Deut 16:10-14 ).”

I found one website that posed this question.

“What does Jesus’ hospitality tell us about God’s character?”

You could begin to explore this question by looking at stories about Jesus’ hospitality.

 Some stories about Jesus sharing a meal include:
o   Jesus eating with Zacchaeus
o   Jesus eating with tax collectors at the home of Levi
o   Jesus eating with Martha and Mary
o   Jesus feeding the 5000
o   The Last Supper

So what do we learn about God’s character? Is it the love, grace, friendship and generous hospitality that God extends to us? Encourage your students to make a list of the character traits of God.

Stories of the Bible Jesus Feeds the 5000

The Story of Zacchaeus

Stories  of the Bible Zacchaeus

God's Story Mary and Martha

20 November 2018

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

Sometimes all you need is a really beautiful picture book to make any lesson a huge success. Picture books, lift the flap books and pop up books can enchant and inspire. If you have left your Christmas book shopping a little late – don’t worry. Pop down to Koorong and see what they have available.

Here are some of my favourites.

The Fantastic Christmas Stable opens up to create a delightful 3D play scene, complete with Mary, Joseph, baby Jesus, angels, shepherds, Wise men and animals!

There are plenty of interactive books to choose from, so fill your classroom with these colourful books and spread the Good News!

If you have time to share these stories and activities with your students, you are going to allow them to explore the Christmas story in a creative and engaging way.

If you want some ideas for teaching students about Christmas Gifts, remember to have a look at our other blog, A Few Smallish Fish.

12 November 2018

Oh Little Town of Bethlehem

There are so many fabulous videos that you can watch with your students this Christmas time but here are a few that are a little different! Thank you to St Paul's Church in Auckland. These videos are truly magical!

Some children can't imagine that Bethlehem is a real place. Try watching this video and discussing the key themes that are introduced. It might spark a discussion about the current issues in the Middle East as well as questions of peace now and then! This is for older students!

If you are interested in responding to Christmas using drama and role playing in your classroom, this might be just the inspiration you need!

While you are in this Christmas mood, the creative and generous Chaplain Steph from Churchie shared this favourite song. It might be just the song you are looking for this Festive Season!

And for the younger students, a lovely story book with rhyme and rhythm so that the students can read along with the story!

Enjoy the end of the school year with your students as you share the Good News!

3 November 2018

The True Meaning of Christmas

It is November, so I confess. I have started watching Christmas movies on Netflix already!

As Term 4 is such a short term, teachers will need to start showing Christmas movies at school too or you won’t have time to see all the great videos that are available.

For slightly older primary students, make sure you take time to enjoy Superbook – The First Christmas. It is a rather modern take on an ancient story! It explores the true meaning of Christmas.

There are lots of themes to explore, from selfishness to sacrifice, from cruelty to compassion and from bravery to blessings. Students will be captivated by the 'super book' super hero character and the modern perspective on an ancient story. 

Perhaps explore the concept of 'change' during your reflection time. 

How did the characters change in the story? 
How has the birth of Jesus changed history? 
How can celebrating Christmas change our lives? 
Has the way we celebrate Christmas changed over time? 
Should we change the way we celebrate Christmas? 
Why would this story change the hearts of people who hear it?

Enjoy your Christmas movie time with your students. Remember that students, like us, enjoy seeing movies more than once, so do not worry if they say they have seen a movie before. Watching certain movies can become a part of your Christmas tradition with your students.

Merry Christmas!

28 October 2018

Who was the first person to design and print a Christmas Card?

Quizzes are such a powerful way to engage your students.
Don't forget to have a glance through all the Christmas resources on the Request.org.uk website.
There are many fabulous resources for all ages including a Christmas Quest.

You will also find a range of videos for different lessons and ages on the same website.

You might also like to try The Christmas Bible Quiz from What Christians Want to Know. It has great questions and all the answers too!

Perhaps make class sets of quizzes and laminate them to use with all your classes. Some students may wish to develop their own quizzes. Prizes for winners might include Christmas decorations!

If you want to do some online quizzes, then remember to use Garden of Praise. Click on Children's Bible Lessons.  Choose the appropriate story. Read the story and then do the online quiz. It will be marked immediately and the students will get their results. It is great fun.

Try Garden of Praise - Mary the Mother of Jesus. Read the story and then let your students complete the online quiz and other activities.

Students tend to really enjoy doing the online activities collaboratively. I think the Online Word Scramble is fabulous for fostering better Bible literacy and encouraging the students to look at the Bible stories more closely. See what your students think.

For younger students, try The Big Christmas Quiz. It is great fun! I think this would work best on you IWB with the whole class enjoying the fun. Maybe divide the class in to teams to play?

Let the fun and games begin! 

23 October 2018

Who is Santa Claus?

Now this is a tricky question for all teachers in Term 4!

How you answer this will depend on the age of your students. Tread carefully. If you need a hand, try using the resources from ‘What’s in the Bible?’

There are lots of great resources and funny videos to use with students of all ages!

Maybe use this video as way to introduce The True Story of Christmas.

Your students are sure to have many questions, such as , 'Why do we call it Christmas?' or 'Why do we have Christmas Trees?'

These and many more questions can be answered by watching episodes from What's in the Bible? You can buy the entire collection from Koorong!