Teaching Students About St. Francis of Assisi: A Guide for K-12 Teachers
St. Francis of Assisi, born in Italy in the 12th century, is one of the most celebrated Catholic saints and a renowned figure worldwide. Children are drawn to stories of his kindness and humility, making him a perfect subject for teaching character-building in K-12 schools.
Begin your lesson by introducing your students to St. Francis’ life – from his birth in a wealthy family, his military career, and his eventual rejection of earthly riches in favor of serving God, the poor, and all creatures. Using engaging multimedia tools such as videos or picture books will help your students retain their interest.
Exploring St. Francis’ Values
Once your students are familiar with his story, delve into the core values that St. Francis espoused: simplicity, love for nature, and compassion for others. Use activities and discussions that allow students to engage these values at their own developmental level.
For younger children (K-5), use art projects to illustrate the importance of environmental stewardship – drawing pictures or making crafts that depict nature scenes or animals with which St. Francis was famously connected.
For middle school students (6-8), encourage discussions that focus on the relevance of St. Francis’ teachings today. You can pose questions such as what sacrifices they might be willing to make for the greater good or share personal examples.
In high school (9-12), challenge your students to reflect on their actions by writing essays or participating in debate sessions to explore topics like voluntary poverty, ethics towards animals, and environmental conservation inspired by St. Francis’ values.
Taking Action: A Franciscan Spirit
Finally, encourage your students to put their lessons into action by organizing a class project or community service activity that embodies the spirit of St. Francis.
Whether it’s a school garden, a litter pick-up day, or raising funds for the less fortunate, you’re fostering empathy and lasting connections to nature and humanity alike. More importantly, your students will be inspired to carry the lessons of St. Francis with them beyond the classroom.
In conclusion, teaching children about St. Francis of Assisi’s life can offer valuable lessons that encourage them to be better global citizens. With a blend of historical content, discussion, and practical actions, you can engage K-12 students and demonstrate how they can embody St. Francis’ values in their own lives.