How catechectically wonderful is it when the kids don’t remember something that you’ve already covered? Don’t tell me. But my experience has been that with a bit of review at the instant of forgetfulness, they can even remember things that haven’t come up for months. Of course, time can be saved by giving the answer, but a minute or two of review on the fly after a wrong answer may actually be more productive than a correct answer. Like so:
We cover Melchizedek in early September. Then he might not show up again until February or March. That’s a long time for kids to remember an odd name and a small story. So when we discuss the Last Supper, I’ve learned not to be surprised if the kids can’t always recall that information. But by answering pointed questions, they can find their way back, and then forward again.
“So here’s Jesus and the Apostles at the last Supper, what kind of dinner is this? Passover? Yes, so they’ll be eating….Lamb! Uh-huh. But does Jesus pass around grilled lamb kebabs? Umm…no, they have bread! Yes, and….wine! Yes. Tell me about bread & wine. What? Where have you heard about it earlier this year? And the guy whose name starts with an M. Methuselah? No, he was just old. Matthew? Matthew? No. OK, tell me about Christmas. Christmas? Yes, new topic. Who was there? Angels. Yes. Shepherds. Yes. Wise Men. Yes, what did they bring? Gold, frankincense, & myrrh. Yes. Gold is for…a king, yes, and…incense is for a priest, yes, good remembering. So Jesus…is a priest? Yes, we’ll sort that out some more later. What do priests do? Sacrifice! Yes, and..offer stuff! Yes. Tell me about Sarah’s husband…Abraham! Yes, tell me. God told him to go to Israel. Yes, Canaan. Yes, what? Their baby was Isaac and it means laughing! Yes, they were so happy to have a baby. Did the people in Canaan welcome Abraham with a camel-sausage pizza and say please be our king? No he had to fight people. Yes. When things went well for Abraham he’d build an altar and offer God a sacrifice…what kind? A thanksgiving sacrifice! Yes. But do y’all remember after one battle he didn’t offer his own sacrifice, someone did it for him…the M guy! Yes, c’mon. Methuselah! No! That was wrong two minutes ago and it’s still wrong! But close. Mmm…Melchizedek! Yes! What was he? A priest. Yes. What did he offer? Umm…bread & wine! Yes. So why does this matter? Because Jesus is copying Melchizedek! Yes! Y’all are too smart!”
Now in this case the punch line, Melchizedek and his offering, is the oldest part of the thread, so we went backward in time to Genesis, then jumped forward to the present. But in other cases, say if we’re linking miracle food to the Mass, we’d start with Manna in Exodus and go forward until we hit the Mass. It just depends on the topic and what isn’t remembered. Regardless, it’s best for the kids to review an entire concept, not just the fragment that applies at the moment.
By the way, once the children have firmly connected Melchizedek to Jesus at the Last Supper, they will always remember him when he comes up in our Mass classes.