religious artefacts

of 46 /46
THE USE OF ARTEFACTS in RELIGIOUS EDUCATION Cardiff Advisory Service for Education Cardiff Advisory Service for Education 1

Upload: basiliz

Post on 10-Nov-2015




3 download

Embed Size (px)


Religious Artefacts commonly used in Judaism






Cardiff Advisory Service for Education


The mezuzah is a small box which is nailed to the right hand door post of every door in a Jewish home, except the bathroom. Inside is a small parchment scroll on which are written in Hebrew the words of the SHEMA, i.e. Deuteronomy 6:5-9:

"Here, O Israel: The lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the door frames of your houses and on your gates."

Mezuzah cases are made from different materials (plastic, wood etc.) and are different shapes, sizes and designs. Often they have a little window through which can be seen the word for "The Almighty".

The use of the mezuzah derives from the requirements in Deuteronomy 6 "write them on the door frames of your houses and on your gates."

Jews will often touch the mezuzah as they enter the room and then kiss their fingers. This reminds them that what happens in the room should in line with the teaching on the scroll. The mezuzah is also a symbol of God's blessing, presence and protection of the house.


Allow the pupils to examine the mezuzah case, but, in order not to cause offence, do not allow the pupils to touch the scroll inside.

Make a mezuzah and write a prayer to go inside or copy out the two verses of the Shema.

Copy some Hebrew script.

Discuss in pairs how one would feel when putting up a mezuzah in a new house. Write about the experience.


Torah means "teaching" and refers to the five books of Moses - Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy.

The sefer Torah is the scroll of the Torah, a parchment scroll made from a kosher animal, and written in a Hebrew by a professional scribe. The Torah takes about a year to write and any error must be corrected.

The Torah is regarded as God's law for the Jewish people, a precious gift which must be respected and obeyed. It is kept in the synagogue in the ark which is a large cabinet at the front often containing a number of copies of the Torah. Old scrolls are buried in a Jewish cemetery and not destroyed.

In the West the scroll is normally covered by a velvet mantle, and a silver crown or silver bells are attached to the handles. There is a silver or gold breastplate hanging at the front of the scroll which reminds people of the dress once worn by the High Priest in the Temple. When all these are taken off when read in the synagogue at the bimah, it is called "undressing" the Torah.

Because the Torah scroll cannot be touched by hand a Yad (= "hand" in Hebrew) is used as a pointer when someone reads it. The Yad is made of silver and is long with a hand on the end with an

extended finger. The Yad is hung on the scroll when

not used.


Invite pupils to bring in books which are special to them..

Show the Torah scroll and explain that it is the special book for Jewish people. Make a scroll; copy some Hebrew script using quills and ink.

Design a cover for a scroll and draw some Jewish symbols on it.

Watch a video of the Torah being read; invite visitor to come into school and read scroll; make a visit to the Synagogue to see a scroll..

Decode Hebrew writing - i.e. teacher makes a sheet of messages written in Hebrew and children have to use alphabet to decode.


When a boy reaches thirteen years of age and a girl twelve, they are regarded as old enough to understand and obey the mitzvot or commandments. At a special celebration of "coming of age" the boy becomes bar mitzvah (son of the commandment) and the girl bat mitzvah (daughter of the commandment).

They are then regarded as having reached an age of adult responsibility and can take an adult part in the synagogue.

In the synagogue the boy can be "called up" to read a part of the Torah or to recite blessings over it. He will then wear the tallit and tefillin in weekday prayers. In an orthodox synagogue the girl will not take part in the synagogue worship.

In the bar mitzvah ceremony which takes place on the sabbath, the boy will be called up to say a prayer and read the Torah. He will wear the tallit and tefillin for the first time and receive his siddur (prayer book) from the Rabbi along with a bar mitzvah certificate. After the service there will be a special meal and party with cards and gifts for the bar mitzvah.

The bat mitzvah ceremony in the orthodox synagogue normally takes place on a Sunday afternoon and the girl reads from the prayer book but not the Torah scroll. In reformed synagogues the bar mitzvah and bat mitzvah are similar.


Research the differences between the bar and bat mitzvah in an orthodox synagogue and a reformed.

Role-play an interview with a boy or girl who is about to have a bar/bat mitzvah.

Design and make a bar/bat mitzvah card. Use some Jewish symbols.

Compose an invitation to your bar/bat mitzvah explaining to a non-Jewish friend what it is about.


Passover is a spring festival which lasts for eight days. It commemorates the time when the Jewish people were released from slavery in Egypt. It is a festival which celebrates the looking forward to new life.

On the first night of Passover a Seder meal takes place. The word Seder means order and thus the meal and service follow a set order. The seder meal takes place in the home and is a family celebration. During the meal a plate with six symbolic foods is used to retell the story of the Exodus.


On the seder plate are the following foods:

Haroseth (Charoset) - this is a mixture of chopped apples, raisins, nuts, cinnamon and wine. The mixture reminds the Jewish people of the mortar which the Jewish slaves used to build cities for the Pharoah..

Bitter herbs - this is usually horseradish and it reminds the Jewish people of the bitterness of slavery. First it is dipped in charoset and then eaten in a small matzah sandwich.

Shank bone - this is not eaten but is placed on the plate as a symbol of the lambs that were sacrificed before the Jews left Egypt. The blood of the lambs was smeared on the door-posts of Jewish homes so that the angel of death passed over their homes.

Karpas (Greens lettuce, parsley) - this is to symbolise the freshness of spring and new life. It is dipped into salt water so that initially the taste is pleasant but then becomes a bitter taste.

Roasted Egg - this reminds the Jewish people of the offerings made in the Temple. It symbolises new life.

There is also a dish of salt water which is placed on the seder plate to remind the Jewish people of the tears they shed when they were slaves back in Egypt.


MATZAH and the


Matzah is a type of bread that is made without yeast, in fact it is rather like a cracker. It reminds the Jewish people of the unleavened bread that they ate when leaving Egypt as they did not have time to wait for the bread to rise. Before the festival of Passover the house must be spring cleaned and all traces of leaven (hametz) removed.

The Matzah cover has three layers and therefore holds three Matzoth during the Seder meal. The top and bottom matzoth replace the usual challah loaves (see Shabbat section) and the middle piece is called the bread of affliction and represents the unleavened bread in the Exodus story. This piece of matzah is broken in two in the first part of the meal and one half is eaten whilst the other half is hidden by the father and the children search for it. The second half of the meal cannot begin without the finding of this piece of Matzah. All other pieces are blessed and eaten during the meal.

During the Seder meal, the Jewish people also drink four glasses of wine to remind them of the four promises of sa,vation made to them by God (Exodus 6:6-7).


Another cup called Elijahs Cup is also placed on the table. This is in preparation to greet the prophet Elijah, who the Jewish people believe will return to earth one day before the coming of the Messiah..


Spring clean the classroom; search for some hidden hametz; sing passover songs.

Make, draw, label a passover plate. Make some Charoset.

Read Passover story; set up a seder plate with the diffenet foods and explore significance and symbolism of food..

Buy some matzah and share it around.

Role play the seder service with a simplified Haggadah.

Make a matzah cover.



(also called Cappel, Yarmulkah)

The Kippah is a skull cap worn by men when they pray and go the synagogue. It is worn to cover the head out of respect for God.

Some Jews wear them all the time and they come in different colours and designs.


A male over the age of 13 must also wear the tallit (prayer shawl) when he prays. It is made of wool or silk and will either be worn around his shoulders or over his head and represents the belief that God is all around. The tallit has long fringes and tassels in each of the four corners to fulfil the

commandment in Numbers 15:37-41.

The fringes remind the wearer of the commandments (mitzvoth) of God. These are 613 in all and the fringes with the eight

threads on the corners and five knots add up

to 613.

TEFILLIN (Phylacteries)

The phylacteries are small boxes with black leather straps and they contain small parchment scrolls on which are written four passages from the Torah, one of which is the Shema (Deuteronomy 6:4-9).

They are worn by orthodox males Jews at morning prayers but not on the sabbath in the Synagogue. They are worn on the forehead and on the upper arm according to the instructions in Deuteronomy 6:8 and wound in a special way.

They remind the worshipping Jews that their hearts and minds are focused on God and his word.


Discuss special clothes and design a special outfit - e.g. to go to a party/special occasion.

Introduce the Kippah and Tallit and dress one of the children in them.

Make a Kippah out of sugar paper/material and decorate with Jewish symbols.

Watch a video of Jewish people at prayer.

Make some phylacteries and copy some Hebrew on a small "scroll".



The Shofar is usually a small rams horn which is blown repeatedly in the synagogue at Rosh Hashanah to welcome in the New Year. This is done so in accordance with Numbers 29:1 On the first day of the seventh month you are to gather for worshiptrumpets are to be blown..

Rosh Hashanah is a happy time which all the family celebrate together. However, it is also a time when the Jewish people think about what they have done in the previous year and how they can improve this in the coming year. The Jewish New Year is in September or October.

The Shofar is also blown at the end of Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) which is ten days after Rosh Hashanah. The ten days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur is a time of repentance leading to a fresh start with both human beings and God.

Traditional foods at Rosh Hashanah include pieces of apple dipped in honey. The prayer is that God will make the coming year a good and sweet one.


Discuss new year ceremonies.

View some Rosh Hashanah cards - design and make a card and decorate with Jewish symbols.

Have a Rosh Hashanah meal with some fruit and honey.

SHABBAT (Sabbath)


These are two symbolic loaves of plaited bread used during shabbat (pronounced hallah, plural challot). It is bread enriched with eggs that is used on Shabbat and other festival days. The loaves are used at the beginning of the Shabbat meal. A blessing (Kiddush) is said over both these and the wine and they are then shared out amongst the people who are present. This recalls the time when the Hebrews lived on the manna which they believed was provided by God and that on the Friday he provided them with double the amount in preparation for Shabbat which is a day of rest. Hence the two loaves. The loaves are kept covered with the Challah cover (embroidered piece of cloth) until after Kiddush is said.


This is a piece of cloth usually decorated with embroidered symbols of the Sabbath ie. plaited loaves, candles etc. It is used to cover the Challah loaves until the Kiddush (blessing) has been said. The cover represents the dew which covered the manna in the desert.


This is a plaited candle which symbolises the unity that the Sabbath has brought. It is lit at the very end of Shabbat which is in fact regarded as the very first act of the next week. The candle is held up high by one of the males in the family whilst a blessing is spoken.

It is then extinguished in some wine poured into a dish..

Havdalah is the ceremony which closes Shabbat and other festivals. The word Havdalah means

separation. At the end of the Havdalah there is the greeting: Shavuah Tov a good week.


These may be wooden or silver and usually have Jewish symbols drawn or written on them, e.g. the Star of David. The lid usually comes off and a small amount of spices (usually cloves) is kept inside. The spices can be smelled through small holes in the lid. The spices are said to cheer the soul which is sad because of the end of Shabbat or other festivals. After the meal on the Saturday of Shabbat the spice box is passed around to everyone present to wish goodbye to Shabbat. The spices are used in hope that the coming week will be as good and sweet as Shabbat has ended.


Candles are used to welcome Shabbat into the home. On Friday evening at sunset when everything is ready the woman of the house lights the candles, covers her eyes and recites a blessing:- Blessed are you, Lord our God, King of the Universe who has sanctified us with His commandments and command us to light the Shabbat candles.

The two candles represent the most important words in the commandment to keep shabbat , i.e. remember and keep. Candles are often used during festivals within Judaism. Candles represent light, goodness and joy.


Discuss special family meals; have a special class picnic; talk about sharing, get somebody to share food out; light a candle; make a pair of candlesticks.

What do you on Saturdays? What should a Jewish person do and not do on the sabbath?

Introduce the spice box; talk about nice smells and how they make you feel; collect different kinds of spices and make a spice box.

Make Challah bread.

Design and make a challah cover.



The megillah or scroll of the book of Esther is read aloud in the synagogue in the regular evening service. It commands Jews to celebrate Purim as days of feasting and gladness, and of sending gifts to one another, and gifts to the poor. It is celebration of the victory of good over evil, of the triumph of Esther and Mordecai over the evil Haman.

The normal rules of synagogue behaviour are forgotten and it is customary to boo and cheer when the story of Esther is read.


The gregger is like a wooden football rattle. It is used during the festival of Purim, to make a noise when the story of Esther is being read out in the Synagogue.

Haman plotted to kill all the Jews and when his name is read out the congregation will boo, hiss and use the gregger to make a lot of noise, drowning out the sound of Haman. The congregation will also write Haman on the soles of their shoes and stamp their feet to rub out his name.

Note that Haman the enemy is not abused or attacked but is refused to be heard - his name is drowned out in the noise.


Show gregger and let children investigate. Talk about when we would use one ie. at football matches, ice hockey etc. Make a gregger ie. like a rattle with peas/rice inside.

Introduce and read story of Esther. Re-read and ask children to make a lot of noise when Hamans name is mentioned and cheer when the names of Esther ad Mordecai are mentioned.

Act out the story of Purim - use masks for the main characters. Make a megillah.



The Hannukiah is an eight branched candle with a servant candle (shamash). It is used during the festival of Hannukah which is a winter festival which celebrates the time when the Jewish people won back their temple in Jerusalem in the 2nd century BC. The festival lasts for 8 days and on each night a new candle is lit. The ritual commemorates a "miracle" when nearly all the oil used for the temple lamp was destroyed and the little that was left lasted amazingly for eight days.

The Hannukiah is usually placed in the window of a house. Soon after sunset the servant candle is lit and this is then used to light the other candles. On the first night the candle on the far right is lit, then on the second night the second candle on the right is lit followed by the candle from the previous night. This continues for eight nights until all eight candles are alight. A prayer is said and Hannukah songs are sung. During Hannukah children are often given gifts and they play with the dreidel.DREIDEL

Hannukah is the only Jewish festival for which there is a game. The game is played with a dreidel which is similar to a spinning top. It is 4 sided and on each side there is a Hebrew letter.


Light the candles; do a candle meditation.

Make a Hannukjah and display in the window.

Make a greeting card and have a Hannukah party;

Sing Hannukah songs

Read the story. Make masks of characters or shadow puppets.

Make a dreidel and play the dreidel game.

Make Latkes.

BAPTISMThese artefacts are either symbolic objects which form part of a baptismal service or gifts from family and friends. The gifts are presented to welcome the child into Gods family and commemorate the event.


Water is an important symbol in the New Testament and the life of the church. It is a symbol of spiritual cleansing and used in infant baptism (christening) and adult believers' baptism.


As a person enters a Roman Catholic church there will be a stoup attached to the wall with consecrated water in it. The worshippers dip their fingers in and make the sign of the cross on themselves - in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.


In the Roman Catholic and Anglican churches baptismal (christening) candles are usually white with symbols of the cross, the alpha/omega, and wavy lines (water) on them with transfers.

The priest lights a candle and gives it to the Godparents on the childs behalf after water has been put on the childs head. The candle is a symbol of passing from darkness into light.


This may be made of precious or ornate metal or may indeed be a natural shell. In infant baptism it is used to scoop the water three times over the childs head in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Early Baptism took place on a seashore or river bank where shells were freely available.

The sign of the shell became an early Christian symbol for pilgrimage and so its use is evocative of these earlier times as well as a symbol of lifes journey.


A christening gown is often worn by babies. This is a traditional garment and is thought to symbolise purity. A priest may also place a white cloth on the child for the same reason. Clothing a child with a white garment is part of the orthodox tradition after the child is plunged into the font three times.

Many people are baptised when they are babies. Godparents make promises on their behalf. Some Christians wait until they are adults and make their own declaration of faith.

Baptists practise total immersion where the whole body is plunged under the water. It is both a symbol of spiritual cleansing and an enactment of the death (going under the water) and the resurrection (rising up from the water) of Jesus. The believer shares in this death and resurrection.

Usually the candidates for baptism wear white trousers and shirt or white dress as a sign of purity.


Discuss how and why water is used today. Discuss its symbolism in religion.

Invite the children to talk about their knowledge of their own or others' baptism.

Make a Baptism card. or certificate choosing carefully the design and the symbols to use.

Have a Baptism Party.

Invite a member of the clergy to simulate a baptism.

Read the story of the baptism of Jesus.

Explore the differences between infant and adult baptism.

Watch a video of a baptism. Should you wait to be baptised when you can make your own decisions?

Discuss the meaning of different Christian names.

If you were a godparent how would you help to bring up the child?



This flag is displayed by the Salvation Army as a symbol of their mission to spread the Gospel and bring sinners to repentance.

The words blood and fire stand for the blood of Jesus shed for sinners and the fire of the Holy Spirit for cleansing or purification.

The blue edge represents the purity of God, the red centre is the blood of Christ and the central yellow star is the fire of the Holy Spirit.


The Salvation Army use bands in order to spread the gospel in public places. Tambourines have always been used in these bands along with other instruments but have come to develop significance of their own. They usually display the Army crest.


Look at school tambourines. Talk about how they can be used to accompany hymns or songs - try them. Is the sound joyful? Why do people feel happy when they praise God?

Make instruments to praise God. Use them to accompany a song to him.

Collect badges, flags, logos etc and analyse the symbols. How many have religious significance?

Discuss favourite colours and how colours suggest different moods.

Think of a colour which might represent God; Jesus; the Holy Spirit. Give reasons for your choices.

How do you think the Salvation Army members feel when they are playing their instruments in the street, and helping those without homes.


The Bible for Christians is God's word. It contains different books of history, poetry, biography, letters etc. and is essentially the source of authority for the beliefs, practices and lifestyle of Christians. It is often placed in a prominent position in a church and usually read at a lectern. It is kissed by an orthodox priest and carried in procession in a Roman Catholic church. Christians often study the Bible at home individually, in families or in small Bible study groups.

The Old Testament was originally written in Hebrew and the New Testament in Greek. There are lots of different versions of the Bible in English. One of the earliest, the King James version contains many words which have passed out of spoken English. Some are paraphrases and not translations and attempt to communicate to today's generation.


Prayer Books may be used to follow the order of the Eucharist or Community Service in Anglican churches. They also contain the order for morning and evening prayer, readings for Sundays, Saints days and special celebrations and also psalms. The Church of England and Church in Wales versions are slightly different. Other services may be contained in separate service books.

Many progressive clergy prefer order of service sheets to give more flexibility in the format of worship and to provide a less intimidating experience for newcomers unfamiliar with the layout of the Prayer Book. In many churches childrens colourful illustrated versions of the Prayer Book are available.


Count the books in the Bible. Make a library of the books using, e.g., match boxes or similar.

Explore chapters and verses. Read examples of the different kinds of books.

Make some parchment scrolls and copy some Hebrew writing.

Discuss following instructions, menus, TV guides Look at Childrens Eucharist Book and adult prayer Book.

Make up some prayers; produce an order of service for Class Prayers.

Explore the Marriage Services, Baptism Services, Funeral Services.

Simulate or write your own marriage service.



Some Christians use rosary beads to help them pray. They are particularly popular in the Roman Catholic Church. They look like a necklace and may have a cross or crucifix at one end.

They are used for two purposes. Firstly they occupy the hands and improve concentration on prayer and secondly the groups of beads represent different prayers connected with the events of Jesus Life.

The prayer include the Lord's Prayer, the Hail Mary, the Glory Be, the Creed

and also meditation each time round on one of the groups of great "mysteries" or important events in the life of Jesus.

The "mysteries" are divided into 5 joyful mysteries connected with the birth and childhood of Jesus; 5 sorrowful mysteries connected with the arrest and events leading to his death; and 5 Glorious Mysteries surrounding the Resurrection, Ascension Pentecost and the Assumption and Coronation of Mary.

The Hail Mary

Hail Mary, full of grace,

the Lord is with thee.

Blessed art thou among women,

and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.

Holy Mary, Mother of God,

pray for us sinners now

and at the hour of our death. Amen.


Talk with the children about how sometimes we find it hard to concentrate. What can help?

Discuss the different ways in which people pray - hands together; hands out; kneeling down; forehead on ground; with eyes closed; eyes open to focus on an object, picture or icon.

Make the link with prayer bead used in other religions and the phylacteries in Judaism.

Make a rosary. Suggest that the beads represent fifteen events in Jesus life.

Discuss the meaning of the Lord's prayer.

Explore different kinds of prayer (E.g. praising,, thanking, asking, saying sorry).


Candles are used in many ways in the Christian religion. They represent the light that overcomes darkness and symbolise truth and goodness. Jesus is described as the "Light of the World".


These are usually large white candles of about 30cm in length. They are marked off in sections which burn for about half an hour. There are 24 marks and each represent the days of Advent or the 24 days preparation for Christmas. The candle is lit each day and burned to the correct mark before being extinguished.

Advent Wreaths are circles of evergreen leaves representing eternal life with a large central candle and four smaller candles placed around the outside of the circle. They are often purple or red. The four candles are lit one on each of the Sundays preceding Christmas until the four are lit on the last Sunday. On Christmas Day the central candle representing Jesus as the light of the World is lit.


These are the large Easter candles used for Easter Vigils in R.C. Orthodox and some Anglican Churches. Traditionally it was lit from a bonfire outside the Church on Easter Saturday Evening and the people gather for the lighting of the candle. The priest says: "May the light of Christ, rising in glory, take away the darkness of our hearts and minds."

The candle is decorated with a cross and the Greek letters alpha and omega. The priest places five grains of incense on the candle in memory of the five wounds of Jesus. The candle is then lit and processed into Church. The Priest says Christ our Light and the response is Thanks be to God.

Small candles are lit from the Paschal candle and are held by the congregation during the Eucharist. The vigil is in preparation for the celebration of the resurrection when Jesus overcame death. The triumph of light over darkness is symbolised by the candle. It is lit each day for the forty days

from Easter to the Ascension. The Paschal candle is also the flame from which

baptismal candles are lit.


In mainly Orthodox and Roman Catholic churches people buy a candle and light it with a prayer to God. The prayer might be a prayer of thanks and often the candles are placed before pictures or statues of saints and the saint asked to pray to God for the worshipper.

The candles can be small night lights in metal cases or longer thin candles.


Usually used in R. C. Churches where ornate screen-printed versions are given as a gift after First Communion. First Communion occurs after Confirmation.


Talk about all the different occasions when we experience light and the feelings we have at the time - e.g. moonlight, torches, fireworks etc.

Discuss when and why children see and use candles - e.g. birthdays, Christmas etc.

Make an advent wreath or a Christingle. Have a school Christingle service.

Use an advent candle as a countdown to Christmas, or make one out of cardboard and colour in the days.

Design some candles for use in worship and choose carefully the symbols on them.

Use a candle as a focus for meditation. Why do we need light?. Jesus as the Light of theWorld.

Compare Easter celebrations in other countries.



The Chalice is the cup which Christians use for the communion wine. It can be made of any material and may range from a very simple undecorated ceramic cup to a heavy ornately carved silver or gold vessel.

The paten or plate which is used for bread or wafers at the Eucharist may match the chalice.

The Chalice is filled with water and wine by the priest from two separate vessels which have been processed to the altar along with a container of wafers or bread. After being consecrated the bread and wine representing the body and blood of Christ are given to the communicants.

The Lords Supper as it is also called is fulfilling Jesus last words to his disciples that they should eat and drink in remembrance of Him.

Most Churches celebrate Mass (Roman Catholic) or Eucharist (Anglican) at least once each Sunday and on some weekdays. The Salvation Army and the Society of Friends are the only Christians who do not have this Service.

Sick people may receive communion from their priest at home by means of sacraments carried in a miniature travelling set of paten and chalice.

In non-conformist churches small glasses, sometimes plastic, are used for individual measures of communion wine. One loaf of bread is often passed from person to person.


Discuss family meals and the feelings involved in sitting together for this.

Make or bring some bread and share it out in the classroom.

Watch a video of a communion service.

Invite a member of the clergy to demonstrate the use of the cup etc.

Discuss why Christians do this and what their feelings might be at the time.



Icons are a focus for worship or meditation. Traditionally they are a special painting of Jesus, Mary or one of the Saints. They are usually hand painted on wood, vividly coloured and may have a golden background and light shining from the bodies.

They are blessed by a priest and Orthodox Christians pray before them and place lighted candles in front. Three dimensional icons such as statues, crosses and crucifixes can also have the same significance.

Icons may be found in Churches and other places of worship. They can also be used in the home or wherever Christians may want to meditate, reflect or pray.

Non-Conformists denominations do not use icons.


Statues are common in Roman Catholic and Anglican churches.

Some churches do not have them because they may lead to

worship of the statues themselves. However, they can help

worshippers to focus their prayer and meditation.

Often the statue will be of the virgin Mary with the baby

Jesus (Madonna and child) or Mary holding the dying Jesus in her arms (Pieta).


Play some quiet music and allow the children to sit and look at an icon or statue. What comes into their minds? They can write about their feelings or share this in pairs.

Design and icon. Make one by pasting a postcard on to a block of wood.

Gather together a collection of religious paintings and allow the children to explore their feelins about them.


The Cross and Crucifix provide the main symbol for Christianity since it was the instrument of death for Jesus Christ and the means of salvation for Christians.

The cross and the crucifix are used and appear in different contexts:

It can be used as an outward symbol of faith by being worn or displayed, for example as a badge or on a necklace.

The sign of the cross is used by clergy in blessing and absolution.

The sign of the cross is also made in water and oil in baptismal ceremonies.

The cross as an icon is used in places of worship.

A cross might be placed prominently outside or inside a Christian church.

Crosses will be seen on Bibles or other Christian books.

In graveyards on tombstones as a sign of hope and resurrection.

The Crucifix is a representation of Christ on the Cross and is emphasising his suffering and death as the means by which Christians obtain salvation. Christians believe that the breaking of the body of Jesus and the shedding of his blood brings personal salvation to the believer.

The empty cross places the emphasis upon the resurrection of Jesus which for Christians demonstrated the power of God over sin and death

The Greek cross became the emblem of St George. It is a red cross on a white background.

St Anthonys Cross. The Romans may have used these more frequently for crucifixion than the Latin Cross.


St Andrews Cross is in the shape of the Greek letter (Chi) which begins the word Christ.

The Celtic Cross is often found on gravestones and the circle represents the never ending love of God

The Russian Orthodox Cross shows the message which was nailed to the top and the bar for his feet.

Maltese Cross. The eight points represent the eight blessings of Jesus from the Sermon on the Mount. (Now used by St John Ambulance)

The palm cross is given out in churches on Palm Sunday to remember the entry into Jeruslem.Cross with 3 steps - The steps represent the Christian virtues - Faith, Hope, Love.


Discuss with the children what crosses they have seen and where.

Examine a collection of crosses. Ask the children to compare them and discuss the significance of the differences.

Show the children a selection of crosses (palm cross, crucifix, empty cross) and ask them to sequence them - in order of events of Easter story.

Design your own cross. What shape would it be? Would you put any other symbolism on it and why?

Discuss who might wear a cross and why?

What do you think about wearing a cross (a death penalty) as a piece of jewelry?


Some Christians wish to have some outward sign of their faith which they can wear as a badge or put on their car window.

These "witness pins" and badges have many different symbols of Christianity. These might be:

A cross - the central symbol of Christianity which reminds Christians of the sacrifice which Jesus paid on the cross by which they are cleansed and forgiven.

A rainbow - the sign from the story of the flood in Genesis that God's promise is that he will never again destroy his creation.

A dove - a symbol of peace and gentleness and also a sign of the presence of the Holy Spirit.

A fish - a secret sign used by the early Christians. The letters of the Greek word for "fish" (icthus) are the first letters of each of the words in the phrase "Jesus Christ, God's Son, Saviour".

Activities Ask the children to bring any badges they have and discuss what they represent and why the children wear them.

Make a badge which has some Christian symbol on it.

Learn about early Christians having to worship in secrecy. Talk about secret signs and devise your own secret sign or code about Jesus.




Ramadan is the month of fasting during the hours of daylight and the custom of fasting in Ramadan goes back to the time of Muhammad. He taught his followers that the fast was important because it was a sign that they submitted to Allah. Muslims believe it is important as it gives them patience and self-discipline. It prepares them for any suffering they may have to face in the course of obeying God.

Fasting is a communal experience and everyone is made aware of what it is like to feel hungry. At the end of a successful Ramadan a Muslim feels more able to cope with life.

Special lists are published showing the time of dawn and sunset. At sunset a large meal is eaten, but if the fast is broken the Muslim is supposed to carry on another 60 days. Fasting is the duty of every Muslim though the sick or very old are not required to fast.

As well as fasting Muslims try to live especially pure lives during Ramadan. They do not smoke or have sexual relationships and they are expected to attend special, prayers and read the Quran. Some Muslims will choose to go and stay in a mosque for the last ten days Ramadan. This is following in Muhammad's footsteps as he spent his last days doing this. The month of Ramadan ends with the feast Eid-ul-Fitr.


Muslims send each other greeting cards at festival times.

One of the main festivals is Eid ul Fitr. This is held at the end of Ramadan and means festival of fast breaking. The actual date varies according to the Islamic lunar calendar. This calendar dates from Muhammad's last journey to Makkah. Muslims keep the same calendar but because it is a lunar calendar the dates move back by 11 days each year when placed in the Gregorian calendar.

The festival starts on the last night of Ramadan at the sighting of the new moon.

Muslims must pray a prayer of thanksgiving and give to the poor.

Special foods are prepared and presents are given as well as Eid cards. People dress in their best clothes and it is a time of family celebration and visiting friends and family.


Discuss with the children any celebrations or religious festivals they know of when cards are sent..

Look at an assortment of Eid cards. Explore the different images of Islam on them.

Have an Eid party and make some invitations.

Discuss why there are no people or animals found on Islamic cards. Copy some Islamic patterns.

Make an Eid card. Use some images from Islam.

PRAYER BEADS - Subha or Tasbih The work Subha comes from the Arabic word to praise. The beads are used to count the 99 "beautiful names" or attributes of Allah or used in praising him.

Each string of beads has either 99 or 33 beads. Those with 99 are separated into three sets of 33 by large beads. The beads are made of wood, bone, plastic or other material.

Each bead is passed through the thumb and forefinger as the prayer is said. Muslims will repeat their favourite prayers rather than all 99 names. One large bead completes the Subha. This is the name Allah.

Not all Muslims use them but they offer an aid to concentration when meditating on Allah's names.


Make a Subha and discuss the importance of having the correct number of beads.

Find in the first chapter of the Quran some of the names or descriptions used there for God. What do these names tell us about how Muslims perceive Allah?

Make up a string of beads and make up some phrases to say when passing them through the thumb and forefinger. They can be linked to the child's own faith - e.g. God is good; Glory be to God etc.

PRAYER MAT - Musalla

One of the five pillars of Islam is the requirement to pray five times a day. First Muslims perform wudu, the ritual washing and then salah, which is the ritual of the prayer movements.

Prayer should be made in the direction of Makkah and done in a clean place. Therefore if they are not in a mosque Muslims use the musalla to do their prostrations.

Traditionally the prayer mat has an arch

representing the mihrab in the mosque which is the direction of Makkah. From the arch hangs a lamp. Other images include mosques and the Ka'bah. There is normally some calligraphy and pattern and there will always be a deliberate mistake - this is to remind Muslims that only Allah is perfect. Often the mat has a built in compass to help worshippers locate the direction of Makkah.

Although the prayer mat has no special religious value it is sentimental to the owner and is a useful portable carpet for the ritual prayers. It is symbolic in the fact that it can be moved and like Allah is not restricted to one place or country.


Muslims must face Makkah in Saudi Arabia when they pray. As this is difficult for followers in a strange place they use a compass. Some prayer mats have a compass attached.

To find this direction or qiblah the compass is rotated until its magnetic needle points to the correct number for the country where the user is at the time. Most qiblah compasses come with a small booklet which give the figures for every country in the world. In the UK this will be 250o (or 25oon some compasses). There will be another indicator or pointer on the compass, often in the form of a minaret which then gives the direction of prayer.


Unroll the prayer mat and ask any M