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Sensing the Seasons 40 Learning Centers for the Church Year

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Sensing the Seasons
40 Learning Centers for the Church Year
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For buyers in Canada, Australia, the United Kingdom, and elsewhere in Europe, you have multiple buying options. First, it is available as a downloadable eResource (see link below). Second, we can generally deliver orders of three or more copies to you with bulk pricing (please contact us for more information). Third, this book should be available through your local Amazon website.

A great tool for whole family sessions • Includes free reproducible download

Also available as download only

What does Advent taste like? What does Christmas feel like? What does Ordinary Time smell like? What does Lent sound like? What does Easter look like?

This collection of 40 activities will help people of all ages explore and experience seven significant periods of the liturgical cycle: Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, Lent, Easter, Pentecost, and Ordinary Time. Each chapter features a period, offering one learning center activity for each of the five senses. Use them in the classroom, for family or intergenerational events, in worship settings such as Children's Liturgy of the Word, or at any other time when you can invite believers to enter the church year experientially.

These creative activities will remind learners to get ready for the Messiah during Advent, celebrate the birth of the Savior at Christmas, rejoice in God's gift of the Christ Child throughout Epiphany, remember the life and ministry of Jesus in Lent, commemorate the Savior's death and resurrection at Easter, share the Good News of God's love during Pentecost, and grow as disciples throughout Ordinary Time.

For virtual or home-based catechesis:

  • Print handouts, gather other materials, and create take-home packs for each family.
  • Or email the handouts and guidelines and have families gather their own materials.
  • For a virtual event, introduce and demonstrate the process over live video, guiding families along (and letting them share).
  • For at-home events for individual families, send home instructions or pre-record and post a video helping families get started.


Table of Contents:

  • Introduction
    • The Church Year
    • The Five Senses
    • Learning Centers
  • Sensing the Church Year
    • Clock Face Calendars (Sight)
    • Colorful Weavings (Smell)
    • Bottle Scale Songs (Sound)
    • Snack Sacks (Taste)
    • Beaded Pins (Touch)
  • Sensing Advent
    • Decorated Candles (Sight)
    • Lavender Sachets (Smell)
    • Music Mobiles (Sound)
    • Cookie Gifts (Taste)
    • Mini Wreaths (Touch)
  • Sensing Christmas
    • Stained Glass Ornaments (Sight)
    • Pomander Balls (Smell)
    • Mini Jingle Bell Wreaths (Sound)
    • Gingerbread with Toppings (Taste)
    • Evergreen Prints (Touch)
  • Sensing Epiphany
    • Sand Painted Cards (Sight)
    • Incense Holders (Smell)
    • Sound Effects (Sound)
    • Crisp Rice Star Treats (Taste)
    • Shell Covered Chests (Touch)
  • Sensing Lent
    • Cross Symbols (Sight)
    • Scented Soap Balls (Smell)
    • Prayer Poems (Sound)
    • Lenten Foods Concentration Game (Taste)
    • Educational Eggs (Touch)
  • Sensing Easter
    • Butterfly Banners (Sight)
    • Egg Decorations (Smell)
    • Flower Pot Bells (Sound)
    • Butterfly Shaped Snacks (Taste)
    • Block Print Cards (Touch)
  • Sensing Pentecost
    • Trinity Triptych (Sight)
    • Guided Meditation (Smell)
    • Bottle Puppets (Sound)
    • Meringues (Taste)
    • Dove Mobiles (Touch)
  • Sensing Ordinary Time
    • Wire Fish Pendants (Sight)
    • Herb Bottles and Gardens (Smell)
    • Rhythm Instruments (Sound)
    • Memorizing Bible Verses (Taste)
    • Flowering Branches (Touch)
  • Resources
    • Age Group Suggestions
    • Catholic Church Year Overview
    • Ecumenical Church Year Overview
    • Church Year Themes
    • Methods Index
    • Scripture Index

Using the Resource

Traditional Settings

  • Education: Set up the learning centers in classrooms for Sunday School and other faith formation programs
  • Family and Intergenerational Events: Provide the activities for family and intergenerational gatherings
  • Seasons
    • Church Year - Guide specific age groups, along with their parents, through an educational event on the liturgical cycle
    • Advent - Hold an Advent festival after a service or as a special event
    • Christmas - Design a time during the twelve days of Christmas for people to enjoy the centers related to the season
    • Epiphany - Celebrate Three Kings Day with activity stations
    • Lent - Set up a center for each week of a Lenten soup supper series
    • Easter- Set up a station each Sunday of the season
    • Pentecost - Invite the community to a Pentecost celebration
  • Worship: Use the centers for Children's Church or Children's Liturgy of the Word. Many of the activities can be adapted to children's messages as well.

During virtual or home-based learning

  • Buy a book for every family in the congregation and give it to them as a gift for the year... and for many years to come. By having the book, adults, youth, and children may look through the projects and get excited about some they would like to try. By having their own book they can use the centers at their own pace and not feel pressured to complete an activity at a certain time or by a specific date.
  • Email the handouts and guidelines and have families gather their own materials.
  • Print handouts, gather materials, and create take-home packs for each family for each season. It might be helpful to prepare a "basics box" for each family: glue sticks, markers, scissors, tape and other supplies that are repeated from center to center. Then, during each season, put together a bag or a box with materials specific to centers for that time in the church calendar.
  • If kits are prepared, invite families to pick up their seasonal packet after worship, or hold a drive-thru pick up day for households to collect their supplies for a specific season, or recruit volunteers to deliver the seasonal kits to families of the congregation/parish.
  • For a virtual event, or a zoom meeting, introduce and demonstrate the process, guiding families along and letting them share as they are going through the process and competing the projects.
  • For at-home events for individual families, pre-record and post a video helping families get started on each learning center for a specific season.
  • Set a date for a show and tell of what families have made and how they have used the ideas.
  • Invite families to take pictures of their completed projects and post them to a church website.
  • Think outside the box - for in person or virtual use
  • Use the learning centers in the book as a Vacation Bible School using a format such as:
    • Large Group - Introduction to season for the day - songs and Bible story
    • Small Group - Activity related to the Church Year
    • Stations - Learning Centers for a different season each day of V.B.S.
    • Small Group - Debrief activities
    • Large Group - Conclude with songs and action/rhythm story for the season
  • Set up a different center a week, appropriate for the specific season of the Church Year, as a self directed activity in the church building, home, or school.
  • Provide each family with a durable Church Year Calendar, or materials to create one, that they can use throughout the cycle and for many cycles to come.
  • Buy the book/download combination now but start with the season of Lent or even Easter. Don't feel pressured to begin with Advent, the beginning of the Church year, or even Christmas or Epiphany. Since the season of Lent is forty days - actually longer including Sundays - it makes a good entry point. But, since Easter is fifty days - and a period that generally ends on resurrection Sunday - that's another good time to highlight. Observe Lent, celebrate Easter, proclaim Pentecost, and then take some time - and a deep breath - to use the centers to lay the foundation for a basic understanding of the church calendar during Ordinary Time, too. Take another deep breath and begin again with Advent, 2021. The book is timely and timeless.
  • Try a Surprise of the Season - especially the food activity in the learning centers for each period. Invite volunteers to prepare something for each season and have a day/time for people to drive thru to pick up a special gift!

Product Preview

This is a downloadable, reproducible product sold with a lifetime parish or school license. Please read the full license terms below.

Product License

This reproducible eResource is sold with a lifetime license for use within a parish, school, or diocesan office. You are allowed to make unlimited copies for use within your own community. You may also email these to members of your team or participants in your program. If you serve more than one parish or school, each should purchase its own license. You may not post our eResources to any web site without explicit permission to do so. Please contact us if you have any questions. Thank you for cooperating with our honor system regarding our product licenses.

Format: Paperback + eResource
Product code: PW1113
Dimensions: 8½" x 11"
Length: 120 pages
The Pastoral Center
ISBN: 9781949628258
Written by Phyllis Vos Wezeman and Anna L. Liechty


As a religious educator, PHYLLIS VOS WEZEMAN has served as Director of Christian Nurture at a downtown congregation in South Bend, Indiana; Executive Director of the Parish Resource Center of Michiana; and Program Coordinator for ecumenical as well as interfaith organizations in Indiana and Michigan.

In academics, Phyllis has been Adjunct Faculty in the Education Department at Indiana University South Bend and in the Department of Theology at the University of Notre Dame. She is an "Honorary Professor" of the Saint Petersburg (Russia) State University of Pedagogical Art where she has taught methods courses for extended periods on several occasions. She has also been guest lecturer at the Shanghai Teachers College in China.

As founder of the not-for-profit Malawi Matters, Inc., she develops and directs HIV & AIDS Education programs with thousands of volunteers in 200 villages and more than 1,500 schools in Malawi, Africa including “Creative Methods of HIV & AIDS Education,” “Culture & HIV-AIDS,” and “Equipping Women/ Empowering Girls.”

Author or co-author of over 2,000 articles and books, she has written for over 80 publishers.

Phyllis served as President of Active Learning Associates, Inc.; a consultant or board member to numerous local and national organizations such as the American Bible Society, Church World Service, LOGOS, and the Peace Child Foundation; leader of a six- week youth exchange program to Russia and Ukraine; and Project Director for four Lilley Worship Renewal grants. She is the recipient of three “Distinguished Alumni Awards," the Aggiornamento Award from the Catholic Library Association, and the 2021 Lifetime Achievement Award from the Association of Presbyterian Church Educators (APCE).

Wezeman holds undergraduate degrees in Business, Communications, and General Studies from various institutions and an MS in Education from Indiana University South Bend.

Phyllis and her husband Ken (who met when they were in second and third grade in elementary school) have three children and their spouses, Stephanie (Jeff), David, and Paul (Deha); five grandchildren, Quin, Ayle, Lief, Ashley, and Jacob; and two great-grandsons, Maddox and Troy.

View all resources by Phyllis Vos Wezeman

ANNA LIECHTY taught English to high school students and served as adjunct faculty for Indiana University South Bend for many years. Anna also worked as a mentor trainer and teacher coach with adult learners for the Indiana Department of Education. She won numerous educational classroom grants, including the Eli Lilly Teacher Creativity grant.

As a life-long church educator, Anna worked with all age levels, directing Sunday morning and youth programming, consulting with congregations about their educational ministry, and writing a wide variety of religious education materials. She served as Vice President of Active Learning Associates and co-authored four Lilly Worship Renewal grants.

Anna’s undergraduate degree is from Bowling Green State University in Ohio and her Master’s degree from Indiana University South Bend. She was certified by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards in Adolescent and Young Adult English Language Arts.

In retirement, Anna continues to pursue a variety of writing projects, receiving an Individual Artist Grant in Literature from the Indiana Arts Commission. Now living in Florida, Anna enjoys traveling with her husband Page Foster, a retired pastor, and counting the days between visits with six children, twelve grandchildren, and seven great-grandchildren.

View all resources by Anna L. Liechty

1 Review Hide Reviews Show Reviews

  • 5
    Sensing the Seasons

    Posted by MaryAnn Garfold on Dec 7th 2020

    This product meets my needs for in person family centered learning.