Procedures For Teachers

PrepPreparing for the lesson
StepsConducting the lesson
ExtensionAdditional Activities


Media Components

Computer Resources:

  • Modem: 56.6 Kbps or faster.
  • Browser: Netscape Navigator 4.0 or above or Internet Explorer 4.0 or above.
  • Personal computer (Pentium II 350 MHz or Celeron 600 MHz) running Windows® 95 or higher and at least 32 MB of RAM.
  • Macintosh computer: System 8.1 or above and at least 32 MB of RAM.
  • RealPlayer
  • Adobe Acrobat Reader 4.0 or higher. Download the free Adobe Acrobat reader here:

Bookmarked sites and video resources:

TIP: Preview all of the sites and videos before presenting them to your class. Bookmark all of the Web sites used in the lesson on each computer in your classroom; create a word-processing document with all of the Web sites listed as hyperlinks and email to each student (or type out the URLs and print); or upload all links to an online book marking utility, such as, so that students can access the information on these sites. Make sure that your computer has necessary media players, like RealPlayer, to show streaming clips (if applicable). RELIGION & ETHICS NEWSWEEKLY Web sites:


Baptism is one of the most important rituals in the Christian faith. Catholics, Orthodox Christians, and many Protestants baptize infants, while Baptists (Anabaptists) and Pentecostal churches baptize only adults or children old enough to profess their faith.


In the Roman Catholic Church, the sacrament of confirmation is sometimes called the “second baptism” — a coming of age ceremony to call adolescents to the responsibility of full Christian living.

First Communion

One of the three sacraments of initiation in the Catholic Church is First Communion. It is a time when a child is invited to participate in the Eucharist — the center of Catholic faith

Jewish Hair-Cutting Ceremony

or small boys in some very observant Jewish families, a first hair cut is also the introduction to formal religious education. Nen Ordination

For Thai Buddhists, early summer is a time when some boys choose to learn about Buddhism by going to live in a monastery. For several weeks, the boys become novices — called “nens.”

Research by Susan Bales on First Communion

Religious studies scholar Susan Bales writes about children’s religious experiences. Excerpts from her recent research at two Southern Catholic churches focus on children’s interpretations of First Communion.

Simchat Bat (Jewish Daughter Celebration)

The Bris (Bris Milah) has been the traditional way for Jewish families to welcome baby boys into the covenant. These days, many Jewish parents hold a Simchat Bat to welcome their baby daughters.

Other Web sites:

Coming of Age

Coming of Age Rituals in Many Faiths and Countries

National Rites of Passage Institute: Growing Up Modern – Coming of Age

Paying Attention to Teens’ Rites of Passage

Rites of Passage in America

Rituals, practices and their significance (look for Upanayana or Janeu)

Sikh doctrines

Sunrise Ceremonial: An Apache Girl’s Coming of Age White Mountain Apache Reservation, Whiteriver, Arizona, 1990

Quinceanera: Latino Sweet Sixteen

Unyago: An African-American Initiation into Adulthood Philadelphia, 1991

Varied Rites of Passage/Coming of Age articles (search under Secular Rites of Passage, Baptism, Confirmation, Coming of Age, Bar/Bat Mitzvah)

World Religions Photo Library


Grimes, Ronald L. Deeply into the Bone: Re-Inventing Rites of Passage

Magida, Arthur J. Opening the Doors of Wonder: Reflections on Religious Rites of Passage


For students:

Ritual Checklist worksheet

Learning Activities:

Introductory Activity (1 classroom period)

For teachers Computer, projector and PowerPoint program or chart paper and markers/chalkboard and chalk Sexually suggestive print and TV commercials/ads, particularly those targeted to females

Introductory Activity (1 classroom periods)

1. Ask students to create a timeline and then to think back as far as they can in their lives to recall key moments that brought them to another place of experience/growth. For example, graduation, becoming a member of a team, competing in a contest, a first date, going on trip without parents, first job, getting a driver’s license, a traditional rite of passage ritual, etc. Have students jot these moments on their timelines, indicating the year in which they occurred and their ages at the time.

2. Invite students to share some of these highlights and explain why they were significant. What did these events indicate about their lives? What changes did the students undergo? Synthesize student thoughts, leading to the idea that these events signified shifts from one life condition to another, a change in social or even sexual status, maturity and the journey to adulthood, etc. (Note that many rite of passage occurrences students name are contemporary and not with a spiritual orientation.)

3. Revisit spiritual rite of passage rituals students experienced. Ask students to describe these and other rites of passage with which they are familiar, and indicate what purpose the coming of age celebrations share.

4. Based on their personal life journeys and coming of age events, as well as their knowledge of rites of passage rituals, ask students to define rite of passage. Students can confirm and broaden this definition by visiting: Web definitions of rite of passage

Definitions of rite of passage at

1. Activity 1: Expanding the Scope of Coming of Age (4-5 classroom periods; depends on time students require for reading/viewing and research)

1. Have students list spiritual/faith-based rites of passage for children and adolescents with which they are familiar. Post the list in the classroom.

2. In small groups or individually, have students read this lesson’s featured R &E Weekly Segments to identify a variety of children and adolescent rite of passage rituals. Additionally, direct them to URLs highlighted in the Web resources section, which introduce other faith-based coming of age rituals. Instruct students to grow the list posted in the classroom.

3. Divide students into groups. Instruct each group to select a rite of passage about which they would like to learn more. Instruct students to research the ceremony they have selected and to create/present a visual presentation that brings the ritual to life, such as a series of photographs, a film, slide show, a re-creation of the actual ceremony in the classroom, or even bringing a member of the faith from which the ritual comes to the classroom to explain/demonstrate the ritual. Accompanying the presentations should be representative primary resources – sacred objects and texts, foods associated with the ceremony, etc. Students should also explain any modifications in the ceremonies that address adolescent life in the 21st century.

4, Distribute the Ritual Checklist. Students can complete the sections after each presentation to then compare and contrast the ceremonies.

Activity 2: Contemporary Rituals

1. In Activity 1, students likely named contemporary rites of passage that are not typically spiritual in nature (graduation, Sweet 16, the high school prom, etc.). Ask students to return to their timelines and to the Web links noted in Activity 1 to name these coming of age happenings/ceremonies, to describe the events that accompany them and/or their emotional/social significance. What life shift or change do they mark? (Note that some of these coming of age activities may include drinking alcohol for the first time or kissing a date, etc. They should be accepted as valid rites of passage, but of course tempered in presentation.)

Activity 3: Coming of Age…These Days

1. Students can survey their school peers to determine whether traditional rites of passage are frequently practiced and how they have been adapted to the current times.

Culminating activity:

1. Invite each student to design a rite of passage ritual that reflects his or her life journey and that brings him or her into adulthood. The student can build upon or create new spiritual/faith based ceremonies or draw on contemporary rituals.

2. Have students present their rituals as they would actually occur, using their classmates to support the demonstration.

Extension Activities:

Students can:

  • Study existing rite of passage models. Including Maddern’s 5-stage model of rites of passage, and van Gennep, and structure a model they believe relevant to contemporary adolescents.
  • Examine current secular adolescent rites of passage that essentially prepare teens for adulthood through activities such as job preparation, self-esteem building, etc. One site to jumpstart the exploration is The National Rites of Passage Institute
  • Research and compile resources on wilderness experiences that serve as a modern-day rite passage for young people. One site to review is Rites of Passage: Wilderness Vision Quest