The Reformation began in Wittenburg, Germany when Martin Luther nailed his 95 Thesis onto the door of a church on October 31, 1517. Luther felt that the Catholic Church was no longer abiding by the teachings set down in the Bible and that a change was needed. Copies of Luther’s Thesis began to spread throughout Europe, leading to the Protestant Reformation. Activities dealing with this important event are sometimes done as an alternative to Halloween celebrations.
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The age of the students will play a role in deciding what activities are best suited to the classroom. As an art activity, the students can create stained glass window replicas featuring the Luther rose or other images from that time. Since Martin Luther was German, the class could learn some German folk songs to sing together. Incorporate a geography lesson by creating a large map of Germany and locating all of the important cities that have to do with Martin Luther and the Reformation. The Reformation spread all throughout Europe during the 1500s, so don’t limit your classroom activities to Martin Luther alone. Study the work of other reformers from the period and find out how they were influenced by Martin Luther’s original 95 Thesis.
A church hall or someone’s backyard can be easily converted into a Renaissance village to celebrate Reformation Day. This alternative to a Halloween party involves creating various shop fronts and stalls for people to play being 16th-century German villagers. The costumes don’t have to be completely authentic but should be made to look as close to the real thing as possible. Candle makers, orange sellers and bakers are all professions that were common during this era and can be made into activities that the party attendees can take part in. Set up vending stalls or have street vendors wandering through your little village selling German or medieval foods.
A Reformation skit can take a lot of different forms. Depending on the age of the participants, the skits can be rather simple, self-composed ones or more complex pieces with a large cast. There are many scenes from Martin Luther’s life that can be retold dramatically, including John Tetzel selling indulgences, Luther praying on the steps of the Santa Sanctorum and his abduction to Wartburg Castle. If your group is involved in a study of the Reformation, compose a biographical play about Luther’s life. Those who aren’t comfortable being on stage can help design and build the background sets using the actual locations as reference points.