Choosing Your Curriculum
Choosing curriculum to nurture a deep and wide faith in children is an important task. It can also be overwhelming and time-consuming. With more than 50 curricula to choose from and five curriculum models to consider, the options may seem endless.
Below you’ll find three tools to help in your curriculum decision-making process. Choose the tool that will work best in your context, share it with those making curriculum decisions in your congregation, and use it to evaluate the children’s ministry resources you’re considering.
- Ten-Question Tool for Choosing Children's Ministry Curriculum: This easy-to-use tool will help you select a curriculum that’s as theologically and educationally sound as it is engaging and inclusive. Introduce the tool to your planning team with this video version.
- Want to see the Ten-Question Tool in action? This Curriculum Comparison Chart uses it to compare curricula from Orange, Faith Alive, and Congregational Ministries Publishing.
- Choosing a Curriculum: A Guide for Churches: this tool takes a more in-depth look at curriculum options. It includes a checklist of important curriculum features and questions to help you find theologically and pedagogically sound resources that fit the unique personality and dynamics of your congregation.
- What does theology have to do with the way we tell God’s story to children? Everything. Find out why in Every Pastor in the CRC Should Hear This.
When you're choosing curriculum, theology matters! It's the framework that each curriculum is built on, and it affects how kids come to understand God's Story and God's world.
If you'd like free expert assistance with choosing the best curriculum for your church, contact the CRC's Children's Ministry Catalyzer at [email protected].
Check out how each of the following curricula fits with a Reformed worldview in the reviews below.
2- to 3-year-olds
Preschool to Middle School
Growing in Grace and Gratitude
Bake with the Bible
LIFT (Living in Faith Together Everyday)
Options for Churches with Few Children
- DWELL Flex is a new multi-age edition of DWELL, created to adapt to a variety of contexts. Dwell Flex sessions work with a wide range of ages in one classroom and in a wide variety of settings, including by video, at church, and at home.
- Growing in Grace and Gratitude is a Reformed curriculum published by the Presbyterian Church (USA). It includes a multi-age version for use with children ages 5-10.
- Feasting on the Word is a lectionary-based curriculum that offers multi-age sessions for learners ages 5-12.
- Keep a box of God's Big Story Cards on hand. Pick the card you’ll need for the story you’re planning to tell; gather any supplies you may need; tell the story and have the kids roll the die to select the responses.
- Consider joining the Birthing Cross+Gen Community Facebook Group where members regularly exchange ideas for nurturing faith in intergenerational settings.
- Check out the Flame Creative Children's Ministry blog blog for a variety of storytelling techniques, crafts, experiments, games, and other resources for multi-age settings.
- Theresa Cho’s church transformed Sunday school and found meaningful ways to fully include kids during worship. Find out what they did (and gather great ideas to jump-start your own thinking).
- Churches with few children are often perfectly positioned to try more intergenerational approaches to faith formation. You’ll find a multitude of ideas and resources for doing so in The Intergenerational Church toolkit.
Advent and Christmas
- Check out these leader's guides for resources that contain everything you need for two different children’s ministry sessions on Christmas themes for kids in kindergarten through grade 8.
- Feeling pressure to put on a pageant? You’ll find all kinds of ideas in Christmas Plays, Pageants, and Prayers.
- Quick and Easy Christmas Dramas are theologically sound and require just one rehearsal. Can you say “win-win”?
- Want to do something that involves the entire church family? Check out these Two Intergenerational Christmas Participation Stories.
- These Six Tips for an Inclusive Christmas Program will help you ensure that everyone can participate fully.
- Looking for an easy, fun, and meaningful Advent devotional for families? We think This Might Be the Best Jesse Tree Set Ever. Click the link to access a fabulous set of free, downloadable devotions, ornaments and ideas for how to use them.
Beginning of the Education Year
- For commissioning service litanies in which both leaders and children can participate, check out Celebrating a New Season of Faith Nurture and Rituals and Transitions: Back-to-School Litanies.
- Growing in Grace: A Four-Week Series to Get Off to a Great Start contains ideas for children’s messages, Scripture passages, prayers, sermons, songs, and more.
- We love the ideas for children and their families in Two 'Back to School' Ways to Encourage Children at Church.
- Back to School with a Blessing contains an idea for engaging your whole congregation in showing support for its children and youth.
- 8 Simple Ways to Remind Kids (and Others) They Are Part of God's Big Story contains great ideas to use for introducing your team and welcoming your kids.
- How might you incorporate A Prayer for Children by Ian Hughes into a ministry team meeting or worship service?
- Engage your pastor(s) and parents with the fun and easy ideas in the post Starting the Season —All Aboard!
End of the Education Year
- The end of the year is an important time to keep the ministry going and growing. Wrapping Up the Sunday School Season shows you how.
- Children’s ministry leader Jolanda Howe loves to send her kids off with a bang and a blessing. Find out how in Sunday School Celebration.
- Wondering how to keep building the relationship you have with kids when you’re apart in the summer? Use the ideas in Summertime Connections and 9 Refreshing Ways to Connect with Kids in the Summer.
Holy Week and Easter
- Be sure to read this post on Making Lent and Easter Meaningful for Persons with Disabilities.
- Check out these leader's guides for resources that contain everything you need for two different children’s ministry sessions on Easter for kids in kindergarten through grade 8.
- Let’s Talk About Privilege is a resource written by Jane Genzink as a learning experience for the children in grades 1-5 in her church. Divided into three sessions, it covers the topics of privilege, people who are marginalized, and what it means to be a godly neighbor.
- Writer, educator, and parent Lisa VanEngen has written an outstanding resource for speaking with kids about justice issues, including racism, creation care, health care, disabilities, hunger, and more. And Social Justice for All: Empowering Families, Churches, and Schools to Make a Difference in God's World is helpful for parents and ministry leaders alike.
- Looking for resources for talking with kids about Indigenous justice? You'll find several in the post Indigenous Justice for Kids!
- Research shows that children are racially biased. The post Here's How to Raise Race-Conscious Children and this post from the Embrace Race site contain helpful information for children’s ministry leaders and parents.
- Refugees in the Bible (a children’s ministry session), Ten Refugee Stories (a list of picture books on the topic), and Learning about Refugee Stories at Sunday School (sessions with ideas that connect to four picture books) are all helpful for learning about and welcoming refugees.
- An Illustrated Earth: Celebrating God's Creation is a twelve-week curriculum on creation care.
The Lord’s Prayer
- The Lord’s Prayer is an intergenerational learning event that includes many easily adaptable ideas for children’s ministry.
- One Bread, One Cup, One People is an intergenerational learning event on the Lord’s Supper that includes many easily adaptable ideas for children’s ministry.
- Open the Educational Resources section of the Welcoming Children to the Lord's Supper toolkit to access Sunday school sessions on the Lord’s Supper for children in preschool through grade 6.
Vacation Bible School
Here are curriculum-focused resources for VBS. Explore additional resources in the Summer Ministries section.
- In VBS Reviews You Can Trust you’ll find curriculum suggestions, an idea for a new approach to summertime learning, and a comprehensive review of curricula from a wide variety of publishers.
- Theology matters as much in the summer as it does during the school year. Creation Celebration, Dreams and Schemes, and God's Family in ACTion are just a few of the titles of the eight theologically sound, fun, and easy-to-use VBS resources you’ll find here.
- Illustrated Children’s Ministry uses giant-sized coloring pages as the basis for its curriculum. Check out their 12-session curriculum An Illustrated Earth: Celebrating God's Creation and An Illustrated Compassion: Learning to Love Like God.
- Get ready with this Prayer for VBS and Training for Teens.
- Small church with few children? You may be perfectly positioned to take VBS on location.
- Use these Vacation Bible School Inclusion Tips to widen your welcome.
Writing Your Own Curriculum
If you’re considering writing your own curriculum, you owe it to the children in your congregation to provide resources that are biblically, theologically, and pedagogically sound. That’s a huge challenge!
First, you’ll want to create a comprehensive scope and sequence that covers the breadth of Scripture while repeating and diving more deeply into key stories each year. That’s how kids become biblically literate—hearing a story once isn’t enough.
With that task in mind, we’ve created a scope and sequence tool for you. It can be used in a variety of ways:
- as a template for writing your own curriculum
- to check (and rewrite as needed) the perspective and activities in another curriculum you’re using
- to shape stand-alone sessions you may be writing (for example, if your church is doing a series in which all ages are studying the same story at the same time).
Wondering what else goes into writing curriculum? Read Eight Things About Creating Children’s Curriculum That Might Surprise You to get the inside scoop.