Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Writing Children's Sunday School Curriculum

The blog fell by the wayside as I got caught up in travel and clients, and all my quiet writing time is going to preparing sermons for a month long guest preaching gig and the summer children’s Sunday School curriculum for my husband’s church. And with an active 1 year old who is teething again, quiet writing time is hard to come by.  But anyhoo….

Big (and profitable) companies have convinced churches that to properly teach children they need to buy fancy curriculum packets with lesson plans and posters and workbooks, and then you still have to purchase and organize the craft supplies for the 5 different activities that take place each week, for each age group. It’s expensive and time/energy consuming. It can be intimidating for volunteers. 

But it doesn’t need to be. It’s kid’s Sunday School, not rocket science. Many churches experience erratic attendance and lack of volunteers in the summer, so writing your own program to fit your church situation can help mitigate some of these issues. You might actually enjoy it and continue year round. 

Make it easy on yourself and your volunteers. Pick a theme for each month. Do the same opening and closing craft projects for the entire month so all kids have chance to do them and setting up is easy. Use the same schedule for the summer so volunteers know what to expect. Google is your friend to find projects and templates. 

Our theme for June is Bloom (Bible stories of people who ‘bloomed’ trusting in and loving God).  Esther, the Samaritan woman at the well, Zaccaeus, and David (and Goliath). The opening and closing craft for all weeks is flowers of different types (tissue paper, paper plates, etc) that will be added to the altar rails in the sanctuary each week. Everything is complied in a binder and literally anyone (who is Safe Sanctuaries trained and background checked) can pick it up and lead class on a moments notice.

July is Explore (stories of boats in the Bible) and August is Friends (stories of friends in the Bible). Simple, age appropriate concepts and stories that the adult teachers feel comfortable with. Cheap supplies most churches already have on hand. Don’t make this harder than it needs to be. 

The schedule for each Sunday is: 
  • Opening craft as the kids come in
  • Circle time for welcome and introductions (and a song if you’ve got someone for that) 
  • Tell the scripture story (from a children’s bible or a narrative style story)
  • Related activity (craft/game/project pages/costumes) 
  • Circle time to reflect on the story and ask questions about it
  • Prayer (we are using the 5 finger prayer http://www.catholicvote.org/a-simple-prayer-method-from-a-simple-pontiff/ so the kids can participate as they feel comfortable and the adults aren’t scared. So many adults are scared of leading prayer, but that’s a different post.) 
  • Continue on the opening craft until parents come 

Not. Rocket. Science. 

Don’t let the publishing houses and their fancy mailings scare you into spending too much money in the creation of a fancy Sunday School program. Kids need to know they are loved by God and the adults they are surrounded by. A simple program lets the adults focus on the kids, not on following a complicated lesson plan and making sure that they are holding up poster c while reading section 5 and jumping up and down on their left foot.  Let your kids be the central focus. Church is not an amusement park, it is time with God to learn about love, faith, and the stories of our tradition. You (as a pastor, children's director or volunteer) have the gifts and the heart to create a meaningful program for the kids God has entrusted you with. 


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