Faith

Building Faith’s Top Picks for Children’s Ministry Curriculum

Looking for the “best” curriculum for your children’s ministry? There are many options from a variety of publishers and denominations. The right choice depends entirely on your context and goals. Below you’ll find a list of Building Faith’s favorite curriculum options based on theology, availability, and pedagogy. The articles in our curriculum center can help you identify your needs, capabilities, and hopes. Looking for more support? Join our free weekly Office Hours or reach out via email to buildfaith@vts.edu.

How To Use This List

  • For each curriculum “top pick” we list the name, publisher, publication date (if applicable), age group, and a brief summary. We have done our best to include helpful information in the summaries such as:
    • Digital media options
    • Materials available in Spanish
    • Corresponding story Bibles
  • Click on the name of the curriculum to visit the webpage for the curriculum.
  • Click the name name of publisher to learn more about the theological background of the curriculum and click on the denomination (if applicable) to read their statement of belief.
  • As always, when choosing a curriculum for your setting, take into account the theology, Biblical interpretation, context, materials, and representation. Use the articles in our curriculum center to help discern which curriculum might be the best fit for your context.

Top Picks for Children’s Curriculum (Updated April 2021)

Bible Story Basics
Publisher & Date: Cokesbury (United Methodist), 2020
Age Group: Age 3-12 year olds (two groups: 3-7 year olds and 8-12 year olds)
Summary: A three-year Bible story based print curriculum focused on Biblical literacy.

Catechesis of the Good Shepherd
Publisher & Date: THE CATHECHESIS OF THE GOOD SHEPHERD® (an imprint of Liturgy Training Publications, originally Catholic, now used by many denominations), began in 1954)
Age Group: Infants-12 year olds (four groups: Infant/toddler, Level I, 3-6 years; Level II, 6-9 years; Level III, 9-12)
Summary: The Catechesis of the Good Shepherd is a religious experience involving children and adults in which the religious values of childhood, primarily those values of contemplation and enjoyment of God, are predominant. This experience is shared in a place particularly prepared for the religious life of children called the Atrium. We believe that God and the child have a unique relationship with one another particularly before the age of six and that the growth of this relationship should be assisted by the adult but is directed by the Spirit of God within the child. Children need their own place to foster the growth of that relationship.
*Spanish resources available here.

Celebrate Wonder
Publisher & Date: Cokesbury (United Methodist), 2020
Age Group: Age 3-11 year olds ( three groups: 3-5 years, 6-8 years, 9-11 years)
Summary: Quarterly curriculum (13 sessions per quarter) with corresponding story Bible.
*Digital materials, such as PowerPoint slides, available.

Diddy Disciples
Publisher & Date: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge (Anglican/Episcopal), 2017
Age Group: Birth-4 years old
Summary: Worship and storytelling resources for young children. For more information, check out this review from Gretchen Wolff Pritchard.

Episcopal Children’s Curriculum
Publisher & Date: Virginia Theological Seminary (Episcopal), 2000
Age Group: Preschool-6th grade (three groups: Preschool/Kindergarten; Primary, grades 1–3; and Intermediate, grades 4–6)
Summary: A thematic Sunday school curriculum tied to the seasons of the church year.
*This curriculum is a free, downloadable resource.

Faith For Life Bible Study
Publisher & Date: GenOn Ministries, revised 2018
Age Group: K-8th grade
Summary: Undated and permanent curriculum with a goal of comprehensive biblical knowledge (Old and New Testament, life application skills) as children move from Kindergarten through Grade 8. For broadly graded classes, each course (grade level) may be combined to encompass up to three grades creating a 3 year rotation. 25 sessions, all downloadable. Teacher’s Guide includes student handouts and related at-home activity and discussion pages.

Feasting on the Word
Publisher & Date: The PC(USA) Store (Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)), 2020
Age Group: K-6th grade (with corresponding youth and adult curriculum available)
Summary: This curriculum follows the Revised Common Lectionary and allows groups of different ages to explore the same Bible passage each week. It explores the “what, where, so what, and now what of each biblical passage” through a variety of learning and teaching styles.

Frolic
Publisher & Date: Sparkhouse (Evangelical Lutheran Church in America), 2016
Age Group: Birth-5 years old (two groups: birth-2, 3-5 years)
Summary: Play-based Sunday school curriculum for preschoolers. Includes prayers, storytelling, music, and rituals. Corresponding picture books and story Bible available.
*Digital materials available through Sparkhouse Digital.

Godly Play
Publisher & Date: Church Publishing (Episcopal) and The Godly Play Foundation, revisions began in 2017 and continue
Age Group: Age 3-5th grade (some programs continue into middle school)
Summary: Children have an innate sense of the presence of God. Godly Play helps them explore their faith through story, gain religious language and enhance their spiritual experience through wonder and play. Godly Play is a Montessori-based curriculum and was developed using a spiral curriculum.
*Spanish resources available here.

Growing on God’s Love
Publisher & Date: Westminster John Knox Press (Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)), 2019
Age Group: Age 5-10 years old with intergenerational and family options.
Summary: A relationally focused curriculum based on 148 stories from the corresponding story Bible. Could work well for multiage children’s groups. Corresponding story Bible available.

The Beatitudes: An Illustrated Curriculum
Publisher & Date: Illustrated Ministry, 2015
Age Group: children, youth, adults, intergenerational, families
Summary: The Beatitudes is a twelve-session study of the Beatitudes from the Gospel of Matthew. Like other offerings from Illustrated Ministry, it is highly adaptable for groups of various ages and size. It can be led virtually.
*Many other curriculum options also available.

Lesson Plans that Work
Publisher & Date: The Episcopal Church
Age Group: younger children, older children (youth and adult materials also available)
Summary: A free, lectionary-based curriculum with offerings for younger children, older children, youth, young adults, and adults.
*This curriculum is a free, downloadable resource.

Shine: Living in God’s Light
Publisher & Date: co-published by Brethren Press (Church of the Brethren) and MennoMedia, (Mennonite Church USA and Mennonite Church Canada), 2020
Age Group: Age 3-5th grade (three groups: ages 3-5 years, grades K-2nd, grades 3rd-5th with separate youth component for grades 6th-8th)
Summary: This curriculum has a focus on mission, peace, and justice. The curriculum is offered both as a multi-age program or as an age segregated program. Some digital products available. Includes corresponding story Bible.

Spark Activate Faith
Publisher & Date: Sparkhouse (Evangelical Lutheran Church in America), 2009
Age Group: Age 2-6th grade
Summary: Curriculum includes four options: a lectionary based option, a chronological option (“Explore key stories from Genesis to Paul’s letters in a two-year cycle”), a rotation model option, and a one-room schoolhouse option. Corresponding story Bible available.
*Digital materials available through Sparkhouse Digital.

StoryMakers NYC
Publisher & Date: Independently Published (The Episcopal Church), 2019-2021
Age Group: Age 6-14 years old (1st-8th grade)
Summary: StoryMakers is dedicated to creating new ways to share God’s redemptive narrative found in the Bible. They invite children to become “storymakers” and use their imaginations to enter God’s story through art, play, puppets, and stories. Each season, they hire new artists to bring a fresh interpretation of biblical characters, which include the beautiful diversity of God’s creation. The StoryMakers team wants kids, no matter who they are, what they look like, or how they define themselves, to know they are deeply loved by their Creator and woven into God’s story.

Weaving God’s Promises
Publisher & Date: Morehouse Education Resources, a division of Church Publishing (Episcopal), 2016
Age Group: Age 3-11 years old (separate youth component for ages 12-14
Summary: An online, downloadable, three-year Episcopal curriculum that can (mostly) match with the lectionary. Offers lessons on the prayerbook and sacraments. Includes lessons on people of color.

Wee Wonder
Publisher & Date: Brethren Press (Church of the Brethren)
Age Group: Birth-3 years old
Summary: Introduces young children to God through action rhymes, Bible stories and responsive play. Includes twelve modules with 52 undated sessions.

Whirl
Publisher & Date: Sparkhouse (Evangelical Lutheran Church in America), 2016
Age Group: K-6th grade
Summary: Curriculum includes three options: a lectionary based option, a chronological option (“Explore key Bible stories in this engaging two-year curriculum”), and a one-room schoolhouse option.
*Digital materials available through Sparkhouse Digital.


Special thanks to Sharon Ely Pearson for consulting with the Building Faith editors for this article. Sharon recently retired as Editor & Christian Formation Specialist with Church Publishing Incorporated (CPI) with 35+ years of experience in Christian formation on the local, judicatory, and church-wide level. Known for her knowledge of the variety of published curricula across the Church, she has also had her hand in the birthing of numerous books, including the best-seller, Call on Me: A Prayer Book for Young People and the 6-book series of Faithful Celebrations: Making Time for God. A graduate of Virginia Theological Seminary (2003) and a lifelong Episcopalian, she lives in Norwalk, Connecticut with her husband John, a 17.5 lb. cat named Shadow, and Chobe, a 7-year-old, tennis-ball-fetching, rescue black lab. They have two adult children (both teachers) and a 5-year-old granddaughter who is a budding environmental activist. Follow her at www.rowsofsharon.com.


Photo by  Pablo Nidam  on  Scopio.

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