Hunting for Children’s Sunday School curriculums

Edwardian hunting girl 1902One would be a fool to assume that the perpetual nature of this hunt is undertaken in tandem with other activities which characterise normal human life. There is nothing here that allows for ebbs and flows in intensity. Indeed, it is little less than an all-consuming obsession ­– and a provocation of the gravest order to the gods of sleep and family life – that allows, in the spirit of the First Commandment, for no rival claims. And all of my best efforts to both encourage her to broaden her areas of interest and to distract her away from such an idolatrous quest have proved to be as successful as my efforts to birth an appreciation for the delectable cuisine of the sub-continent.

So – in the spirit of ‘Happy wife, happy life’ – I give in. More shamefully, dear readers, I reach out from just on the north side of the 46th parallel south, to elicit your help to feed this beast, to hold back nothing, and to bring me your best golden calves.

Here’s what ‘I’ need: suggestions for children’s Sunday School curriculum.

In the past, her appetite has experienced temporary satisfaction with The King, The Snake and the Promise and Meet the King (both from Matthias Media, as is Get Ready! which she is about to put on the Visa card), and, more recently, with the Jesus Storybook Bible curriculum. Somewhat – and many!!!! – less satisfactory hunting trips have seen material from a number of other fields occupying the kitchen table for months on end.

Anyway, I asked her about the criteria for a successful hunt. Her reply was as follows:

Something which:

    • is congruous with the Church’s great creeds [she’s happy to go either way with the filioque thing!]
    • increases biblical literacy
    • helps kids (and teachers) to learn the Bible’s big story (lectionary-based resources do not help here)
    • is engaging for the children but resists the temptation to ‘entertain’
    • is a half-year or full-year (or more) program
    • has idiot-proof instructions for teachers
    • is affordable
    • serves children aged 3­–10

So it’s over to you. Help!


  1. SU Victoria publications for missions ‘Twists and Turns’; ‘Rewind John’. ‘Welcome Mat’, ‘Question Mark’ (Beth Barnett). Local Victorian product – but if you’re in NZ I think some of my buddies in SU there have some stock/samples. Written for beach mission teams, so aimed to increase the biblical literacy of the leaders as well as participants. Bible as the centre (more bible than you can imagine) and a ‘trust the process’ pedagogy that seeks to immerse participants in the text and textures of the bible, and allow for various responses. It’s not for didacticists or preachers who want to ‘tell children the story’ and give an interpretative moralist or dogmatist tagline :( Not everyone likes it, but those that do, find it very rich and fertile. Written by a biblical scholar/all age educator practitioner, it’s heavily slanted towards the text in a way that not all systematic theologians approve of (and maybe doesn’t hit the bell with your ‘credal’ criterion). Each book is b/n $25-30 with 8-10 sessions of primary age + small group material, preschool material, integrates parent page conversation starters, Bible dramas and some have all age activities (we kept building the model year to year). For churches I recommend doing one session over two weeks, as there is so much material to use. It’s a better pedagogy to revisit the text again after a week, allowing for deeper and more considered responses than a knee-jerk on first hearing, and cultivates a posture towards the text of expectation that it holds more than we realised at first glance – something a few grown ups could do with developing as well, please, God, our children. [Sorry about the long reply]


  2. Sigh! I feel your pain. I have no solution, although the SU material is good.
    My thoughts are that we load too much on Sunday morning. To establish habits of faith, a working knowledge of scripture and The Big Story, to create a place where children meet with God, not just learn about…oh my! Oh, and a teaching team who are working mothers and have little time to prepare… Oh, and if you do a great job the children don’t learn how to be in church and once they have the choice choose not to be there…
    I don’t know of a curriculum that meets all your criteria. While they are good criteria, I’m wondering if the time would be better spent doing other things. Write your own. Or help parents to fill in the gaps you see. And find ways to be kind to your teaching team.
    And maybe it’s not the curriculum. Maybe what matters is sharing your love for God and something of yourself. One of our mum’s shares her passion for hand crafts with kids as they explore a Bible story over several weeks, based on the approach.


  3. We (Barbara and I separately and together) have used SU materials off and on for decades. It’s often very good and seldom bad, and usually gives lots of options and ideas. The most fun we (and the kids too I think) had was when we did Dynamite Bay (a local NZ scheme from Greenlane Christian Centre) but sadly that has stopped. We even had fun writing our own material using their five week idea, but expanded to include a service the children ran every seven weeks (week six was preparation and rehersal for week seven).


  4. @ Beth: Thank you for drawing my attention to the SU material. I am unfamiliar with these particular ones and will look into them further. (Am aware of Light/Bubble etc.) I would love to see some sample copies of the programme. It would be great to be put in contact with your NZ buddies. I have done SU beach mission stuff previously in Oz and have appreciated it…. will need to think further how this will translate to our church setting.

    @ Maryjane: Thank you. Here is an insightful post that opens up further discussion for how we ‘do’ children’s ministry;

    @ Bob: Thank you for this site – I was unaware of it, and will enjoy looking further through this.

    @ Tim: Thanks – see comments to Beth also.


  5. Thank you Ian. These look wonderful. I am excited to look at these further and check out the downloadable samples.


  6. I can’t recommend Young Children and Worship more highly than I do. It is without peer. It is designed not only to educate but to lead children in worship. It is tactile, it doesn’t dumb down the Bible but doesn’t overload them with texts either. It is rooted in the church calendar and the shape of the historic liturgy.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. SU in the UK has a free resources you can tailor to your group and download. Try googling light live Scripture union (I’d copy you the link but i am permanently logged in!). We’ve just begun using these resources for our intermediate group, i will be gathering leaders and the participants feedback shortly.


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