Curriculum Resources

Curriculum Evaluation Proforma

Choosing Curriculum - a burden or an opportunity

An article for MediaCom by Dr Deidre Palmer

As you approach the task of choosing curriculum for your local context, it is important to first focus on the curriculum that is lived out in the life and mission of your congregation. This curriculum is expressed in worship, the way you minister to each other and your engagement with your wider community. AIl our ministries teach in conscious and unconscious ways what it means to live a life following Christ.
Vision and Purpose
As you search through this MediaCom catalogue, the resources you choose should complement the vision and mission that guide and undergird your church's life and mission. So, as you look at samples of particular curriculum it is important to bring to your decision-making the question: what is the vision that calls us forward as a Christian community? What are the purposes that guide our educational ministry? Each local Christian community may name this vision and these purposes differently, but there will also be things we share in common. I would suggest that Christian communities have among other purposes these three key purposes as foundational for our Christian educational ministries:
•    to invite people to grow in their relationship with God
•    to encourage people to identify their gifts and have these gifts developed and used
•    to provide educational processes and programs that inspire and enable people to participate in God's mission in the world.
You will of course use your own language and develop your purposes in the context of your local Christian community.

What is the vision that inspires your Christian community?
What are the purposes that guide your educational ministry?
It is in the light of our vision and purposes as Christian communities that we choose resources and programs.

Biblical and Theological Foundations
Vision and purposes for Christian communities grow out of our Biblical foundations and theological convictions. We need to consider these when we choose curriculum. The writers, editors and publishers of Christian education resources develop their material as they reflect on the Bible and God's relationship with God's world and God's people throughout history and in contemporary life. In choosing curriculum it is good for your educational team or appropriate church council to discuss together:

What are the Biblical foundations and theological convictions that we would want to see included in our Christian education resources?
In researching the Biblical and theological foundations of the various curricula take time to read through some samples of the curriculum you are deciding upon. Talk with writers, editors and publishers. Read any vision and mission statements that such editors and publishers have included in their materials.

People
There are many people who are part of your decision-making process. As you review a piece of curriculum you may even have faces and names that come before you - faces and names of leaders, teachers, children, young people and adults who will participate in your educational ministries.
As you think about the people who may be nurtured, shaped and inspired by the curriculum you choose, there are a number of things you may consider:

Who are the teachers and leaders of this educational process and program?
What ways of teaching and what kinds of resources do they embrace?
What resources will best support them?


Clearly, these questions can only be answered by the teachers and leaders themselves. The best curricula include extensive resources for teachers and other leaders in educational ministry.
Some examples of such resources include:
•    commentary on the Biblical texts being used
•    education about the seasons of the Christian year
•    articles from developmental literature on the ages and stages of life and appropriate educational content and processes for different age groups
•    suggestions for a format for regular teachers' meetings
•    devotional resources to encourage teachers to reflect on the themes of the curriculum in their own lives
•    good choices of activities that relate to a variety of different learning styles in children, young people and adults
•    articles on current issues in Christian education

Who are our participants? Who are the people who will be participating in our educational processes and programs?
You may like to consider some of the following areas:
•    the age of participants
•    the cultural and socio-economic context of participants
•    their faith journeys e.g. you may have some adults in the group who are new Christians, others who have been Christians for 50 years - what kind of resource will be suitable for the diversity of adults who may be part of a Bible study group their preferred learning styles
•    their expressed preferences for the focus of their learning in Christian education e.g. a small group discussion around a particular Biblical book, a focus on art, a focus on learning through hands-on participation in a mission project

Resourcing the community of faith
As I noted at the beginning, it is the community of faith which is providing the primary curriculum on the Christian life for participants in educational programs and processes. It is good to look for curriculum resources that will provide links with the life of the congregation beyond specific educational programs. Examples of this are a "take home" resource designed for families, or a weekly Bible commentary on the lectionary readings made available to the whole congregation. The best Christian education resources contribute to an integration of the church's ministries - encouraging people through the educational program to participate in worship, mission, pastoral care and other forms of ministry.

Educational Processes:

In choosing curriculum another key area on which you will focus will be the educational processes of the curriculum.
It would be good for you and your educational team to think about:
What are the educational processes that will enable us to fulfil our purposes AND engage participants with enthusiasm in learning and growing in Christian faith?
I believe that effective Christian education processes:
•    encourage participants to speak and share their own experiences of life and faith.
•    convey the idea that both teachers and other participants are involved in a mutual learning process - that each participant has insights to share.
•    make significant connections between the Bible and our own lives. They encourage people to reflect on the activity of God in their lives, the lives of others and the world around us.
•    engage the whole person - emotionally, physically, intellectually, spiritually.
•    contain content related to contemporary world events, conveying to participants that God is concerned with, and active in, the world in which we live.

Setting and Timing
As you choose curriculum you probably have a particular program in mind: for example, it may be a Bible study for adults, a multi-age program on a Sunday morning with a connection to worship, a children's midweek program, an annual camp for all ages, a youth program that appeals to a wide cross section of people from the church and wider community. Most curriculum resources are operating within a time frame for the educational program - some Bible study programs may be working with a 90 minute framework, while some children's educational programs may be working with a 45 minute framework. Most curriculum resources are flexible, offering various options for extending or shortening the process to suit the varying needs of congregations. It is good to think about what resource will be most useful within the time frame of your local context.

Cost
"But how much is it?" Cost is a consideration when choosing curriculum for your local congregation. However, I hope that it is not the determinative question that shapes your choice in curriculum. While local churches need to work with budgets, it is important that the other questions that we have addressed earlier are given priority.
The process of choosing a curriculum can provide a wonderful opportunity for your whole local church (or an educational team within it) to reflect on your life, ministry and mission as a Christian commuirity. May God bless you with wisdom and insight as you engage in making choices that will contribute to your community growing in their relationship with God and being equipped for Christian discipleship in the world.

- Dr Deidre Palmer is a lecturer in Christian Education at the Adelaide College of Divinity.

 

Curriculum Resource Links:

Media Com: www.mediacom.org.au
Season's of the Spirit: www.spiritseasons.com/
Godly Play

 

MediaCom Lectionary Curriculum:

Seasons of the Spirit

About the origins of this curriculum: An Uniting Church Endorsed Curriculum

This curriculum is an international curriculum. This resource is developed by Christian churches from many denominations world wide. It is endorsed by the Uniting Church of Australia, and the users have input into the development of this resource. To find out more visit http://www.spiritseasons.com and click on the Theological and Educational Foundations paper link.
Empowering all ages to be transformed in Christ...
The above is part of the mission statement that inspires the resources you'll find in Seasons of the Spirit.
Seasons of the Spirit connects your whole church through worship, learning and serving. Weekly sessions prompt a deep exploration of one's faith for all ages by using various learning styles, arts, biblical story,
creativity and imagination. Seasons also offers at-home support for families.
Seasons of the Spirit is much more than a curriculum - it's a resource for the whole congregation!
Visit the Media Com website for more information or http://www.spiritseasons.com and click on the "Library" tab and read "From Start to Finish" for a comprehensive overview.
 
Bible Stories for All Ages - The Whole People of God Library
By Compiled Margaret Kyle
ISBN 978-1-55145-46-4
Published by Wood Lake Books
Product code WL546   $51.75

A lectionary year's worth of Bible stories for children aged three and up that can also be used in intergenerational worship. Many of the stories are interactive and get children involved in the telling. Educators have found that this experiential way of telling the stories helps children (and all ages) remember and integrate the stories far better than passive storytelling. Chosen from the well-loved Whole People of God and the Age 3-5 level of the imaginative Seasons of the Spirit curriculums, you will find that these stories make it easy to tell often difficult or complex Bible stories in a positive, clear, and uncomplicated manner. Reproducible activity sheets and suggestions for experiential learning accompany the stories. Small churches may find this package useful at times of intergenerational worship when only a few children are present and there is no Sunday school class. Even though these stories are geared to a very young audience, leaders have found that telling these stories during a worship service helps all ages comprehend the message in a very enjoyable and deep way. A great asset to any worship leader or Christian educator's library. An easy-to-use index helps you find stories by scripture and theme. This book is the first in the series.

MediaCom Non Lectionary Curriculum Overview:

CoverLearning God's Stories Together: Inter-generational Program for Church and Home: Bible Study and Activities
By Dorothy Henderson and Lisa-Dawn McKenzie
The Presbyterian Church in Canada
Woodlake Publishing 1996
ISBN: 978-5514-559-4
From MediaCom: $41.95

Dorothy Henderson believes in taking advantage of the fact that the church is one of the few places where all generations come together, or at least to the same building. This book encourages, explains and enables All-Age learning with a wealth of practical advice.
♦ Part One explains the theory and practice of all-age learning
♦ Part two consists of 20 story sessions, each containing suggestions for gathering, telling and talking about the story, exploring the story and making it a part of your life. The sessions are flexible enough in content to be used in church but also adapted to family devotions or family Bible story time at home, if families want to do something more than just tell the story - this would provide ideas for followup activities, particularly for younger children or homeschoolers.    

Living Stories - Curriculum for Children aged 5-12
By Carolyn Sharp
ISBN 978-0-949656-83-4
Published by MediaCom Education Incorporated
Product code MC683   $79.95

Carolyn Sharp coordinated the primary age children's ministry for Aberfoyle Uniting Church in South Australia - a dynamic and growing congregation. It was during this time she began to explore more effective ways to use Bible stories as a means of introducing children to faith in Jesus. Living Stories is the result of that desire. It was used with over 100 children each week and then modified to make it available for wider use. Carolyn is a qualified teacher with a sound knowledge of both educational principles and theology. She is currently a Religious Education teacher, and loves the opportunity to share God with young people through stories which connect faith and real life. Purpose: This successfully tried material introduces children to faith in Jesus through telling Bible stories in a way that connects with children's experience and by doing creative activities. Can be successfully used with both large and small groups. How we do it:

The children have a free choice of craft and a variety of activities at the beginning of each session for around 10 minutes, followed by some worship all together. Next, all the children hear the story together and interact with the storyteller who is chosen for their ability to communicate well and relate to children. This gives a variety of adults who are gifted in telling stories to interact with the children. Each week there can be a different story teller. There is flexibility for the story teller to include their own style, ideas and experiences. Each session can stand alone because children don't come every week, but overall the sessions follow a theme. After the story has been told, the story teller gives instructions about the activity that day. The children go into small groups to do the activity with a small group leader. Small group leasers are called shepherds. The program is activity based as children talk more openly and remember more while they are doing something themselves. The shepherds don't have to do any preparation, just come along and build relationship with the children, sharing in a prayer and listening to any concerns as they do the activity together. Format of Living Story sessions: Key scripture verses Aim of Session Bible Readings Connections: Suggestions of how to engage the children through everyday experience as a lead in to the Bible story. Ideas for telling the Bible story: This includes background information and ideas of how to use objects to give visual impact to the story. Shepherd Group Activity suitable for children aged 5 to 12 years, which takes around 10 minutes and can be extended. The activity connects the message with the experience of the children and could be a game or something to make or do in the group.
 
  

 

Come Join the Circle

Power-Xpress

One Room Sunday School

Philosophy

Invites learners and leaders to explore Bible stories using their gifts and learning style preferences.

Rotation format helps instill Bible stories in children's hearts and minds.

Has a strong focus on inviting children to follow Jesus, demonstrating such discipleship through compassion, love and forgiveness.

Key Features

* Uses rotation style learning.
* Uses different learning approaches: hands-on, music, service, time out, drama, food, games and puzzles. 
* All-inclusive unit resource provides all you need: leader information, materials lists, reproducible resource sheets, colour teaching visuals and a music CD. 
* Leadership training in each unit and in Planning Guide. 
* Each unit includes at-home resources for families.

* Rotation format helps children enjoy learning and remember more. 
* Includes Talk Tips to help adults discuss faith questions in child-friendly language. 
* Each unit offers 8 approaches to a single Bible story: art, computer, cooking, games, music, science, storytelling and video. 
* All ages learn together and study the same stories, using different approaches.

In one pack this resource offers a complete program that is particularly suitable for small Christian communities with limited financial and people resources. 
* Each of the One Room Sunday School packs include a teacher's book, reproducible activities and a Class Pack with a number of full colour posters and a photocopiable family resource. 
* Each teacher's book includes well-informed articles on topics of interest to teachers.

Terms & Dating

 

Created in rotation style, each unit can be used for 3-5 weeks. Not dated.

Each story is considered to be one unit and offers the potential to use material for 3-5 weeks. Material is undated, and units can be used in any order.

There are four packs that cover the year.

Grading

 

Preschool through Grade 6 (ages 3-12). Use in traditional classrooms, rotational models, or one-room / multiage settings.

Not graded; one-room learning. Resource offers suggestions for younger and older learners.

It is a multiage program designed for children aged from 3 years of age to Middle School.

Learner Resources

 

No separate learner materials to purchase. Units contain some reproducible learner resources.

No separate learner resources.

* Bible story and activities for a variety of age levels.

Leader Guides

 

Each unit provides complete resources: teacher training, Bible background, music CD, teaching visuals and set-up suggestions for 7 learning centers.

Contains complete lesson plans, stories, activities, scripts, station set-up tips, list of resources needed, printed music, word transparencies and a music CD.

* Each lesson includes "Understanding God's Word", which gives teachers background information on the particular Biblical text that is the focus of the lesson and a "Devotions" section, which encourages the teacher to work with the story prior to the Sunday School lesson

Class Kits

 

No separate class kits to purchase.

No separate class kit to purchase.

* Resource Kit -includes all four components that are needed to run the educational program.

Enrichments

 

Come Join the Circle Planning Guide 
Icky Ichthys: Storytelling Puppet * Icky's School of Friends Finger Puppets 
FaithShapes!® Card Game

Director's Guide
*
 Additional copies of Music CD

* It includes a section in each lesson on "Understanding your Kids". There is also an overview of "Age-level needs and experiences" in the teacher's book. 
* Occasional short articles on topics of interest to enhance teachers' skills and knowledge. 
* Newsletter for families. There is also a photocopiable page for families, "What your children are learning in Sunday School each week".


 
CoverCome Join the Circle
At the heart of our faith are powerful stories of God's love and faithfulness. These are stories we hear, remember and pass along to others. They remind us who God is and who we are called to be.
Come Join the Circle welcomes learners and leaders into the heart of the Bible's great stories. These rotation-style learning materials help create the kind of learning environment where the Bible is at the centre, and fun and creativity abound.
Features of Come Join the Circle
Holistic
•    Relies on leading mainline theology
•    Honours all people and cultures through language, music, and art
•    Encourages learners to live their faith in community
•    Raises awareness of the wider world
Inexpensive
•    Each unit includes all necessary materials for students and teachers
•    One unit equips any size church school
•    Each unit can be used for 3-5 weeks
•    Resources are reproducible and reusable
Intergenerational
•    Ages 3-12 explore the same story each unit
•    Reproducible newsletter shares themes with the whole congregation
Supportive
Each unit includes teacher training Come Join the Circle Planning Guide offers program overview and additional background information.
Complete
•    Biblical and educational backgrounds included for leaders
•    Response options organized in seven different learning centres
•    Resource comes with print music, reproducible lyrics, CD and color teaching visuals
Each unit provides enough material and activities for learners aged 3-12 to explore a Bible story for 3-5 sessions - no extra resources, CDs or music to purchase. Having everything provided allows leaders to arrive feeling prepared and leave feeling energized.
Visit the Media Com website for more information.

CoverPower XPress:
Power XPress is a rotation model designed for children in kindergarten through sixth grade. PowerXpress immerses your children in the Bible. Ideal for churches using a rotation format where children alternate between learning stations each week. With a rotation format, children experience the Bible story in different ways. This active style of learning helps instill the faith story in their hearts and minds.
Each unit of resources contains materials for eight stations: Art, Computer, Cooking, Game, Music, Science, Storytelling, Video. (If you are interested in Computer, Video or Storytelling Stations, you will need to purchase additional materials listed in the resource.)
Power Xpress would be ideal for congregations running holiday programs.

A unit provides:
•    complete lesson plans
•    stories
•    scripts
•    activities
•    ideas for station setups
•    a complete listing of resources needed
•    a CD
•    print music & lyric transparencies.
Visit the Media Com website for more information.

One Room Sunday School

Does your children's Sunday school ministry:

•    average 2 to 10 children attending each week?
•    include children from ages 3 to 12? Then One Room Sunday School may be the resource for you!
One Room Sunday School covers major stories of the Bible over a four-year cycle so children receive a solid Bible foundation for their lives. Prepared especially for small-membership churches, One Room Sunday School helps teachers teach multi-age children in one setting.
Younger children learn through a variety of learning activities and absorb much by watching and listening to older children while older children learn as they help younger ones. Teachers will be prepared for the hard questions through Bible background information and devotionals in each lesson.
With One Room Sunday School, teachers and parents work together to support and nurture the faith of children of all ages! Everyone benefits!

Students of all ages find:
•    comprehensive Bible study
•    Bible learnings applied to contemporary discipleship
•    a variety of age-appropriate activities

Families extend Sunday school lessons to the home:
•    summaries inform parents of children's weekly lessons
•    parents receive copies of each week's Bible story

Teachers appreciate:
•    easy-to-teach lesson plans designed
•    specifically to reach children of various ages
•    For small membership churches.
•    weekly spiritual enrichment guides
•    supplementary articles
•    the comprehensive Resource Kit: reproducible activities book, teacher's book, class pack and CD

This convenient quarterly resource contains everything you need for an entire quarter of lessons to teach children of all ages (age 3-12).

One Room Sunday School Kit
Includes the Reproducible Activities Book, Teacher Book, Class Pack and Cassette.
Visit the Media Com website for more information