What’s new in Sunday school curriculum

Starting September 2014 there are two new Sunday school curriculums to consider. Mennomedia and Brethren Press, the publishers for the Mennonite Church and the Church of the Brethren, is replacing its Gather ‘Round curriculum with Shine: Living in God’s Light.

Shine’s emphasis is on “God’s light shining through us,” and uses Isaiah 9:2 and Matthew 5:14-16 as its foundational Scriptures. The publisher states that the curriculum seeks to inspire children and their families to be light in the world around them. The curriculum is a three year Bible overview with an emphasis on spiritual practices and peace themes in the Bible. A new children’s story Bible called Shine On: A Story Bible is used with the curriculum.

Shine is for children age 3 to 8th grade and is divided into age levels for early childhood, primary, middler, and junior. Small churches will be glad to know that there is also a multiage component available. The curriculum includes teacher guides, student pieces, resource packs, music CDs and songbooks, as well as Shine Together: The Essential Guide for Leaders and Teachers which includes information on using Shine and may be used for teacher training. There is more information and samples on the Shine website.

Whirl is the latest curriculum from Sparkhouse, the ecumenical branch of Augsburg Fortress, the Lutheran ELCA publisher. It is a lectionary based curriculum and is for children grades PreK through 6th. Each lesson follows a four-part sequence: Welcome, Hear, Respond, and Launch. The lessons begin with students identifying where they are in the church year and watching an animated video with characters who model what it’s like for kids to live out their faith. Then they dig deeper into the lesson using either the Whirl Story Bible or Whirl NRSV Bible and creative leaflet activities. The lesson is reviewed and the class prays before being sent out.

The curriculum connects kids to their families since the learner leaflets include seven different ways families can put their faith into action during the week. Whirl also includes ideas for kids to explore their church building and experience the life of the church.

Grade levels are PreK-K, 1st/2nd, 3rd/4th, and 5th/6th. There are leader guides, learner leaflets, and DVDs, as well as a reproducible director’s guide with large group openings, children’s messages, worship bulletins, and more. There is a music CD and songbook; a floor mat of the church year is available as well as a wall poster of the church year. More information and samples are available on the Whirl website.

shine curriculum                                          Whirl logo


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