Summer Faith Formation is both an opportunity and a challenge in a church of our size (weekly worship attendance between 60-80 and Sunday school attendance from 5-20). Earlier this week I asked our leadership team for feedback on four curriculum options for summer. I named what we wanted to be intentional about our annual reprieve from winter (it is still 30 degrees here in April today!):
- Multi-age learning
- Meaningful faith exploration,
- Creativity, play and fun
- Easy prep & flexibility for teachers and leaders
- Time outdoors in our large yard/garden
- Materials that could easily travel with families
Below are the four options we are considering. The consensus of our team and past summer experience tell us that any of these four would work. Keep reading to see which one we are leaning toward:
Option 1: Earth our Garden Home by Cynthia Coe
Curriculum Cost: $15 book (I picked this up on an ebook flash sale a month ago for under $5)
Materials Cost: moderate- mainly garden supplies/seeds
Focus: Gardening/ Creation
- How does God care for creation
- How does God feed us
- Composting as resurrection
- Living in harmony with others
- Proclaiming good news to whole creation (parables which could be multiple lessons)
Opportunities: Kids have the opportunity to grow things in the garden, could add an occasional family weeding/watering/story time during the week. Kids enjoyed the garden last year. I’d love to see about having a space where kids can create with natural materials/ free range play (sticks, small stones, etc).
Challenges: Watering and maintenance of garden, weather.
Option 2: Sing! Play! Summer! By Salt Project
Curriculum Cost: $25 (allows copies for all families of our church size)
Materials Cost: Moderate
Focus: Six themes based on original songs + Bible passage, Family Summer Fun. (preview music here –
- What Jonah Learned Inside the Whale
- Noah’s Lullaby
- Room to Fall
- All Sad Songs
Opportunities: Each family could have a booklet and music, a little more of a relaxed approach to summer. Newer progressive publisher with catchy indie folk/bluegrass music (geared more for younger kids). Some activities could carry over into worship.
Challenges: With only six weeks of material we would need to do each for two weeks or find another curriculum to go the whole summer. It is more of a devotional than a curriculum which may take some extra prep for teachers.
Option 3: Illustrated Earth by Illustrated Children’s Ministry
Curriculum Cost: $75
Materials: Coloring posters $95
Focus: Caring for God’s creation
Opportunities: Simple to use, there is a take home family component, time outdoors.
Challenges: We used curriculum from same supplier last year. Kids might enjoy an alternative to coloring
Option 4: Godly Play outdoors
Curriculum Cost: $0- we already own it
Focus: We could choose from several, and possibly coordinate with worship: parables, Advent/ Christmas in summer, etc.
Opportunities: Get to revisit stories we may have missed. Opportunity to train youth to be storytellers.
Challenges: Perhaps not as engaging for 4th/5th graders. Doesn’t provide a change for summer.
And the winner is…
After a planning meeting with the pastor and feedback from the team, I think we are leaning toward Salt Project’s Sing! Play! Summer! Creation Care is also in the running. What we liked about Sing! Play! Summer! were the opportunities to be creative and possibly carry the activities into worship. Stay tuned for some potential tweaks to our summer worship/education format and a final decision.
No goods or services were received for these reviews. I was provided a preview-only copy of Sing! Play! Summer! upon request.