Here are some of the favorite weekly practices and curricula used by churches in the Diocese of Maine.
Gathering - Anne-Marie Miller begins her Sunday School class at St. John's in Bangor in this video.
Children's Church - Larry Bartlett leads weekly worship for young children and their parents at Grace Church in Bath. Kerry Mansir leads Sunday School and worship for parents and children at 4pm at Mustard Seed in Augusta. The Rev. Carolyn Eklund leads a family Eucharist each Sunday at St. Paul's, Brunswick.
Children's Music - Cindy McLellan leads music before Sunday School at Trinity in Portland.
Overview of preschool/elementary goals & practices: Here's a fantastic 5 minute video. Don't be fooled by its emphasis on Godly Play, because it will help you no matter what curriculum you use.
Preschool/elementary: Godly Play is always a great option. It engages the Montessori teaching method. Used by St. Mary's in Falmouth, St. Columba’s in Boothbay, St. Ann’s in Windham, St. Mark’s in Waterville, St. George's in York, St. David's in Kennebunk. Here's the Godly Play YouTube channel where you can find video demonstrations of each Godly Play story. Here's an introduction to Godly Play.
Preschool/elementary: Weaving God's Promises - an Episcopal curriculum that's really well done, good activity options for preschool-elementary age, good prayer teaching, and connections between stories and the Episcopal Church. (Web-based, downloadable curriculum. Pay based on ASA for a yearly subscription.) New emailable take-home pages. Anne-Marie Miller of St. John’s in Bangor says, “We have been using Weaving God's Promises for ages 3-- 12. We use Godly play stories probably about once a month, sometimes a little more often (we borrow manipulatives from St. James OT), when stories match up with the curriculum. We have really liked this curriculum-- it is easy to plan with (good background information, a variety of activities which require varying ranges of time to prepare, easy to adapt to different age groups/ children's needs, good suggestions on creative ways to offer the story). I like the emphasis on the liturgical year (we use the Godly Play circle of the church year calendar in all our classrooms every week) and the story selection, which I think helps children to make connections between stories and to develop their own narrative of the year. It has less emphasis than I would like on the sacraments, but that is fairly easy to correct (the sacrament lessons are all in year 1; we just repeated them in year 2).”
Preschool/elementary: Lesson Plans That Work - This is a free resource from the Episcopal Church Center. There are lessons for younger children (non-readers) and older children (elementary). Lessons follow the liturgical calendar and are available for the Gospel and the Old Testament readings. The quality varies, but many have recently been rewritten.
One Room schoolhouse: Method for designing weekly lessons from the Rev. Lael Sorensen of St. Peter's, Rockland.
Grades 4/5/6: Connect- This is a newish curriculum by Augsburg brings bible stories to life for tweens in 4th/ 5th/6th grades. There are videos to accompany each lesson that the kids love. Good activity options geared toward this age group. Biblically focused and connecting the bible to daily life is the goal. (The teacher books, DVD, and student workbooks are affordable and once you own the materials you can use them as much as you want.) [Used by Reed Loy at St. Alban’s, Cape Elizabeth.]
Middle School:Re:form- This curriculum is also from Augsburg and is the continuation of Connect. The basic DVD contains forty videos that take the real world questions tweens and teens are asking and engages them. There are videos and activity books that accompany the curriculum. It is an out-of-the-box thinking curriculum so it is best for creative teachers who are willing to engage with the materials. The kids love it and really benefit from it. (The teacher books and DVD are reasonable. The student workbooks are somewhat expensive and not altogether necessary. Once you own the materials you can use them as much as you want.) [Reed Loy at St. Alban’s in Cape Elizabeth has a video to lend.]
High School:Confirm Not Conform - this confirmation curriculum is great at helping students engage their faith in a tangible way to ask if this is really what they believe on a personal level. There are good field trip and activity options and the curriculum is teacher friendly. (One-time cost based on ASA.) Used by St. John's in Bangor.
High School: Living Compass Teen Program is a free one-year curriculum recommended by St. Ann's in Windham.
High School: The Thoughtful Christian website gives you the ability to download a single $7.50 lesson that will speak to your kids without buying a lot of things that won't work for them. They frequently update with new lessons after major events (Haiti Earthquake, etc...) or pop culture phenomena (Hunger Games Lesson.) (very inexpensive... pay per lesson.)
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