Resources for Ministry with Children
The Children’s Charter, adopted by the Episcopal Church in 1997, affirms every baptized person as a full member of the body of Christ, the Church. As such, we are called to nurture the spiritual lives of children, minister to children both within our faith communities and in the world, and recognize the ministry of children. Through the links below, the diocese offers resources for choosing a church school curriculum and for equipping congregational leaders and parents to nurture the lives of the children in their care.
One of the richest resources for ministry with children in the Episcopal Church is the Forma Facebook group with over 4,000 members. Post a question and practitioners are guaranteed to respond with their experiences and resources. You can join here.
Resources on this page:
- Formation Resources during a Pandemic
- Curriculum (how to choose and options)
- Bibles for Children (by age group)
- Additional Resources (website, podcasts, and books)
Formation Resources during the Pandemic
Here is a set of curated resources for worship and formation during this time of pandemic and Church dispersed.
Children's Formation Curriculum
Choosing a Curriculum
- This chart provides an overview of the many curricula available for ministry with children (last updated May 2020).
- The field of available curriculum is wide. This guide provides a four-step process for a congregation to find the curriculum that aligns with its mission and vision.
- This resource offers tips for evaluating potential curriculum choices.
The following is a limited list of available curriculum. Please see the curriculum chart in the section, “Choosing a Curriculum” for a more complete list.
- Godly Play (early to older children) sets the space for children to explore their faith through story, to gain religious language and to enhance their spiritual experience through wonder and play. (Significant start-up costs.)
- Building Faith Brick by Brick (elementary age) helps active children engage with 54 Biblical stories and lesson plans with Legos.
- Connect (preteens) by Sparkhouse encourages preteens to see the narrative arc of the Bible with humor. Includes videos.
- Diddy Disciples (small children) provides all sorts of resources for storytelling and worship with the very young. They also offer Diddy Disciples at home.
- Do Good Together provides tools to both families to help them raise compassionate, engaged children. Innovative activities, resources, and support help make empathy and "giving back" a natural part of life's early lessons.
- Feasting on the Word with Children (Grades 1-6) by PCUSA is a lectionary-based print curriculum focusing on core Biblical stories. Includes background materials, activity sheets and CD for music.
- Frolic (Nursery & Preschool) by Sparkhouse offers age-appropriate rituals and play to grow faith.
- Holy Moly (Grades 1-5) by Sparkhouse brings Biblical stories to life with comic-strip style videos, activities, interactive games, and creative crafts.
- Illustrated Ministry (elementary to middle school) is a growing publishing house offering curriculum based on the love of illustration. The curriculum is topic-based and includes beautiful coloring sheets, background material, reflections and prayers.
- Lesson Plans that Work offers simple lectionary-based lesson plans with background information and activities to play.
- Messy Church (intergenerational) is an intergenerational approach to formation founded on the principles of creativity, hospitality, and celebration.
- Stepping Out in Faith (Ages 6-10) by Forward Movement is a seven-week curriculum is designed to help children build a foundational understanding of what it means to be an Episcopalian.
- StoryMakers NYC provides fun and creative ways to engage in Biblical texts through seasonal offerings. High value on creativity, imaginations and storytelling. Check out their weekly Sunday School videos for Sunday School at a distance.
- Weaving Gods Promises for children offers lessons on a three-year cycle. Year 1 focuses on the story of salvation and God’s love. Year 2 focuses on the saints of the Church. Year 3 focuses on our call to care for others and the gospel values of welcome, inclusion, compassion, mercy, forgiveness, justice, and liberation. Watch this video introduction.
- Whirl (PreK - Grade 6) by Sparkhouse is a Biblically centered curriculum with options for following the lectionary or a two-year series. Flexible for use by grade level (Prek-Grade 6) or one-room classroom (Ages 5-10). Videos and reflections for daily living.
- Wee Wonder (infants and toddlers) by Shine introduces young children to God through song, action rhymes, Bible stories and responsive play. 52 sessions.
Bibles for Children
The following is a curated list of children's Bibles by age group from BuildFaith. For a guide to how to choose a Bible with fuller reviews of each listed below: Choosing a Children's Bible, Buildfaith.
- Children of God Storybook Bible (Toddlers & Preschool) This story Bible includes beautiful full-page illustrations from multiple artists. Each story is given a two-page spread, and includes a question at the end to prompt children to share their thoughts on the story.
- The Bible for Young Children (Toddlers & Preschool) In this story Bible, children’s author Marie-Hélène Delval (Images of God for Young Children, Psalms for Young Children) applies her characteristic highly accessible writing style to 9 Bible stories (which actually cover a wider range) that will introduce young children to key stories from scripture and help them begin to see connections between stories.
- Frolic Preschool Bible (Toddlers & Preschool) This story Bible features cartoon-style pictures and lively retellings that will engage children through the early childhood years.
- Deep Blue Toddler Bible (Toddlers & Preschool) This story Bible board book features vivid, sharply drawn, cartoon-style pictures, and each story has a “Tiny Prayer” that reinforces the message of the story
- Shine On: A Story Bible (Preschool & Early Elementary) This story Bible features a two-page spread for each story, with illustrations contributed by a variety of artists and multiple “extras” per story. This Bible would be a great pick for introducing children to the concept of a study Bible.
- Celebrate Wonder Bible Storybook (Preschool & Early Elementary) This story Bible features a full two-page spread for each story, with large, colorful pictures and a question to encourage children to further engage with each narrative. This is an excellent selection for children throughout the preschool to early elementary age range.
- Growing in God’s Love: A Story Bible (Preschool & Early Elementary) Organized by theme rather than the biblical order of stories, this Bible encourages connections that are easy to miss when stories are presented by book and chapter order. This Bible is a great pick as a read-aloud for smaller children, and most early Elementary children will be able to read it comfortably themselves.
- Spark Story Bible (Preschool & Early Elementary) Designed to be used as part of the Spark Sunday School curriculum by Sparkhouse, this story Bible is also a great stand-alone option. Featuring large print, lively retellings, and colorful cartoon-style images, this Bible is more accessible for early readers than many other options in this age category. A question at the end of each story prompts conversation and connection.
- The Family Time Bible (Preschool & Early Elementary) As the name implies, this story Bible is intended for use by families who want to engage the Bible together, and its design is better-suited for adults and children reading together than for children reading alone
- Read, Wonder, Listen: Stories from the Bible for Young Readers (Elementary through Early Tweens) With gorgeous poetic language and full-page images, this story Bible will appeal to a wide range of ages and is an especially great pick for inquisitive children starting to ask more challenging questions about the Bible.
- Deep Blue Kids’ Bible (Elementary through Early Tweens)An excellent choice for an early or mid-Elementary child’s first full Bible, the Deep Blue Bible is full-featured and comes in the easy-to-read Common English Bible translation. The new Celebrate Wonder edition, intended for use with the Celebrate Wonder Sunday School curriculum, promises to be a great pick, too.
- Kids Spark NRSV Bible (Elementary through Early Tweens) With plenty of features and margins for note-taking, this full Bible is an especially great choice for older Elementary students who may well use it into the middle school years. It’s one of the few children’s Bibles that helps kids begin to interact physically with a Bible by underlining, adding stickers, and noting their own thoughts on the passages.
- Building Faith offers articles and curates resources related to lifelong and lifewide faith formation.
- Faith at Home offers a free daily faith-at-home resource through Faith @ Home. Each day offers a set of activities—watch, listen, read, do—for families, based on the lectionary.
- Faith Gateway brings together content in many different forms: daily blog posts, book excerpts, devotionals, free downloads, videos, giveaways, contests, author chats, and more. The mission of FaithGateway is to help people grow and share your faith.
- Family Faith Formation Toolkit offers congregations and families with sound faith formation practices for the home.
- Family Resource Center is a library of digital resources for families, liturgical year, prayer, sacraments, saints, Scripture and tradition, Ignatian spirituality. There is also a section of resources in Spanish.
- Forward Movement provides ebooks, downloadable resources, apps, online engagement opportunities through Twitter and Facebook, and even a Forward Day by Day podcast.
- GenOn Ministries supports intergenerational ministries in congregations.
- Grow Christians provides inspiration for faith at home, describing itself as “striving to create an online community of discipleship focused on the practical details of life at home.” It includes reflections, stories, images, and recipes, celebrating the presence of God through the Christian year.
- Lifelong Faith offers this curated list of digital resources for faith formation with children.
- Living the Word: God’s Word @ Home (RCL): God’s Word at Home brings faith formation into the home with a lectionary-based curriculum designed especially for families. Created as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Living Well: Christian Practices for Everyday Life presents twelve essential practices for a Christian way of life. There is a free, full-color book for adults and parents, and a children’s workbook.
- Milestones Ministry offers resources for children and youth that connect significant occasions in people’s lives (birthdays, blessing animals) with the ongoing journey of faith. All are available as digital downloads.
- Parent Cue focuses on the parents and how parents can practice faith at home. Each Sunday they provide a 20–30 minute meaningful family experience custom-designed for preschool, elementary (grades 1-3), and pre-teen (grades 4-5). Find them also on YouTube.
- Rows of Sharon offers thoughts of Christian Educator, Sharon Pearson, and decades worth of resources to serve formation ministry with people of all ages.
- Vibrant Faith Ministry is an excellent resource for professional development with resources and masterclasses to equip Christian formation ministry leaders.
- We Wonder is a contemplative devotional podcast for children and their parents.
- Way of Love for Children series on YouBrewYou.
- Bible Stories by Snarky People is a fun podcast with Josh Hosler and his daughter.
- LifeKit is an NPR parenting podcast that presents wisdom from science and experts.
- Parenting Forward by Cindy Wang Brandt provides advice on raising kids with values of justice and kindness.
- Child of God by the Rev. Elizabeth Link shares stories about God's people and the ways we are a part of God's family.
Books for Ministry Leaders
- Connecting Church and Home by Tim Kimmel illustrates what characterizes a strong church-home relationship.
- The Episcopal Christian Educator’s Handbook is a rich toolbox of resources for Christian formation leaders, including teaching tips, managing volunteers and more.
- The Rite Place: Kids Do Church! Adults Do, Too! by Shawn M. Schriener and Dennis E. Northway offers a model for how to do intergenerational and experiential liturgy.
- Building a Children’s Chapel One Story at a Time by Bill Gordh offers a collection of stories for chapel with children.
- Welcoming Children: A Practical Theology of Childhood by Joyce Ann Mercer asks the question, “What might educational practices that welcome children and contribute to their flourishing look like in the context of a faith community where children's learning happens in collaboration with experienced practitioners of faith?"
Books for Parents
- Blessing of a Skinned Knee: Raising Self-Reliant Children by Wendy Mogel is a helpful book for parenting groups.
- Faith at Home: A Handbook for Cautiously Christian Parents by Wendy Claire Barrie provides concrete ways to teach the language of faith through simple practices.
- Common Prayer for Children and Families by Jenifer Gamber and Timothy Seamans offers prayers throughout the day, for families and friends, and for common milestones. (Available also in Spanish, translated by Yoimel Hernández González.)
- Faithful Families: Creating Sacred Moments at Home by Traci Smith describes traditions, ceremonies, and spiritual practices to ground a family in faith.
- More than Words: 10 Values for the Modern Family by Erin Wathen invites readers to live intentionally as a family.
- Raising Wise Children by Mark Matlock challenges parents to the story of our lives with the story of God in everyday life.
- Shepherding A Child’s Heart by Tedd Tripp offers a biblical approach to parenting.
- The Spiritual Child: The New Science on Parenting for Health and Lifelong Thriving by Lisa Miller documents the science behind the relationship between faith and a flourishing life.
- Sticky Faith by Dr. Kara E. Powell and Dr. Chap Clarkoffers ideas for a lasting faith in children.
- Taking the Plunge: Baptism and Parenting by Anne E. Kitch approaches parenting through the Baptismal Covenant.
- The 5 Love Languages of Children by Gary Chapman helps parents discover their child’s love language to strengthen relationships and parenting.
- See also this list of books for children oriented toward justice and this list of children's books curated for the Way of Love.