How I Plan Curriculum

curriculum, lessons, youth ministry

One of my biggest strengths is that I am a Master Curriculum Planner. In my setting, I kind of have to be. We have a Sunday School-style program in that because we have one main hour of programming each week, and we have Confirmation smack dab in the middle of our middle school years. So, we split off into three groups: 5th & 6th grade, 7th Grade Confirmation, and 8th grade. We still have large-group teaching and small groups, but each group has their own curriculum and discussion questions… which equals a lot of work! Fortunately, I’ve had the ability to work on it one or two years at a time, and refine the previous year’s as I work on a new year.

You might be saying, “Heather, why don’t you just purchase curriculum? That’s what it’s for!” My answer: I love most purchased curriculum out there. I’m a huge fan of Orange, Sparkhouse, LIVE, Credo Confirmation, The Thread by y360, and other comprehensive curriculums.

But for us, I assessed the needs of our context and decided to do a four-year comprehensive curriculum. 5th & 6th grade rotates Old & New Testaments, 7th grade does Confirmation, and 8th grade addresses their identity through Spiritual Gifts. You can read more about how I develop a long-term curriculum by reading my article published in YouthWorker Journal.

Here is a look at the way I format curriculum over the course of 4 years:

56 Year 1 – Old Testament
56 Year 2 – New Testament
7th Grade / Confirmation
8th Grade – Spiritual Gifts

On top of Sunday mornings, we also have lots of retreats–it’s one of the hallmarks of our ministry! I typically plan the curriculum for our retreats, as well as for Middle School Mayhem, our weeklong Day Camp. Again–I could buy curriculum for these events, and I do for some retreats. But for Middle School Mayhem, I like to mimic what is happening in Vacation Bible School since it happens the same week. This year we’re branching off from VBS week, so I may have more freedom in the future.

But again…I enjoy writing curriculum and am good at it.

Today I want to share my favorite way to plan curriculum over a series.

  1. Basically, I fold a piece of paper into the number of lessons that I need.
  2. I write the things that I need to plan: Date, Title, Bottom Line, Scripture, Notes, etc.
  3. Then, I fill in the blanks. My big secret for finding scriptures that match themes is the Topical Bible.

Easy, right? Here are some examples:


This is how I planned our 8th grade year on Spiritual Gifts. I divided up the 15 gifts (from LeaderTreks) into 5 categories: Leaders, Teachers, Movers, Judgers, and & Helpers. Then I planned out some scriptures.

mayhem 2018

This is how I’m planning Mayhem for this upcoming summer! I’m drafting this on paper, then I’ll form it into a document (like the next two)

Mayhem 2015

This was our first year of creating Mayhem, a day camp, so this was my first way of formatting what I drafted on paper into a document, with additional details: like, notes and games. This year’s camp was MOUNTAIN themed!

Mayhem 2016

This year’s Mayhem was CAVE-themed. As you can see, I added “Snack” and some other categories to plan all aspects of the camp.

Hope this helps someone out there plan their pwn curriculum! For me, I always find looking at the week as one comprehensive piece and viewing its parts as part of a whole helpful. It’s allowed me to be really imaginative and thorough, whether the series has been exegetical or topical.


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