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Curriculum Ideas & Other SpNeeds Kidmin Resources

June 27, 2010

In the last post I offered an explanation as to why there is a narrow selection of special needs targeted children’s ministry curriculum.  Below are a handful of ideas using typical curriculum and other special needs focused resources that may help a church looking for material suitable for their special needs participants.  What I show below is obviously not an exhaustive list of curriculum that works in SN environments…this is just what I’ve personally seen (and no, I don’t receive payment from these folks).  For products helpful in the special needs environment, see the post Products for the Special Needs Environment.     **Please post your ideas and positive curriculum experiences in the comments of this post! **  The blog’s readers will thank you!


Play-n-Worship (Group)

Who Benefits: Self-contained special needs church environments catering to children with moderate to severe profound disabilities.

Description: Group’s “Worship-n-Play” provides a toolkit for teaching a basic and relatable Bible story and concept to the earliest learners.  The curriculum includes a bright and colorful tri-fold illustration for each of the 10 lessons, a simple and short storyline for the teacher to read, a CD with a Bible verse based song, and an accompanying video to offer complimenting visual images to the song tracks.  The material also offers ideas for simple body movements and action prayers for teaching the children.  The music on the CD and DVD is fun, repetitive and lesson reinforcing (my typical 5 yr old son loves the music and videos!).

This curriculum’s toolkit requires little advance teacher preparation and minimal enhancement other than adding some physical objects (such as blocks, balls, or stuffed toys that are usually in the inventory of a childcare environment).  The material is designed to be repeated, teaching the same concept and story over the course of one month.  Many special education professionals and experienced ministry servants share that repetitive teaching is ideal in special needs settings.   The two versions of Play-n-Worship are very similar and could certainly be used in the same environment if a church wanted access to 20, rather than 10 lesson plans.

The music in the ” Toddlers & Twos” features children singing the songs and the videos show babies, small children and stationary items such as food that visually engage individuals on the most basic cognitive level.  The “Preschoolers” version of Play-N-Worship features slightly more contemporary illustrations and praise oriented music with an adult singer leading vocals.   The “Preschoolers” video shows older preschoolers often demonstrating simple hand moves to accompany the music.  The suggested activities in the “Preschoolers” version sometimes include simple crafts utilizing slightly more advanced fine motor skills than would be suggested in the “Toddlers & Twos” kit.


Friendship Ministries

Who Benefits: Youth and adults with intellectual disabilities.

Description: Friendship ministries curriculum is designed to communicate with both teens and adults and does a good job of connecting with many ability levels  participating in a special needs program.  The leader/mentor guides include step-by-step instructions, creative ideas for activities, music, and suggestions for planning each lesson. Take-home papers are bright and colorful and are available for youth and adult.  Friendship Ministries offers curriculum focused on teaching Bible stories as well as materials for teaching broader Biblical concepts through life studies.


Gospel Light’s Special Needs Smart Pages –

by Joni & Friends

Who Benefits: Special needs ministry leaders may appreciate the special needs classroom ideas as well as practical suggestions for lesson adaptations and enhancements.

Description: While this book does not provide lesson plans or curriculum, it does contain a handful of reproducible activity pages as well as suggestions for ways to modify existing curriculum.  Many articles do offer insight from experienced workers with children with special needs.  Templates for visual cue cards as well as program forms and general guidance on special needs related policies & procedures are offered throughout the book.


A review of Lifeway’s Special Buddies Curriculum can be found here.


For more resources useful in the special needs environment, see Products for the Special Needs Environment.

Like this post or any of its content?  See my blog entry Rules for Repost.

Amy Fenton Lee

From → Resources

  1. Group’s Play-N-Worship is $59.99 for each set of 10 lessons, video & CD.


    My husband I will start teaching from 252 curriculum this fall for the first time — as we will be teaching 4th grade boys at our church. Our church’s children’s ministry uses ReThink’s curriculum. I can’t offer any insight YET – but stay tuned! In the meantime, I hope other readers will offer their thoughts on ReThink’s 252 for engaging kids with different learning styles.

  2. LifeWay Christian Resources ( two levels of special needs curriculum:
    Bible Teaching for Kids (grades 1-6) repeats each lesson twice, has more choices of activities than you will most likely get to. Access is their teen/adult special needs curriculum. Both come with optional student papers, teacher guides and resource packs full of posters, a CD with music, downloads, etc.

    CCFH Ministries ( has many downloadable lessons at nominal costs and for varying age levels, including an excellent sexuality curriculum for teens/adults w/cognitive impairments.

  3. Thank you so much Sandy! This is truly helpful.

  4. At our church we use ReThink’s materials, 252 Basics (elementary) and First Look (preschool). Both 252Basics and First Look are structured to accommodate all sorts of learning styles, so that makes it doable to be used in an inclusion style ministry for most of our special needs kids. We have a couple of children who find it very difficult to participate in any group experience, and they do far better in our self-contained classroom. 252 Basics and First Look is published in two formats, pdf files and word documents, which makes it very easy to pull activities and make slight modifications for use in a self-contained class room (using the word doc). Since none of our special needs kids are the same, how we integrate them into ministry looks different for each of them. Here are a few pictures to show you how using this curriculum looks different for each child:

    One of our special needs ministry participants has autism and does very well with a buddy in their elementary school aged small group. This child’s buddy can make the call of when it’s working and when it’s best to take a little walk. This child also does well sitting through large group time due to the engaging nature of the scripts and music.

    Another of our ministry participants has cerebral palsy, walks with assistance, and is blind. This child plays in our self-contained room for part of the time, walks laps around our entire downstairs ministry area for other parts of the time, but NEVER misses elementary large group… it’s that child’s favorite time! Especially the music!

    Another one of our preschoolers has autism and LOVES numbers but has a hard time in any group setting. We pull the First Look activities and Bible verses and his buddy works one on one with that child in the self contained room. You will also find them taking little journeys around the hallway whenever this child wants to explore!

    Hopefully these pictures help you to see how we’ve adapted our environment and curriculum to best suit the need of each child! We also LOVE the exposure our entire ministry has to these amazing kids!!!

  5. Catie – your comment could be a post in and of itself! THANK YOU SO MUCH!

    I absolutely love what Beach Church (Myrtle Beach, SC) is doing!

  6. We are considering a SN program in my church and your website is definitely a great resource. God bless you!

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Kids Ministry this Week for 6/30/2010
  2. Adapting Lessons for Special Needs Sunday School Curriculum
  3. Why Can’t I Find Special Needs Children’s Curriculum? « The Inclusive Church
  4. Podcast #1: Your Church & Children With Special Needs
  5. Top 10 Posts & Blog Update « The Inclusive Church
  6. Good Finds! Free Autism Webinar by Friendship Ministries « The Inclusive Church
  7. Developing a Special Needs Ministry’s Goals & Mission « The Inclusive Church
  8. Ministering to disabled children-children with special needs « Ministry To Children Forums
  9. Happy 1st Anniversary The Inclusive Church Blog! (And Top 10 Posts) « The Inclusive Church
  10. Top 10 Posts for the Last Year « The Inclusive Church

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