We love to share what we’ve created. And we hope you will too! The Love First lesson plans available on this site are currently being used in 5 pilot sites around the country, as well as in our home parish at St. Barnabas. When we share our plans, we like to remind people that these were tailored to our gifts, our needs, and our parish (even though we’ve adapted them for use in other places with the help of our pilot sites). Your gifts and needs are unique to your parish, therefore we expect these plans to work differently in each parish. That said, not having plans can feel like a barrier to implementing Love First, and we don’t want that either!
You will likely notice that there is additional work involved with these plans; these are not intended to be downloaded on Saturday evening (unless you have an elaborate children’s library and extensive craft supply closet at your fingertips). What we learned about ourselves – and from other parishes when we visited – is that many of us are already doing the work, but we’re not sure it’s meaningful or important. These lessons are meant to let that work be put to good use, and we hope you’ll agree!
And don’t forget that love comes before lessons. Prioritize the needs and gifts of the people in front of and around you because that – above all – is Love First!
FAQs about lesson plans
What else do I need with a lesson plan?
Many of our lesson plans (especially the lower levels) use contemporary literature that will need to be purchased or borrowed ahead of time. You are encouraged to find books that resonate with your community, though, so you might have easy access to books on your own shelves. If you don’t have a children’s book shelf in your classrooms, we would suggest you start one! Books that reinforce Love First is valuable to any church community. We find this an essential part of how we teach. Not only does it add beautiful illustrations and relevant literature, but it helps both teachers and children develop the practice of finding God, religion, faith in the parts of our lives that often feel separate or secular.
Additionally, our lesson plans might call for materials that you don’t have on hand (though some parishes certainly do!). We find that projects and activities that call for nice materials are always handled with greater love and care than lower quality materials, so it’s worth planning ahead!
Do I need all your lesson plans to do Love First?
Nope! We found in our own parish that teachers needed several months of lesson plans to fully embody Love First. As with most volunteers, they were nervous about knowing enough to teach and appreciated the step by step instruction and language to talk about the stories. Eventually, our lesson plans gave them the confidence to start creating their own, which became reflections of their gifts and of the children in their spaces. That’s when it really starts to come together!
Why do you only have 28 lesson plans per academic year?
Good question! We found – in our own experience and when working with other parishes – that most Sunday school programs don’t meet every week of the year. And if they do, they have a summer program that looks and feels slightly different than the program year. But more importantly, we like to create space in a program year for parishes to tend to their own community. Inviting parish elders into your classrooms is a great way to spend two weeks (1 week to prepare, the 2nd week to host your guests). Leaving room for parishes to explore their own gifts is an important part of Love First.