Curriculum by Age Group for our Interfaith Sunday School

The curriculum for IFFP’s Interfaith Sunday School was developed by parents like you. Our children learn about our religious traditions, question them, and, ultimately, develop their own understanding of and relationship with these traditions. Read about the goals of the IFFP Sunday School.

Preschool & Kindergarten

photograph of preschool class

The children in this age group meet together for Sunday School lessons. The classes are a relaxed, play-based setting.

Since this is the children’s first Sunday School experience, our focus is on helping them feel welcome, getting to know other children in their class, and having fun!

Curriculum: Basic building blocks of spiritual development. Children learn about Christian and Jewish holidays and values, with a special emphasis on learning how to be a good friend. Teachers place a strong emphasis on kindness and, at the end of each lesson, the children say the Kindness Prayer.

Curriculum Sequence: We rotate through three years of curriculum so all the kids get all three years. Year 1 is Our Shared Values which focuses on Jewish and Christian Values. Year 2 is Holidays which focuses on the history and traditions of Jewish and Christian holidays. Year 3 focuses on learning how to be a good friend.

Class Sequence: Every class begins with a welcome song and a ritual. We have circle time, hear stories, sing songs, dance, play games and make crafts. Our music time includes Hebrew songs to begin their exposure to the language.

Music: Music and movement are an important part of this class, and the students learn some of the songs that go along with the different holiday traditions.

Hebrew: For Hebrew instruction, they sing songs in Hebrew, and play educational games about the Hebrew alphabet.

First Grade: Godly Play

photograph of children playing

The first grade class uses the Montessori-based Godly Play curriculum developed by Rev. Jerome Berryman and used by many congregations across the country.

Method: Children are invited to enter stories from both the Hebrew Scriptures (Tanach) and the New Testament and find their own wonder and meaning in them.

  1. The teacher first presents the story using special props such as a “desert box.”
  2. Students then respond to open-ended questions from the teacher by discussing their individual ideas about the story with the rest of the group.
  3. Finally, each student creates an “art response” to the story or plays with the story figures from this or another story.

Hebrew Scriptures (Tanach) Content: Stories presented from the Hebrew Scriptures are those that tell how God made God’s presence known to the Hebrew people. These may include: Creation, Noah’s Ark, Abraham and Sarah, the Exodus, the Giving of the Law, the Ark, and the Tabernacle.

New Testament Content: Stories from the New Testament include the Advent Cycle, the Parable of the Good Shepherd, and the life of Jesus, emphasizing his faith as a devout Jew and his work as teacher and healer.

Resurrection: When the story of Jesus’s death and resurrection is told, it is presented as a mystery, an end that is also a beginning.

Hebrew and Music: Children enjoy a fun music and movement time. In Hebrew, they learn very basic Hebrew words, letters, and songs.

Second Grade: Community & Religion

photograph of teacher and children

After much discussion in first grade about the relationship between humans and God, the primary focus in second grade is on our relationship with one another. Topics include:

  • What religion is (relating to God and one to another)
  • How every religion is a community
  • What comprises community in both the Jewish and Christian traditions.
  • Some of the life cycle rituals (birth, coming of age, marriage and death) important to Christian and Jewish religious communities
  • What Jewish and Christian Communities have in common
  • What it means to be part of an interfaith community

Field Trips: To learn more about the Christian community (the church) and the Jewish community (the synagogue), our second graders attend both a Christian Worship Service and a Shabbat Service.

Music and Hebrew: The second grade class continues exploring music and movement. In Hebrew, they learn some basic Hebrew words, letters, and songs. Meet our music instructors.

Third Grade: Heroes and Saints

photograph of children playing indoors

The third grade class explores what it means to be a “hero” or a “saint,” and the students learn about both heroic and/or saintly individuals and qualities. Students discuss what it meant for individuals or groups to be “called by God.” They begin to discover the complexity of “saintly” and “heroic” figures (no one is perfect!).

The heroes and saints might include some or all of the following: Abraham, Miriam, and Moses, the Maccabees, St. Francis, David, Esther, John the Baptist, Jesus, Mary, the Disciples, and modern saints like Martin Luther King, Gandhi, Mother Teresa, and Ruby Bridges. 

Methods: Teachers use stories, plays, and class projects to relate these figures and their qualities to the students’ own characteristics and beliefs.

Purim Play: For many students, the highlight of the year is the class Purimspiel. After learning about the heroine, Esther, the third graders star in their own version of the Purim Story, which they act out for the rest of the IFFP Community at our annual Purim Carnival.

Music and Hebrew: The third grade class continues experiencing joy through music. In Hebrew, they learn the Hebrew alphabet, some words, and common prayers.

Fourth Grade: Justice and the Prophetic Voice

photograph of children in a classroom

Fourth graders spend the year focused on the social justice aspect of both Jewish and Christian traditions.

Prophets: The students explore what it means to be a prophet—in both ancient and contemporary times—and they read stories, work on projects, and enact plays about the importance of the prophetic voice.

Literature: In addition to reading Bible stories about the Jewish prophets and Jesus’s prophetic ministry, students also read two age-appropriate, non-fiction stories of individuals who took a prophetic stand for justice:

  • Number the Stars, the Newbery award-winning novel about the Danish resistance during the Holocaust
  • The Christmas Menorahs, a picture book about a town in Montana that stood up against hate

Justice: The theme of justice will also include fairness, kindness, and the concept of tolerance.

Music and Hebrew: The fourth grade class continues experiencing joy through music. In Hebrew, they learn the Hebrew alphabet, some words, and common prayers.

Fifth Grade: Life and Times of Jesus

teacher and fifth grade students in a classroom

The overarching questions of the IFFP fifth grade year are:  “Who was Jesus?”  And, “If you had met him in First century Palestine, how would you have responded to him?”

Goal: By the end of the year, students are able to discuss the ways in which Jesus’s teachings are both completely Jewish and a critique of the mainstream Judaism of his life and times.

Class Sequence: The class begins with an exploration of Jewish history up until the birth of Jesus to better understand the common historical roots of Judaism and Christianity. They learn about the life that Jesus, as a Jew, would have lived 2000 years ago and consider Jesus in his contemporary setting to learn about the political and religious environment in which he lived. This includes discussions of the similarities between his teachings and the teachings of Hillel.

Nativity Play: Consistent with the theme of the class, the fifth grade class is responsible for putting on the much celebrated nativity play at the IFFP Holiday Party.

Hebrew: The fifth grade class continues to learn Hebrew words, prayers and reading.

Sixth Grade: Exploring Our Traditions

photograph of students working on a project, kneeling on the floor

Prayer is the underlying theme for the sixth graders, who visit a variety of churches and synagogues during this field trip-oriented year.

Religious Backgrounds: Students begin by examining their own religious backgrounds. This includes asking parents, grandparents and other relatives about the different types of Judaism and Christianity practiced in their families.

Exploring Judaism and Christianity: After discussing these findings, the class begins to learn about the four main branches of Judaism (Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, and Reconstructionist) and some of the many different Christian denominations (with an understanding that there are three main branches of Christianity—Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholic and Protestant).

Visiting Worship Services: As part of this learning process, the students (and many of their parents) attend worship services at five or six different churches or synagogues during the year.

Projects: In addition, each student chooses a branch of Judaism, a Christian denomination or another religion. After researching the topic, students give presentations to the rest of the class.

Leading a Worship Service: The students conclude the year by creating and leading their own worship service during the Sunday Gathering with the entire IFFP Community!

Hebrew: The sixth grade Hebrew program concentrates on learning several Hebrew prayers.