Evolutionary Curricula
for Children and Youth


Self-Guided, Science-Based Lesson Plans, Stories, Dramatic Scripts and Songs for Teachers and Parents

Learning the science-based story of 14 billion years of cosmic, planetary, life, and human evolution in fun and meaningful ways can be transformative for kids. Curriculum materials are downloadable here on the themes listed below. All of these are intended for use by teachers or parents who are looking for participatory curricula, stories, dramatic scripts, readers theater, and songs for helping children learn and love our cosmic and earthly evolutionary journey. (Assembled by Connie Barlow)

  • Listen/download 38-minute AUDIO podcast, "Inspiring Naturalism for Families" by Jon Cleland-Host, with discussion of ways to impart our cosmic story in family settings.
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    FREE CURRICULA FOR DOWNLOAD

    Except where noted, all programs were written by science writer and educator Connie Barlow. If you find these resources useful, please make a DONATION to support Connie Barlow's continuing curriculum development. She received no funding for developing any of these children's curricula, which she has been developing while guest teaching in numerous religious education programs, several Montessori schools, and homeschool collectives since 2002, when she and her husband began traveling the USA as "America's Evolutionary Evangelists."

       

     
     

       "My Universe Story"

    3rd - 4th grade
    semester or full-year
    curriculum in progress;
    see preview

        
     
       Evolutionary Parables

    ages 6 - adult
    dramatic scripts for volunteer
    readers (no rehearsal);
    each takes 12 - 20 mins

     
     

       "We Are all Cousins"
    a.k.a. "Ancestor's Tale"
    a.k.a. "River of Life"
    ideal for mixed age groups
    (beginning age 5)
    Watch VIDEO of Connie presenting
        
     
       "Remember Who You Are"

    ages 10 - 14
    to assist transition from
    childhood to adolescence


     
       "Great Story Beads"
    (includes events Timeline)

    K-adult

     

        
     
       "We Are Made of Stardust!"

    ages 6 - 12


     
       "Tree Talks about Death"

    ages 6 - 11
    ideal for bedtime story with
    one adult reading to one child
    for 5 nights

            Sacred Sites of Evolution

    upper elementary - teen
    research / field projects


     
       "Celebrating North America"

    ages K-6th (unrehearsed) or
    Kid's Play (rehearsed)

            Evolutionary Songs

    ages 6 - adult
    lyrics + sample audios



    "Failing Our Youth: A Call to Religious Liberals"

      

  • Online Essay (Barlow and Dowd 2012)

  • Audio (22 min)

  • VIDEO (58 min; left; Barlow 2013)

    Excerpt: "Here lies an extraordinary opportunity for theologically progressive institutions to do what the fundamentalist churches cannot. Liberal churches can offer the youngers an evolutionary worldview that delights children in their wonder years, offers immensely practical insights and guidance for those going through puberty (by teaching them about "mismatched instincts" and "supernormal stimuli"), and empowers teens to ponder the meaning of life — and their life — as they edge toward adulthood."

  • Evolutionary Religious Education (10 pp)
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    Ideally, discussion groups of parents and/or religious educators would meet for half a day, watching a superb 2013 video on nurturing world views in children by freethought leader Dale McGowan, as well as the above video by evolutionary humanist (and Unitarian Universalist) Connie Barlow. A summary of each video, plus a hot-linked table of contents (so you can instantly advance streaming video to that location) is available at this webpage: "Nurturing Worldviews with Children"".



    Summer Church/Secular Camp Curricula on Evolution


  • "Out of the Stars" - by Aubree Smith and Jennifer Kranzke 2006; teen version by Denise Lanier 2010
    Based on Jennifer Morgan's Born With a Bang trilogy and Great Story Beads.
    Developed by Unitarian Universalist Church of Fresno, CA.

           Download the 5-day curriculum in PDF for PRIMARY grades

           Download the 4-day curriculum in PDF for HIGH SCHOOL youth

    NOTE: First Unitarian Church of Dallas TX (in 2006) and All Souls Unitarian in Tulsa OK (in 2011) - used the above curriculum originally created in Fresno for their own week-long summer day camps, titled "Camp EvolUUtion".


  • "We Are All Cousins" - by Connie Barlow 2006, revised 2013
    Journey back to the origin of life with an ever-increasing circle of "cousins" (other life forms). Highly participatory: script-reading, singing, movement for grades K-6.
    Ideal for indoor morning 60-90 minute "theme" sessions, over the course of 4 or 5 days, culminating in a chorus performance (children singing all 23 song verses).

           Learn about and download curriculum resources




  • Sunday/Secular School Rotating Curriculum listed by church:

  • First Unitarian Society of Madison - "Exploring Our Origins" (4th and 5th grade; offered every other year)

  • Live Oak Unitarian Universalist Church, Goleta CA - "Science and Myth" (elementary grades; offered every third year). Final 2 weeks culminate in choosing and stringing "Earth Story Beads"; see photos of Jan Ross leading the program.


  • CHILDREN'S BOOKS (for sale online)


    Jon Cleland-Host (father of four) recommends this sequence of books for spanning from pre-school (left), primary grades (center), and 6th grade through youth (right). Click on images for Amazon.com pages.



          

  • NEW FAMILY RESOURCE: "Elemental Birthdays"

    Jon and Heather-Cleland Host are two of the most imaginative and prolific creators of ways to bring inspiring "cosmic education" and scientifically accurate rituals celebrating the epic of evolution for families. After years of testing out birthday materials on their own 4 boys, these two scientists have made available for online purchase their "Elemental Birthdays" Guide (thus far, for birthday years 1 through 11). Each birthday year is named for the chemical element (atomic number; number of protons in the nucleus) that corresponds to that year. For example, kids turning 6 get to celebrate their Carbon Birthday. Those turning 8 celebrate their Oxygen Birthday. What playful, and life-long meaningful birthday parties! Direct link to Amazon page.



  • Born with a Bang

    Children's book trilogy by Jennifer Morgan and Dana Llynne Andersen

    (Teacher's Choice Award)

     
             
    Jennifer Morgan with
    her mentor, Thomas Berry
    AUDIO
    Interview
      
    of Jennifer
    Morgan

     
      
    ILLUSTRATED
    CANVAS
    MAT
    (with matching cards)

    based on the book
    Born with a Bang

    LEARN MORE
    or
    PURCHASE


      

      

         book page       book review

     

       Betty Kissilove combines Carl Sagan with Dr. Seuss in this richly illustrated, epic journey from the birth of matter to the birth of human culture and religions.

    For children and adults, the story begins:

    Once a long time ago there was Nothing / Like nothing before or to come.

    'Twas a Nothing with Everything in it: / Nothing even as big as your thumb.

    We can't talk of the size of this Nothing / Because nothing has no size at all.

    All this Nothing is hard to image / 'Cause there's nothing at all to recall

    Till out of nowhere this Nothing decided / That no time and no place and no thing

    Were all ready and willing and able / To flare forth and become Everything!

      



    As of autumn 2014, Dunbar's 3-volume-set is now available as a single, 110-page hardcover book:
    "The Universe Verse", recommended for ages 10 and up.

       

    Click above for VIDEO.

        James Lu Dunbar is the author/artist of a 3-volume science comic book series that playfully, artfully, and scientifically tells the story of (1) cosmic evolution, (2) life evolution, and (3) cultural evolution — published as a single volume in 2014. Recommended for all ages — from elementary to elder, and especially Earth's youngest science fanatics from 3rd through 12th grades.

       



          Before The Beginning: A Child's First Book of the Great Story is highly recommended for pre-school through kindergarten.

    The author, JD Stillwater, is a high school science-teacher who has shifted into an artistic mode of making the epic of evolution accessible and emotionally evocative for young kids as well as adults.

    Learn, too, about his superb adult program: Seven Candles: Science for a Deeper Spirituality — which Connie Barlow and Michael Dowd experienced with awe and delight in 2014.



    Music Videos for Youth & Young Adult Discussion

    A whole new genre of music videos (freely accessible for online viewing or download) examine existential questions of life's meaning from a science-based, yet reverential, perspective. Highly recommended for discussion are the music videos by Symphony of Science and by Peter Mayer.

    ABOVE RIGHT: VIDEO: "Praise Darwin!" an evolution revival with comedian Charlie Varon (14 minutes of fun, laughter, and science education!)

    NOTE: For ministers, teachers, and other adults preparing to guide youth Coming of Age classes, experiences, and declarations, it is vital to see the importance of leading youth toward contemplation and consideration of life and life challenges as they really are — rather than making "beliefs" central for this quest (especially the usual supernatural belief questions: Is there a God? Do I believe in life after death?).




    You may download, print, and use any and all of these resources, without seeking permission, for all purposes other than publication. (Contact us if you wish to include them in a book or magazine.) And please hotlink our site to yours.

      CLICK to access the programs that Connie Barlow leads when she is guest teaching in schools and churches.  

       




    High-Resolution, Large Format CHARTS to view or download:
  • STARDUST charts

  • NORTH AMERICA charts

  • DEATH charts

  • YOUR EVOLVED BRAIN


  •        Evolutionary Brain Science
    buttons, stickers, and tee-shirts for sale

    (Note: we earn no profits on any of these products.)




  • "Imprinting Is Not Indoctrination (Connie Barlow's boldest statement yet!)
        Connie subtitled this 9-page essay, "An invitation to parents and religious educators to present a coherent cosmology to our children." Composed as a critique of Dale McGowan's invited lecture at the annual gathering of Unitarian Universalists nationwide (in June), Connie calls for a reassessment of the way kids in religious liberally families and institutions are taught "religion". Our postmodern celebration of diversity and advocacy of free choice actually means we deny our children a basic human requirement: "a coherent cosmology (creation story / worldview) through which to enjoy and securely navigate the years of childhood wonder, learning, and innocence." (posted July 2010)

  • "With Praise and Thanksgiving" by Gail Forsyth-Vail, 2010. She is Adult Programs Director for the Unitarian Universalist Association. This is an online short essay on the Universe Story as the grounding source for awe, wonder, and gratitude — and for all ages.

  • Podcast AUDIO, "Jennifer Morgan: Born with a Bang" - Jennifer and Connie Barlow in dialogue about the importance of giving children a big-picture understanding of the story of the Universe, and as an inspiring adventure story.

  • Podcast AUDIO, "Jon Cleland Host: Inspiring Naturalism for Families" - discussion of ways to mpart our cosmic story in family settings.

  • Podcast AUDIO, "Evolution: The Next Generation" - Connie Barlow's 20-minute sermon delivered at a progressive church in Victoria, BC (Canada), in October 2012.

  • "We Are Stardust: The Epic of Evolution in Children's Religious Education"
    Long version of a chapter contributed by Connie Barlow to a 2009 book edited by Unitarian Universalist minister Fred Muir. The book is The Whole World Kin: Darwin and the Spirit of Liberal Religion, published by Skinner House Books. Connie's chapter is a summary of her work and philosophy in bringing the Epic of Evolution into religious education for children.

  • "Evolution Now: A Manifesto for Our UU Congregations", sermon by Connie Barlow delivered August 2008 - a plea for Unitarian Universalists (and other liberal religious folk) to ensure that we give our children a coherent, inspiring creation story to guide their lives and love for all of creation. Click to listen online or read in PDF.




    Epic of Evolution Website with Children's Hands-on Activities offers a variety of inspiring and informative activities.

    TIMELINE FLOORMAT for Kids and other EVOLUTION TOYS AND GAMES for purchase through Charlie's Playhouse.

    Universe Story Online Course for K-12 Teachers offered by The Heritage Institute uses some of the curricula and other materials on our TheGreatStory.org website. (It is a continuing education course for K-12 Teachers for credits of professional development.) The kid's book trilogy shown below are among the course texts used.

    BIG HISTORY for Kids - The International Big History Association newsletter of December 2011 is a special issue on children's "big history" curricula. Contributors include Born with a Bang children's book author Jennifer Morgan and Montessori educational authors and consultants Michael Duffy and D'Neil Duffy (who show the parallels between the new field of "Big History" and Maria Montessori's long-standing "Cosmic Education" approach to elementary education).




    Evogeneao website has terrific resources
    for teachers and parents.

      



        



  • "Darwin's Darkest Hour" - 2 hr NOVA television show now available for free viewing online. Great for adult or youth education class and discussion in any progressive church or secular setting, as it shows the cultural ethos and wrenching personal difficulties in facing the need to give up a biblically literalist view of God and Creation.

  • "Powers of Ten" - classic film of the 1960s now available on YouTube. Superb 9-minute film that expands outward from the human scale to the (then) edge of the known universe, then back and downward into a cell and onward to subatomic levels. Powerful!

  • "Epic of Evolution Website". Quality materials (for kids and older) for teachers and families.

  • "Evolution: This View of Life". More evolution resources.

  • "The Web's Best Videos on Evolution, Creationism, Atheism, and More". Very well indexed; vast menu of free online videos.




    BELOW: Connie Barlow teaches "Ancestors Tale" kids curriculum (alternative title, "River of Life"). Click images below to watch the entire program on YouTube.

      




      
    Teaching the Great Story
    to high school youth

    Watch the video (left) in which Big History contributor Bob Bain presents a 2014 TEDx Talk on this global educational project funded by Bill Gates.




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