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.


    Except where noted, all programs were written by science writer and educator Connie Barlow. Most programs she developed while guest teaching in numerous religious education programs, several Montessori schools, and homeschool collectives from 2002 through 2019, when she and her husband, Michael Dowd, travelled the USA and Canada as "America's Evolutionary Evangelists."


       "My Universe Story"

    3rd - 4th grade
    semester or full-year
    incomplete / unavailable
    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)



       "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

    Three children's stories have also been translated into FRENCH: (no links)

  • "Startull: The Story of an Average Yellow Star"
  • "The Lucky Little Seaweed"
  • "Tree Talks About Death"

    Translations by Dominique Krayenbul

  • "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)

    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!

  • Oliver Sacks, writing in the New York Times in 2015, reflects on his own life coming to an end not long after his 82nd birthday (lead). He writes, "Bismuth is element 83. I do not think I will see my 83rd birthday, but I feel there is something hopeful, something encouraging, about having 83 around. "Oliver Sacks: My Periodic Table".



    Jon and Heather Cleland-Host created a series of "Ancestor Cards" for their children to speak words of gratitude about as a ritual around the dinner table (especially during the autumn leading up to Samhain / Halloween / Day of the Dead).

    These cards are available for free for other families to enjoy. Just go to the webpage, print, and have the kids cut them into cards. Then read their blogpost to learn how to use the cards in family ritual.

  • 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
    of Jennifer

       by Jonathan Tweet and Karen Lewis

    Published 2015: a superb, lively, and participatory book for pre-schoolers. The illustrations attract immediately — and surely the pathways of evolutionary connections will become increasingly meaningful as the child grows through the primary grades. Highly recommended! book website or AMZ page

    Endorsed by well-known evolutionists, including David Sloan Wilson, Steven Pinker, Jonathan Haidt, and Daniel Dennett. Connie Barlow says, "I haven't been this thrilled by a children's book since I saw a draft manuscript of the now-classic Born with a Bang! trilogy." (by Jennifer Morgan; illustrated by Dana Lynne Andersen)

    Watch and listen on youtube to kids interacting with an oral reading of this book by Heather Cleland-Host in a church setting. "Kids hoot, squeak, and laugh. The energy in the room builds up step by step. The kids start out wiggling like Grandmother Fish, and they end up wiggling, chomping, crawling, breathing, squeaking, cuddling, grabbing, hooting, walking, and talking like Grandmother Human."



         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?).

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

  • NORTH AMERICA charts

  • DEATH charts


  •        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)

  • 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.

    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.


    WWW www.TheGreatStory.org