Solutions: Finding Devotional Materials for Teens with Special Needs

Please meet my friend and colleague, Kelly Norville.


Kelly serves as Special Needs Ministry Coordinator at Christ Community Chapel in Hudson, OH…and she does it with passion, energy, and exceptional care. (and a great sense of humor as well.) Every time I’m with Kelly, I learn something new and useful. If you are in Northeast Ohio, you MUST pay her a visit!

One of the things I love about ministry work is brainstorming with other ministry leaders. When we work together, we are almost certain to land on a solution that will meet the needs of our students and their families. SO, when Kelly emailed last week, I was thrilled to brainstorm a solution with her!

The situation: Kelly was doing some planning for students in her program, and wanted to find some devotional materials for teen girls with special needs.

The solution: We brainstormed some possibilities that would fit the interests and needs of the kids with whom she is ministering. Below are some of our favorites:

soulsurferSoul Surfer by Bethany Hamilton. This might be appealing because it is written by Bethany Hamilton…a real person who is not much older than some of the kids in the program. They could also watch the movie, “Soul Surfer,” which could aid in  comprehension and provide context. (book from Joni and Friends, $15)

parables10 Minute Parables  These are short lessons, which may be helpful teens who have difficulty sustaining attention. Some students will need a clear, concise explanation of how parables are a simple way to understand complicated topics. This series is designed specifically for teens, so those who have difficulty with comprehension, or who are functioning on a more concrete level will benefit from pre-teaching and reviewing. (Group Publishing, $6.99)

10 Minute Moments: The Basics  This is another Group resource…I like that it works through the book of John, because that is such a foundational book. In addition, when material is presented as solid, basic, truth, (as in this resource) it makes understanding intangible concepts (like faith!) much easier for kids with autism.

ChurchEditionVolume1_largeWhat’s In the Bible Series. Bear with me here…I know this series seems like it’s very elementary-friendly…it IS designed for kids. HOWEVER…the humor and language move quickly, so it absolutely appeals to older kids (and adults, too.) Proof: I had “kids “in my family room ranging in age from 5 – 22 who were all watching this last Christmas…and LOVING it.) This series is designed by Veggie Tales creator, Phil Vischer. There are companion downloads, coloring pages, and music, in addition to a full curriculum. (my friend and colleague, Amy Dolan served on the curriculum team!) This would be a fabulous resource for students who need repetition, respond well to music, and also for those for whom video is a preferred method of learning. Finally, this is one of my favorite resources in terms of helping kids understand God’s story as a whole, not just as isolated stories.
(Jelly Fish Labs, DVDs start at $14.99; Curriculum starts at $79.00; also available; music, digital downloads, web resources and more!)

The 13 Most Important Bible Lessons for Teenagers. I like this for the same reasons that I like the What’s in the Bible series…it’s good meat-and-potatoes, presented as FACT. In addition, Group’s lessons include drama and hands-on materials designed to make the lessons relevant to each learner’s needs. (Group Publishing, $21.99)

BelieveitornotBelieve it or Not Bible Studies. This is one of those out-of-the-box type of studies that captures some kids who have a fascination with the interesting and obscure. Definitely a different way to go (and I can think of a few teen boys who would really get into this…a whole chapter on Jesus’ spit? Cool!)
 Group Publishing, $16.99

GodOurFatherGod Our Father  Friendship Ministries is always a good, solid resource. This publisher breaks down information into very manageable portions. Many of the resources in this series are designed for folks with cognitive disabilities. If kids need really straightforward information, stated in simple terms, this would probably be helpful. Materials include music on CD, leaders’ guides, and take-home papers. Also in this series…Jesus Our Savior; Spirit Our Helper
Faith Alive Resources/Friendship Ministries, CD: $12.49; Leader’s packet: $85.99; Youth Take-Home Papers: $26.49

As with any solution…there’s no “one-size fits all…” Hopefully these resources will spark an idea that will meet the needs of the teens in your programs!

Do you have materials that have worked wonderfully with teens? Leave a message or tell me here .

Happy Monday!

Tips and Tools: Zondervan’s Adventure Bible Website

I have a great resource to share with you today! Zondervan, a name we all know and trust, has developed a new website. This companion tool for Zondervan’s Adventure Bible, will appeal to parents, teachers, volunteers and, most importantly, KIDS!

On the site, you’ll find games, Bible reading guides, devotionals and downloadable materials. Several aspects of these resources make this site a “standout.” For example, the games (including “Truth Quest” and (my personal favorite!) “Leopardy” have “pause” buttons. Children who need extra time to read the questions or think through their answers can stop the timer; this reduces frustration and encourages thorough thinking! The sounds that accompany the games are motivating but with tones quiet enough for kids with sensitive ears.

Another strong component of the site is the picture downloads. This resource is especially helpful for children with cognitive disabilities, language-based learning disabilities or autism spectrum disorders. The printable pictures not only provide visual support for unfamiliar customs such as Foot Washing, but also, more abstract concepts, like “God is a Shield” and emotions such as “Showing Grief.” These visuals can provide broader understanding to students, as well as opportunities for review and practice.

Teachers and volunteers will be delighted by the resources accessed through the free, password-protected area of the site. Some of these tools include a database for communication and tracking student progress, additional downloads, and children’s sermon outlines and activities. In addition, bulletin inserts can be printed for children who attend adult worship. These inserts have several activities on each page, and can be modified for several skill levels.

Here is my very favorite part: The emphasis on this site is CONTEXT. Zondervan includes maps, timelines, and a topical index. Clearly, the goal is to increase Bible literacy by understanding the “whole,” rather than a series of unrelated stories. The website supports…and encourages…kids to open their Bibles and interact with God’s word.

You will just love this site…check it out here, and be sure to complete the information here so you will have access to the additional materials. Enjoy!



Winner of the “What’s In The Bible” Curriculum

winnerCongratulations to Liz Worsley from the United Kingdom! You have won a copy of the curriculum that accompanies the Easter story from our friends at “What’s In The Bible!”

Please email me with your mailing address, so you can receive your prize!

If you are interested in more information about this great curriculum, visit the What’s In the Bible  website .

What's In The Bible

Dear friends…I wish you a wonderful Easter. The tomb is empty…HE IS RISEN!
He is Risen indeed.

That is cause for celebration!