About our programs

Children and Youth Religious Education Programs


Sunday morning schedule
Calendar summary for 2019-2020
From the Assoc. Minister of Religious Education
Sunday morning programs for families
9:30 Sunday, Sept.-April
After the 9:30 session
Spring project
Sunday eve. youth programs
Summer Sunday school 2020
Our Whole Lives program
How your child will progress through CYRE at UUCPA
CYRE email newsletter
How to register
Our Sunday school teachers
Campus map

Rev. Dan Harper, Associate Minister of Religious Education
Grecia Uribe, Religious Education Assistant
Children and Youth Religious education Committee:
Edie Keating, chair
Alyssa Erickson, treasurer
Greg Becker
Kris Geering
Beth Nord
John Kostka, Board liaison



Sunday morning schedule, mid-August through early May

9:00 to 12:30 — Child care available
infants and toddlers in Room 7/8 — children who are 3 and up and toilet trained in Room 2/3.

9:30 worship service
9:30-9:45 — All ages attend service in Main Hall
9:45-10:35 — Sunday school programs for pre-K through grade 8. If they wish, children may remain in worship service with parents/guardians.
10:35 — Parents/guardians may pick up younger children (grade 1 and under) in their classrooms, or children may be released to the supervised play area. Older children (grade 2 and up) dismissed from their classrooms to social hour on the patio.

11:00 worship service
Child care available. Infants and toddlers in Room 7/8 — children who are 3 and up and toilet trained in Room 2/3 (if your 3-year-old is not yet toilet-trained, they may be in Room 2/3 as long as you are available via cell phone if toileting is necessary).

Calendar summary


Aug. 11 — Water communion intergenerational service
Aug. 18 — First day of regular Sunday school
Sept. 1 — Labor day weekend, child care only
Nov. 24 — Thanksgiving intergenerational service
Dec. 22 — No-rehearsal Christmas pageant, intergenerational
Dec. 24 — Candlelight services at 6:30 and 8 p.m.
Dec. 29 — Winter break, child care only
Feb. 2 — Intergenerational service
Mar. 29 — Spring project begins
Apr. 12 — Easter intergenerational service & Easter egg hunt
May 10 — Flower communion intergenerational service
May 17 — Coming of Age service (intergenerational)
May 24 — Memorial Day weekend, child care only
May 31 — Summer Sunday school begins
June 14 through July 26 — One service, with summer Sunday school, at 10:30 a.m.

For latest calendar information and corrections, see the monthly CYRE newsletter.



From the Associate Minister of Religious Education

Welcome to Sunday school programs for children and youth at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Palo Alto (UUCPA). Religious education for children has been at the heart of UUCPA since the establishment of the congregation in 1947.

In our religious education programs for children and teens, we want to help young people become sensitive, moral, and joyful people, people who have intellectual integrity and spiritual insight. We have no interest in forcing dogmas or beliefs on children; instead, we want children to reach for the highest human values.

At UUCPA, we have four big goals for children and youth:
(1) We want them to have fun and feel they are part of a community;
(2) We want them to gain the basic religious literacy expected in our society;
(3) We want them to learn the skills associated with liberal religion, skills such as public speaking, group singing, basic leadership, how to work together, inward reflection, and so on;
(4) We want to prepare them to become Unitarian Universalist adults, should they choose to become Unitarian Universalists when they are old enough to make their own reasoned decision.

Because we believe in learning by doing, all children and youth attend the first fifteen minutes of the Sunday morning services, and attend half a dozen intergenerational services in the course of the year. When they attend services, young people learn our religious tradition through participating and doing: they sing and hear liberal religious music, they learn how to be in community with adults, they learn that sitting quietly is a form of spiritual practice. We want young people to learn that a Unitarian Universalist service is a time when you can reconnect with the best part of your self.

In the spirit of connecting with the best part of our selves, I hope you will encourage the young people in your life to participate regularly in the religious community here at UUCPA.

— Rev. Dan Harper
Associate Minister of Religious Education



Sunday Programs for Families

Because we believe in learning by doing, an most important part of our religious education is participation, with all ages, in the first part of regular worship services. Then during Sunday school, young people learn and play with people their own age. Feel free to ask Sunday school teachers what they did this week. If you would like to review curriculum materials that are not online, please call Dan Harper.

9:30 Sunday morning, September through April

Child care (for infants, toddlers, and young children) — Loving and safe care with our professional child care providers. Children who are over 3 and toilet-trained may go to Red class (if your 3-year-old is not yet toilet-trained, they may be in the class as long as you are on call via cell phone if toileting is necessary). To meet our child care providers, click here.


Red group (3 and 4 year olds), 2019-2020 — The Chalice Children curriculum helps young children learn about their religious community, and get to know each other.

Red group (3 and 4 year olds), 2020-2021 — We Are Many, We Are One is a curriculum to introduce young children to age-appropriate diversity concepts in a supportive setting.


Yellow group (gr. K-1), 2019-2020 — In fall, the Around the Church, Around the Year curriculum introduces children to their congregation. In early winter, children learn more about feminist god-images with Hide and Seek with God. In late winter, children explore the wider religious world with more stories from Picture Book World Religions.

Yellow group (gr. K-1), 2020-2021 — In the fall, the Creating Home curriculum helps children develop a sense of home. In early winter, children learn about feminist god-images using the story book Hide and Seek with God. Late winter brings the wider religious world with stories from Picture Book World Religions.


Green group (grades 2-3), 2019-2020 — This group begins with Spirit of Adventure to learn about Unitarian Universalist values through fun activities. In early winter, Timeless Themes presents stories about Jesus and his times. Then in late winter, Holidays and Holy Days introduces world religions through holidays.

Green group (grades 2-3), 2020-2021 — This group begins with Spirit of Adventure to learn about Unitarian Universalist values through fun activities. In early winter, Timeless Themes presents stories from the Hebrew Bible (Torah). In late winter, From Long Ago introduces stories from other religious traditions.


Blue group (grade 4-5), 2019-2020 — In fall, this group will explore Unitarian Universalist values with the Toolbox of Faith curriculum. In early winter, Timeless Themes presents stories from the Hebrew Bible. In late winter, they explore creation myths from around the world with the Beginnings curriculum.

Blue group (grades 4-5), 2020-2021 — In the fall, the group will explore social justice using In Our Hands. In early winter, they will learn more about liberal interpretations of Jesus with Kingdom of Equals. In late winter, the class uses Greek Myths to delve deeply into a few key myths.


For middle school (gr. 6-8), there is a choice of two different classes:

Purple group: Ecojustice (grade 6-8) — This is a project-based program that includes projects relating to environmental justice and nature study. Projects may include urban/suburban gardening, creating habitat for non-human organisms, learning how to cook outdoors, and studying environmental justice heroes like Rachel Carson and Cesar Chavez. There will be different projects each year, and the class may be repeated.

Purple group: Neighboring Faith Communities (grades 6-8) — This middle school group visits other faith communities, exploring other UU congregations, Christian diversity, and non-Western religions. Participants go on 6 field trips each year, on a two-year cycle: 2019-2020, UU, Quaker, Presbyterian, Episcopalian, Pentecostal, and Sikh faith communities; 2020-2021, UU, UCC, AME Zion, Catholic, Mormon, and Hindu faith communities.



Lesson-by-lesson curriculum plan

To see the 2018-2020 curriculum plan online, click here.


Spring project, late March through May

In 2020, children will participate in Judean Village, a recreation of a village in the land of Judea in the year 29. For an overview of this popular curriculum, click here.

In 2021, children will participate in Nature Fun!, an experiential curriculum to introduce nature and ecology concepts in a fun way.


2020 Summer Sunday school, June through mid-August

Summer Sunday school is less formal, and emphasizes having fun and building community. In 2020, summer Sunday school will run from May 31 through August 2. For more about summer Sunday school, click here.


After the 9:30 Session

“Rainbow Chasers,” 10:30-12:15 — Child care on the playground for children 3 and up who are toilet trained (if your 3-year-old is not yet toilet-trained, they may stay in Room 2/3 as long as you are available via cell phone if toileting is necessary). Infant/toddler care is available in Room 7/8.

Fourth Sunday brunch, 10:30 a.m. — On fourth Sundays, a simple brunch is offered (e.g., waffles with fruit) for a nominal cost — an opportunity for families to socialize with each other.

Second Sunday lunch, 12:15 p.m. — On second Sundays of each month, a low-cost lunch is offered. Some families let their children join “Rainbow Chasers” from 10:30 till 12:15, while adults socialize or participate in programs, and then eat lunch together.



Youth programs, Aug.-May

Senior High Youth Group (grades 9-12) or SHYG — Teenagers in high school are welcome to join either SHYG group for fun and community-building, learning, worship, leadership development, and social action (note that social action projects typically count for school-required community service hours).

SHYG meets on Sunday evenings from 6:30-8:30 p.m. in Room A (N.B.: meeting time may change for special outings, please check the latest CYRE newsletter .)

Coming of Age (grades 8-9) — In the Coming of Age program, teens explore their own spirituality and learn more about Unitarian Universalism through group meetings, projects, field trips, and meetings with mentors. In 2019-2020, Coming of Age is offered at 11 a.m. on Sundays (some field trips and projects meet at other times), with monthly meetings Sept.-Dec., and weekly meetings from Dec.-May. Coming of Age will next be offered in 2020-2021. For more information, contact Rev. Dan Harper.

Our Whole Lives (OWL) comprehensive sexuality education

OWL for grades 7-9 — In the 27-session Our Whole Lives program for grades 7-9, youth learn about relationships, sexual decision making, and other facts and skills related to adolescent sexuality. Please watch the monthly CYRE newsletter for enrollment information. This popular program will be offered in 2019-2020. For more information about OWL gr. 7-9, see uucpa-cyre.org/owl-program.

OWL for grades K-2 and grades 4-6 — In the 10-session Our Whole Lives programs for younger grades, children receive age-appropriate sexuality education, including how to stay safe. The programs are offered every other year, or as needed. OWL gr. K-1 will be offered in winter of 2021, and OWL gr. 4-6 will be offered in winter 2020. For more information about OWL gr. K-1 and gr. 4-6, see uucpa-cyre.org/owl-program.

OWL for grades 10-12 — To meet the needs of busy high school students, this program is scheduled as monthly meetings, Sept.-June. Teen participants report a high satisfaction level with the program, and it is recommended both for graduates of OWL gr. 7-9, and for those who have not taken OWL classes before. OWL gr. 10-12 will be offered in 2019-2020. For more information about OWL gr. 10-12, see uucpa-cyre.org/owl-program.



How your child will progress through CYRE at UUCPA

To make maximum progress towards our four goals and gain the most benefit, keep your child enrolled through high school. Here’s how young people progress through our programs:

Preschool: Young children make friends, have fun, and learn the rhythms of the congregational year.

Grades K through 5: Children at this age like to learn facts, and we teach them the basics about Western and other religions (building religious literacy). We begin to give them skills in group process (building skills).

Middle school years: In these critical years for religious education, young people learn about religion by visiting other faith communities (building religious literacy) and doing hands-on ecology activities (building skills). They begin to use group process and leadership skills, and they continue to learn interpersonal skills in Sunday school. The OWL program offers an opportunity for deeper learning in interpersonal skills.

Coming of Age: This is the keystone of our religious education programs. Young people reflect deeply on who they are and their own personal religious identity. They use skills in group process, critical thinking, and public presentation to lead an entire worship service in the spring. At the end of this program, they are eligible to become full voting members of the congregation, and they have the skills to decide for themselves whether they are Unitarian Universalists.

High school years: The high school years are an important time for youth to develop skills in participating in democratic process. Leadership opportunities abound, and teens have served on the congregation’s Board of Trustees, the Committee on Ministry, the Finance Committee; they have taught Sunday school, served as worship associates, etc. Basic participation in the life of UUCPA will give young people aged 13-18 the skills they need to participate effectively in democratic institutions. A motivated teenager can gain enough experience at UUCPA to serve on the board of any small to medium sized nonprofit institution.

The Search Institute has shown that regular participation in a religious organization is a developmental asset that enables “young people [aged 12-18] to develop into successful and contributing adults.” The Search Institute has done research to back up their claims, and we have also seen this year after year at UUCPA. Teens affiliated with UUCPA develop healthy relationships across the generations, helping them to stay grounded and more stable.



Children and Youth Religious Education (CYRE) email newsletter

If your family has a child or youth registered in Sunday school or youth programs, your family will be subscribed to a once-a-month email newsletter. This newsletter will give you notice of upcoming events, including family social service projects, barbeques, and more. It’s also available online — to read the newsletter, click here.

How To Register for Sunday School

Once you bring your children at least three times to Sunday school, please fill out a registration form to help us plan the program. Please fill out and sign a new registration form each year, to keep us up to date on any changes.

The form is online here.

Thanks to all those who give strong financial support through their annual pledges, we have no registration fee for the Sunday school. We can continue this tradition of strong voluntary financial support — please give as generously as you are able when you make your pledge to UUCPA this year.


Our Sunday School Teachers

People who offer to teach in the Sunday school are the heart and soul of religious education at UUCPA. Their teaching ministry is one of deed more than word, of setting an example more than wordy instruction. Their caring presence encourages new learning and new growth for all generations.

Each year, parents, grandparents, non-parents, and others volunteer to be Sunday school teachers. The Associate Minister of Religious Education provides face-to-face and online training opportunities. Teacher-to-teacher mentoring also contributes to excellence in teaching, since teaching teams typically include one or more experienced teachers who can act as mentors.

Because training and guidance are easily available, newcomers to teaching, and newcomers to Unitarian Universalism, find they too can succeed at teaching Sunday school. People who have never taught or led a program before are surprised at how satisfying this ministry can be, and they are pleased at how well they can meet its challenges.

Consider furthering your own spiritual growth by leading a church school or adult program. And don’t forget to express your thanks and appreciation to those who lead our programs for children, youth, and adults. Tell them how much you appreciate their dedication to UUCPA, and to liberal religion.

All our paid and volunteer staff follow the UUCPA Safety Policy for Legal Minors.



Campus map

Campus map for 2019-2020


Need more information? Contact us!

Mailing address:
Unitarian Universalist Church of Palo Alto
505 East Charleston Road
Palo Alto, CA 94306


(Web page revised July, 2019)