Rio Curriculum (David C. Cook): A Review

Rio Curriculum (David C. Cook): A Review

Recently, I received some samples of David C. Cook’s Rio curriculum.


I took a look at the materials and here are my thoughts:

What’s Good

1. The strong emphasis on Bible reading.

I love the fact that you go again and again to the Scriptures as different parts of the story unfold. We’re trying to emphasize the need for bringing your Bible to church to our kids and something like this would fit perfectly with this goal.

Rio Curriculum Review

2. The month long memory verse.

I can’t remember where I read it, but kids are not actually capable of learning a new memory verse every week. It’s just not in their cognitive make-up yet. What you end up with is a bunch of jumbled verses or discouraged kids. Wouldn’t it be better to learn 12 verses really well then try to cram a 50 or so in and maybe end up with the kids not remembering any? Good move here!

Memory Verse Fun!

3. Break Out Sessions:

There are several opportunities for kids to break up into small groups and work on an activity or craft for a few minutes and then return to the larger group. We have four small group leaders and I know sometime they feel like “I’m not doing anything” since our current curriculum is designed for one main teacher. This would be a great change of pace and allow small group leaders to connect with their kids more.

Small Groups (3)

4. Crafts/Activities:

From what I saw in the samples, the crafts seem meaningful and could certainly carry a lasting impression for the kids. Making family trees, altars, packing lists, etc. Seems fun and interesting.

Building an Altar

5. Kids can get involved in the lessons:

Reading, skits, you name it. Lots of opportunity for hands-on learners to get plugged in.

What’s Not So Good

1. Scope and Sequence

This seems to follow the ever popular Genesis + Jesus format. You have the typical patriarch stories and then a bunch on Jesus. There are a few “lesser known” stories, like Nehemiah, Daniel, Philip, and Elijah, but not a whole lot of “new” stuff here. As such, you will probably be repeating a lot of the same stories/lessons you’ve done with your kids before.

2. The Vocabulary Flashcards:

What is this all about anyway? I just think it’s a little much. It appears that unfamiliar words from the memory verse or passage are put on flashcards for kids to learn. I applaud not using some watered down version of the Bible, but the vocab cards just seem like too much work.

3. The Waiting on the Lord journal page:

We’ve done journals before (with Faithweaver Friends) and they were not a big hit. It seems like more of a fight to get kids to write things down than a “time of reflection”. It’s especially hard for the younger grades who don’t write well yet.


Other Thoughts:

Looking at the Elementary packet, I got the feeling it was a little too old for most of our kids. We have ages 4-10 on our mid-week program and I’m not sure even the oldest kids will be able to fully grasp some of the concepts introduced in the curriculum.

I checked out the Early Elementary packet second and it seems perfect for our group. Love the skits and activities. No journaling, but more “hands-on” learning activities instead.

I’m not overly impressed with the preteen curriculum (which is too bad, because we’re always looking for something for this group). The activities seems like a stretch to connect to the lesson and our kids aren’t that into music, so I can’t see incorporating a “time of worship” each week like the curriculum suggests. Biblical content is pretty solid, but I would like to see something to liven the lesson up a bit or to make it more engaging.

The Three Tenets

I must say, I LOVE the “three tenets” of Rio: Relational (authentic relationships), Intentional (knowing God, not just knowing about God), Overflow (reaching kids by sharing your own faith journey). I also really appreciate the idea of “family-friendly” curriculum, although I don’t really see the connection to family in the samples.

For more information, check out David C. Cook’s website for more information.

In Conclusion:

I might take a look at the Early Elementary Leader Guide. If the Scope and Sequence wasn’t so filled with the “familiar stories”, I wouldn’t hesitate. This is a beautiful looking and well-written curriculum. I would like to see a little more “Family involvement” besides the Family Cards. We’ll see what happens when we’re done with our current series, but I think it might be worth a closer look.

Another Children’s Ministry Worker is planning on using this. After he receives his full curriculum pack, he plans to do a review on his blog at Be sure to check it out.

Other Curriculum Posts:

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  1. Thanks for the info…this blog has never let me down..and by the way, i love your theme. Catch your next post..Bye

  2. I grew up doing memory verses EVERY week in church. To say that it’s not in a child’s Cognitive Make-up is insane. Children are more capable of memory at a young age then they are as they grow older. One child in our church was able to quote every book in the Bible by the age of 3, as well as many verses within scripture. I applaud the efforts of David C. Cook to quit coddling our children and actually challenge them. We need to quit seeing our kids as INCAPABLE of things, and actually realize they are VERY CAPABLE of things that are challenging even to adults. It’s sad how little we expect of children these days. It’s time to get away from “main thoughts” and “simple concepts” and teach kids the Bible. Why were kids able to memorize large chunks of the old testament back in Bible times, but they can’t do it now? I don’t believe that human beings evolve to become stupid. I think we are undershooting what our children are capable of these days.

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