Any of you ever saved VBS planning till the last second? Not fun. It can be crazy trying to figure out how many classes, what crafts to do, what songs will you teach, what stories will the kids learn, and when can it be scheduled? So much to do, your just not sure how to get it all done in time? Let me help you by sharing some tips and get you a check list going, cause let's face it, a check list will help with organizing, it is fun putting a big check next to something, and it make you feel like your accomplishing something!
step 1. The Theme
So what is the first step to planning VBS? choosing a theme of course! So write that down on your to do list and I'll give you a few ideas to go over with your other VBS helpers. Sometimes you just need to say a theme out loud and then the next thing you know your craft teacher is naming crafts they could do with that, your music teacher is talking about a song or 2 that comes to mind, and the activity person is coming up with games that have a connection to the theme. If you are the VBS director, remember your not in this alone. You have been called to organize and plan the event but you have helpers that were called by God to do their job too, you don't have to plan it all, just give them the idea of the lessons and let them be inspired from there!
So here is a list of 5 VBS themes! (honestly I could go on and on with themes, its my favorite part!)
1.Fruits of the Spirit
2. Armor of God
3. The life of Moses
4. A Light in the Darkness
5. Fishers of men
So you may be greatly inspired by one of these or more confused than ever so let me explain a little bit further on them. Fruits of the Spirit could have an orchard type of decorations going on in the church and each day the kids will study a few of the fruits with maybe a skit that goes with the lesson learned that day, like Faith.
Armor of God could be a mid-evil theme and the kids will learn how to use their armor to fight Satan in their everyday lives.
The life of Moses may be confusing to some but basically the idea would be following the story of a man who was no one special and even had a lisp of some kind and did not like speaking in crowds, but God used him to save an entire city of slaves!
A light in the darkness could be used with a lighthouse or campfire theme. Stories would be based on people living in darkness that brought forth the light of Jesus like Daniel in the lions den and the three Hebrew children that were thrown into the flames.
Fishers of men could of course have fishing decor everywhere! You could talk about how each disciple came to follow Jesus or focus on stories of people that helped bring lost souls to the Lord.
So after you have your week theme you need these things
1. Verse of the Week
2. Theme song
3. Crafts that fit the theme best as possible
step 2. the daily theme
That's right, your week has a theme and so does your days. First step to doing this is deciding how many days your VBS is. Some people schedule only 3 days, others do Mon-Fri with Friday being the family night but I prefer doing Mon-FRI with Saturday being family day. Of course you need to pick a schedule that works best for you and the other church members.
So let's say you picked fruits of the spirit theme. You can't do 1 fruit a day so you could do something like this.
Day 1. Love, Joy
Day 2 Peace, Patience
and so on with maybe a small memory verse for the day that fits with one of the fruits of that day. At music the kids can learn their theme song (Lots of song on youtube for learning the fruits of the Spirit). Don't under estimate your little ones by the way, we had plenty of 5-7 year olds that memorized all the fruits just fine!
Of course your craft teacher will need a craft for one of the Spirits for each day or maybe an elaberate craft for the older ones that they can work on through the whole week!
We always have a verse of the week for the kids to memorize as well. Just google memory verse for "your theme here" and you'll find plenty of choices!
Another daily thing you may want is a skit or puppet show. I'll have to make a whole new post for that lol but you should still put it on your check list and hope your puppet and skit actors have some ideas! You may not even need a daily skit, just one here and there or just get one good skit for the family day.
Just to make sure we got this daily theme schedule thing figured out here's a list.
1. Bible charecter/Fruit/armor, of the day
2. daily memory verse (optional)
3. Weekly Verse
4. craft that fits the day
5. skit (optional)
step 3. WHo is teaching what?
So how many classes do you need? How are you setting up the classes? Is one teacher per group just going to take care of crafts, music, lesson, and activity? Do you want a class leader to take their group to a certain workshop at a designated time? So many more questions so little time.
So fist question is "how are you seperating classes"? let's look at you options.
Option 1. Divide by age. Example: 2-4, 5-9, 10-12, teens
Option 2. Divide by age and gender. Example: 2-4 girls. 2-4 boys and so on. Best for large churches)
Option 3. Divide by gender for older ones. Example: all 2-4, 5-9, 10-12, teen girls, teen boys.
Option 4. Small churches need to keep it at four classes max. so adjust the ages around and divide by gender if needed. Example: 2-5, 6-10, 11 and up girls, 11 and up boys.
Just divide your biggest class(es) by gender and adjust the ages if needed. Depending on how many kids in a class will decide how many teachers and helpers you'll need per class. I prefer one or two people per workshop and one class leader. So basically you would have one person for each group that leads them to their workshop at the appointed time and can be an extra help for the teacher of that workshop. Each workshop will have one or two people in charge of the activities going on in that class.
If your lacking helpers you may just let the older class(es) lead their selves. I'm sure they can find where they're suppose to go after each class is over. When each class ends the teacher can just point them in the right direction.
step 4. class rooms check lists
So you know you'll need a place and a teacher for the lesson, craft, activities/games, music, and I'm sure the kids will want a snack at some point. I do find it best to do snack time while the kids are listening to their story. So maybe a person in charge of bringing and handing out snacks. Anyways, here is a checklist for each class room!
You want to teach the same story to each class right? Well you could just do a lesson in the sanctuary where all the kids are gathered at once but then you couldn't give them snacks while doing it and you would have to teach the story on a low enough level for the little ones and that is just not fare to the older ones. I feel like we don't talk "grown up" enough to our teens because we just don't realize how fast they have grown up, but they need to be talked to in a way that let's them know we are not just teaching them child stories but we teaching them real serious life lessons. There is evil in this world, it's real, and they need to know how to fight Satan's temptations.
Anyways, That's why we divide our classes for the lesson time, same stories being told but on a different age level.
Here's a list of ideas to consider for your lesson class room
Lesson class room
1. Have a snack with your lesson to help keep kids focused and still (and from complaining about starving to death lol)
2. Puppets to help tell the story? Maybe some helpers in costume? Give them something to remember. Be sure to ask them questions and help them with their daily/weekly memory verse as well.
3. Prize for answering questions. candy, treasure box, prize ticket. (I'll explain the prize ticket next)
1. Teach each class their theme song. The preschool class can just learn a small part of it maybe.
2. Teach each age group a song that fit's the theme still. If you split the kids up by gender, still teach them the same song by age group as they will sing it together on family day.
3. Do you have a soundtrack, do you have musicians, or are you singing acapella?
1. You need a game that gets some of their energy out! Let them have fun but try to have a main point at the end of the game. When the story/lesson of the day has to do with faith, an obstacle course is always fun. Have teams of two and blindfold one team memeber while the other talks them through the course!
2. Prizes for the winners. Something small again like candy or prize ticket. (I promise I'll explain the prize ticket next lol.) Plaese don't give everyone a prize. It's a good time to start teaching kids that you can't win every time but there's always tomorrow and at least we all had fun still. Maybe no prizes? Just have fun!
1. So do you want to do a different craft each day? Maybe for the younger classes? You could do a large craft that they work on through out the whole week! Whichever way, try to find something that won't be in the trash in a week. Those crafts cost money!
2. Crafts take a lot of work so definetly try to find two people to take care of this class!
step 5. prize of the week
Okay, most of this is completely optional! (Yes I'm getting to those prize tickets now!)
We know VBS is not free so one thing a lot of churches do is a money competition. The competition is boys vs girls and can be done lots of ways.
Option 1. Weigh the money. Forget bringing in dollar bills! Bring all the change you have and see who has the most weight at the end of the week! We normally go to the bank and get a big box of penny rolls that the kids can swap out their dollar bills for. It's so fun watching kids drag in a big baggie of change that they can barely carry but are so excited to try and help their team!
Option 2. Amount of money. If you find weighing the money to be to much then just do it by the amount collected at the end of the week. You can draw a big thermometer for each class and keep track of how much they have at the end of each day. They get so excited seeing how much they need to catch up to the other team. The only downfall to this way is that the kids may start asking parents for to much money, it is easier to give kids pocket change that $20 dollar bills.
With ether option, we like to collect the money just before the kids leave the sanctuary to go to their first class. After we gather back in there at the end of the day we tell them who is in the lead. On family day we have the kids running around gathering money from grandparents, aunts, uncles, and anyone else they brought. We take up the collection at the beginning of the program so it can be counted by someone during the other activities and then we announce the winner at the end.
But what do they win? Winner gets to silly string the looser? Spray them with water guns? Boys win the the pastor gets a pie in the face, Girls win pastor's wife gets the pie? Be creative! You could do a silly string war but winners get two cans!
What about those prize tickets? Well you can have a large prize for each class. So 4 classes 4 prizes. They will put tickets that they earn in their class bucket. On family day draw the winners. What should the prizes be? It's summer, get a giant water gun! Of course the preschoolers may need a smaller water gun or maybe a bubble blower. Doing the fishing theme? Get fishing poles!
Earn tickets by reciting weekly/daily verses, answering questions about the lesson, winning games, and maybe something crazy like "if you had eggs for breakfast come get a ticket! Or first person to bring me their left shoe gets a ticket!
Of course everyone gets candy or some small prize that came from oriental trading company at the end of the day and at the end of the week we usually send home a goody bag. Goodies just depend o your church funds of course but hopefully the money competition helps a little.
I know some of this may sound confusing especially if your new o VBS planning so maybe if i give you a small example schedule on how we do classes sometime then you'll understand a little more.
Start in sanctuary with a prayer and pledges to the American flag, Christian flag, and Bible. Do the money competition collection. Next each group will go to separate classes, so let's say class number one will go to Crafts, class number two goes to Lesson, class number 3 activity/games, and class number 4 goes to music. They rotate classes and then back to the sanctuary where we will end the day with a small review, update on money competition, maybe a small skit/puppet show (even if the puppets just sing the theme song), and then end in prayer.
Hopefully I gave you some help instead of just causing you more confusion! Please leave any questions in the comments below! Best of luck to your VBS and may God bless every child that attends!
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