Woohooo!!! VBS 2021!! At this time of year, we should already be well into the planning process and working towards our summer Vacation Bible School. However, I think it's safe to say, that lots of us are still wondering how to approach this summer's programming because of all the changes with our world's current situation.
Having said that, where do we go from here? I posted a while back that we move forward! Don't disregard a VBS for your children, as long as your local area is open and able to meet. Our kids needs some fun and exciting times! They need to know that we love them and want to teach them, even when things are rough.
On the other hand, some have said that their attendance is down a lot, so that poses another problem.
>>>> Budget and Volunteers! <<<<
In this Blog Post I want to discuss some options to help with a shoestring budget...AND limited volunteers. I just want to throw some ideas out there for you, in no specific order, to help you start thinking outside whatever "box" is hindering you, in your specific area. So let's dive in!
1. Curriculum and Theme When planning VBS, it usually begins with your curriculum which then determines your theme. But sometimes, we can be stuck in the thought that we need to "purchase" VBS curriculum...which can be somewhat expensive. If it fits your budget, then by all means, purchase one of the amazing curriculums out there that will give you all the direction you need and make things simple to implement.
But on the other hand, if you can't afford to purchase one, what do you do?
a. Write your own
b. Skip VBS completely :-(
c. or.... Adapt something you already have!
Option "C" is what I want to discuss in this section.
Why not take some lessons you already have...Sunday School...Mid week Classes...Free Lessons found online...etc. and then add the different elements of a great VBS curriculum.
What would that entail? Well, let's break down what VBS really is....
VBS is a few or all of the following:
a. A Bible Story/Theme for each day
f. Object Lessons
Ultimately, if you can't afford to purchase a VBS curriculum, take something you have, and then proceed to add the elements suggested above to make it a fun experience for your children! Don't feel you have to spend all kinds of money to make it fun. There are so many resources online to give ideas...just do some research to get your creative juices flowing. :D
Decor can be very expensive...if you just purchase premade and printed backdrops, etc. Why not make something from cheap, dollar store things?
Here are a few ideas:
a. Plastic table cloths can cover walls and other items to change the scenery. Use green for jungle and outdoor...blue for underwater...brown for forest, etc. Form a waterfall or a brook with different shades of blue plastic table cloths.
b. Paper streamers are great! Hang them down from the ceiling in strips to be trees, roots, seaweed, etc. Whatever your theme is, think outside what it suggested as the decor to purchase. Imagine what could be turned into the same things you see online.
c. Make rocks out of stuffed plastic bags, covered in masking tape, paper mache, and painted. You can line the walkway with rocks to form a path.
d. Pool noodles can be turned into bamboo poles by covering with paper and tying together.
e. 50's Diner could be made with pink and blue plastic table cloths on the walls, along with black and white check table cloths. Paper plates can be painted to be records, pink and blue streamers, etc. Cut music notes form black cardstock and hang from the ceiling and paste on the walls.
f. Tulle/netting from the fabric store is quite cheap. We've used this to make an overhead "curtain", which creates an atmosphere for a jungle or rainforest...something to walk under.
g. If you have blacklights already, anything flourescent is great fun! You can make almost any theme with blacklight. We have use it for an outer space theme with this...covering the walls with black plastic, then cutting out big and little stars and planets to hang on the walls and from the ceiling.
The biggest thing to remember is that the more the better for decor! I know sometimes "less is more", but when it comes to setting the atmosphere, "the more the merrier"! LOL I like to make it feel like you are entering into a different world. Create a WOW! factor, with the simplest and cheapest decor you can come up with.
Games are probably the simplest part of VBS. There are so many ideas online! Decide where your game areas will be, then you can determine which ones will work best....outside...in a room...in a gym...etc. Then do a search for the type of games you want to use. Always try to tie these into your lesson for the day: if you're teaching about Jonah, you can play a water game; if you're teaching about the First Church in the NT, you could play a group game teaching to work together. Ask the Lord to help you learn how to relate everything you do to your lesson.
NOTE: We LOVE Minute-To-Win-It games. And most times the items can be found lying around your house, or purchased at the Dollar Store.
Again....so many ideas online! Once you have your lessons figured out, you'll be able to find simple crafts to go along with the characters or theme you are using.
Snack time can be tied in also. Some of the great VBS curriculums I've used has had "build your own snack" ideas. The children are given items that they can use to "build" an item from the story. For example, the Road to Emmaus: graham crackers for the road, chocolate icing for the dirt, gummy bears for the people. Use your imagination, as you are searching online for a "snack with a purpose"!
Don't feel that since you aren't purchasing VBS curriculum that you can't have music/worship time, since you don't have theme music. To be honest, not all the VBS theme music is that exciting anyway! LOL Find some prerecorded music that you like from the amazing artists out there. Choose songs to fit each day's theme.
7. Opening/Closing Large Group
It's always a good idea to have a Large Group opening and closing for your VBS. The Opening can be where you tell the story and set the theme for the evening. Drama Skits are always fun at this point, if you have young people that like to do that sort of thing.
The Closing should include prayer time and a way to apply the theme to themselves. Here is a great time to use an Object Lesson to drive your point home. Object lessons hold the kid's attention better than any length of talking you can do. Many object lessons and science experiments can be found online. Search a simple them or something having to do with your Bible story...you'll be surprised how many ideas you'll come across.
Well, I hope this has helped you to see that you don't have to have a large budget nor lots of volunteers. Don't get stuck in a VBS rut of needing EVERYTHING the book says to have. Think outside YOUR box...whatever box your local assembly has right now, with all this crazy stuff going on. Each of us has our own difficulties. Don't let them keep you stuck! Break outside the box, and make it happen!
As always, if you have any questions, I'm here to help! Maybe I can help you brainstorm some things! :D Just email or comment on this post, and I'll get back to you, ASAP!
Have a wonderful week, and may God Bless!
Sara Vojtasek & Joel's Vision Ministries