If we are not careful, Vacation Bible School can become an overly spendy endeavor. And while we want to make sure the children enjoy VBS and get all that they can out of it, spending money needlessly is just not wise stewardship. Our Vacation Bible School crafts time is one place where, with a bit of creativity and planning, we can cut a lot of the potential cost.
Here are 10 free or low-cost Vacation Bible School craft items that you might want to watch out for.
- Ceramic saucers
- Small glasses or jars
- Magazines with pretty pictures
- Drinking straws
- Cloth scraps
- Scrap wood
Ceramic saucers can be used over and over again to hold paint, glue, pony beads, and all kinds of other useful Vacation Bible School craft goodies. Because they are heavy, they stay put pretty well. Plus, they are durable enough to wash again and again.
Look for ceramic saucers at yard sales and inexpensive thrift stores.
Whether you get some small glasses for a few cents at a thrift store or you store up several pimiento or one-pound peanut butter jars, it won’t take a very large investment to get these handy little guys.
Use your glasses or jars to hold water for rinsing brushes, paint when a lot is needed, or sand when you expect the children to use quite a bit.
Ah, good old newspaper. If you haven’t tried newspaper yet for tablecloths, keep it in mind! Disposable plastic tablecloths are great, too, of course. You might want to opt for the plastic if you can afford it, at least for the “wetter” Vacation Bible School crafts. (Think, lots of water or other liquid on the table.)
For many things, however, newspaper is perfect. It will soak up small spills; it is free; and it is disposable.
Just ask around. Somebody is bound to have a stash!
Put the word out with your church family and neighbors that you are looking for magazines with pretty pictures. (Just be sure they don’t mind them getting cut up and eventually destroyed.)
Outdated calendars can be another awesome resource for pictures.
People in modest clothes doing godly things are a great treasure. So are nature pictures of all sorts. Even those great, big letters used for titles can come in handy.
You might go through your magazines ahead of time and cut out the appropriate pages for the children to choose from. If you would like, take it a step further and categorize the pictures: people in one folder, birds in another, et cetera.
As a tool and as a part of some of the simpler Vacation Bible School crafts, drinking straws are inexpensive and come in quite handy. Try to have both the bendy type and the typical straight, non-bendable type.
One of the greatest uses for cotton swabs in Vacation Bible School crafts is as small, disposable paint brushes – or glue brushes, even. They can make pretty nice swipes, and they may be king – well, at least queen – of dots.
Of course, if you are working with children, you’ve got to have crayons if you can! If you can afford them, get Crayola. They cost a little bit more, but still not a whole lot, and they should last for several years.
If you can’t afford Crayola, just get a cheaper crayon brand. That’s okay, too.
Either way, try drawing a bit with your crayons each year. Did you know crayons wear out just from getting old? It takes a long time (many years), but eventually they just don’t color very nicely anymore. Throw the old ones out and get new ones so they will be fun to use.
Most likely if you ask around, somebody at church has more cloth than they ever intended to own and would gladly share. Even if not, cloth is often plentiful at thrift stores and yard sales.
Try to get some “boy” patterns and some “girl” patterns – things that each gender is likely to enjoy.
Yarn is usually as easy to find as the cloth, though in my experience, tends to be a bit more expensive at thrift stores. So ask around and check the yard sales.
Look for a nice variety of colors. Unless you specifically need it, the super-fuzzy yarn may not be the best for VBS because it is easier to get tangled up. The more standard stuff should be your VBS standard, too.
Some of the most exciting Vacation Bible School crafts involve wood: decoupage, bird houses, boats, treasure boxes…. Sometimes church members may have a stash they would not mind sharing from.
One of the big places I like to watch out for scrap wood, though, is building supply stores. Once you find one in your area that doesn’t mind giving away mill ends and “defective” boards, check there as often as you can until you have a nice supply for your Vacation Bible School crafts.
You might even find some neat-looking, odd pieces that inspire a new craft idea – you never know!
Well, there are ten ideas for your Vacation Bible School crafts cupboard! If you would like some more specific ideas on gathering supplies for your Vacation Bible School crafts time, check out my post: Acquiring Vacation Bible School crafts supplies.
I’m sure you can think of many other free or low-cost ideas for VBS craft items. Let us know in the comments! 🙂