7 ways to personalize your Vacation Bible School

7 ways to personalize your Vacation Bible School (image: empty half-barrel planter)

Is it a half-barrel planter...or a Vacation Bible School missionary boat? 🙂

You have a lot to consider when planning your Vacation Bible School. First of all, you will decide which Vacation Bible School materials to purchase. Then, you will decide how to make your Vacation Bible School uniquely yours.

Even if you have chosen a Vacation Bible School curriculum with complete guidelines for your program, there will still be plenty of room for your specific church to shine through. Here are 7 ideas:

  1. Design your decorations
  2. There is no need to purchase a lot of expensive goodies to decorate with. Take a look in the church attic or children's ministry closet. Think about what sorts of things are naturally available in your area. Consider the resources that may be available through various members of your congregation.

    One year, for VBS--Superstars for Jesus, which is based on the life of Paul, I borrowed two half-barrels from Bowlby's Barrels, a small business operated by part of our very own church family. Then I found a couple tall dowels, rounded up some string and cloth, and put together two simple sailboats--one for the boys, and one for the girls.

    The sailboats became "missionary boats" that sat in the church foyer to collect food donations for the church food bank to share with needy families after Vacation Bible School. The "home-grown" decorations added a very nice touch to our Vacation Bible School.

  3. Improvise on crafts
  4. Hasten Home's Vacation Bible School curriculum comes complete with a Craft Leader's Handbook. Crafts are laid out, day by day, specifically designed to go along with the lessons you will teach at Vacation Bible School.

    However, there is still room to improvise.

    For one, you may substitute some of the materials called for in a project with things you already have on hand. Additionally, you may change some of the process if you are more familiar with a different method, or think you have a better idea!

    For that matter, as long as you are careful to stick to each day's objective, you may even want to swap out an entire project for another one that you are particularly fond of.

  5. Devise outdoor games variations
  6. The outdoor games in Hasten Home's Vacation Bible School curriculum are designed to be simple, but fun and non-competitive. They even have children's approval! 🙂

    Even so, you have great ideas, too! You may come up with a fun, safe alternative to some part of a game. If it is in line with the values of your Vacation Bible School, give it a try. It may just turn out to be your children's favorite!

    Also, do not be afraid to substitute appropriate equipment to make do with items you already have on hand or can easily borrow. While Hasten Home's Vacation Bible School curriculum makes use of simple supplies (some of which can be reused year after year), you may not necessarily need to purchase everything you do not already have.

  7. Put together a daily Science Spot
  8. The Science Spot is a great little part of Vacation Bible School, where children can learn more about the awesome God we serve by observing His creation. It is intended to be a small, personal touch in the day.

    The assistant teacher in each Vacation Bible School division may decide on a simple science theme to present; or you may enlist the help of a knowledgeable person in your congregation. Some examples of people to consider are: a nurse or doctor, an herbalist, a naturalist--or just someone who greatly enjoys nature.

    Each day, the children will look forward to a ten-minute break in teaching style, and will begin to see how their curiosity about nature is really leading them to nature's God.

  9. Elaborate on lessons
  10. Hasten Home's Vacation Bible School lessons are very thorough, with interesting introductions, complete stories, Scripture-based activity sheets, and engaging review activities. That does not mean there is no room for your own experience to fit in, though.

    As the Spirit leads you to in your teaching, add in a brief, personal anecdote to emphasize the lesson. When a study reminds you of a favorite Bible verse, share it with the children. Your enthusiasm will be contagious!

  11. Concoct a one-of-a-kind closing program
  12. When you purchase your Vacation Bible School curriculum from Hasten Home, you will receive a non-dramatic Closing Program narration (in print), as well. This is the backbone of your Closing Program. Your part is to personalize it.

    One great way to personalize the Vacation Bible School Closing Program is by inserting a slideshow recap of the children's last two weeks.

    The children will also have been practicing several songs, collectively, to share with their friends and family on this special occasion. Since we have left the exact song choice up to you and your classes, the songs will mean more because they will truly be a gift from the heart.

    A Power Point presentation is a great go-along for your Vacation Bible School Closing Program. We are looking into a way to provide a basic Power Point presentation with each of our Vacation Bible School curriculum sets, but until then, I strongly encourage you to spend a few hours before the Closing Program preparing songs and memory verses for the "big screen".

    The children's artwork (scanned in from their activity sheets) and photos of some of their crafts make great illustrations for parts of the Bible story you will be telling. Other slides could simply be backed by a solid color or a non-distracting nature photo.

  13. Be you!
  14. All in all, this is the most important part. Be yourself. The enthusiastic, "new creature", with the huge heart for the children is truly a witness and an attraction to draw the children to Jesus.

    When this year's Vacation Bible School is all said and done, that is what counts!

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YOUR TURN:
Do you have a story of something you have done to personalize your Vacation Bible School in the past? Do you have an idea you have been considering? We would love to hear your thoughts — please share in the comments! 🙂


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