Vacation Bible School ideas: Happy/Sad sticks

child holding happy/sad sticks

Happy/Sad sticks are one of the Vacation Bible School ideas I like to use at story-time.

As you are considering Vacation Bible School ideas, you certainly want to think of some ways to keep the children engaged as you tell the Bible story. (Hint: When you finish reading this post, watch the video at the end for some general tips on how to be an enthusiastic and engaging Vacation Bible School storyteller!)

One of the Vacation Bible School ideas that I think is really fun is happy/sad sticks. This is an extremely simple prop to prepare, but definitely helps keep Kindie children (that is, pre-readers) interacting with you as you tell the story.

Make the happy/sad sticks

Here is how it works: All you need are enough tongue depressors to let each child in the class use one, and some colored felt-tip markers. Use your markers to draw a pair of eyes–two dots will do just fine–on each side (front and back) of every tongue depressor. You could make some pairs of eyes blue, some green, some brown, some black.

Be sure both pairs of eyes are at the same end of the stick. The other end will be where the child will hold onto the happy/sad stick.

Then, draw black (or pink) mouths to go with each pair of eyes. This time, one side of the stick will need a simple frown and the other will need a simple smile. Now you’ve got a set of happy/sad sticks!

Of course, Vacation Bible School ideas are best in action!

Now, here is what makes this one of my favorite, easy-to-do Vacation Bible School ideas.

When you are telling a story with a rapidly changing plot to Kindie-aged children at Vacation Bible School, pass out the happy/sad sticks. Explain to them that they should listen for changes in the mood of the story.

This works especially well with stories that have one central character (although stories with multiple characters could be used, as well). Then when the children notice that the character is probably happy, they hold up their happy/sad stick with the happy side out. When the children notice that he is likely sad, they hold up their happy/sad stick with the sad side out.

A little drill…and a great story

Either way, be sure that the children know what to do (you could drill them a couple times: “show me ‘happy’, ‘sad’, ‘sad’, ‘happy’. :)) then go to telling your enthusiastic and engaging story! 😉

Adjust your tone and facial expression, as appropriate. Acknowledge when a child switches their happy/sad stick appropriately. If no one responds at a time when they should have, ask the children, “How do you think he (she/they) was feeling now?”

It is a very simple idea, but the children love it.

If you are like me, the children may actually catch you forgetting to point out a change in mood or two. That can be fun, too!

Want some more Vacation Bible School ideas for telling great stories? Watch the video.

Then be sure and leave me a comment with one of your favorite, simple Vacation Bible School ideas!

More on teaching children Bible:

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