Saturday, November 13, 2010

Two Plans in Preparing for VBS

As you prepare for your Vacation Bible School, I would like to give you few practical planners. Like how-tos that will walk you through the process. I know setting up something like this might seem somewhat intimidating at first, and I won't pretend that you can narrow it down to three simple steps. But here are two schedules, each starting at different points during the year. Chose the one that works for you. The latter would probably ensure the best VBS, but by all means still use the first one if you need to.

  • Plan 1: For the Procrastinator

2 Months before VBS:

~Start praying for your VBS.

~Decide when and where this VBS will take place.

~Immediately contact as many friends/church members that you think may be interested in helping as you can. Send emails, call, or both, whatever you think would be most effective. Make sure that all helpers know their responsibilities. If using a skit, make sure that all volunteers have their script.

~Research and order curriculum, or if using the one that will be available at this blog, print it offt. ~If you are teaching the lessons, start reading over it. It is not necessary to memorize it, but you should be fairly familar with the material so that you "are ready to give an answer for the hope that is in you." ~ 1 Peter 3:15. If someone else will be teaching, make sure that he has the lesson plan, along with any other information he'll need.

~Start spreading the word to friends, neighbors, church families, family, etc. Tell anyone and everyone you know that have children who may be interested in coming to your VBS.

~If you're acting in the drama/skit, start memorizing your lines.

1 Month 3 weeks-- 1 month 2 weeks before VBS:

~Continue to pray for your VBS!

~If desired, order any necessary materials/prizes from Oriental Trading Company. I like to set up "Store" the last day of VBS to reward the kids for their work and participation. We give kids fake "dollars" during the week after answering questions and memorizing Bible verses. Then, the last day they can spend those dollars at a store. We usually order quite a few prizes from Oriental Trading ( )

~Start gathering craft supplies.

~Make a list of all the supplies you need. Props for the skit, materials for the lesson, craft supplies, prizes, game supplies, cds, decorations, and anything else that you think you'll need. Start gathering these supplies. For the most part, the actors/actresses in the drama can take care of the costume and props necessary for their character, but you'll want to oversee this.
One month before VBS:

~Continue to pray for your VBS!

~Check around for places to advertise for VBS: (i.e., post on facebook, check for local businesses that may allow fliers for your VBS on a bulletin board, and if you have a community mailbox, post a flier there.)

~Continue gathering supplies. Make sure that you have ordered everything that will need to be shipped.~Touch bases with helpers. Hold a couple meetings, if possible. This can also happen as VBS draws closer.

Three weeks before VBS:

~Continue to pray for VBS!

~Shop around for more materials.

~Make sure that you have plenty of helpers, and that you've gotten a clear response (either affirmative or negative) from all the helpers you've invited. If not, you may want to call the person (or people) that you have not heard from. If you do not have enough staff, pray for more people. God WILL provide and He has the perfect plan.

~Look over your memory verses, skit, lesson, games, crafts, and snacks again. Make sure you're satisfied with these choices and that you're well on your way to having all the materials. ~Continue gathering supplies. You should have the great majority of your supplies by now. ~Touch bases with your drama crew. Make sure that they are gathering the costume/props that they'll need.

Two weeks before VBS ~CONTINUE TO PRAY!!

~Have a daily schedule all ready. There is a sample on this blog of what I use, but of course adjust this depending on your starting time/ length/ situtation.

~Gather more supplies.

The week before VBS

~Pray, pray, PRAY!

~Make sure you have all necessary supplies.

~Finish memorizing your lines in the drama (if applicable) and make sure your drama crew has finished.

~Have another meeting for VBS with your staff.

~Read over the each days lesson once a day.

~Make any necessary last minute adjustments.

~Make a box full of all the materials you will need for each day. Label each box for easy access.

~Shop for snacks.

The day before VBS

~Pray. Remember that God is God. If you have a list of the children who will be attending, pray for each child by name.

~If possible, host a practice for the drama crew to run through the drama.

~Set up decorations and materials.

~Make sure that you have absolutely everything you need printed, purchased, and ready to go. This will make for a less stressful morning. (i.e. make sure the snacks are ready for the next day!)

During VBS:

~Call children by name. Even if you have to use name tags or ask a child their name if you're not sure at first, learn the kids names. This will make each child feel special. You may not be sure the first and second day, but by they middle of the week you'll be surprised how well you know their names!

~Be all there-- that is, try to leave everything else behind you. Focus on the children.

~Get enough sleep every night. This is especially applicable if other volunteers are staying at your house during the week. Discipline yourself to go to bed on time; it will make waking up in the morning SO much easier!

~Pray daily over your VBS. Gather other volunteers to pray before VBS. ~Love on the kids. Develop healthy greeting habits. Make every child feel wanted.

  • Plan 2: For the Planner

7 months before VBS:

~Pray for your VBS.

~Decide the place and dates of the VBS.

~Start recruiting volunteers. People get busy during the summer quickly-- so start inviting people early!~Check out curriculum. Start researching and ordering it. (Or, if using this curriculum, print it off!)

6 months before VBS ~Continue to pray!

~Write up a day-to-day schedule. A sample is posted here:, but by all means adjust it for your needs.

~If desired, order/ buy prizes for a 'store' the last day of VBS. We like to reward good behavior and participation with small fake dollars. They can spend these "dollars" at a "store" the last day filled with candy and small toys! We get prizes at Wal Mart, the dollar store, Target,, and the Christian Book Store.

~Continue to send emails and call potential helpers. Keep them in the loop. If doing a drama, email out the scripts; and, if participating in the drama yourself, start memorizing lines.
5 months before VBS

~Continue to pray

~Start regularly reading over the lesson plan, or give the lesson to the teacher if you're not teaching. It does not need to be memorized, but be familiar with it.

~Continue gathering supplies for games/snacks/lesson.

~Let each drama member know that they will be responsible for their own costume and props. Start gathering general props yourself.

4 months before VBS

~Pray, pray, pray!

~Start inviting friends/family/church members/neighbors with children who might come.

~Gather more supplies.

~Hold a meeting or two for helpers.

3 months before VBS


~Touch bases with helpers and make sure that no one is confused. Also, you may want to call people that have not yet answered affirmatively or negatively.

2 months before VBS

~Pray for your VBS.

~Make sure that your drama crew has most of their props. Make sure that you have all the other props, too.

~Check around for places that you can advertise your VBS (mail boxes, facebook, local stores with bulletins, etc.)

~Keep gathering craft supplies, game supplies, and, if desired, prizes.

1 month before VBS


~Continue memorizing drama lines and make sure your drama crew has them memorized.

~See to it that you have most of your materials.

2 weeks before VBS

~Pray fervently!

~Hold another VBS meeting with your staff.

~Finish gathering craft supplies and lesson materials, as well as prizes.

~Finish memorizing your drama lines (and make sure that your drama crew has theirs memorized!)
1 week before VBS

~Pray and pray!

~Separate each days materials into boxes labeled for each day.

~Buy snacks and snack ingredients.

~Do a last check to make sure you have all crafts, drama props, game supplies, prizes, and snacks

~Do a door-to-door type thing in your neighborhood. Go all around your neighborhood and tell people about your VBS. Be positive and polite and remember to smile. You always have an opportunity to be a light for Christ!

The day before VBS

~Pray, pray, pray, pray, and pray. This is the best thing you could ever do for your VBS. If you have a list of most of the children who will be attending, pray for each child by name.

~If possible, host a pre-VBS meeting with your staff. You can have a lunch or dinner and everyone can help decorate, as well as have a run-through of the drama.

~Decorate for VBS.~Make sure all the little details are taken care of (i.e. make the snack for the next day!)

~Have everything ready to go! Don't leave too much for yourself to do in the morning!

During VBS:

~Call children by name. Even if you have to use name tags or ask a child their name if you're not sure at first, learn the kid's names. This will make each child feel special. You may not be sure the first and second day, but by they middle of the week you'll be surprised how well you know their names!

~Be all there-- that is, try to leave everything else behind you. Focus on the children.

~Get enough sleep every night. This is especially applicable if other volunteers are staying at your house during the week. Discipline yourself to go to bed on time; it will make waking up in the morning SO much easier!

~Pray daily over your VBS. Gather other volunteers to pray before VBS.

~Love on the kids. Develop healthy greeting habits. Make every child feel wanted.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

A Schedule. And Questions.

Hey all! The OFFICIAL VBS planner schedule (written by yours truly :) will be up within the next couple days. For now, I want to post the schedule that we will be using at our VBS during the actual program. You would not have to follow this exact schedule, in fact, we have not in the past; however, I think this crisp, simple format will make transitions smooth and gives ample time for each activity. We use a three hour, five day program, but you could also tailor this to work for your specific program.

First four days:
9:00-9:20: Welcome, a Song, Prayer, and the Drama
9:20-10:20: Lesson time (this would include the lesson, memory verse, and review game)
10:20-11:05: Recreation (Games, snack and movie or live drama, depending on your needs)
11:05-11:50: Singing, Craft, and Missions (Practice the songs. Then you can either do both your missions moment and your craft time during this period, or rotate days and only do craft or missions each day rather then both. Either way would work well.)
11:50-12:00: Finish up, announcements, prayer.

Last day:
9:00-9:20: Welcome, Prayer, Drama
9:20-10:20: Lesson time
10:20-11:05: Recreation (we don't serve a snack this day because we serve lunch later. If you do not plan on doing that, though, you can stick with the regular snack.)
11:05-11:50: Singing, Craft, Missions
11:50-1:00: Lunch, Party (We usually do a hot dog roast in the backyard-- with adult supervision, of course-- and have the kids eat while a few helpers set up a "Store" where the kids can spend fake dollars that they earn throughout the week by participating, behaving well, and memorizing verses. Then we have a "guess-how-many-beans-are-in-the-jar" game and then we take the children, four or five at a time, and let them browse through the 'store.' The kids love the party on the last day and it's a great end to the week! Even though I always feel like crying the last day!)

So that's my little schedule. If it does not look like it will work for you, I'd be happy to give you suggestions or you could formulate one on your own. If you would like help, just leave a comment telling me what times, etc. you think your VBS will be held and I will respond as soon as possible!

And speaking of comments....
Would you leave some with any questions you have concerning doing a Backyard Vacation Bible School? Seriously, I would love love love to do a Q&A post but I can't give answers without any questions! I can't guarantee that I'll know the answer to everything you ask but I'll certainly do my best.

Take care everyone!


Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Purpose of This Blog

I suppose before I start with all of my suggestions for a Vacation Bible School and before I continue this blog-- I should let you know why I started this in the first place.

Because, I remember how it felt that first year Haley and I planned the VBS. I remember all too well that feeling of excitement, but also a subconscious feeling of "oh no, I'm not sure if I'm doing this right." We were, granted, only thirteen years old, but we wanted to plan the VBS right, like we were older and more experienced then we really were. Anyway, we learned through experience. But how many others feel as if they want to do a VBS, but are not sure how?

I've been praying recently about ways that we might be able to expand "Doane" Vacation Bible School. And people I talked to this summer about VBS started saying things like, "That's neat" or "I've always wanted to do something like that." Could there be people who are able and willing to teach God's Word, who love kids, and who want to spread the gospel in their communities but are somewhat intimidated by the task of starting a VBS?

Then, as I mentioned above, I thought of myself several years ago, before we started our own Backyard Bible Club. It was my grandma's idea... I absolutely loved the idea, but if she hadn't suggested it I think I would have been too scared to take the first leap all by myself. I don't think I could have done it without my grandma's excitement, Haley's help, and my parent's encouragement.So these are the things that made me think of others who might want to go in that direction, but are scared to take the first leap. And I want to help others take that first leap.So, I am starting this blog (perhaps soon a website) that will chronicle my adventures as I set out to produce a free, interactive curriculum for VBS teachers soon-to-be, as well as as schedule, a place for comments, a question/answer type section, among other things.

If you have ever seriously looked into starting a Vacation Bible School, then you probably know that even if you don't want over-the-top elaborate, curriculum can be pretty expensive. That's why I will be offering a free curriculum of my own (as I said above) that comes with lessons, skits, game ideas, snack planners, craft planners and instructions, and a mission moment. If you want something a little more elaborate, this blog will hopefully also offer (perhaps not right away, but eventually) suggestions for craft kits that may be purchased, as well as "professional" curriculum reviews.

Finally, If you would be interested in having a VBS this year, NEVER think that you're too young or too inexperienced. Haley and I started off as thirteen-year-old girls who were only helping at a church VBS for the first time that summer. We had never taught Sunday School, nor anything of that nature. I had never really planned anything like that-- I learned completely from experience. So I would urge you to follow this blog as I attempt to put what God has placed on my heart and what He's so graciously taught me these last few years to you. There are some things that you have to learn by experience-- but there are also some things that you can learn through hearing from the experience's of others! Praying that this blog will encourage YOU!

Why Vacation Bible School?

Starting this blog and this endeavor to write my own VBS curriculum is unlike anything I've really tried before... but that being said, I absolutely cannot wait to do it! I thought it would be appropriate to state the reasons why I believe Vacation Bible School is an important outreach for children.

1. Lives are changed. Approximately 1 in 4 adult believers say that they came to faith in Christ during VBS. (I myself have met many a people who have told me that they were saved at VBS!)

2. Children are strengthened. Approximately 7 in 10 protestant teens leave the church when they go to college, etc. I want to start a movement of Christian children who stay at the church because they know what they believe and they truly love God-- not just because their parents go to church, because that reason will not be good enough. I'm not saying that 1 week during the summer will change every child's heart, but the great thing about VBS is that you never know what God will do! Maybe some child(ren)'s heart(s) will be changed. Maybe some child(ren)'s faith will be incredibly strengthened. Maybe God will give you a chance to have good relationships with some amazing children. Whatever it is, if you're serving God, He will bless you.

3. It's just fun. Of course, fun isn't the all-in-all, but I think it's great for children to have fond memories about learning God's Word. I think it's wonderful when children can laugh and be excited about learning what God says about Himself. And I think it's really really wonderful when the leaders/teachers can say all those things too! :)

4. Friendships are made. I've discovered the last few years that a really wonderful way to really get to know people, I mean really get to know them is by teaching or attending a Vacation Bible School with them. I don't know what it is exactly, but something about worshipping God and being super excited because of VBS together just really strengthens friendships!

5. The final, and most significant season I'll state for doing a VBS is for the glory of God. He should be the ultimate reason for everything we do-- and I pray that He can be glorified in everything! As 1 Peter 4:11 says, "If anyone speaks, let it be as the words of God. If anyone ministers, let him do it as of the ability which God gives, so that God may be glorified in all things through Jesus Christ, to whom is the glory, and the might forever and ever. Amen." (MKJV) I want God to be glorified in my life.

I hope I've encouraged you to start a Backyard Bible Club. It really is a huge blessing! I hope to have the curriculum (or at least a sample) within the next two months, but while I'm working on this check back for more posts on suggestions and more!

Grace to you,