Well... about that planning for VBS thing. God has other plans apparently. During the this pandemic we have used our time to reflect on our previous years of Vacation Bible School. We aren't going anywhere this year due to the pandemic, so we decided this was a good time to share what we have learned (in audio format) on how we do VBS. We hope you enjoy this journey and get more ideas on how to do your own DIY VBS.
Our sixth year of VBS we were able to branch outside of Alaska! We shared in Trout Creek, MT in May and then Bethel, AK in August.
Our theme this year was based off of the life of Jesus and all the things he did around water. We especially were aiming to connect with the kids in Alaska who are familiar with waterways, but the kids in Montana enjoyed it to. We are excited to share this year's journey and theme. We hope you can find some inspiration and something that is useful for your VBS.
While there are many stories to chose from about Jesus, we narrowed our picks down to stories mostly related to Jesus using water. You will note some stories that don't fit that criteria, but we wanted to tell them so we added them as a segue into the story that is about water. We also didn't tell the stories entirely in order, again we did that for effect such as telling the Cana Wedding story at the end and inviting the kids to come celebrate with us. Finally, it helps to have a strong knowledge of the gospels in general, especially Matthew and John.
Schedule- 5 day VBS
This year, the creative juices were flowing plus we were down a couple of people so we changed a few things up. The story was told from the front with a character named "Darlane" who was a descendant of the woman at the well, but the kids don't find that out until the 4th night (and yes made up that character. Don't go looking for a Darlane in your Bibles.) Darlane is the keeper of the local well and one day two sisters (Sasha and Manna) show up looking for some water. The rest of the week progresses with Darlane telling them a story about Jesus each night. The girls get more and more excited about the real water of life: Jesus. It is always hard to tell what the VBS kids will like, but this year's idea really caught their attention. We as per usual wrote our own scripts and have posted a copy for your use for free below.
Water of Life Videos
Something else new this year was we recorded a short segment that we called Water of Life Videos. These videos used people from our church that were willing to share about their answer to the question "What does Jesus, Water of Life mean to you?" We encourage you to consider making your own videos to share, too.
Theme song: I've Got a River of Life
About 3 songs this year filled up the time. We made it a little shorter because we felt like the kids got bored with the longer set up.
Special music: There were only two On Fire for Him members that went to VBS this year so we kept it to a special at church. Here is a link to the song: here (shown as performed for Easter not during VBS).
This year's inspiration, of course, was WATER! We decorated the front of the sanctuary with a water background, with boats, fishes and streamers to represent waves. The main attraction up front was the well that the Water Seekers met at each night to hear the story of the night. We got creative and made one with wrapping that looks like stone and covering the outside of a laundry hamper. And we had some posters of various water scenes with kids on them that we put on the walls of the church. The registration table had the theme on the front "Jesus, Water of Life" as well as some boats and fishes. We did streamers elsewhere per usual especially in the craft room at Bethel we had fish hanging from the ceiling. We posted the memory verse everywhere at kid height so that the kids could see it and learn.
Ta-Dah! A Jesus, Water of Life DIY VBS
This was the most fun VBS that any of us could remember. The flow worked out really well with the double rotation. We had a lot of laughs. The kids got into all of it, but especially loved the water activities this year. Anyways, we hope we have inspired you to try your hand at your own variation of a Jesus, Water of Life DIY VBS. And per usual all the materials we created are free to use.
Our fifth year of VBS included two full VBS weeks in Bethel,AK and later in Craig, AK. We also did a mini-VBS in Ketchikan, AK.
Our theme this year came from our classes’ Sabbath school study of David’s life. At first we knew that we want the theme on prayer. This came from our Pastor’s emphasis on having a prayer life. We started deciding what types of prayers we wanted to teach and were going to use different Bible characters to tell the story. Once we got into it, we thought of Prayer Warriors and because we had recently studied David, well… the rest is this VBS’ history. Read more below...
We recommend for you to read 1 Samuel 16-31, 2 Samuel as a whole, 1 Chronicles 28- 29:10-20, and then 1 Kings 1:28-3. This will give you the whole of David's life and beginning of Solomon's ruling, which you will understand why when you see the lessons. We think this helps to tell the story, knowing the background of what happens between each lesson.
This year we decided on continuing what we did last year in that we taught the story in two different formats. At the beginning of the VBS, we had two prayers warriors introduce the prayer topic of the day. One prayer warrior was in training. They got a video from HQ or Headquarters nightly that reinforced the mission of the VBS for the evening. After the kids came back from activity time, they would receive another video from HQ that featured "David" speaking one of his Psalms. We wrote and video taped all our own materials to use. Below is a copy of the scripts for the Prayers Warriors, HQ, and then David. They are free to use.
Day 1: Sling Shot Throw
How to: Put down three lines and a starting line. Have the kids make sling shots out of string, cups, and aluminum foil ball. See who can throw their foil ball the furthest
Day 2: True and False Game
How to: Put up signs between two objects, two walls or two chairs. One sign says "True" and the other "False". Then ask the child questions related to the topic of day or bible story of yesterday and have them run to where they think the answer is.
Day 3: Praise Game
How to: Put down lines on either end of the room. The kids line up at one end. The caller yells out something they are thankful for, if the kids are thankful for the same thing they run to the other side. The caller tries to tag them.
Day 4: Balloon Popping Game
How to: Kids get a balloon with string to tie around their ankles. Then, they get to run around trying to pop each others balloons.
Day 5: No game, because it was sabbath morning
Tip: After each game, have a debriefing about how the game fits the theme of the day.
Snacks: This year we requested for the church's to provide snacks. Some ideas from that were: Apples, cake, carrots, and animal crackers. And as always make sure you are aware of any food allergies.
Goodie bags: The usual brown paper bags, marked "G" for girls and "B" for boys. Inside each bag was some non-edible goodies such as a ball, small game, coloring pages, and other various items.
Prize box: Kids got prizes for learning the memory verse and for answering the nightly questions. These were usually larger items and not something found in the goodie bags. Kids got to pick what they wanted from a box. The things that work well here are larger items like bubbles , small games, and art supplies.
Alas, as we look over the photos we took, we missed a very important decorated element and that was our mural of David's life. The idea was to show visually David from being a shepherd to becoming king. You'll have to use your own creativity to recreate that idea. We had a sign with it too that said Prayer Warrior: Life of David. Anyways, everything else is pretty much here. We were even shorter on VBS team members this year so our decorating was very simplified (except Ketchikan, who gracefully set us up with an elaborate Prayer Garden). We used poster showing kids praying. We had posters that said "Prayer Warrior" and also copies of the Memory Verse up. We used many prayer hands around the spaces. And, of course, streamers... what would our VBS be without them. We decided for the most part less twist and to make it look like "ribs" of a whale.
Ta-Dah! A Prayer Warriors DIY VBS
We learned a lot about prayer this year. One story from our Bethel VBS is this. A little boy’s mother told us that after he left VBS one night he told her that they had forgotten to pray in the car. This was after we had told a story about the importance of prayer. We hope we have inspired you to try your hand at your own Prayer Warrior Vacation Bible School. And as usual feel free to borrow/use material and make it your own. All our posted materials that we made are for use for free.
As a side note: If you'd like to know more about how our VBS Trips went this year, we did a vlog each day of our travels. Click below if you'd like to watch them.
Our fourth year of VBS, included three locations: Bethel, Craig, and Ketchikan, AK.
This year's theme was once again inspired by reading with our church's Bible study group which focused on Genesis. Originally the plan had included a night for Moses and Joshua (to extend our story into the promise land), but quickly it became apparent that our stars this year would be Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph. This year also marked another creative inspiration that we called OT News. Want more? Read below
We recommend you read Genesis 12-50. Yes that is chapters not verses. This will help set up the background so that you can tell the story effectively.
Schedule- 5-6 day VBS
Games- 10-15 min
Songs- 10-15 min
Group time & Memory Verse- 5 min- 10 min
Craft- 15 min
(rotate for larger groups)
Lesson- 20 min
Q&A- 5 min
Snack time/Prize bag- 5 min
Total: 1. 5 hours
This year we decide to present the story in two formats. The first way was in the activity where the kids got to listen to the story of the day while coloring. The second way was in the lesson time where we shared the lesson in a news story format. Each night we had three newscasters at our Old Testament News Channel (OT News) who reported on the story. The two in the studio, who set up the background for our story, and then a roaming reporter who met with the characters. Below is a copy of the scripts that we made. Feel free to use!
Day 2: Isaac
Emphasis: God leads His people to obedience
Day 3: Jacob
Emphasis: God leads His people in determination
Day 4: Joseph Pt. 1
Emphasis: God leads His people in faith
Day 5: Joseph Pt. 2
Emphasis: God leads His people to listen to His voice
Day 6: Joseph Pt. 3
Emphasis: God Leads His people to be strong
Snacks: Fruit was the order of the day. Fruit cups worked well because then kids could pick out what they liked to eat. Apples and grapes are a hit. And of course we had some cookies. Word of caution: remember to check for food allergies.
Goodie bags: Brown paper bags again. We decided on only putting in 3-4 items each especially at some of the locations where they had easier access to fun little items in their town.
Prize box: We used our prize box for both answering questions at the end of the night and memory verse memorizers. We had our highest number of participants this year for memorizing the memory verse.
This year we were inspired by our studio set up for OT News. And we tried to keep everything else deserty since these stories were in the desert areas. So we decorated in the main room for the desert with a image for each night of story on the wall, except the jail which we put up the night of during the Joseph 2 story. We especially liked the "V" formation this year with the streamers. We had to get creative as we use them every year. We also like the decorative balls . We made signs for the different rooms as well such as "crafts" and "story." We made sure to post the memory verse all over and also have a couple of signs for our theme "God Leads His People."
Ta-Dah! A God Leads His People DIY VBS
We had tons of fun this year creating everything from the story lines and OT News, which was a big hit with the kids, to the activities and crafts which the kids really got into. We hope we have inspired you to try to your hand at your own variation of a God Leads His People DIY VBS. And don't forget the materials that we have post are yours to use and make your own.
Our third year of DIY VBS, was a special year as we expanded our VBS vision to include two locations: Bethel, AK and Ketchikan, AK.
This year's theme was born out of inspiration from a program that our youth group, On Fire for Him, did at Easter time.
This included stories of lost and found sheep, coins, and people. We had a lot of fun expanding our time to include rotations between craft and a new activity time this year.
We hope you enjoy and get the chance to make your own Lost and Found VBS!
Luke Chapter 19 - The Parable of the Lost Sheep, Coin, and Son
Then we used parts of Jesus' story to explain how he came to find the lost (us!)
Schedule- 5-6 day VBS
1. Games- 10 min
2. Music – 10-15 min
3. Lost and Found Story time-5-10
4. Arts and crafts-10 min
5. Lost and found treasure hunt- 10 min
6. Lesson 10-15 min
7. Memory Verse- 5 min
8. Snack- 5 min (as leaving)
For this year's lessons we decided on using a narrator and acting out the stories. The narrator read the story exactly as it is in the Bible with pauses at spots for characters to ad-lib something to the story. For example the Lost Coin is a short story in the narrative but with the narrator pausing the lady can talk about her coins. Surprisingly this was one of the favorites with the kids as our lady had them help her count the coins and then look for her lost coin. Some times it's the simple things that do the best.
Goodies and Snacks
Goodie bags: This year we carried on the brown paper bag tradition. We found that we could use up goodies from previous years or "leftovers" with the new stuff as we go. Anything on the small side goes (with exception of bags for the little ones). Coloring pages, bouncy balls, and glow sticks were some of the goods this time.
Prize box: Also we had a prize box for those who answer questions at the end of the lesson and also those who memorized the memory verse. These goodies were things that didn't go into the regular bags: think bubbles, bigger balls, small games, etc.
Snacks: Cookies! Cookies! Cookies! We know healthy might be better, but these always go over well and we do mix it up with some fruit.
This year's decoration inspiration was lost and found beach, but as you will notice we didn't carry that all the way through. We ended up making our main room about Jesus and pointed the kids to that Jesus is looking for the lost people. In the hallway, we did our beach with found items that the kids could see while they passed by. In the craft room, we had colored pictures of the different stories. As usual with luggage space being an issue, we used streamers and deco balloons to round it all out. The exception was Ketchikan where they were nice enough to decorate a beach scene for us so we didn't have to bring materials.
Ta-Dah! A Lost and Found VBS
We hope this has inspired you to try your own Lost and Found DIY Vacation Bible School. As always feel free to copy what you see here and make it your own.
Our second year of making aDIY VBS, we decided to be more creative and utilized an idea that we had done at church years before with our youth group. Faithful God was born out of this. Below is the information on how we did it.
Schedule- 5 day VBS
Goodies and Snacks
So right about now would be a good time to remind everyone that this is a traveling VBS team. That means not only are we limited by space but also when we fly we are restricted by baggage and weight. This is why you see lightweight items in the themes such as this year, balloons, streamers, and paper decorations. Those of you who have a stationary VBS, can afford the space to make bigger large cutouts and decorations, etc.
Anyways, the inspiration for this year's theme was Old Testament characters so we created what we called an Old Testament marketplace. The main room was decorated with our theme saying: God is Faithful and each night we'd add a paper copy of the tagline for the night. This was a small way that we could add to decoration each night to make it different without having to add a lot more decoration like we did in a previous theme. Also we decorated the entrance with the mini-theme papers. Down the hallway we had water and boats going into the craft room. And into the craft room we happened to have had Daniel themed decorations that we hung in there. As usual, this is only limited by your imagination in how you decorate for this theme.
Ta-Dah! A DIY Faithful God VBS
We hope this has inspired you to try your own version of a DIY VBS Faithful God. We had alot of fun this year with the new stuff we tried. We all personally learned more about God's faithfulness to us which was timeless and invaluable. As always feel free to copy what you see here and enjoy!
Our first year of making our DIY VBS, we decided on creation. Below is information on how we did it.
Genesis 1- 2:3
Schedule- 5 day VBS
*Nature Nugget was a short segment in which we shared about something God created on that day of creation, for example a lion on the day when we talked about animals.
Day #1: Creation Day 1 &2- Light & Darkness/Water (Genesis 1:1-8)
Day #2: Creation Day 3- Plants/Land (Genesis 1:9-13)
Day #3: Creation Day 4- Moon & Stars (Genesis 1:14-18)
Day #4: Creation Day 5&6- Birds& Fish/ Animals & Man (Genesis 1:20-31)
Day #5: Creation Day 7- Sabbath (Genesis 2:1-3)
We presented these straight from the bible text and explained what God created each day. After that we had the kids come up front and add a decoration for that. More that in decorations section below.
Theme song: This the day
As you can see here, this particular year all we had was a mandolin player and one person to help with singing. But it was still fun!
Tip: Make up hand motions for the kids to the theme song.
Goodie bags and snacks
We did progressive decoration this year. It was a lot more work than any of the other decoration we've done since. While not as extensive in decorating, it did require us to add decorations every night. This meant that we had to have decorations to represent each day of creation ready to be put up each evening for example: stars and planets for creation day 4. The progressive decoration gave a nice effect in the end so that the kids could see the earth void at the beginning and after of our 7 creation days now full of life. We had the kids help us each night after the lesson put up something.
Day #1- We used a black sheet to represent the empty earth. Then we added at the end of the night "water"
Day #2- We added land and plants to the backdrop, note we did have the kids who wanted to share their craft cottonball flowers for decoration add them to the background
Day #3- We added planets to the background
Day #4- We had several cut out animals for the kids to put up
Day #5- We had mini crosses that went up to represent the Sabbath
One of the most important elements of creating your our VBS is knowing the format. In other words what are you going to be doing with the kids. A theme is a helpful start but you need to know how long things are going to take and also what elements you'd like to include.
Here's some basic suggestions based off of a VBS that will take 1 hour and 30 minutes total:
So now for some scheduling formats for an 1 hour and 30 minutes VBS: