Here's some basic suggestions based off of a VBS that will take 1 hour and 30 minutes total:
- Activity - Consider some other activities outside of crafts or games, such as a small group question and answer time or teaching the kids any thing that works with your lesson such as a nature nugget. We have varied our use of this time but anywhere from 5-10 minutes seems to work.
- Crafts- Consider crafts and art activities that go with the theme or lesson for the day. We have done crafts over the years that took anywhere from 20 minutes to as little as 10 minutes. A lot depends on the kids we have, for example at some of the locations we've been to there has been less interested in crafts. Another helpful tip is changing up the types of crafts that you do, such as making things that kids can take home and use and not just coloring pages.
- Games- Consider making games that are active and easy for all ages groups to participate. We typically will on location allow the kids who come early some free play and then when it is time to start we will teach them the theme game of the day. We usually use do our games at the beginning because we have found it helps to get some of the wiggles out, but you can put it wherever you want in the program. We usually reserve 10 minutes for this.
- Lesson- Consider picking lessons from something that you might have already studied for example, we often get inspiration from what we are studying as a church in our Bible Study groups. One year we did the stories of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph based off of our study of Genesis that previous fall. We reserve 20-30 minutes for lesson time. Also important there are multiple ways to present the lesson. We have presented in a large group at the end of evening by reading the story from the bible. We've also done a combination of skits of the story in a large group after the kids have been in a small group where the lesson was read to them. There really isn't a limit on how you present or when you present it.
- Memory Verse- Consider choosing a verse that isn’t too hard for your age group to memorize. Also a prize for memorizing never hurts. We have found that posting the memory verse around your building helps kids who can read memorize it for themselves. We usually spend 5 minutes or less in the program teaching the verse and sometimes individual groups will repeat it, such as craft might use it in the activity for the day.
- Music- Consider picking music that is around your theme and upbeat. For example, one year our theme was creation and we used a song called "This is the Day." We typically spend 10-15 minutes in music. That usually allows us to play 5-6 songs. And sometimes if we have leftover time we will play a song or two at the end per kid's request.
- Registration- Consider more than the basics, such as getting name, number, allergies, but also what fun things can be shared to get the kids excited for the evening. We always use name tags for both us and the kids and some years we have added extra color or stamps to the tags so that we could easily split the group later. Also we try to each year give the kids something to take home at the end of the week, such a book or a key chain of important lessons. Each night at registration they would get the next piece of the book or chain and take it home at the end of the evening.
- Snacks/ Goodie bags- Consider having a snack time after the program. It's a great way to get to know the kids personally. Serve whatever makes sense, we’ve done everything from cupcakes to fruit. Also we have started doing a goodie bag in which all the kids get a prize for being there. We have found that it encourages to the kids to return the next night and also levels the playing field for those who might not win a prize somewhere else in the evening, such as for answering a question or memorizing the memory verse. We reserve about 5 minutes at the end.
Option 1: (Used in our first year of VBS, basic and easy formatting. All the kids stay together. Good for smaller groups)
Option 2: (Great for adding another activity time. Also good for splitting a longer lesson up)
Option 3: (Additions include game time, moving the memory verse to later, and an added activity time)
The options are limitless on how you can format and schedule. Be inspired to mix and match according to your themes, kids interests, and time factors.
Option 4: (Good option for a larger group, rotations for crafts and activity. Then bring kids back together for the lesson. Small group time was used for teaching memory verse and asking questions about the theme of the day)
Option 5: (Another great options for a larger group. Has rotations built in during activity time, but can be used to walk a smaller group through each activity.)