Tuesday, December 11, 2012

So . . . Now You Have a Goal for Your VBS; What is the Next Essential Ingredient?

We looked at why we need a goal for our Vacation Bible School and how to determine that goal. Today we will begin considering the essential ingredients we should look for in a VBS resource. What are the most important things? 

Well, first of all the curriculum must be Biblically sound. If it isn't, do not waste your time looking at it. There are many well written Biblically sound VBS curricula available; choose from them.

So . . . now you have a goal and are looking at Biblically sound resources, what is the next essential ingredient? Since we want children to remember, understand and live God's Word for genuinely changed lives, it is essential the Bible lessons are intentionally written to engage them. When you look at curriculum check to see if the Bible lessons involve the children in the teaching of each lesson. Are children playing the part of the people in the Bible lesson? Do they get to touch, taste, smell and fully experience the Bible lesson or are they sitting and listening to the teacher? It is so easy for children's minds to wander when they just sit, but when they are engaged by helping to teach the lesson, they are much more likely to remember, understand and live God's Word. Keep in mind, not all children are able to read so when a curriculum involves children by having them read the Bible, while it is important for children to connect the Bible lesson they are hearing with God's Word, just reading the Bible won't engage them all. Present the lesson as a drama, have the children "make" the storm by providing sound effects for the lesson. I am so delighted to see some very creative lessons in this year's VBS resources; lessons which do a terrific job of intentionally engaging children in the teaching of the Bible lessons! If the curriculum you select has everything else you want, but doesn't engage the children actively, then make a point to re-work the lessons - turn them into dramas, add sound effects, motions and more to help them engage your children.

Along with lessons which engage children, we want them to be able to go live the truths they learn so look for daily "live-it" activities built into the curriculum. Nearly all curriculum will have a section of the lesson devoted  to "application", but look to see if it takes the application one step further by providing some specific ideas children can go "do" to live what they learned. Maybe they will be challenged to be helpful by doing their sibling's chores or stepping up to do the dishes without being asked. Maybe they will go home from VBS and help an elderly neighbor with their yard work or send a card to encourage someone they know. When children are able to learn a Bible lesson and then go home and "do" something to live the lesson, they are much more likely to understand God's Word and what it looks like for them to live what they learn. Provide opportunities for children to share how they lived what they learned and affirm them for doing so. "Live-it" activities are a truly essential ingredient for any VBS curriculum - if the one you select doesn't have them, add them to your program.

Tomorrow we will consider how Scope, Setting and Theme can help you determine your VBS for 2013. 

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