Tuesday, December 28, 2010

SonSurf Beach Bash VBS Snack

Here's a fun snack to help your students remember the story of the prodigal son from Luke 15:11-24. This story is the theme for Day 4 of SonSurf VBS. Use this snack to help the children understand that Jesus can change people's lives. Let your students help you combine in a large bowl 20 ounces of crushed pineapple with one cup mini marshmallows and an 8-ounce tub of whipped topping. Pass around the bowl so each child can help stir the mixture.

As the children work, talk about how Jesus changes lives. Provide some examples from your own life. Let your students share their own examples. Now let the children help sprinkle a 3.4-ounce box of pistachio pudding mix over the top of the mixture and watch the white change to green as they stir it. If you use this snack with your preschool group, add just a small amount of the pudding mix at a time, letting the children stir it after each addition. (Pass around the bowl once more so each child can help stir the mixture.) Serve cookies, juice, and a small amount of "green surprise" to each child.

If you have students interested in learning more about how Jesus can change their lives, talk with them individually and explain the plan of salvation. For helpful tips on discussing salvation with children, see the blog post from February 8, 2010 on "Leading a Child to Christ."

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Christmas Lesson: Jesus' Birth

Here's a Bible lesson and some activity pages you can use with your students to help them understand the story of Jesus' birth. Have several children play the parts of an angel, Mary, shepherds, wise men, and King Herod. They will act out the story as it is read by you or one of your older students. Simple costumes are optional.

Click on the image below for a larger view and to download the teacher's lesson page along with the student pages. Feel free to copy these pages for your students and coworkers.

May God bless you this Christmas!
Click on the image above for the complete file.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Mega Sports Camp 2011 VBS: Go the Distance

New for 2011, Mega Sports Camp: Go the Distance from Gospel Publishing House encourages kids to run the race of life God's way, all the way. Five sessions focus on key character traits that help them become better athletes and followers of Jesus. Welcome kids into the ultimate sports-camp experience. Everyone will learn Bible truths and good sportsmanship as they participate in a sports camp lead by Christian mentors.

A simple Key Point each day helps kids remember the point of the day, even if they have no prior church attendance or experience. The theme verse for 2011 is "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day." — 2 Timothy 4:7-8 (NIV)

Go the Distance Mega Sports Camp can be used in addition to your traditional VBS, providing a way to reach neighborhood kids who might not attend Vacation Bible school, but who would be interested in signing up for a sports camp. It's also a great way for kids to invite their friends who wouldn't be willing to come to a weekly church event.

Go the Distance Mega Sports Camp teaches kids to run the race of life God's way, all the way.
Go the Distance Starter Kit: $129.99

Take a look at the coloring pages we've included for the Go the Distance 
Mega Sports Camp. There are six pages: a cover plus a coloring page for each day of your VBS. Each page has a picture of Paul from the daily Bible story plus a portion of the memory verse in the New International Version. Day 5 includes the entire verse, 
2 Timothy 4:7-8 (NIV). You can copy as many of the coloring pages as you need each day—all for just $4.99 for the set! Visit Shop VBS to see all of the 2011 VBS programs and special offers. 

Thursday, December 9, 2010

VBS 2011 Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Our church only uses the King James Version of the Bible. Which VBS programs can we use?
A: The following VBS programs are available in KJV:
  • Gold Rush VBS from Answers in Genesis uses the New King James Version for Bible memory verses. A KJV Supplement with student books and posters in the King James Version is available (the supplement works with the Super Starter Kit and the Starter Kit).
  • Kingdom of the Son: A Prayer Safari (This 2009 VBS is still available from Gospel Light and uses the KJV Bible.)
  • Jesus in Nazareth Preschool VBS coloring pages lists all memory verses in KJV first, followed by the NIV and NLT. Simply cover the extra verses or cut them off before copying your student sheets. All six coloring pages can be downloaded in the version you choose (KJV, NIV or NLT).
  • Inside Out and Upside Down on Main Street lists Scripture references only. It does not actually have the verses written out, and there are Bible Verse Posters available additionally in KJV.
  • The All-Stars Preschool All-in-One Kit lists all memory verses in KJV first, followed by the NIV. Simply cover the NIV verse or cut it off before copying your student sheets from the CD-ROM.
  • SonSurf VBS has Bible Teaching Posters in the Starter Kit with KJV verses on one side and NIV verses on the other. They also have KJV bookmarks available in packs of 50.
  • Regular Baptist Press also carries a VBS program in KJV.
Q: When is the Returns Deadline for VBS material?
A: Shop VBS closes on July 31, and this is our VBS returns deadline. If you have a late VBS and need to return some items, call us at 800-854-1531 and we can work with you. Please note that some items are non-returnable, and are clearly marked on our website as well as on the package.

Q: Can I return opened packages of product for partial credit?
A: Because we receive product prepackaged from our vendors, we are unable to process returns of opened or partially used packages. If you do find yourself with a few extras, use them as special gift surprises for Sunday school, for siblings of students, or for those who couldn't attend VBS.

Q: I’ve never done VBS before. What should I do first?
A: Pray for God's guidance. Then dig into the Starter Kit(s) you’re interested in. Order more than one at Shop VBS...we offer a 30-day risk-free review on Starter Kits. Explore all the cool stuff, then find the Director’s Guide. This will give you the big picture of the theme, all the possibilities, and the activities that are included. Most Director’s Guides include a step-by-step planning calendar and training helps, too. Above all, decide what you want to accomplish in your VBS program: What do you want the kids to walk away with? Focus on that first! 

Then download our VBS Timeline and Planning Guide. Use this chart to stay on schedule and keep track of upcoming planning events. Click on the image below for a larger view of the complete timeline.

For more helpful ideas, take a look at our "Seven Steps to a Successful VBS" blog post.

Q: Can I use a VBS program in something other than a five-day format?
A: Most VBS programs nowadays are flexible. The Director Manuals contain different format options, including weekday mornings, weekday evenings, midweek clubs, day camp, Sunday mornings, or weekend retreats. If a specific program’s Director Manual does not contain these formats…improvise! Many options allow for the whole family to be involved.

Q: How do I figure out a budget for VBS?
A: The catalog for each program can help you plan your budget and choose the resources that will work best for you. (Remember to order early, as some items have limited quantities.)
If your church has had a VBS in the past, look at the registration numbers. Set a goal for how many kids you would like to reach this year. Then, using the catalog, write down the cost of each item you need and tally the cost. Visit Shop VBS to see VBS catalogs and online order forms from a number of publishers. Watch for coupons to help you save. Click on the coupons below for a larger view (they expire April 30, 2011.)

Find out what funds, if any, have been designated in the church budget. Determine if you will have a per-child registration fee to cover some costs. Make a wish list and work in conjunction with church staff to brainstorm ideas for additional funding (special offerings, fund-raisers, etc.).

You can even network with other local churches who are offering the same program this year and creatively collaborate for sharing some materials and resources.

Q: Do any of the VBS programs provide resources to guide children to accept the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior?
A: Yes. Most of the VBS programs include helps for explaining the gospel message to children and counseling them about salvation.
  • Gospel Light has booklets to introduce children to Jesus Christ (God Loves You Evangelism Booklet) as well as booklets for children who are growing in Christ (Growing As God's Child Discipleship Booklets).
  • The Preschool All-in-One Kit has a section for the leader about "Leading a Young Child to Christ."
  • Wildwood Forest Director's Guide has reproducible resources to send home with a child who accepts Jesus Christ as Savior during your VBS. All Leader's Guides for this program have information on leading a child to Christ. Days 3 and 5 focus specifically on salvation lessons.
  • Share this blog post, Leading a Child to Christ, with your volunteers and coworkers. Decide how to follow up with any children who accept Christ during your VBS program.
Q: What if our space is limited or we don't have enough kids or leaders for VBS?
A: Talk with other area churches about hosting VBS jointly. In addition to increasing the number of kids and volunteers, cooperative VBS programs are great ecumenical opportunities in your community. Cooperative VBS programs often lead to future events among different churches that can strengthen individual congregations and the entire community.

Q: What’s the best way to do VBS—Classroom-based or Site-based?
A: The way that works best for you! There are plenty of fun options in every VBS program.                                              

Most programs can be set up as Classroom-based or Site-based. This means you can group kids by ages or grades to learn and interact in individual classrooms with teams of teachers and assistants (Classroom-based). Or you can group kids by ages or grades into small crews that move from site to site with their backyard crew guides (Site-based). Other VBS programs give the option of combining mixed ages of kids into one group (either Classroom- or Site-based). Some programs are not as easy to adjust one way or the other, so make sure you review your Director’s Guide before planning!

Q: How can we adapt a site-based model to a classroom model?
A: This may be easier for some programs than others. The steps outlined here are for general use of the classroom model. Modify them as needed.
  1. Determine how you will group your kids. The easiest way is to have one group per age/grade level. Recruit staff based on the number of Small Groups you anticipate. You'll need one Guide for each Small Group, as well as a Worship Leader, and other support staff as needed.
  2. Assign classroom space for each Small Group.
  3. Determine your large group gathering space(s) for the Opening and Closing times.
  4. Order your Leader and Student Resources
Q: How can our VBS program support faith formation at home?
A: Many student books feature a family activity for each day, and even if they don't, most kids like to share what they did at VBS with their families.
  • Including Adults and/or youth allows parents and teens to study the same Bible texts as the kids attending Vacation Bible School, either in their own small groups or at home.
  • Souvenirs, such as memory buddies, help the student to remember the Bible point and Bible memory verse for each day of VBS.
  • Giving each child a CD of the music from VBS helps them connect VBS worship at home. Consider giving children a CD when they register for VBS—then they will already know the songs when they come to VBS!
  • Some VBS programs include coloring pages for younger students and sheets that older children can take home each day to reinforce the daily theme and memory verse at home. Watch for free VBS Coloring Pages posted on this blog as they are created.
  • Follow up on the final day of VBS by inviting families to come back for your church worship service or Bible club or for your Harvest celebration.
Q: What schedule is best?
A: This depends on how much time you have. Most programs recommend at least three hours per day if you want to include all the activities provided, but that’s not always possible—especially if you have an evening VBS. You may need to modify the amount of time spent at each activity. Most Director’s Guides include sample schedules—modify them to suit your needs.

Q: What if I have more questions?
A: Visit Shop VBS for lots more free information and to see samples of these VBS programs. Then call one of our VBS consultants at 1-800-854-1531 (Monday-Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Pacific time) or send an email to info@cehouse.com and we'll be glad to help.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

2011 VBS Coupons and Special Offers

Here are some Vacation Bible School coupons you can use over at Shop VBS. Plus, preorder your VBS Starter Kit(s) by December  10 and receive "Learning About God" for Grades 1-2 (a $19.95 value) as a FREE download. You'll also receive free Classroom Decorations (a $16-$20 value) and  free shipping on your order of $150 or more. Use the coupons below to save even more. 

But hurry! This free bonus gift offer expires December 10, 2010. The VBS website is Shop VBS. Download a free VBS Planning Timeline, Comparison Chart, and Seven Steps To A Successful VBS at Shop VBS.

Coupons Expire 4-30-10
(Click image for a larger view)