Monday, June 13, 2011

Creating a Preschool-Friendly VBS

Setting up VBS for Preschoolers

Young children who have not attended VBS before may not be comfortable with some of the large group activities planned for your elementary VBS. You can help by setting up specific preschool areas for the Bible story, free play, crafts, games, and snacks. It may help to divide your preschoolers (or any of your young students from age two to five) into groups of 8-10, with an adult or youth leader for each group. The groups can rotate through each activity station, combining with other preschool groups for the Bible story, games, and snacks.

It may also help to have a "quiet room" with puzzles, coloring pages, and picture books for your toddlers and preschoolers. Children who finish the craft early or who tire of the large-group activity can spend time in the quiet room reading picture books or doing quiet activities with an adult or youth helper.

If your VBS begins with elementary children and preschoolers together for a time of opening music, be prepared to have one or two helpers take younger children to your preschool classroom for free play if the large group setting (or the loud music) becomes overwhelming.

Use similar VBS-themed decorations for your preschool rooms as you use for your elementary VBS. Just make sure to use decorations without small parts that your little ones can swallow. A good test is to use only those items that are too large to fit inside a cardboard paper towel tube.
Place an attendance chart in your preschool area(s). Give each child a sticker as he enters and help him place it in the appropriate square on the chart. (Some children may prefer not to do this, which is fine. A helper can add stickers for them instead.) An attendance chart can be a wonderful distraction for your twos and threes who may have difficulty saying goodbye to Mom. Greet the child by  name (stoop down so you can look him in the eye), help him say goodbye and give Mom a hug, then hand him a sticker and help him find his name on the chart. You can purchase themed VBS stickers as well as Bible stickers, cross stickers, glitter stickers, and colorful attendance and memory verse charts from

Free Play for Preschoolers
Provide the following toys and supplies for your preschool free play area(s). Ask church members and preschool leaders for donations. Make sure they label their items if they want them to be returned after VBS. Conclude your free-play time with a bathroom break.

  • Blocks: Wooden, plastic, or cardboard blocks in different sizes, shapes, and colors; toy people and animals; toy vehicles; manipulative building toys; but nothing with sharp edges or small parts.
  • Art: Crayons, washable markers, and chalk; white paper and construction paper; poster paper taped along a wall and over tables for murals; paper shapes for coloring and decorating; stickers; tape for hanging artwork from walls and ceiling.
  • Disguises: Costumes, shoes, masks, scarves, capes, plastic sunglasses, purses and bags, and dress-up clothes for boys and girls.
  • Dramatic Play: Dolls, doll clothes, plastic cell phones, toy cameras, stuffed animals, small chairs or large pillows, doll beds, dishes, toy food, doll strollers, plastic shopping carts.
  • Books: Various picture books showing items familiar to young children such as nature, farm animals, pets, friends, family, church, preschool, etc. Include several VBS theme-related picture books, if available.
  • Puzzles: Colorful cardboard and wooden framed puzzles with 25 pieces or less, some with knobs.

Use the new Jesus in Nazareth Preschool VBS from Christian Ed. Publishers this summer to supplement your elementary VBS program from Group, Hometown Nazareth. Written especially for 2- to 5-year-olds, this five-day preschool VBS program includes Bible stories, snacks, crafts, and games with reproducible student sheets and colorful visuals on CD-ROM. You can view samples and take a look at the contents and course overview for the Jesus in Nazareth Preschool VBS. Order the spiral-bound book with CD.

Now you're on your way to a fun-filled, stress-free VBS for your young toddlers and preschoolers!

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