Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Not Your Mama's VBS

So, last week was Vacation Bible School at our church.  This was only the second year I volunteered to help out with anything, so it was a real learning experience.  Since it's 5 days  and $15 for the whole week, you have a great big mix of kids who are church members, preschool students, and children from the surrounding area. 

I like to think of it as guerilla-teaching: ages ranging from 4 to 12, rotating through each day for a given time period.  You have to quickly set goals and behavior expectations, while making the whole experience fun and accessible for a variety of backgrounds.

Of course, a detailed curriculum is provided.  

But, since I like to make things more complicated than they have to be, 
I didn't stick real close to the script. 

Mainly because the script called for me to dress like a shepherd for 5 days in a row. 

I was the storytelling chick, in charge of portraying various Bible stories and illuminating the main idea of each of them, pertaining to the week's theme. 

Piece of cake, right?

Not exactly. 

30 minutes can seem incredibly long when you're talking about Peter and Cornelius with 4-and-5-year olds, but I could have easily filled 90 minutes with my 4th, 5th, and 6th-graders.  

That's where YouTube came in to save the day! 

Here's an equation:
Legos + animation + Zacchaeus/Good Samaritan = Happy kids

But, we didn't spend the whole time watching YouTube and Lego-mation.  
We discussed.  People got squirmy.

And we had to get up and move. 

 At times, that meant playing Hot Potato or freeze dancing.  
Other times, we needed more structure, requiring a little more planning. 

Homemade Play-doh was one of the heavy-hitters in my bag of tricks for this week.  The little guys got to squish it around and make "bread" like in the Elijah/widow story, and everybody played with it throughout the week if we had extra time.

Another useful prop: a Bible-themed busy box.  I used rainbow rice (sand would be more apropos), Nativity peg dolls, and extra truffula trees.  It was a hit all week, and there was minimal mess.

My star jars were a soothing source of fascination as well, 
and provided a great hook for  the Sarah/Abraham story.  I can't figure out where I put them, but it's just a whole bunch of glitter-glue and water in a jar.

But, do you want to know what the all-star, crowd-pleasing, home-run activity was, though?

For our Zacchaeus story day, the kids broke themselves into small groups and I gave each group a handful of straws and a blob of dough in a bowl.  Their job was to link the straws together to build a structure as high as they could.  I have never seen such teamwork or focus.  Except for my littlest guys, these kids worked in total concentration for 15 to 20 minutes, trying to win the title of "Tallest Straw Structure".  

Or something.

Readers' theater worked amazingly well with the big guys.  Not so much with the littles, even if they were just acting it out and I was doing all of the reading.  

My favorite thing was the "Good Samaritan First-Aid Station", using Barbies, bandages, and wet wipes.  The girlies especially enjoyed it.

One of the things I love to do when I'm telling Bible stories is to read a secular picture book that parallels the themes and characters of the original.  For instance, after we talked about good ol' Zacchaeus, I read Mo Willems' Leonardo the Terrible Monster, and discussed the similarities between the two main characters and their similar change of heart.  

What was the station after that?
Monster Puppets!

Here's another crowd-pleaser for illustrating 
the Priest's and the Levite's "tunnel-vision" in the Good Samaritan:
Let's watch as Will demonstrates the proper use 
of the paper cone goggles in a masking-tape maze.
I can't believe a 3-year-old would be contrary.  They're usually so helpful ;)

Anyway, the big guys made fun of my lame maze-making skillz, but they really got into their role as the wounded on the side of the road.  

My little peeps thought the maze was cool.  

So there.

The real highlight of the week was Mission Night.

And getting to wear hairnets.
Hairnet lasted approx. 3.6 seconds.  Apparently, it was Will's mission to "Get those pigs!!!".
The reason for the unflattering headgear is that we were packaging 10,000 meals to send across the globe to those in need.
Sarah was a pro, and had a blast.  Plus, she rocked that hairnet.
Me? Not so much. 
 "Lunchlady" wasn't the look I was going for, but, 
add a hairy mole to my chin, and, Presto!

In the words of the great RuPaul, "You better work!"  
No matter what look you're sportin' this Wednesday.

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