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1993 VBS Curriculum Comparison

CHILDREN'S MINISTRY Magazine's Top 10 Choices.

Yes. It's that time of year again. You're searching for the best VBS curriculum to reach kids. And the curriculum kits available seem like a jungle out there. So CHILDREN'S MINISTRY Magazine editors closely examined 21 VBS curricula to help you make the best choice.

We judged each curriculum in these 10 categories:
* Overall impression and content-Will it excite kids and change their lives? Does it use active learning to help kids focus on life application? Is it Bible-based? relevant to children?
* Director materials-Are there pre-planning tips? teacher-training tips? helpful overviews of each class?
* Teacher materials-Are they easy to understand? helpful? complete? Are there age-level insights?
* Student materials-Are they age-appropriate? appealing? experiential?
* Publicity helps-Are materials colorful and appealing? easy to use?
* Teacher aids, gadgets, and extras-Are they creative? helpful?
* Theme-Is it child-oriented? captivating for kids? well-executed throughout?
* Art-Is it up to date? colorful? appealing?
* Crafts-Are they new? creative? relevant? neither supply- nor preparation-intensive?
* Reader friendliness-Is it organized? easy to understand?

It was a tough evaluation process. The top curricula were close because they all have good qualities. But several did outshine the others. Check it out yourself. Decide which curriculum meets your needs. Then use the phone numbers in the "VBS Ranking Chart" to call for sample VBS kits to examine.

1.Living in God's Creation
Augsburg Fortress Publishers (Lutheran-ELCA)

Theme: Discovering how to live in relationship to God, the earth, and each other.

Pros: Complete director and teacher materials. Lots of flexibility and options for events such as learning centers, complementary adult study, and a closing musical celebration. Contemporary and colorful student materials that connect to real life.

Cons: Some activities aren't age-appropriate. Debriefing of activities is often teacher-directed. Student materials include word puzzles, fill-in-the-blank studies, and word searches.

Cost: Preview kit, $32.95; teacher book, $5.75; 5-day student pack, $4.80; 10-day student pack, $5.90.

2. MarketPlace 29 A.D.
BJ Goetz Publishing Co.

Theme: Experiencing a Bible-time Judean marketplace.

Pros: Complete director materials with lots of information for crafts, drama, and setup. Kids experience Bible times with all their senses. Children are actively involved. Promotional and training video.

Cons: You'll have to train the tent family mothers to lead children to make life applications. Requires lots of teacher preparation.

Cost: Manual, $59.95; video, $27.95.

3.YOUNG EXPLORERS' AMAZING JOURNEY TO BIBLE TIMES
Gospel Light

Theme: Going back in time to when the Bible was written.

Pros: Organized and detailed director and teacher materials. Exciting theme that gets kids into the Bible. Good publicity ideas. Creative ideas for crafts, snacks, and drama that fit the theme.

Cons: Student material has too many paper-and-pencil activities, such as puzzles and fill-in-the-blanks. Teacher book lacks age-level insights. Teacher-focused lessons exclude active learning. Life application is weak.

Cost: Preview kit, $29.99; teacher book, $3.99; student book, $1.99.

4.PETER ROCK, A DRAMA OF FAITH
Cokesbury (United Methodist Church)

Theme: Examining Peter's life.

Pros: Helpful tips in director materials. Clear and easy-to-understand teacher materials. Includes extra activities. Learning center idea is good and connects to curriculum. Fun, energetic, colorful, and big art. Inventive craft packs. Good involvement of senses. Real-life application.

Cons: Student material includes word-search puzzles and fill-in-the-blank studies. Some activities in the student material aren't age-appropriate. Most learning is tied to a leader reciting Peter's story.

Cost: Preview kit, $19.95; teacher book, $3.55; student book, $2.00.

5.OF ALL HIS CREATURES, GREAT AND SMALL, JESUS LOVES YOU MOST OF ALL!
Standard Publishing

Theme: Learning about God's love through different creatures.

Pros: Complete and helpful director and teacher materials. Lots of extra teacher and publicity aids. Fun art with animated Bible characters and animals. Good ideas for setting up fun zoolike atmosphere. Two-person craft packs available.

Cons: Student materials have lots of paper-and-pencil activities, such as puzzles and fill-in-the-blank. Teacher lecture style often requires specific answers to directive questions; doesn't allow kids to discuss their own ideas or make conclusions for life applications.

Cost: Preview kit, $29.99; teacher book, $3.99; 5-day student book, $1.99; 10-day student book, $2.49.

6.CELEBRATION PARK
David C. Cook Publishing Company

Theme: Focusing on different gifts that God gives.

Pros: Separate preschool guide. Complete combined leader/teacher guide with some student sheets. Hands-on student activities. Teacher-preparation ease. Colorful publicity posters and other aids. Variety with five different "celebration sites."

Cons: Little debriefing, discussion, or life application. Celebration site booklets apply to all ages except preschool. Some activities may not apply to all ages.

Cost: Preview kit, $98; teacher book, $34.95.

7.THE GREATEST TREASURE HUNT
Concordia Publishing House (Lutheran-Missouri Synod)

Theme: Discovering God's promises.

Pros: Very complete director materials with practical tips and suggestions. Teacher books include thinking questions and some interactive learning ideas. Treasure hunts are appealing to kids. Colorful art. Craft boxes that correlate to lessons.

Cons: Passive student materials with stories and paper-and-pencil activities. Bible knowledge questions with little debriefing and life-application questions after activities.

Cost: Preview kit, $34.95; teacher book, $4.10; 5-day student pack, $1.90; 10-day student pack, $2.40.

8.THE GREAT DINOSAUR HUNT
Regular Baptist Press

Theme: Digging for God's truth.

Pros: Helpful director and teacher materials. Craft book, song sheets, dinosaur stencils, and colorful publicity posters. Spiritual application to crafts. Fun art.

Cons: Static paper-and-pencil student materials. Flannelgraph figures for stories. Too much lecture. Leading questions don't allow kids to think. Dinosaur theme isn't appropriate for older kids. Scripture memory emphasized. Awards.

Cost: Preview kit, $26.95; teacher book, $2.45; student book, $1.10.

9.MCGEE AND ME! THE SPECIAL EVENT FOR KIDS
Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.

Theme: Exploring biblical truths.

Pros: Easy-to-read director/teacher material with lots of helpful planning and implementing directions. Flexible programming for one- to three-hour sessions. Five high-quality, attention-grabbing videos present truths for life application. Lots of extras.

Cons: Lots of question-and-answer activities. Some ideas too abstract. Teacher-focused, passive activities.

Cost: Kit A (complete) $189.99; Kit B (without videos) $129.99; teacher book, $39.95.

10.THE BIBLE: GOD'S CALL TO LOVE
Cooperative Publication Association
(American Baptist Churches in the U.S.A., Church of the Brethren, Church of God, Cumberland Presbyterian Church, Disciples of Christ, Presbyterian Church U.S.A., United Church of Christ, and United Methodist Church)

Theme: Revealing God's love through biblical personalities.

Pros: Complete director material with lots of ideas about recruiting and training teachers. Learning-center tips. Flexibility for five- and 10-day options and combined grades. Some activities emphasize life application. Some interactive learning.

Cons: Leaders book could include more specific debriefing questions for open-ended discussion after activities. Unappealing art. Student book could have less puzzles and fill-in-the-word activities. Passive activities may bore older children.

Cost: Preview kit, $39.95; teacher book, $5.25; student book, $3.25.

VBS RANKING CHART
Here's how the companies that responded to our call for VBS curricula rate. Use the phone numbers to call for more information.
1. Augsburg Fortress Publishers...............800-328-4648
2. BJ Goetz Publishing Co..........................800-345-29AD
3. Gospel Light.............................................800-446-7735
4. Cokesbury.................................................800-672-1789
5. Standard Publishing...............................800-543-1353
6. David C. Cook Publishing Company.......800-323-7543
7. Concordia Publishing House..................800-325-3040
8. Regular Baptist Press............................800-727-4440
9. Tyndale House Publishers, Inc..............800-323-9400 ext. 214
10. Cooperative Publication Association...800-366-3383
11. WordAction Publishing Company (Nazarene)........
800-877-0700
12. Gospel Publishing House (Assembly of God)........
800-641-4310
13. North American Division Church Ministries........
(General Conference Seventh-Day Adventists) (402)-486-2519
14. Convention Press (Southern Baptist)....800-458-2772
15. Herald Press (Mennonite)........................800-245-7894
16. Baptist Publishing House (Missionary Baptist)....
800-333-1442
17. National Baptist Publishing Board.......(615) 350-8000
18. CEF Press..................................................800-748-7710
19. Northwestern Publishing House (Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran
Synod)..............800-662-6022
20. Faith and Life Press
(General Conference Mennonite Church).........800-743-2484
21. Living the Good News, Inc. .......................800-824-1813

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