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
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?
* Publicity helps-Are materials colorful and appealing?
easy to use?
* Teacher aids, gadgets, and extras-Are they creative?
* Theme-Is it child-oriented? captivating for kids?
* 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
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
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
Cons: You'll have to train the tent family mothers to lead
children to make life applications. Requires lots of teacher
Cost: Manual, $59.95; video, $27.95.
3.YOUNG EXPLORERS' AMAZING JOURNEY TO BIBLE
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
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,
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
Cost: Preview kit, $19.95; teacher book, $3.55; student book,
5.OF ALL HIS CREATURES, GREAT AND SMALL, JESUS LOVES YOU
MOST OF ALL!
Theme: Learning about God's love through different
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
Cost: Preview kit, $29.99; teacher book, $3.99; 5-day student
book, $1.99; 10-day student book, $2.49.
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
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,
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,
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
1. Augsburg Fortress Publishers...............800-328-4648
2. BJ Goetz Publishing
6. David C. Cook Publishing Company.......800-323-7543
7. Concordia Publishing House..................800-325-3040
8. Regular Baptist
9. Tyndale House Publishers, Inc..............800-323-9400 ext.
10. Cooperative Publication Association...800-366-3383
11. WordAction Publishing Company (Nazarene)........
12. Gospel Publishing House (Assembly of God)........
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
16. Baptist Publishing House (Missionary Baptist)....
17. National Baptist Publishing Board.......(615) 350-8000
19. Northwestern Publishing House (Wisconsin Evangelical
20. Faith and Life Press
(General Conference Mennonite Church).........800-743-2484
21. Living the Good News, Inc.
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