Ahoy, mates! If going through the process of choosing the best
VBS curricula for your kids is as scary as jumping into
shark-infested waters, fear no more! We've swabbed the decks for
We reviewed all the VBS curriculum kits for 1994. And we've chosen
the top four VBS curricula-the ones that'll keep your kids from
We evaluated whether a curriculum is easy to use, detailed, and
complete. We looked at director, teacher, and student materials. We
critiqued the theme, the art, crafts, and any extra gadgets. There
are lots of flashy kits out there with fun drama and decorations.
But the bottom line question we asked about each curriculum was
this: Will it effectively teach children?
And we think these will. In fact, kids will have so much fun, you
may gather a few stowaways as the week progresses. We hope
The top four kits are listed in alphabetical order-not in any
ranking system. Here's what we liked and didn't like about each
EXPLORING GOD'S EARTH
Church Growth Group
(Southern Baptist Convention)
What it is: A recreation-based Bible learning experience. The
event is built around five stations that children rotate through
from day to day.
What you'll cover: Five aspects of God's creation.
What you'll get: Curricula books for five three-hour sessions.
Audio tape with songs and a videotape with each day's drama (They
did the work for you!).
What's good: Station approach makes preparation easy for teachers.
Outrageously fun games, crafts, and activities. Has fun
apply-it-to-life activities. Fun skits, snacks, and room decoration
ideas. It's self-contained-you don't need extra gadgets or student
books. No-prep videotape is a plus.
What's not so good: The nature theme is old; it's been done for
several years now. Not enough creative storytelling ideas. Games
are active but they lack debriefing to help children learn from
them. Lessons lack connections to tie all the activities together.
The lessons don't drive home a life application. Could use more
purposeful emphasis of the key thought throughout. Has some
pencil-and-paper activities. (Do the environmental thing-recycle
What it'll set you back: $149.95
What number to call: 800-458-2772
B.C. 1440-BUILD A HOLY PLACE
B.J. Goetz Publishing Co.
What it is: An experiential, hands-on approach for children to
experience the Old Testament.
What you'll cover: In one week, children build a tabernacle and
"live" during Bible times.
What you'll get: A manual with clear, detailed instructions.
What's good: This curriculum breaks kids out of the church
building. Extremely effective at immersing children into the Bible.
Uses interactive learning. Very experiential. This experience will
impact kids' lifelong views of the Old Testament.
What's not so good: Requires tons of coordination, work, and
volunteers. Specific life applications aren't built into the
curriculum. Language is too adult in places; difficult terms aren't
explained to children.
What it'll set you back: $62.95 for manual (lots more for building
What number to call: 800-345-29AD
COME TO THE PARTY:
What it is: A complete, traditional VBS kit for five or 10
What you'll cover: Joyful Christian living based on celebration
events in Jesus' life.
What you'll get: Leaders guide, teacher books, visuals, student
books, craft packs, and assembly helps. (All sorts of extras are
What's good: Kids will enjoy the theme. Some active learning (but
not enough). Creative activities. Supplemental Glitz and Skitz has
the best active learning in this kit. Detailed leader materials.
Some creative storytelling ideas. Good open-ended questions. Craft
material collection is done for you. Learning center approach for
What's not so good: Too many paper-and-pencil activities-word
puzzles and messages to decode. There are so many extras, the
ordering process is confusing-and it's expensive. Crafts are the
same-old VBS-type of crafts.
What it'll set you back: If you order just the basics for 10
children in each age group for five days (plus Glitz and Skitz):
What number to call: 800-543-1353, (519) 622-1941 (Canada)
"I AM SOMEBODY GOD LOVES"
Faith and Life Press
What it is: A learning experience that effectively uses active and
interactive learning with children.
What you'll cover: The lives of five Old Testament characters who
help children deal with real-life issues such as loneliness,
change, and hard choices.
What you'll get: Leaders guide-everything is photocopiable.
What's good: Active games with debriefing for deeper meaning.
Interactive learning-kids work together. Fun activities that are
application oriented. Creative storytelling tips. Makes connections
to real-life kid issues such as moving or feeling left out.
Different ways for kids to express themselves, such as through
creative writing and creative movement. Fun snacks. Clear,
easy-to-understand leader materials. Teacher can choose from a long
list of ideas to best meet kids' needs.
What's not so good: A few busywork ideas that lack purpose, such
as gluing words to a picture of a building. Some poetry-writing
ideas may be difficult for kids.
What it'll set you back: $29.95 (What a bargain!)
What number to call: 800-743-2484
WHAT WE MEAN
All hands on deck! To make it clearer, here's what we mean by
certain terms we use.
*Active learning-This does not mean that kids are simply
busy. But it does mean kids are involved in activities that evoke
emotion and lead to deeper learning. Active-learning experiences
are focused through debriefing or question-asking, such as "How did
you feel...?" and "How is this like a real-life situation?"
*Interactive learning-Kids interact with more than the
teacher or a piece of paper. Kids actually work together in groups
to achieve a common goal. The success of the group is dependent
upon each person's contribution.
*Pencil-and-paper activities-Meaningless word puzzles,
clouded messages to decode, and mazes teach children that God's
Word is inaccessible and hard to understand. If you want kids to
see the simplicity of God's Word, deposit these papers in the
nearest trash can.
Copyright© Group Publishing, Inc. / Children's Ministry