A New Approach to VBS

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We chose not to review our company’s new VBS curriculum along
with the others we received. Obviously, we think it’s great,
because we’ve watched our co-workers in the curriculum department
start from scratch and create a wildly innovative and effective VBS
curriculum.

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But in the pursuit of fairness to other companies, we sent
Group’s Vacation Bible Ship to Gordon West, a Christian educator in
Arizona. Here’s Gordon’s opinion:
“Finally, the ‘innovator in Christian education’ has made its
contribution to vacation Bible school. We’ve been waiting a long
time to see Group Publishing’s effective age-appropriate education
in VBS.

Every aspect of this curriculum has been done with quality.
Every needed element of scheduling, preparation, and how-to is
included for each leader’s specific tasks. Preparation time is kept
to a minimum of 25 minutes per day for the eight teachers needed
for a typical VBS.

This kit is approachable for any novice or experienced VBS
director. Descriptions and instructions are well-written and to the
point. Every VBS worker has a thorough descriptive manual. And
teacher training is easy with a training video and complete “Bon
Voyage” teacher training meeting plans. These plans model the
active and interactive learning we want teachers to use.

This program is filled with creative activities, fun lessons,
and lots of interactive learning. Most activities do a great job of
having the student ‘experience’ the point and then following up
with discussion. The educational philosophy is strong throughout,
avoiding the old methods of passive seatwork. Rather than
unscrambling the name ‘Jonah’ on paper, kids actually crawl inside
a huge plastic whale!

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The Bible stories are child-friendly. The ‘Crews News’ pages are
excellent. The video and music helps are wonderful. However, the
‘Chadder’s Stowaway Adventure’ video needs a stronger Bible theme.
The song actions are the most creative, age-appropriate, and
downright ‘do-able’ I’ve ever seen. The cruise theme is strongly
reinforced throughout every component of the VBS. And I’ve never
seen craft ideas provided with such thorough instructions for
preparation, leading the children, and explanation of the daily
learning point. Almost everything you need for the crafts is
supplied in the kit.

Group’s Vacation Bible Ship is designed to foster relationships.
Kids are organized into six-person ‘lifeboat crews,’ using a
multi-age approach. Groups are led by a First Mate-usually an older
child. And crew members of all ages help each other learn. This
configuration eliminates most discipline problems. Since this
concept is so new, it would’ve been helpful to include more
training tips on using multi-age groups.

A never-before-seen component in VBS is the ‘Ship Shop.’ Kids
can buy materials in this store that’ll extend the learning at home
and help defray expenses for the VBS.

So, what’s my response to the ‘maiden voyage’ of Group’s
Vacation Bible Ship? Wow!”

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