Monday, June 8, 2015

DIY VBS for Families

Do It Yourself Vacation Bible School.  A curious concept, right?  When our daughters were younger, I was interested in registering them for Vacation Bible School near our home.  Since they were of preschool age, I was looking for a program that would allow me to volunteer with the kids.  I found that most of the churches in our area of town offered summer Bible programs for children entering 1st through 6th grades.  I resigned to the fact that our girls would have to wait a few years before being old enough to attend a formal VBS.  Pushing aside my discouragement, I decided to plan a few lessons for the girls on my own.  

I turned to the internet for lesson ideas, and I came across some websites that offered free lesson plans.  To be honest, this took place six years ago...I believe I referred to the DLTK's Growing Together website, possibly the VBS page.  I also found a lesson called "Consider the Ants" on a website called Danielle's Place.  In this post, I will provide plans for the two lessons that were included in our DIY VBS.  I will also include an additional lesson that came to my mind as I was writing this post.

LESSON 1--CONSIDER THE ANTS (adapted from the lesson written by Carolyn Warvel as cited above). 
Bible VersesProverbs 6: 6-8 
"Go to the ant...consider her ways, and be wise.  Without having any chief, officer, or ruler, she prepares her bread in summer and gathers her food in harvest."
Galatians 6:9
"Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up."
Alphabet Activity:  Practice writing the word ant in uppercase and lowercase letters. 

Craft:  Make fingerprint ants.  May use markers, stamp pads, or washable paint.  Once the fingerprint ants are dry, the kids can continue to decorate the page.  Adding googly eyes make the ants looks really cute.


Snack:   Ants on a log.  Spread peanut butter or cream cheese on celery.  Top with raisins or dried cranberries.

Lesson:   Though Carolyn Warvel's lesson is free, it is copyrighted.  Please refer to Danielle's Place to view the script for this lesson or to find additional ideas to incorporate into your own plans.  During our lesson, we happened to discover some ants on our patio that were hard at work.  This real-life example reinforced the lesson for our girls.

Bible Story:  I read the story of Daniel in the Lion's Den from The Beginner's Bible: Timeless Children's Stories.  Our kids have read this Bible so many times the book's binding needs to be repaired.  Now that they're a little older, they prefer to read The Jesus Storybook Bible: Every Story Whispers His Name.  According to Amazon, both Bibles are geared toward children ages 4 to 8, but the Beginner's Bible is intended for readers ages 6 and under.  While both Bibles contain illustrations, The Jesus Storybook Bible has considerably more text than The Beginner's Bible.  Our girls have loved both Bibles because the stories are well-written in a language they can understand. 

Bible Verses:  Daniel 6:16
"So the king gave the order, and they brought Daniel and threw him into the lions' den. The king said to Daniel, "May your God, whom you serve continually, rescue you!"
Daniel 6:22
"My God sent his angel, and he shut the mouths of the lions. They have not hurt me, because I was found innocent in his sight. Nor have I ever done any wrong before you, Your Majesty."
Alphabet Activity:  Practice writing the word lion in uppercase and lowercase letters.

Craft:  Paper Bag Lion.  At the time I was preparing this lesson, I had come across a Martha Stewart paper bag lion craft kit.  I was unable find this kit online, so there is not a link available to share.  However, I did find instructions for a similar craft on Martha Stewart's website.  Find additional ideas for lion crafts on Pinterest.  

Snack:  English muffin lion.  Toast an English muffin and spread with peanut butter or substitute with a nut-free alternative.  Make eyes with raisins or dried cranberries.  Dab a small amount of jelly in the center for a nose.  Sprinkle corn flakes around the edge of the English muffin for the lion's mane.  This tasty treat was a huge hit with my young daughters!

Lesson:   The story of Daniel in the Lion's Den can be found in both of the children's Bibles mentioned earlier and on the DLTK website.  Age-appropriate discussion questions and a Bible verse are also included in this link to the DLTK website.

LESSON 3:  Trees of Life

Bible Verses:  Jeremiah 17: 7-8
"Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord and whose trust is the Lord. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit."
Jeremiah 29:11
"For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."
Read (this story is the lesson):  The Tale of Three Trees by Angela Elwell Hunt.  In this touching story, the reader discovers the hopes and dreams of three trees that stand together on a hillside.  As we follow these trees over time, we learn that their fate is much different than they had expected.  While the future was not what they had anticipated, we learn that their purpose in life was much more beautiful than they could have ever imagined. 

Alphabet Activity:  Practice writing the word tree in uppercase and lowercase letters.

Craft:  Tissue Paper Trees.  As first-year Daisy Girl Scouts, the girls in our troop made these tissue paper trees.  The day's lesson was "making the world a better place," and the girls were working toward the rose petal in the Daisy petal set.  Since this meeting took place in the fall, we used warm-colored tissue paper.  If doing this craft in the spring, use green tissue paper for the leaves and pink tissue paper for flowers.  If it's late summer or early fall, use green tissue paper for leaves and red tissue paper for apples. To make the trunk of the tree, the children traced one of their hands on brown construction paper.  They cut out the trunk before gluing it on another piece of construction paper.  Our kindergartners showed us where they wanted their leaves to be on the paper, and we helped them with this craft by applying dots of glue for them.  A glue stick could work as well, but if you use a bottle of glue, you'll want to keep your hands on it.  Believe me!

Snack:  I've heard many parents and children refer to broccoli as "green trees."  For a snack that sticks to the theme of this lesson, serve broccoli with ranch dressing.  While bumping around online, I came across another healthy alternative--here's a tree snack with pretzels and grapes that kids can create on their own.

Though this blog was initially created as an additional resource for Girl Scout troop leaders, it occurred to me that other families and childcare providers may be interested in replicating the activities I have prepared for my daughters.  I decided to share our experiences here.  If you are interested in learning how Girl Scout troops could potentially incorporate the idea of a DIY VBS into their Bronze Award plans, please contact me by leaving your email address in the comment section below.  As always, thank you for reading!

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