Crafting with a Crowd


For some of us crafting makes our day. We love it, the more glue (or for me glue dots) the better. We see an empty box, a scrap piece of paper, or some leftover fabric, and think, “What can I turn that into?” However, not everyone shares our love of all things crafty. Hand them the Crafts Rotation Leader Guide and tell them they will be leading the crafts rotation, and they break out into hives.  It’s one thing to sit down and complete a craft project on our own, but something else entirely different to sit down with 15-20 kids and complete the project. But never fear (Isn’t that the whole point of VBS 2013? Facing our fears.), you can successfully craft with a crowd. Here are a few pointers to help you when crafting with a crowd:


  1. Plan Your Time:  You may look at a craft and think, “Well, this will take about 5 seconds to do,” but rarely will a child be able to complete their project in the short amount of time that an adult will. You also need to factor in the time it will take to distribute supplies, give instructions, and transition.
  2. Prep Your Supplies: By prepping your supplies before hand, you can keep the session moving at an easy comfortable pace. Think about asking older youth and Sunday School classes to help you prep before VBS starts. They can cut materials, gather items, and sort them into individual ziplock bags. Then once VBS starts all you need to do is give each child a bag of materials and get started.
  3. Prepare Your Samples: The best way to be confident in teaching someone else to do something is to do it yourself. Once you have selected the crafts you want to do, make samples of each one. Note anything you think will need further explanation or changes that can be made that will work better for your group.
  4. Pace Your Lesson: Figure out exactly how much time you have with each rotation. Plan how much time you will spend introducing the project and relating it to the Bible content, giving instructions, and so forth. When working with children it will be best to give one set of instructions at a time. The leader guide shows each craft with step-by-step instructions to help you know how to transition from one step to the next.


Crafting with a crowd can be fearful at times, but when we trust God and are obedient to Him, the blessing will be immeasurable.





Tabletopper, Photo Prop, or Something Else?

tomlinsonIs it a tabletopper, photo prop, or something else? It’s all these and more.

In case you haven’t heard there is a really cool, new product in the LifeWay VBS lineup. It’s our VBS 2013 Tabletopper! And for $6.99 it’s a lot of bang for your buck.

Just check out how we used these at our Preview events this year.




Of course these are great tabletoppers for any table you need to set up. You can use them on your sign up and enlistment tables, registration tables, snack tables, and the list goes on. Here you can see we used the side with the park scene to conceal our extra supplies in the Cotton Candy Cafe.



But wait! You can turn them around to use the coaster car side as a photo prop. As we’ve done here:


Would you like to see how we created the coaster car “seatbelt?” Well, you’re in luck, we just happen to have a few pictures to show you how.

First we cut two slits at the bottom of the safety bar on each side. Then we ran some grograin ribbon through the slits. You may want to but a small piece of tape over the end of the ribbon to help you thread it through the slits. We used black ribbon at our events, however I only had blue available when I made these for the post. You can use whatever color you wish.


Next we stapled the ribbon on one side of the tabletopper. We only stapled one side so that folks could “adjust” the seatbelt by pulling the opposite side longer for large groups or shorter for small groups.


See how easy that was to give the tabletoppers another use? We would love to hear your ideas about how you plan to use the tabletoppers or any VBS accessory in an unusual way.


Peeking Through the Fence at Backyard Kids Club

841320_10151460870504948_144206793_oIt’s been a busy January traveling all over the country to our exciting VBS Previews. One new element of VBS is getting great buzz– Backyard Kids Club! Jennie Ross has been doing a fabulous job sharing about the new curriculum and about her personal experiences with a VBS in her own “backyard!” (“Well, actually side and front yard,” she explains with a winning smile.)

Jennie began her Enrichment Session with the basic definition–Backyard Kids Club has the same great Gospel message and fun learning environment as a traditional VBS. It is just off your church campus and in a location that reaches people who would not normally come to your church campus.

Jennie’s conference included the basics of team structure, schedules, and resources. I asked Jennie to share what people thought about the new resource. Here’s some of what she told me:

005532691Many people were really excited about:

  • Having a new “tool” to reach out to their communities without having to take their people through another training – since this matches what they are already doing in their VBS.
  • That it was broadly graded and already prepared to be used in an outdoor setting.
  • That it was simplified and portable (no big teacher packet and pages of things to cut out).

Jennie also mentioned that just like VBS in a church setting, BKC does not reach its full potential unless a follow-up plan is in place.

Here are some of her suggestions:

  • Make sure the child makes friends with one of the “regular” church kids so when they come back, they already have a friend at church.
  • Deliver a hand-written note from someone on the team. She encouraged the local “host” to deliver the notes even if another team member wrote them. Jennie emphasized that mailing was ok, but the personal touch of face-to-face delivery had a greater impact.
  • Keep back a craft to deliver the following week as a home visit (such as the ticket frame).
  • Take church information with you when you make the follow-up visit.
  • Send a follow-up letter or email from the church thanking them for attending and inviting them to other church functions or events.

Are you thinking about using Backyard Kids Club in your community or on a mission trip? Let us here from you! We’d love to share your experiences here on the blog!

Over the River…

img_5318Over the river (Little Pigeon River) and through the woods (Mt. Pisgah National Forrest) to VBS 2013 Events we go! It is going to be a COLOSSAL week!

This is the week we (LifeWay’s VBS Events Team) look forward to all year – the first in a series of awesome fun events – where VBS groupies from all 50 States, Canada, and Mexico (and sometimes even a groupie or two from Great Britain or Korea) join together for two days of exciting VBS sights and sounds!

Over 1200 VBS leaders will be our guests at Ridgecrest Conference Center later this week for worship with Dr. Shane Garrison and Austin Adamic, teaching by some of the best VBS practitioners in the country, inspiration and creativity of LifeWay’s VBS Graphics and Publishing Team, and a performance of the Colossal Coaster World Musical by a great children’s choir. AND if all this is not enough, how about 60 degree weather (we typically have ice) in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina.

If you are not registered for the Ridgecrest event, there is still time to join us January 18-19 in Fort Worth, January 31-February 1 in Nashville, or February 8-9 in Kissimmee. Like I said before, these events are going to be COLOSSAL so don’t miss out.

To learn how you can be part of a one of these awesome Preview events go to

We’ll be looking for YOU!

Kid Quotes

melitaIf you’ve taught in VBS even once you probably have several funny stories about things kids did or said. My friend, Scott Wiley, over at “Brick by Brick” often shares funny things he overhears in his Sunday School class and inspired me to do the same. So to kick off the new year, here are my top 10 all-time favorite kid quotes from kindergartners at church…



10. “I am going to rinse this off with my tongue.”


9. “Why do people use blue and yellow [paint] to make green? Why don’t they just use green paint?”


8. “If I was a shepherd I would use a sheep as a pillow.”


7. “We’re having a wedding. Sam, you can be the ring master.”


6. “Thank You, God, for polar bears. The Coca-Cola kind.”


5. “He’s my best friend. I’ve known him for years.” (5-year-old speaking)


4. “I’m going to be a rock star astronaut when I grow up!”


3. “Don’t press down the [paint] brush too hard or you’ll give it a bad hair day.”


2. Teacher: “Is it hard to get along and be kind to your brother and sisters all the time?”
Kid: “Yeah, because sometimes my brother is evil.”


1. “Dear God, thank You for all the animals that are boys, have horns, and that are dangerous! Amen.”


These are 100% true… and completely hilarious. What’s the funniest thing you’ve overheard a child say at church?

Foto Friday…Tabletopper (NEW!)

tyrrellHi everyone! It’s Keith here for Foto Friday! I know, it’s been a while since I blogged but wow(!) I have been busy! The VBS team is getting ready to leave for the VBS Preview events.

As I am pulling together some of my promotional items for the upcoming Previews, I realized that we have a NEW promotional item that I’m really excited about! It’s the VBS 2013 Tabletopper!

The Tabletopper is two sided! Side 1 has a roller coaster car and side 2 is part of the theme. What’s cool about this is that you can use it as a photo prop! Place the tabletopper on a table or on the ground in front of the Super Size Backdrop and then stand behind it. It looks like you are riding a roller coaster! How Fun!!!


Side 2 can be used to display to make a VBS display on a table!


New Year, New Design

  Welcome to a new year and a new design for the VBS 2013 Administrative Guide for Directors. Now it’s even easier to plan, promote, and conduct a successful VBS.

That’s right we have redesigned the Administrative Guide with you in mind. The entire guide is divided into six simple steps:

Step 1: Know Your Purpose and Theme– Get a feel for the week and learn how the theme and biblical content tie together.

Step 2: Start Planning– Planning is crucial for any successful event. By starting with these step-by-step tips, you will be on your way to a fun-filled, exciting adventure.

Step 3: Enlist and Train Your Workers– Behind every good director is a good group of leaders. Start pulling your team together early.

Step 4: Promote and Publicize– Use the helps provided to get the best results for your efforts.

Step 5: Registration– From preregistration to registration during VBS, we’ve got you covered.

Step 6: Follow-up– Strengthen the relationships that were created during your VBS. Plan now to follow up with both your visitors as well as your regular church attenders.

Within each step you will find helpful charts, and guides to make planning a snap. And as always you will still find all the same great helps provided on the CD-ROM as in previous years.

So I’d like to personally invite you to browse through the guide and let me know what you think. And I’d love to hear about any great tips you may having for planning for an exciting VBS!


Discounted Shirts – Great Reason to Attend Preview!

There are many awesome reasons to attend one of the VBS Previews scheduled for January and February, but for many guests they find discounted VBS t-shirts and leaders a huge incentive! Everyone who attends will receive one free t-shirt of choice (choose from Colossal Coaster World, Thrill Seekers, or Club VBS Jungle Jaunt), but Previews make it possible to outfit your entire VBS team for a fraction of the costs you would spend otherwise.

One guest told me she saves enough each year on t-shirts to pay her Preview registration fee and travel expenses. Talk about making ever penny count!

Once again t-shirts – whether you need just one or multiple hundreds – will be available for $7.00 each and Colossal Coaster World leader shirts will be priced at $20.00. This is an event-only offer so don’t miss out!

Another great reason to attend this year is to see the many people who show up in amusement park costume. We are encouraging everyone to attend the first day dressed as an amusement park character or employee. Everyone wearing a costume will be entered in an opportunity to be chosen to participate in the VBS 2015 theme think tank. One person will be chosen from each location.

The Ridgecrest and Nashville 2 events are now closed, but there is still plenty of room at Nashville 1, Fort Worth, and Kissimmee. To learn more go

Until then, I wish you the merriest Christmas ever and a blessed 2014!

Four Weeks and Counting…

Hopefully it is looking a lot like – and sounding a lot like – Christmas where you are today. It certainly is here in the VBS office! But it is also looking and sounding a lot like four weeks until the first national VBS Preview at Ridgecrest Conference Center in North Carolina.

We are in perpetual motion putting the finishing touches on a not-to-be-missed event! We have now hit capacity at Ridgecrest and the Nashville Friday/Saturday events, but there is still room at Fort Worth, Nashville Thursday/Friday, and Kissimmee.

A complete list of breakout sessions is now available at Check it out today!

In addition to the basics for Colossal Coaster World and Club VBS: Jungle Jaunt, you will have the opportunity to explore decorating options with Mark Jones and the VBS Design Team, be introduced to LifeWay’s newest VBS resource Backyard Kids Club, be challenged by the preaching of Dr. Shane Garrison, and participate in worship with the Austin Adamec Band.

I’m looking forward to seeing you soon for the Colossal Coaster World Experience!

National Cotton Candy Day

No trip to a theme park is complete without cotton candy. In fact, it’s such an integral part of the experience, we decided to name the snack rotation for Colossal Coaster World after that wonderful mound of spun sugar goodness. Today is National Cotton Candy Day. Why not celebrate by learning how to make cotton candy that will last the entire week of VBS. It’ll even last the whole summer! Click on the video below and I’ll walk you through it step-by-step.

Cotton Candy Cafe

Fake cotton candy looks good enough to eat & is so easy to make that you’ll want to use it everywhere… promotion, registration, decoration… the list goes on and on. How do you see yourself using cotton candy during VBS at Colossal Coaster World? We want to hear your ideas!