Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Gadget's Garage: The Planning Phase

This year, in an attempt to simplify VBS, I'm digging up an old VBS kit:  Gadget's Garage from 2009.  I like this theme for a number of reasons.  

1.  Robots-who doesn't love robots?  
2.  The stories are great-no trying to explain the rapture to 3 year olds.  
3.  The snacks do not include trail mix!  
4.  The connections seem way less forced than in recent years.
5.  It's not overly elaborate.

After being involved at VBS at several different churches in recent years, I've noticed that VBS can get out of hand quickly.  Are we really teaching children about the love of God when they walk into a scale replica of the NASA space station?  Do children really understand Jesus' resurrection better when chowing down on Salvation Snack Mix?  Are all of the games, songs, decorations and crafts getting in the way of our message?  Maybe.  And it's sucking up my VBS budget like no one's business.

This year, I'm using an old kit.  I like still having some type of guidance and outline, even though none of the materials are available anymore.  Honestly, my church just buys the kits and gets creative from there.  The licensed VBS stuff gets really expensive and Oriental Trading is super smart to sell like items at half the price.  But next year, I'm going rogue!  No kits, no theme, no giant cut-outs for pictures, all simple!

Before I can dream about next year, I have to pull off this year and tonight is the first planning meeting. Some things that you need to know about our VBS first.  

1.  It's small.  My goal is 25 kids this year.  Last year we hovered right around 20.  
2.  Since it's so small, it's an all ages kind of thing-around 3 years old to 10 years old.
3.  We have unlimited outdoor space, but limited air-conditioned space.  
4.  My church is small but mighty.  I have dedicated volunteers that I need to use more!

Now that you understand what I'm working with, let's talk about this year, with another list.  (If you can't tell, I love lists.  I'm kinda a recovering list addict, so this post is probably not a good thing.)

1.  VBS will be four nights long Monday - Thursday with the church Ice Cream Social on Friday.  It's a great way for us to schedule because we can combine resources a little.
2.  We will again have evening VBS since I work, and we can maybe catch some cooler weather.  If we do it during the day, it's tough to get in any time before the day really heats up, unless we start at 6:00 am, and I'm not doing that!
3.  I'm still going to use passive activities.  This year I'm thinking sidewalk chalk and a coloring wall again, but also a Lego box for building before the lesson starts.  It was nice to have something for the kids to do while we were getting everyone signed in.  
4.  Craft stations are still a must!  We so few kids across a wide range of abilities, it worked really well to have different stations to keep them all busy.  We had a poster coloring station, card making station, random leftover craft station, and special craft station.  I think that the kids enjoyed having some options, and the only station that really required any prep was the special craft.
5.  Give each child a dedicated folder or bag for crafts so they aren't carrying them the rest of the night. This was a sanity saver last year.  Write their name on a bag or folder, toss the craft in there, or whatever is left of their snack sometimes, and give it to them at the end.
6.  More games!  We had more free time than I anticipated last year, which left me scrambling to come up with games off the top of my head.  This year, I'll be ready!

When you break it down, this is all totally doable!  I'll see what else the team comes up with this evening and report back later.  Until then, if you want more Gadget's Garage, check out my Pinterest board for VBS 2013

Happy Reading!

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