On the last day of a great VBS at Hilton Terrace Baptist Church, I sweep up the remains of the sand table area, brush the glitter out of my hair, and dig play-dough out of the toy dishes, and I say to myself,”There is nothing like preschool VBS.” Preschool VBS is a unique blessing.Here are a few reasons why:
1)We get to play!
We play hard in the preschool department. All age groups play at VBS but in the preschool area play is the main instructional strategy. You have to love teaching an age group where many of the teaching activities involve toys. We use blocks to build a wall as we tell the story about Paul and the angry crowd. Our sand table teaches us about the sandy, dusty road where Paul walked on his way to Damascus. We float boats and simulate storms. We use our doctor kits to bandage baby dolls as we talk about being helpers. Fred Rogers of Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood fame says:”Play gives childen a chance to practice what they are learning,” and at preschool VBS, we are practicing all the time!
2)They know the answers (even if you haven’t asked any questions!)
We include our preschoolers in the first part of our Worship Rally. On the second day of VBS, our Family Minister announces that he’s going to ask some questions and correct answer givers win buttons. That’s all my preschoolers need to hear. Even before Curtiss asks the first question, they are raising their hands and calling out answers like “Bolivia!” “Paul saw a bright light!” Now we need to work on the wait til you’re called on before you answer (but hey, at least they raised their hands!) This eagerness to answer questions reminds me that preschoolers are learning machines. This age group takes in and retains A LOT! Which goes right along with my next point.
3) Little people have long memories.
I could cite lots of early childhood research that would tell you how remarkable the young child’s brain is, but instead, I will tell you from my many years of personal VBS experience that even very young children can learn and apply the lessons we are teaching. I know this because as my little guys move up and into children’s classes, student classes, and yes, even college and beyond they still come to me and say “Remember when we…,” and honestly, the years are starting to run together and I don’t always remember the details but when they start to tell me, I realize what an impact those early experiences have had. I call it my plus ten rule. If you are in my VBS class, I want to teach you something in a way that you’ll remember ten years later. I know those three, four, and five year olds will need these spiritual lessons when they are thirteen, fourteen, and fifteen. As I told children the stories in this year’s Colossal Coaster VBS, I imagined where that class of little people sitting criss cross applesauce on the floor in front of me would be in ten years. They will be in high school, dating, and driving, and it is my prayer that they will remember some of the lessons they learned in VBS this year like people can change when they meet Jesus, God can give us friends who can help us, and we can trust God to love us and care for us. I love seeing kids “grow into” what we are teaching, but I am always excited to watch kids apply VBS lessons immediately. This year our VBS had one preschool memory verse,Hebrews 13:6: God helps me. I will not be afraid. This one verse really made its way into the hearts and minds of my class of little ones. On Sunday, I heard one of my VBS students reciting the verse to her friends while they were in the block area. That same day, the grandmother of one of my three year olds shared that her granddaughter had always been afraid of the car wash, but this week as they went through, she heard her say, ” God helps me, I will not be afraid of the car wash.” I love hearing and seeing God’s word at work in the every day lives of my preschoolers!
And now a few bonus ideas for Preschool Colossal Coaster World:
We sang our memory verse to the tune of “Wheels on the Bus”:
God helps me, I will not be afraid, I will not be afraid, I will not be afraid, God helps me, I will not be afraid, Hebrews 13:6.
Day 2 “Barnabas Was A Friend to Paul”
We acted out the story of Paul escaping from an angry crowd by being lowered down the city wall. We made a felt “wall” mounted on PVC pipe. Paul got in a laundry basket and two preschoolers raised the “wall” so it looked like Paul was being lowered down. We acted this out on Family Night.
On Day 3 “Paul and Silas in Jail”
We made Earthquake Pudding. Put instant pudding mix and milk in a plastic jar with the lid taped down. We passed it around the circle while we listened to the Preschool Music CD “Song About Paul”. Each child took turns shaking the jar and passed it to a friend when we paused the music. Soon we had a delicious pudding snack to share! (Be sure and post ingredients on Allergy Alert Poster.)