During Cokesbury’s Discovery at Adventure Island, the children are called “Explorers” and the group guides are called “Island Guides”. The children are looking all week for “Infinity Lanterns” – like God’s love, they can never be extinguished! Children also learn the importance of reflecting God’s love to the world around them.
The opening assembly is a mixture of puppet and live actors, music and the bible story presented in an (optional) video format. This will allow all children to hear the Bible story before beginning rotations, which has been an issue in the past. The story is also reinforced at the drama station. The curriculum allows for both a rotation and classroom model, as well as multiple scheduling options. The Preschool/Kindergarten guide provides for an age appropriate adaptation of the curriculum as well. Crafts, games and science focus either on the story or the theme of the day (hope, love, joy, etc) and are easily adapted or even changed depending on the church’s size, budget, etc. A facebook group is available, as well as in person and virtual workshops. Cokesbury seems to have improved the format and layout of their manuals, and all things are available via digital format or by download. The One Room option is a great addition that will allow for small churches to provide a great VBS experience. During this time of social distancing, Cokesbury has clear guides on how to post videos online and most of the crafts (and some of the science experiments) could easily be sent home as “VBS in a bag”.
Cost & Format
- Cost: 224.99 Deluxe Super Starter ; 189.99 Super Starter; 62.99 One Room VBS
- Both Print and Digital resources
- Toddlers and Twos
- Younger Elementary
- Older Elementary
- One Room Option
- Adaptations for different learning and ability levels
Number of Sessions/Scheduling
Five sessions available. The over all theme comes from Isaiah 60:1, “Arise! Shine! Your light has come; The LORD’s glory has shone upon you.”
Session 1 – Arise! Shine with Love! Creation (Genesis 1:1-2:9)
Session 2 – Arise! Shine with Trust! Moses and the Burning Bush (Exodus 3:1-20)
Session 3 – Arise! Shine with Faith! Through the Roof (Luke:5:17-26)
Session 4 – Arise! Shine with Joy! The “Lost” Parables (Luke 15)
Session 5 – Arise! Shine with Hope! Mary at the Tomb (Luke 20:1-18)
What is included in the basic package?
Includes, among others:
- Music CD, Bible Story DVD for assembly, Bible Trivia videos, Music Videos
- Chord and lyric sheets for music
- Special Preschool and Kindergarten activities and music
- Online Registration and volunteer forms; printable take home sheets
- Special adaptations; planning guides for various formats
- Decoration tips/support
- Downloadable missions and snack guides
- Adaptable, well-rounded programs that can operate with a large or minimal budget.
- Includes sample schedules for a variety of formats
- Crafts and science rotations are both easy to do with clear instructions—crafts have several options from purchased kits to eco friendly options
- All areas, including mission suggestions, can be adapted to fit a budget and church focus.
- Music is easily adaptable; leader book contains sheet music, lyrics, and dance moves. Music is typical of VBS (same musical director as for Mars and Knights)
- Assembly ensures all children hear the Bible story in the same way, reinforced later with Drama station
- Diverse cast used in videos.
- Good mix of OT and NT stories
- Emphasis on being shining lights of God’s message of love
- Guidelines given for virtual options for churches not meeting in person
- Paper registration form includes media release
- Some crafts will not appeal to older students, purchased crafts may require more assistance with younger children than is practical
- Music is slightly high in pitch – may be hard for kids to sing along with
- Music Videos are not easy to follow along with in regards to dance moves
- Online registration may not provide enough flexibility /accessibility
- While the digital content has good diversity, there is some diversity lacking in the print guides.
About the Publisher
Cokesbury Publishing reflects a mainline, Methodist interpretation of scripture that emphasizes God’s deep love of humanity and the ability of people to be in relationship with God. Unlike many VBS programs that focus on the crucifixion or resurrection, Cokesbury consistently emphasizes God’s presence in our everyday lives and living in relationship with God. The VBS resources are centered in biblical narrative and include a section on helping children who want to make a commitment to Christ, which churches in the Episcopal tradition that emphasize baptism as the rite of initiation, may not generally use. It would, of course, be helpful for those children who attend VBS but do not attend that church so that a conversation with the child and family can be started.
The materials are gender inclusive and include diverse cultures and races. While some of the stories obviously have male characters, these roles could easily be played by either gender. The mission suggestions are engaging with options that could be easily adapted to most faith communities. Every area (science, drama, missions, among others) has ideas to adapt activities to different learning styles, local VBS traditions, time limits and more.