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3 Ways to Engage Kids Every Minute of VBS

We’ve all been there. Most of the kids have finished their craft before time is up, and they’re getting antsy. Someone’s happily coloring the table, another has their craft glued to their own hand, and still more are getting dangerously close to romping gleefully out of sight toward the church volunteers who are setting out snacks. It’s a typical VBS scene.

And I’m sure you can think of plenty more: It rains almost the whole time VBS is in session, and the kids are firecrackers waiting to be set free. But there’s no need to panic. The dreaded downtime that seems to pop up all too often can be made into a fun time for everyone! Here are some great ideas that kids will enjoy.

Gather Around for a Quick Circle Game

As the name implies, a circle game begins with a group of people sitting or standing in a circle. Usually, these games are based around a silly concept or theme, and involve everyone in the group. Circle games are quick and often require no extra setup, making them a great option for filling downtime during VBS.

When I was a camp counselor, we played circle games all the time! A few of my all-time favorites were Frogger, Ha Ha Ha!,  and the Rhythm Game. You can find more games like this by doing a web search for "Circle Games" or visiting a website such as Ultimate Camp Resource.

Sharpen Minds with Memory Fun

Another fun way to engage kids during any downtime is to keep them excited about songs or memory verses they’ve learned so far. For those who are feeling fearless, use the extra time to practice songs and actions from Opening and Closing or Bible Challenge.

For anyone who might feel a little iffy about belting out tunes, you could try to “gamify” memory verses. Practice verses by having different groups try to say the verse louder than another group, or do fill-in-the-blank between groups. Keep it fun and over the top to keep everyone completely motivated and engaged.

Leader Bag Essentials

There are a few essentials every group leader should keep handy for those kids who like to keep busy. Here are some ideas for portable games or activities to easily carry along from station to station. Most of these activities can be found on the web for free or purchased for $1 or less from your local discount store.

  • Word Puzzle Books
  • Trivia or Card Games
  • Travel Size Board Games
  • Coloring Pages

Speaking of coloring pages, we’ve put together a free download with castle-themed pages from The Illuminated Catechism. These detailed scenes depict a kingdom complete with castles and fortresses amid nature and a sun-filled sky. Use them with your Mighty Fortress VBS or for children’s ministry throughout the year.

With all of these ideas in your bag (literally), you shouldn’t have to ever fear the possibility of extra downtime. We hope that these ideas help you to create an enriching and enjoyable VBS experience for everyone.

Written by

Karle Embretson

Karle Embretson is a student at Concordia University, Nebraska. She keeps busy at school with an English major as she endeavors to change the world one word at a time. Last summer, she interned at Concordia Publishing House in the Marketing department, where she honed her writing skills as she worked with VBS and Sunday School material. In the past, Karle has been a camp counselor and VBS volunteer who really enjoys spending time with kids and Jesus. You can usually find her outside in the sunshine with a good book, writing a story or two, or trying to be as amazing as her favorite movie character, Napoleon Dynamite.


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