Vacation Bible School is an exciting experience for many young people, providing an opportunity to learn about their faith and make friends with people of similar faith in a safe environment. While studying the Bible is central to many VBS programs, crafts, games, skits, water fights and songs keep kids' attention.
"Verse Hunting" is designed to facilitate young people’s memorization of Bible verses. Prior to the game, an adult hides a certain number of plastic eggs in a large outdoor space, corresponding to the number of kids playing. Within each egg is a slip of paper with an encouraging verse on it. Each child is instructed to hunt for one egg. When he finds it, he keeps the verse and periodically refers back to it. Later, the individual recites the verse from memory. If he is successful, he is awarded with candy or another small prize.
Kids learning about the history of Christian persecution may enjoy a game called “Bible Smugglers,” an outdoor game involving plastic spoons that represent Bibles. This game is best played in a large open area. Two adult leaders pretend to be agents in pursuit of Christians while two other adults play missionaries. It’s the mission of the kids to bring their spoons to the missionaries without getting caught by the agents. If the agents catch them, they must explain what they’re doing without lying. If they’re caught lying, they’re sent to “jail” until the round is over. The game ends when all the kids have brought their Bibles to the missionaries or converted the agents to the gospel.
“Bobbing for Jonah’s Whale” is a game for children learning the biblical story of Jonah. An ideal game for hot summer days, it requires a large bucket filled with water and apples. An adult leader places into the bucket a slice of long fruit such as a zucchini or cucumber, made to look like a whale. Children go bobbing for the whale. If they find it, the leaders give them prizes. After the game is over, children may enjoy a few rounds of “Tossing the Whale” in which they stand at a distance and attempt to throw the whale back into the water.
This game teaches kids the importance of the principle expressed in Hebrews 10:23: “Let us hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering.” Before the game, adult leaders douse vegetable oil over a foam ball and players’ hands. The players divide into teams and play a variation on football in which each team tries to score goals without dropping the ball. Teams score points if they make it to the goal line but lose points if they drop the ball. After the game, discuss how easily one can lose hope and ask the players to describe times in their lives when they lost hope.
- The Source for Youth Ministry: Outdoor Games
- Church House Collection: Jonah and the Whale VBS Idea
- ESV Bible: Hebrews 10:23-25
- The Encyclopedia of Bible Games for Children’s Ministry; Group Publishing
Boze Herrington is a writer and blogger who lives in Kansas City, Mo. His work has been featured in Cracked and "The Atlantic."