50 VBS Games, Crafts and Snack Ideas
Vacation Bible School is a time for spiritual growth � and fun! Encourage kids to get into the Bible with these games, crafts and snack ideas that will complement any VBS theme.
- Dare to be a Daniel - If your VBS theme centers around being courageous for God, encourage kids to be daring like Daniel. Create a maze out of pool noodles or boxes, and blindfold one child at a time. The other kids will need to work as a group to guide the blindfolded child through the maze by giving verbal directions (or you can have an adult do it). Place adults on the side of the maze to keep the kids from tripping or falling. Kids will learn to trust the voice of their guide.
- Spies - Create an obstacle course out of cardboard boxes that children can crawl through. Recruit the high school youth group to help assemble it and decorate the course. The kids can pretend they are Caleb and Joshua going to spy on the promised land. Decorate the last box with scenes of green hills, tall vineyards and milk and honey.
- Adventures of David - David goes from shepherd boy to king with lots of adventures in between. Set up an outside obstacle course with hula hoops, a kiddie pool, boxes and even other creative objects. The kids have to run over, under and through the different obstacles to escape Saul and his army. You can even time the kids individually or divide them into teams to make it a race.
- Quick Change Relay - Relays can help illustrate 1 Corinthians 9:24, when Paul encourages Christians to run the race that they may obtain the prize. Keep that message in mind for these next several race ideas. Group a pile of adult clothes by an orange cone or marker. Each child runs to the pile, buttons up a shirt, puts on pants and a hat and whatever other articles of clothing you compile. Then they have to run back to the line and take them off as fast as they can for the next child to put on. That child runs to the cone and back to the line and then takes the clothes off. The first team to race through all the clothes wins. For a "Shipwrecked" or ocean theme, you can have children dress up in diving gear instead � include flippers, life vest and snorkel mask.
- Run Waiter Run - You will need a ping-pong ball and small paper plate. Race against each other to the designated turnaround point without the ball falling off and without touching the ball with your hands. The goal is to keep it steady on the plate. If it falls, you must pick it up and go back to where you dropped it to resume the race. You can also do the classic spoon and egg race (outside of course) or if you need to be inside, use ping-pong balls instead.
- Beach Ball Relay Race - Divide kids into two teams, and divide each team into pairs. Have an adult help the first pair on each team line up back to back with a beach ball in between them. That pair links arms and has to work together to run to the designated point without dropping the beach ball and then back so they can hand off the beach ball to the next pair. If they drop the beach ball, they have to stop and put it back in between them before they take off again. All the while, they are racing the other team to the finish line!
- Marble Races - You'll need flat-bottomed sidewalk chalk, pool noodles and marbles. Contestants line up to compete against each other with the goal of knocking down an upright piece of chalk with their marble by sending it down a pool noodle ramp. The children can hold the noodle to control the speed and direction that it comes out of the ramp. Have four to five kids compete at the same time, and give each group several times to try knocking down their chalk before the next group starts.
- Coat of Many Colors - Teach the story of Joseph with this game. Split into several teams, and give kids several colors of streamers. Make this a competition by either seeing which team can wrap a teammate up with all of the streamers the quickest or by asking them to make it look like the person is wearing a colorful coat � and judging whose is the most stylish.
- 10 Commandments Balloon Bop - You will need a Bible, large beach towels and 10 inflated balloons. The goal is to try and keep all 10 balloons in the air at once. Start by having children hold the edge of one end of the towel and stand apart so the towel is taut. Then have the kids shake the towel. Encourage them to continue to shake it as you add each balloon, and name each of the commandments as you add the balloons. Continue for 30 seconds after all the balloons are added, and replace any balloons that fall. The children will see that it is hard to keep all the balloons up all the time, just like it is hard to keep all the commandments all the time, which is why we need Jesus.
- Books of the Bible - Print out several sets of the books of the Bible (depending on how many teams you will have) and cut out the name of each book individually. Have teams compete to see who can get them in the correct order the quickest.
Register participants and recruit volunteers for VBS with a sign up. SAMPLE
- Bible Trivia - Using your VBS week theme, compile a list of questions for a fun trivia-style competition on the final day of camp so students can demonstrate what they've learned. Genius Tip: Need some inspiration? Check out these helpful Bible trivia questions.
- Fruit Basket Turnover - If you're talking about the Fruit of the Spirit during your VBS, incorporate this fun game to burn some energy. For fruit basket turnover, arrange all the chairs in the room in a circle. All the kids are assigned one of four fruits (for example, pear, banana, apple, orange and then repeat). Once all the kids are assigned a fruit, you yell "pears!" and all the pears jump up and have to find a new chair, but each time you yell a fruit, a chair is removed. The last kid sitting is the winner. You can also vary this game by using animals for a Creation or Noah's ark themed week.
- Bible BINGO - Create a custom BINGO board with Biblical figures and references from your week of VBS. For instance, if it was all about God's wonderful creation, include Adam and Eve, the ocean and the stars as spots on the board. Reward BINGO winners with a special bookmark with a favorite verse. (Candy never hurts either.)
- Squirrel, Squirrel in a Tree - Line children up in an open field or gym, and count them off as "Tree, Tree, Squirrel" and repeat until you have one or two extra children. These kids are your squirrels looking for a tree. To make the trees, two children face each other hold their hands up in an A shape to form a "tree." When each squirrel gets in a tree, the tree will enclose its arms around the squirrel in a V shape until the signal. When the leader blows a whistle or yells, "squirrel, squirrel in a tree!" all the squirrels have to run to a new tree with the extra squirrels finding a tree too. There should now be new extra squirrels who will "race" for a tree next time. Repeat several times, and then switch the squirrels and the trees. You can also adjust this game to be Zacchaeus in a tree.
- True or False Toss - You could play this game at the end of every day or the end of your camp week. Set up two buckets/bins � one labeled "true" and one labeled "false." Let the kids take turns while you read aloud facts from the week. They will try to guess whether the statement is true or false by tossing a soft ball into the correct container.
- In the Beginning - Let children experience the awe and wonder of creating something and remind them of how each painting will be unique � just how God created each of them. Give children a blank 5x7 canvas and some acrylic paints, and let them create their own picture of the creation or anything else you decide. Don't forget the smocks!
- My Creation Book - Take children on a nature walk, and encourage them to observe all of the miracles of God's creation. Give them time to stop and draw pictures of what they see as they go. Being outside is good for kids mentally and physiologically and nature walks help children take the time to observe God's created order. Remind children that if God took that much time and intentionality with a bird or butterfly, how much more does he care for his children? At the end of the activity, they should have a book full of pictures that will remind them of what they saw and serve as great reminders for their parents as well!
- Armor of God - Help children create the armor of God from Philippians by making pieces of armor out of cardboard or other materials. Older children can make at least the shield, sword, breastplate and belt out of cardboard, and they can use a paper template for the helmet and shoes. It is most time efficient and safe to make templates and cut them out ahead of time with a box cutter or industrial scissors. Younger children can decorate pre-drawn cardboard or poster board templates. They can also color a worksheet showing a child wearing all the armor. Make sure to label each piece of armor so the children remember what each piece represents.
- Salt Dough Sand Dollars - For an ocean or "anchored"-themed VBS, use colorless salt dough to have the kids make sand dollars. Have an example ready for them, and show them how to draw designs in the sand dollars using a toothpick.
- Salt Dough Starfish - You can also have children make a starfish with salt dough as part of an ocean-themed VBS. Help them shape the dough into starfish, and use toothpicks to create designs.
- Sailboats - Cut two-inch pieces of pool noodles to make the base of your sailboat. Place a popsicle stick in there for your mast, and then have pre-laminated triangles with your VBS theme printed for the sail. The other option is to have the children decorate the sails, laminate them that afternoon and assemble the sailboats the next day.
- Jonah and the Whale - For preschool-age children, make Jonah and the whale by using a hot glue gun to attach string to the inside of a blue plastic cup and glue a paper Jonah the other end. Attach a paper whale tail to the bottom of the cup. Children can decorate their whales and watch Jonah be swallowed by the whale and spit back up again.
Organize different VBS volunteer slots with a sign up. SAMPLE
- Anchor Footprints - Either on a canvas or a wooden board, paint children's feet and make their footprints in a V shape to be the curved part of your anchor. Then paint a cross in the same color coming up from the footprints with a circle on top. Place their names and the date at the bottom or write out the VBS camp's theme. Example: "Sarah is anchored in Christ."
- Picture Frame - Buy inexpensive, paintable picture frames from a craft store, and let children paint and decorate them with the VBS theme. Offer an assortment of glitter, buttons, pom-poms and other small items for the children to glue on the frame. Have a picture of each child and/or the entire class in front of a themed VBS backdrop ready for them to place in the frame by the end of the week.
- Fingerprint Cross - Trace a cross on pieces of heavy duty cardstock with a key verse that you are learning. Have acrylic craft paint ready for the children in a variety of colors so they can fingerprint decorate their crosses. This will remind them that Christ died for them, and that he knows and created every detail of their being, down to their fingerprints. An alternative for older children is to have the whole class work together to fingerprint each person's cross to show how we make up the body of Christ.
- God So Loved the World - Remind children about God's love for the world by making a paper plate Earth. You will need to cut out outlines of the globe, both a North and South America side and a Europe/Asia/Africa side, and either glue them to the front of two respective plates or have the kids do it. This way, there will be two sides of the globe the children are creating. Have children paint the entire plate blue; once that dries, they can use cut up green tissue paper to glue down to the land portion of the plate. To finish, punch holes in the top of the plates and tie yarn through it so the kids can hang it in their rooms. For older children, you can make it nicer by putting it on poster board or small canvases.
- Love One Another - The passage 1 John 4:11 can be incorporated into many VBS themes, and it is always a truth we need to be reminded of: "Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another." For this craft, create two large heart templates (around 10 inches) per child with the middle cut out like a picture frame. Write the verse on the front side or let older children write it themselves. Attach two construction paper figures in the middle of the heart over multicolored tissue paper.
- Standing Through the Fire - You can create a craft to make Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego (Daniel 1-3) in the fiery furnace and/or also relate it to how as Christians we will face trials. James 1:2-4 and 2 Timothy 1:7 are also great verses to incorporate. Use rectangular construction paper to make your frames and have four cut out figures ready for each child and tissue paper in red, orange and yellow. Consider having the fourth figure larger or with angel wings to represent the angel of the Lord that protected the men from the fire.
- Sand Art Cross - You will need cross templates from heavy cardstock, colored sand, glue, a paintbrush and a large tray or tablecloth underneath children to catch the sand. Kids can draw a heart in the middle of the cross and other designs. Next, they will paint on the craft glue and then shake the desired color of sand on top and shake off the excess. Wait a few minutes before starting the next section to let the glue dry a little.
- Jesus, the great I AM - Teach children about who Jesus is as fully God and fully man with a wheel reminder. You will need two pieces of cardstock cut in a circle of about 10 inches in diameter. On one circle, have a picture of Jesus and the words "I AM" for the children to color, and on the other circle, there will be about 10 pie shape sections for you to write verses where Jesus tells the people who he is. Example: "I am the way, the truth and the life" (John 14:6). Your top circle will have a cut out the same size as the pie shapes so you can see one truth at a time. Use a brass brad to push through the middle of the two circles, and fold down the sides on the back so that the top circle spins over the bottom circle.
- Animal Pairs - Having a Noah's ark-themed week? Incorporate animal crackers or goldfish � or serve everything in pairs like the animals.
- Rainbow Bananas - You can also incorporate rainbow themed snacks into a Noah's Ark week. To make rainbow bananas, cut bananas in half (length-wise), and give each child half a banana and four small plates with various colors of dry Jell-O powder. The children can dip their bananas in the different colored Jell-O powder to make rainbow bananas.
- Rainbow Toast - Toast white bread and give a plated piece to each child. They will also receive four to five small cups of milk colored with food coloring. Using a clean paintbrush, the children can then paint a rainbow on their toast and eat it!
- Rainbow Jello - Fill clear plastic cups with red Jell-O. Chill for the designated amount of time on the package and then repeat with yellow, green and blue for a layered rainbow treat.
- Days of Creation - Let your kids experience different days of creation with their snack by serving blue Jell-O with Swedish fish in it in clear cups, animal crackers and a few mini marshmallows as clouds.
- Ocean Life - Make banana dolphins in a sea of grapes by cutting the bananas in half, slicing the stem end in half just a little past the opening to make a mouth and then cut eyes on each side. Stick your dolphins in clear cups full of grapes.
- Fishing Pond - There are lots of stories about Jesus and his disciples fishing, whether literally or figuratively. Fill little cups full of goldfish. Then make a fishing rod out of a pretzel stick and tie Red Vines around the pretzel stick as the line.
- Fish �n Rods - Give kids a "Fish �n Rods" sandwich bag filled with goldfish and pretzel stick "rods."
- Loaves and Fishes - Give children five saltine crackers and two Swedish fish to represent the miracle of the loaves and fishes.
- Fish in the Pond - Frost a cupcake with blue frosting and then place a pretzel stick and goldfish on top. Use a little icing writer to connect the rod to the fish.
- Fish-shaped Sandwiches - Make mini "fish" sandwiches using a fish-shaped cookie cutter.
Collect donations for VBS decorations with a sign up. SAMPLE
- David and Goliath - Create an edible sling out of pretzel sticks by making a Y shape and using melted chocolate to meld together the sticks. Tie Red Vines around the top for the moveable part of the sling, and then serve each sling beside five chocolate chip "stones."
- David the Shepherd Boy - Make sheep out of jumbo marshmallows using pretzel sticks for legs and a pretzel stick for their faces.
Joshua and Jericho
- Butterflies - Create butterflies by filling sandwich bags with one or two different types of snacks. If you do two kinds, separate them to different sides of the bag; a savory and sweet option, for example. Then, wrap colored pipe cleaner around the middle of each bag to make butterfly antennae.
- Butterflies Part II - You can also make butterflies out of celery sticks by filling them with peanut butter, using two colored M&Ms as the eyes and then two pretzel twists as wings. (Just be mindful of allergies.)
- Horns - Make the horns that were blown to initiate the battle of Jericho by filling waffle cones with mixed fruit.
- Walls and Horns - Bugle snack crackers also look like the horns, and you can serve them with Rice Krispies Treats to be the walls of Jericho.
- Tropical Snack Mix - Paul was shipwrecked in the Mediterranean, and there are many shipwrecked, tropical-themed VBS options. In this vein, make snack mix cups of Chex cereal, goldfish, pretzels and M&Ms with a paper umbrella sticking out of the top.
- Sand Dollar Cookies - Bake sugar or snickerdoodle cookies with sliced almonds forming the star pattern on top.
- Queen's Crowns - Bake muffins in pretty paper cups, and then add miniature crowns to the top of the muffins to represent Queen Esther and her bravery. This could also be used if learning about Biblical kings.
Vacation Bible School is the perfect time to make lasting memories while laying a foundation of God's word in children's hearts. With these games, crafts and snacks, you're one step closer to a great week.
Andrea Johnson is a native Texan now living in Charlotte, N.C., with her husband and two daughters. She enjoys running, photography and good chocolate.