Friday, July 30, 2010

What's in the Bible--Using it for our Summer Program

I've been meaning for a long time to write about how much I LOVE Phil Vischer's "What's in the Bible." I got a sample copy of the first video a few months ago and my husband and I enjoyed one afternoon of my maternity leave watching it. He and I both laughed through the whole thing and were so impressed by how educational and entertaining it was at the same time. In fact, I was so impressed by it that I tucked it away as a summer time option for our elementary program.

In order to give our volunteers a bit of a break, and to make up for a lack of help, we simplify our summer program. In the past that's meant using Kidmo or Elevate video curriculum. Our kids have enjoyed them, but we've found that they just weren't as simple as we would have liked as far as small group time goes. And while a team is working on creating a curriculum to use in churches along with the What's in the Bible videos, that curriculum isn't available yet (and it sounds like it'll be amazing, but also not be quite as simple as we're looking for during the summer).

And then one night during my maternity leave, while feeding my son at 3 am, I had a thought. What if we used the What's in the Bible videos and wrote simple lessons to go with them that fit the exact needs of our program with a light volunteer staff? I started thinking about what a good job my husband always did with making the "games" in curriculum actually competitive (kindergarten boys quickly figure out that a game really isn't as fun unless there is a competitive element, and why is it that so many curriculum's games lack that element?). And I thought about how fun the challenges in "Minute to Win It" are. And I remembered how much I liked Willow Creek's Metamorphosis curriculum and how we were able to use so many of their activities as games using two teams instead of small groups with the right up front leaders a few years ago.

All those thoughts lead to what has been our best summer program yet. Each What's in the Bible video has two chapters to it, and we only show half of a chapter each week, meaning the three videos available are able to get us through 12 weeks of curriculum--our entire summer! We watch half a chapter (usually about 12 minutes long), have a large group facilitator intro and review a bit of what's in the video, and then divide the kids into teams. Typically, we have a girls team and a boys team (that way we have a variety of ages on each time), other times we've had as many groups as we have leaders that day. All but a few of the weeks have had a competitive element, yet we don't give out any prizes. The kids compete purely to compete. We've played a giant game of Connect Four, navigated mazes, filled in the blanks of a work book, assembled a giant puzzle, and all the while, answering questions about what was taught in the video.

Our kids LOVE watching the videos (just don't tell the 4th and 5th graders that they're watching the same thing as the first graders or else they might start acting too cool for it). When I ask kids who their favorite character is, the most common answer is, "The guy who likes ponies!" And better yet, my leaders are learning right alongside the kids. This past week, one of the high school leaders told our elementary pastor, "I don't think most high school kids would know what the canon is, yet our kids can tell you what it is and how it's used."

So, all that to say, I love What's in the Bible. The kids in my ministry love it. And I am so excited to think about how we can keep using the videos in the future.

No comments:

Sony Style USA