“When you find something that works as well as this, you keep it,” said parishioner Linda Lagodney. She was speaking about The Maker Fun Factory summer vacation Bible school, a weeklong Our Sunday Visitor VBS program that Holy Family Parish has used for over 10 years.
This summer The Maker Fun Factory helped around 40 kids at Holy Family, as well as student and adult volunteers, connect to their faith through six fun, fast stations of around 20 minutes each. The stations helped kids to gear up for the day’s adventure through singing, songs, stories, movies and inventive types of fun that were high-energy and memorable — all relating to the single Bible point that was reinforced at every station.
On weekday mornings for five days, around 30 children, three adult volunteers and others — including high school students — were in attendance, having come together not only to learn, but to have fun.
“Some families like the program so much, they change their vacation plans around it,” Lagodney noted.
At the start of the week students were divided into “teams” with memorable, fun names that included the Crabs, Bees, Termites, Birds and Whales. Each team consisted of mixed age groups from first to fourth graders, which helped them interact and learn from each other.
During the sessions each group rotated through the stations, which were located in different rooms and led by volunteers.
The Sound Wave Play and Sing station was where kids could learn the lyrics to part of the song of the day — which at the end of the week came together as a whole song. Everyone sang and danced to the song, which reinforced the Bible points of the week.
The second station, Bible Adventures, is where all five senses were used to experience stories from the Bible. One experience at this station placed the children at the Garden of Gethsemane walking to Calvary along with Jesus, who was depicted in costume by one of the students in each group.
Crazy Crafts helped them to make surprising and authentic faith discoveries using science. One day, participants decorated and raced wind-up Transformers-like cars that they then got to keep. The purpose of this activity was to emphasize that God’s love is never-ending, a point that was taken from Psalm 89:2: “Your steadfast love is forever.”
“I hope it helps transform kids into hands-on inventors, who discover and know they are lovingly crafted by God,” said one of the student volunteers.
The last station had all groups coming together for a snack, which not only connected them as a community but also helped them to connect and recall the Bible verse of the day. One day the snack was a graham cracker spread with whipped topping, which was decorated with chocolate chips in the form of a cross, helping the kids to remember God’s love and his gift to us — his son. At this station they also stood up, danced and sang songs together, and talked about what they had learned during the day.
“I had one little girl whose mother told me that she (her daughter) was singing the song in the shower,” said Lagodney. She believes the songs are ones that adults enjoy as well.
Students enjoy the program so much that they don’t want to stop coming, even when they are past the fourth grade. “We have former students who come back as counselors, leaders and volunteers for the program,” she added.
In fact, two of the older, former student volunteers reflected for a moment while watching two now-high school freshman volunteer leaders teach the children a song. They recalled how one of them used to attend, and was very high-energy as a child — and how they never thought that same person would later come back and become one of the counselors.
“The program is so inviting to kids. They are learning so much and remembering what they learn. They are connecting to their faith to the Lord, which is a great feeling,” said Lagodney. “Kids helping other kids know or learn about the Lord is actually the best thing about this.”
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