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DIY Backyard VBS

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My kids still remember the year we did summer VBS at home. Here’s a quick rundown of what we did.


by Heidi Indahl


Does your parish offer a summer VBS (or similar) activity?  Is it cost (in)efficient?  Does it have a place for all the children in your family?  Is it special-needs friendly?

A few years back, stymied by the steep price and lack of preschool program at the vacation bible schools in our local parishes, two of my friends and I decided to go out on a limb and plan our own backyard vacation bible school. We met to choose the theme and daily focus areas, and split up the work of planning each area of the curriculum.

Intentional-FamilyInitial details to hammer out:

How many days?

How long?



Types of Activities?

Our backyard VBS was three days for an hour and a half in the morning, plus a fourth day attending daily Mass at the nursing home as a group. Location was easy since my backyard was the most accommodating for a group.

We gathered for two hours each day with a very traditional preschool schedule with gathering time, story, activity stations/learning centers, snack, and closing time. Using the Godly Play tradition of storytelling, we learned about Noah, Ruth, and Jonah with music, crafts, and theme-based snacks. One mom did all of the music, another did all of the story telling, another did all of the crafts/activities, and we each did one day of snack planning. Our entire collection of songs and activities is viewable for free on my personal blog, Work and Play, Day by Day.

The planning and execution was a lot of work, but it was also without a doubt one of the most rewarding home based catechesis activities our family has ever done.  My kids still talk about the year we had bible school at home!

Follow Jerry Windley-Daoust:

Publisher, Gracewatch Media

Jerry Windley-Daoust is a writer, editor, and father of five. He writes essays and stories at Windhovering and is the show-runner for Gracewatch Media, a small Catholic publisher. You can follow his latest publishing projects at gracewatch.org.

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