Go Big! Tru VBS {Unpacking the Box}

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The weather outside might still be frightful, but it’s never too early to begin thinking about Vacation Bible School!   I am thrilled to be taking a look at the VBS designed by the makers of Tru Curriculum.  As you may remember, I had the opportunity to attend The Gathering last May and learn all about Tru and the philosophy behind the curriculum.  I love what the team is doing there and was thrilled with Cook Publishing asked me to take a look at their coordinating VBS Program: GO BIG!    Here’s the “At a Glance” blurb from the Go Big website:

GO BIG is for groups as small as 10 or as large as 3,000. You can use it as a traditional in-church VBS or as a neighborhood program in a backyard, school, or park. But one thing stays the same: every day in GO BIG God shines as the central character of Scripture. Through original music and engaging learning games, kids in your church and your community will hear about the God who loves them, knows them, and wants them to know Him better.

Image from SundaySchool.com

You can also see what’s included and the Scriptures covered at Cook Publishing’s newly developed SundaySchool.com website: 

What’s Included:

  • Director’s Guide
  • Site Leader’s Guide
  • The Big God Story Flip Book
  • Activities and games
  • Music and chord charts
  • Storytelling videos
  • Reproducible Resource Pack (registration forms, supply lists, take-home papers, letter to parents, and more!)
  • Promotional Materials Pack (posters, promo cards, banner, t-shirt template, and more!)

Every day in the unique GO BIG! VBS, God shines as the central character of Scripture.

Main Scriptures:
God Is Creator: Genesis 1—3
God Saves: Genesis 37, 43—45
God Is Always with Us: Esther 1—10
God Loves You and Me: Luke 2:1-21; 22-39—24:12
God Wants Us to Be a Part of His Story: Genesis—Revelation

In GO BIG! kids will hear about the God who loves them, knows them, and invites them to know Him better!

Here’s what I thought:

Of course, all the usual stuff like timelines, job descriptions, schedules, promotional ideas, and follow-up suggestions are included in the VBS (and every other one of the market), so I won’t dwell on that stuff. Instead, I’ll focus on the things that seemed to set this apart from other programs.

The Good:

  • The entire kit is $99, which is totally affordable.  
  • The storytelling videos are really fun and really informative!  I took a look at the Esther video and loved the fact that the history between the time of Joseph (Day #2 lesson) and the time of Esther (Day #3 lesson) was explained interview style.  They also did a great job tying the Memory Verse into the video seamlessly.   The video was really well done and I think the kids would really enjoy it.
  • One of the best components of Tru is the focus on the big God story. Go Big VBS kept this focus, painting the broad picture of God’s redemptive plan in only 5 days!
  • I loved the “Tale of Three Churches” included in the director’s guide.  It cast a great vision about what “Go Big” could be used for an the type of impact it could have on the community.
  • Daily Supply List: I am a lover of lists so anytime a list is already made FOR ME, I’m a happy camper!
  • Inspire, Equip, Support:  This section is included in the Site director’s manual at the beginning of each day’s lesson.  I love that it gives a related “real-life” tale as well as some background and personal application about the day’s Scripture passage.  It helps make the days theme more alive when the leader or teacher is able to relate to it in so many different ways.
  • Anticipate: This is the activity kids do as everyone is arriving.  It helps set the stage for the day’s lesson and builds some excitement.  I really like that parents and kids can do this activity together.  Even if parents don’t end up staying for the whole program, they will have some clue about the lesson and thus a starting point for a conversation with their kids.
  • Margin Notes:  I love how the purpose of each component of the schedule is explained in the margin.  For example, “Small Group time is designed for kids to laugh, play, and form new relationships….”  This is perfect for someone who is new to the idea of small groups or new to Children’s Ministry in general.
  • Story Boards: I like how KIDS are involved in the story boards each day, though I would have suggested that each picture uses it’s own poster board instead of splitting a poster board into 6 squares (if you’ve got a big crowd, kids in the back won’t be able to see).

The Bad:

  • Digital Product: Call me old fashioned, but I love getting a package in the mail and pulling all the components out of the box. I love flipping through a new curriculum or VBS book and holding the materials in my hand.   With this product, everything is a digital download — meaning you print it off on your own.  It was a little tricky sorting out all the parts and trying to figure out where to start.  I would love for it all to be packaged in a 3 ring binder.  
  • Music: One my of favorite parts of VBS is the MUSIC!  I love hearing the new stories and seeing the kids all hyped up about some new tunes.  Only one song (the Go Big theme song) came with this kit, which was kind of a bummer.  Of course, if you’re already using Tru curriculum, there are lots of songs from that you could use with this VBS.   If you’re only buying the VBS kit though, you’re on your own for finding music.
  • Memory Verse:  To me, it’s a little odd when the memory verse from the day comes from a completely different book of the Bible.  For example, on day #3, the whole day is about Esther and yet the memory verse comes fro the book of Deuteronomy.  I would love to see the memory verse in the context of the day’s passage.

Hmm…:

  • This VBS used the same terminology that is used in Tru curriculum (Anticipate, Respond, Create), so if you’re already using Tru, the VBS is easy to understand.  However, if you’re not using Tru or if a lot of your VBS volunteers are unfamiliar with the curriculum, it might take a little while to catch onto the terms.  
  • Worthwhile Crafts: The biggest complaint I get from parents about VBS is the cheap crafts.  The crafts suggested in this VBS are certainly worthwhile (bracelet, backpack, etc), but they will also really increase the funds you’ll need.
  • The Site Leaders guide mentioned a Flip Book,which was used everyday, but I could not find the flip book or directions on how to make one anywhere.

Check It Out!

More VBS Posts to Check Out:

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