Archive for Thursday, October 18, 2007

WOW! Vacation Bible School is year-round

October 18, 2007

Children are playing games, singing songs and cooking all while learning stories from the Bible.

The "WOW!" Word on Wednesday program, Basehor United Methodist Church's version of year-round Vacation Bible School, began two weeks ago and according to the church's children's ministry coordinator Angie Bohndorf, it's off to a strong start.

"We have about 21 enrolled right now and about 14 or 15 have been coming each week," she said. "It's been going wonderful. The kids love it and the grownups are having a pretty good time ourselves."

From 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. each Wednesday, "WOW!" participants have been rotating to seven different stations to complete activities that correspond to a story in the Bible.

Lessons on each story last five weeks; the children are currently in the middle of a unit on Noah's ark.

Rain sticks were created at the art station, while children guessed whether a clay figure of Noah and an aluminum foil ark would float in a tub of water at the science station.

However, Bohndorf said the children's favorite activities happen at the music and movement station, where they sing along to songs such as "Rise and Shine" and "Noah's Boat Song" and learn different motions to go with them.

Bohndorf said she learned the actual American Sign Language to "Awesome God" and will be teaching it to the children.

"The love, love, love the music," she said. "They would probably sing and dance the whole time if they could. They learn the songs so much quicker and enjoy them more if they have some motions."

Other stations in the program include creative cookery, games, storytelling and movies. Bohndorf said she also hopes to incorporate a computer station in future units.

The ideas for the different activities come from PowerXpress, a curriculum through Cokesbury, which provides Christian resources. Several activities are given for each of the stations and station teachers can pick and choose which ones they want to use, Bohndorf said. One of the great things about the program, she said, is that it not only allows the children to have fun, but teaches them the deeper meaning of the stories and helps the grasp the underlying concepts.

"What I love about it is that it encompasses all of the seven multiple intelligences that children have and all of their learning styles," she said. "In every station, they're not only doing the activities, they're also hearing parts of the Scriptures, and the teachers are discussing it with them before they do the activities. They're hearing it over and over again in many different ways. I feel very confident that by the end of the five weeks, they'll know this Bible story inside and out."

A new Christmas themed unit called "The Gift of Jesus" will begin Nov. 14 and run until a little after the first of 2008, but children can join the program at any time, Bohndorf said. The stations don't build on one another, so children that are new to the program won't feel like they've missed anything, she said. It is open to kindergarteners through sixth-graders and the children are broken up in different age groups while they explore the different stations. Participants are also adequately monitored as there is one teacher per station and one guide leader per age group called a "Shepard" to take the children from station to station. The program is free, and those interested in joining can just show up any Wednesday evening at the church and fill out a registration form.

"That's what it's all about -- reaching out and expanding it," she said.

"WOW!" Word on Wednesday is planned to follow the course of the school year and wrap up sometime in May. The program will not meet on Oct. 31. For more information, contact the Basehor United Methodist Church office at (913) 724-2077.

"We're kind of just playing it by ear, but it seems to be off on the right foot right now and we're all excited about it," Bohndorf said.

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