Vacation Bible School Backyard Bible Club Themes & Ideas

Vacation Bible School and Backyard Bible Club season has arrived! Both of these events had major impacts on my life as a child attending and as an adult planning.

Many churches use prepackaged curriculum which is nice but I have often found myself in situations where that wasn't the option. One time we were trying to put together a Vacation Bible School at a mission church that had little to no budget. Another time we decided to do a Backyard Bible Club in our neighborhood. Again little to no budget!

Are you in a similar situation? If so I've got a list of themes and ideas with links to resources that might help you out. I hope it encourages you to reach out to those little ones in your circle of influence. Some of my fondest summertime memories are from these gatherings and I want to pass that along to the next generation. I hope you do too!

All of our theme ideas feature some great books and Bible resources from Zonderkidz, Bible stories to feature in your lesson plans for the program, decorating and craft ideas to go along with each theme, and fun activity ideas that you can do with your group.

Under the Sea Theme

This summer, Finding Dorie, the much anticipated sequel to the beloved Disney movie Finding Nemo will release. Kids everywhere will be excited for everything under-the-sea related--- which also makes fun theme for Vacation Bible School!

Here are some books and Bible resources for this theme:

Made by God : Sea Creatures (an I Can Read level 2 book) 
Jonah and the Great Big Fish by Rhonda Gowler Greene
Ocean Adventures by Peter Schreimer 
Ocean Adventures DVD series:

Here are some Bible Stories that tie into an Under the Sea Theme:
  • The Creation
  • Noah’s Ark
  • Jonah in the belly of the big fish
  • The Loaves and Fishes
  • Jesus walks on the water
  • Jesus says “I Will Make You Fishers of Men”

Here are some Under the Sea themed craft kits and decor resources that can be purchased:

Here are some fun Under the Sea activities to do using items on hand: 
  • Make Cupcake Liner Fish from 4 Crazy Kings Blog 
  • Paint Seashells for necklaces, paper weights and photo frames
  • Make these adorable Scuba Diver costumes for kids or staff using recyclables, from 
  • Make Under the Sea stamps by cutting fish shapes from clean sponges and dipping in paints
  • Create some outdoor church yard fishing games with small wading pools and foam fishies
  • Visit the local community pool or lake/beach as a camp group for swim time
  • Visit the local zoo or aquarium as a group. Ask in advance for space if you plan to teach a lesson, do a craft or activity while on site.
  • Create an Under the Sea wall mural or statue display with recyclables, invite parents to check out your “art gallery” at the end of VBS
  • Write your own unique VBS songs by swapping Under the Sea terms for lyrics of popular Children’s songs

The World Builders Theme

Online gaming is very popular with kids as young as five-years-old. Almost every kid has heard of Minecraft, and many have accounts of their own where they create worlds with their friends. There are countless other games of a similar nature available on smartphones and tablets. For VBS, take the kids away from their screens, but give them a fun game-inspired time using a theme that they know and love!

Here are some World Builder books and Bible resources:

Here are some Bible stories that tie into online games, battles, and world building:
  • The Creation
  • Noah’s Ark
  • Joshua at the Battle of Jericho
  • Mighty Samson
  • David & Goliath 
  • Jesus calling the 12 disciples (in online games, players call on other players to participate in battles or group events)
  • The book of Revelations: Jesus’s return and the new Kingdom of Heaven

Here are some crafts and decor for the World Builders Theme that can be purchased:

Here are some fun activities to do using items on hand:
  • Acquire a large number of recycled, stackable boxes of all sizes. Paint them and allow kids to build scenes, rooms or objects for life size world building fun.
  • Have a Learn to Code session with older kids using the free resources on 
  • Create your own game characters using graphing paper, from Captain Nintendo Dude 
  • Host a Watermelon Carving Contest for teams to create their own edible game characters, courtesy of The Jolly Tomato 
  • Be World Builders in your own community by planting a garden or cleaning up an abandoned lot or helping elderly church members with their yardwork.
  • Plan a scavenger hunt using GPS and Geocaching for a fun new way for teams to discover hunt items on their list.
  • Make your own paper using a kid-friendly activity idea from Tinkerlab 
  • Play a game of Creepers versus Endermen dodge ball
  • Borrow Lego, Duplo and other bricks and blocks from the church community and host a “Build your favorite Bible story” activity using examples from the Faith Builders Bible
  • Create Minecraft inspired MadLibs using this helpful glossary from MindMum 

When I Grow Up Theme

Kids have fun talking about what they want to be when they grow up! Here’s a fun theme that helps kids explore what they’d like to do in their futures and remind them that God is with them every step of the way.

Here are some When I Grow Up books and Bible resources:

The Plans I Have for You by Amy Parker 
Baby Wren and the Great Gift by Sally Lloyd-Jones
Adventure Bible: Noah’s Voyage (an I Can Read book) 
Adventure Bible: Paul Meets Jesus (an I Can Read book)
Kids Quest Study Bible (NIrV)

Here are Bible stories that relate to this theme:

  • God calls Noah to Build an Ark
  • God calls Moses to lead His people out of Egypt and write the 10 Commandments
  • Joseph, the dream interpreter
  • Jesus calls His 12 Disciples to minister with Him
  • Jesus calls Paul to be a Disciple

Here are some craft and decor ideas for the When I Grow Up theme, that can be purchased:

Here are some fun activities for this theme that can be done with items on hand:
  • Invite parents and members of the church community to come in each day of VBS and talk about their careers
  • Have children dress up in the uniform for the career they would like to have
  • Honor different careers each day: bake cookies and make tasty snacks as a group in honor of those who cook and bake, using these helpful recipes from Real Simple 
  • Have a pet visit day in honor of veterinarians
  • Practice safety demonstrations in honor of police, firefighters and first-responders
  • Help people in need with a group charitable activity in honor of pastors, missionaries, and social workers
  • Host a special lunch where kids serve their parents to honor all that parents do for them
  • Host a “Talent Show” where children can sing a song, recite a poem, tell a story, or do a dance that honors the career they want to have

Angels Everywhere Theme

Children are very fascinated with Angels! They’re guardians and messengers and all around interesting. Explore Angels in the Bible with this fun theme!

Here are some books and Bible resources for the Angels Everywhere Theme:

Angels: A 90-Day Devotional About God’s Messengers by Christa Kinde
Angels in the Bible Storybook by Allia Zobel Nolan
 Adventure Bible: Facing the Blazing Furnace (an I Can Read book)
Beginner’s Bible: Baby Jesus is Born (an I Can Read book)
Big Dreams, Big Prayers Bible (NIV)

Here are some Angel Bible stories that tie into this theme:

  • Creation- God created the Angels
  • Abraham and Sarah visited by three angels
  • The 3 Youths in the Fiery Furnace
  • Jacob’s Ladder
  • The Angels Guide Isaiah Through Heaven
  • The Angel Appears to Mary
  • The Angel Appears at the Tomb of Jesus

Here are some Angels craft and decor ideas that can be purchased:

Here are some fun activities for the Angels Everywhere Theme to do with items on hand:
  • Make simple Angel wings using paper plates, with instructions from Maker Mama 
  • Be angels in your community by helping people in need with a food or clothing drive or a charitable work activity
  • Host an Angel Hair Spaghetti lunch and invite the senior citizens of the church to be served by and dine with the children
  • Make keepsake Coffee Filter Photo Angels with this fun craft from DLTK 
  • Make a simple Angel paperclip ornament or necklace with this easy craft from The Crafty Journal 
  • Borrow Angel Christmas cookie cutters from people in your church and have children cut out and bake all different kinds of angel cookies from rolled out dough
  • Form a VBS kick ball league and name your teams after the different orders of Angels.
  • Form groups to build giant angel art figures using recyclables and make Angel paintings for an Angel Art Gallery
  • Have an Angel Food Cake Eating Contest--- kids eat slices of Angel Food Cake, piled high with whipped cream, using only their mouths.
  • Sing Angel themed Christmas songs in the Summertime

All God’s Creatures Theme

Animals are all around us---in our homes as pets, on farms providing us with meat, milk and eggs, in the forests, in the sea, and even in the sky. Kids are often curious about the lives of animals and how God relates to them. This fun theme helps kids get in touch with nature and with animals.

Here are some Animal book and Bible resources:

7 Days of Awesome by Shawn Byous 
Goodnight Ark by Laura Sassi 

Here are some Bible stories that focus on animals:
  • The Creation
  • Adam names the animals
  • Noah’s Ark
  • Daniel in the Lions’ Den
  • Elijah and the ravens
  • The Lost Sheep
  • Jesus rides the donkey on Palm Sunday

Here are some animal themed craft and decor ideas that can be purchased:

Here are some fun animal themed activities to do with items on hand:
  • Invite a Veterinarian or Zoo staff to come and talk to your group about animals (ask if they can bring a special animal visitor)
  • Take a trip to the local zoo as a group
  • Volunteer as a group, for a day, at a local working farm
  • Make these adorable Handprint Hens from No Time for Flash Cards blog 
  • Volunteer as a group, for a day, at your local SPCA
  • Run a dog food and cat food drive to donate much needed food supplies to your local animal shelter
  • Host a “dog wash” event as a fundraiser for your church, children’s ministry or animal charity
  • Have an animal scavenger hunt in your church’s neighborhood to spot signs of animal life native to your area.
  • Take a group nature walk in your local park or forest hiking area to spot animals and explore their habitats.
  • Make Animal masks using this simple craft from Enchanted Learning 

Now It's Your Turn!

I hope these ideas will inspire your creativity as you share the love of Christ with the kiddos in your life this summer. I'd love to see and hear about your ideas. Will you let us know if you put together your own Vacation bible School or Backyard Bible Club? You can post in the comments below or use one of our social media channels to share your pictures. We'd love to follow along on your adventure.

You can reach us on Facebook and post your pictures there. Or we are @ramblesahm on twitter and instagram. Tag us so we can come look at your photos!

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