Monday, May 30, 2016

VBS Egypt Decor

In 2010 we did our first Holy Land Adventure VBS -  Egypt:  Joseph's Journey.  Group is putting out that program again this year, so I thought I'd share our decor for inspiration for other churches.  I don't remember how all of these were constructed (was involved with some but not all of it.

The columns above were made, I believe, with stacked boxes covered by brown paper (we bought a large role).  I am not sure how the flared tops were accomplished.  The panels and the eagle above it were done on foam board (we used a slide projector to project up Egyptian clip art larger so we could easily copy it).  The hieroglyphics on the wall were just cut out of colored paper and adhered with double stick tape.  Larger items were adhered with command strips.

This Oblisk was also made with boxes.   Wish I knew more than that to share with you.  They have this desert backdrop for sale again at Group but I foudn a place selling it cheaper here. (The pyramid and other Egyptian scenery are removable, so we were able to reuse this backdrop for VBS Wildernes).   I've also seen cool desert backdrops on oriental traders, and on Amazon and even more on this pinterest page.

We made our "Nile River" out of blue plastic tablecloths, and one of our volunteers made this amazing crocodile (I think out of clay that was alter painted).   Plastic water lilies ("lotus flowers") like we used can be found here.

Do you know what my kids remember the most about our last Egypt VBS...getting to climb on top of chairs we had stacked up to help us make carpet tube palm trees.  To make these trees we cut the bottoms off of paper bags and slipped them over carpet tubes until they crumpled into a nice "bark."  The leaves were paper cut outs over umbrella frames for suport (you have to destroy the umbrella...take all the cloth off of it.  Next time the wind destroys your it for VBS!)

This fire "brazier" was made by putting a light and a small fan in the bottom of the pot, and attaching orange, red and yellow streamers (or maybe tissue paper) to chicken wire under the fan.  It looked a lot cooler in motion.

Sign made with a pole and I think some left over foam board scraps.

Our registration table.  The bricks on the side are borrowed from our God sighting wall.

We made a bridge out of bamboo and 2x4s...kinda didn't hold up very well with kids walking over it.  You can find Sphinxes like we used here.  You can find white columes like we used at various party stores (this was the cheapest I found).  You can also find instructions on how to make your own columns here. These can be re-used in most of the other Holy Land VBS programs (everyone say wilderness that they've done so far...even Galilee and Nazareth have synagogues you can use columns for).

History Round-up

Below are a list of my favorite "recent" Holy Land history finds (ok...not all so recent, as I've actually been collecting these since January).   Enjoy!

General/Mixed Location Articles

Top 10 Finds in 2015
Yes, I'm way late in posting this...but still interesting.


A Woman's Seal and a Man's Seal From  Jerusalem Excavations
A very interesting article about seals and how they were used in Ancient Isreal.  This page shows an actual picture of the seal recently found.

Return to the Cave of John the Baptist
A look a first century Mikva, ritual bath/baptismal.

Possible Home of Jesus in Nazareth

Shovel found in Magdala House
I love examples of items of everyday life like this.

Holy Land Portraits
A website I found with artist interpretations of various holy land sites.

Shipwreck in Isreal in the Time of Constantine


A Discussion of When the Exodus Took Place

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Marketplace: Brick Making Suggestions

Back in 2010 our church did the Egypt VBS that Group is putting out again this year.  I worked in the Marketplace making mud bricks, and I can tell you, it was a blast.  It's cheap, fun and really does give kids a good idea about life in Egypt (or lots of places in the middle east, really...where most people made their houses out of mud bricks).

Here's my brick making suggestions:

1.  Group has instructions for making bricks, but for those not using this program, you can find instructions on the Biblical Archaeology website.  Note that Group instructions skip steps 3 and 4, for obvious reasons--who has time for prepping mud for 5 days for a simple kids project?  Turns out the straw was used because it releases humic acid which makes for really strong bricks--so the four days of mud stomping was probably to give time for fermentation and to mix the acid from the straw through the mud.  For VBS craft purposes, less strong bricks will do...but if you were doing this for homeschool I could see where going through the whole 5 day process might be educational. 

2.  The website above also doesn't include instructions for the wood mold...but those are pretty simple to make...just four short pieces of wood nailed or glued together like in the picture above (though ours were a little narrow--slightly wider ones are easier to work with).   Another idea I didn't try, which seems easier on the building end, but maybe harder on the "getting them all out in one piece end" is to build one long mold with several holes (like this one, except open on both ends).  You will also want  some thick short slabs of wood to use to help kids pack the mud and push the bricks out of the mold (see below).

3. I'd say in most cases it's better to get regular straight out of the ground dirt if you can (especially if you live in a place like Texas where the ground is literally called Texas clay).  Garden soil or sand does not make especially sturdy bricks, but the brick I made out of "Texas clay" from my backyard ...that dried rock hard and solid.  You can ask volunteers to each bring a bucket of dirt from home or you can talk with a construction company to see if they have any extra "out of the ground" dirt you can use.

4.  A butter knife can be useful to run along the side of the brick mold if the brick has trouble coming out of the mold.  Below a child uses a plastic knife to smooth his brick.

The bricks shown here were made with a mix of 
garden sand/soil mixed in, and came out kind of
crumbly.  "Texas clay" straight out of my back yard 
worked much better - it dried solid like rock.

5.  This "craft" is messy!  If you can, put your brick making area outside.  If you can't, protect your floor with a large tarp and line the outsides of the area with towels for kids to wipe their feet off on.  Also, have some extra towels and a bucket of clean water for kids to wash their hands in...maybe some hand sanitizer or soap too  (Historical Tidbit: Egyptians actually had a form of soap).    Also, be forewarned that your clothes will get will add to the authenticity of your costume *wink.*   We offered kids pillowcase tunics to wear, which worked to protect their clothes from home too.  If you don't, I would suggest providing some sort of apron or overshirt for kids to wear during this craft. 

 My outfit during the week got 
more and more "authentic"

6.  Decor for the brick making shop is pretty simple.   The bricks themselves can be part of the week progresses the kids will need to leave the bricks to dry, though having a few to show to start with is helpful.    Hey bales can be used as seats.  For covering your table and any decorative draping on the sides of tent I suggest beige plastic shower curtains.  Only use sheets if you own them, not ones you've borrowed as they could get mud splattered on them.   I managed to find one real wooden bucket at a thrift store for ours, but we had plastic ones could paint plastic buckets like wood but I don't think it would be worth the trouble, personally (cause you'll need a lot of buckets for this).   If you are outside you can keep dirt in piles.  Hay looks nice in burlap sacks or canvas laundry bags (but again, the messiness factor is something to consider...only do this with donated bags, not loaned).

7.  Dry your bricks on trays of hay or sand to keep them from sticking.  You will need to take them outside every day to dry in the sun, so kids will have to leave them (pray for no rain!). 

8.  An idea we toyed with but didn't use was making something with our bricks--like a firepit or an edging to a flower garden.  Didn't do that, but I still think this would be cool (depending on the sturdiness of your bricks).

Child playing with the muddy water
we used to mix our bricks.

9.  Younger kids may come back to play in the dirt and mud.  Our brick-making shop turned into an "extra activity" for wee ones who finished early in other shops.

10. Visit this site to learn more about Egyptian Brick Making. It has a drawing of Egyptians making bricks, and TONS of interesting facts about ancient Egyptian brick-making.

Most of these photos were not taken by me, but other wonderful photographers at Dayspring Baptist Church

Shared on Littles Learning Link-up