MennoMedia & Brethren Press: Great Big Beautiful World
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MennoMedia & Brethren Press: Great Big Beautiful World

Plant seeds of faith in your children and watch them grow!

Great Big Beautiful World invites children to explore, celebrate, and care for God’s creation. Five Bible stories lead children on an adventure through the Bible. Using worship, drama, and a variety of experiences children will discover God’s love of all creation.

Cost

$179.99 for boxed set at time of posting
Check website for current pricing

Age Levels

Early Childhood and Elementary (K-5)

Number of Sessions/Scheduling

There are five sessions available (2.5 hours each) with alternative schedule for ten sessions (1 hours each) as well as a weekend retreat with five sessions (1.5 hours each).

Session 1 – God Creates (Genesis 2:4b-23)
Session 2 – God Tends the Earth (Psalm 104:10-30)
Session 3 – God’s Kingdom Is Like a Seed (Mark 4:26-32)
Session 4 – We Are Like Trees (Psalm 52:8-9, Psalm 92:12-15, Jeremiah 17:7-8)
Session 5 – A New Creation (Revelation 21:1-4, 22:1-5)

What is included in the basic package

Two copies of: Director Guide, Worship and Drama Guide, Sprout Guide, Dig In Guide, Art & Science Guide, Early Childhood Leader Guide.
One copy of: Music & Resource USB, Early Childhood Student Book, Grade K–5 Student Book, Activity Area Poster Pack, Invitation Poster, Invitation Postcard, Student Participation Certificate.

Strengths

  • Adaptable, well-rounded programs that can operate with a large or minimal budget.
  • Open-ended wondering questions.
  • Curriculum offers daily “Media Connection” which include books, websites, and videos.
  • The “Create and Discover” section offers meaningful activities for interaction with the natural world
  • All areas, including mission suggestions, can be adapted to fit a budget and church focus.

Weaknesses

  • Some options for retelling the Bible story each day will not appeal to older students.
  • While the curriculum provides plenty of ideas for decoration, the decorations cannot be purchased directly from the publisher. If those using this curriculum are looking for extravagant decorations, extra time and energy will need to be budgeted for collecting these materials.

What Our Reviewer Thought

The publisher offers a poster pack, but does not supply additional decorations. The Director’s Guide provides two pages of decorating ideas as well as a link to a Pinterest board.

The curriculum provides three “create” options per day. These are not craft kits you can purchase, rather ideas that can be implemented largely with inexpensive supplies such as ink pads, birdseed, feathers, brown paper bags, and twine.

The snack ideas include many healthy options, large emphasis on fruit. Ideas seem easy to replicate.

The songs are singable, relate well to the theme, and include six “original” songs plus two that might already be familiar to the community. Student Music CDs are available in pack of 10 for $69.99.

This VBS begins and ends with worship (songs and prayer). The call to worship, closing prayer, and songs could be used in worship before and after VBS, depending on your context.

The student booklets and the station posters show people with different skin tones.

The Bible essay for Monday on Genesis 2 takes a binary approach to gender (man and woman), but the Encounter activity speaks of Person 1 and Person 2. The skits can be adapted, the lines are labeled things like “voice 1,” “hiker” or “gardener 2.” The character list directs gardener 1 to be a man and gardener 2 to be a woman, but this could be adapted.

Not all the games are adaptable for participants of varied abilities, but there are a wide range of games and the leader guide does acknowledge the possible need for modification. A few games include adaptations for children with special needs.

There are a mix of collaborative games, competitive games, and games that review material. Each game includes ideas for debrief discussions.

The structure and content of this VBS supports creation care. There is not a big emphasis on one time use decorations, take home items, crafts, or props. The curriculum can be implemented well with a few copies of the leaders guides. Many resources are available on USB, giving people the option of printing only what they need.

About the Publisher

Great Big Beautiful World is a Shine Curriculum product. Shine: Living in God’s Light is co-published by MennoMedia and Brethren Press. MennoMedia publishes highly readable, thoughtful curricula and books that call readers to follow Jesus in word and deed. Resources are about Christian discipleship, spirituality, reconciliation, justice, and theology from an Anabaptist perspective. MennoMedia curricula cultivates passion for faith formation and an active life of discipleship rooted in trusting God and following Jesus.


Sarah Bentley Allred received her MDiv. from Virginia Theological Seminary in May 2019. She now serves as Director of Children’s and Family Ministries at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Wake Forest, North Carolina and as one of our editors at Building Faith. She loves local coffee shops, board games, the beach, and exploring new places with her husband, Richard, and their dog, Grace.

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