Jesus surprised the people he met!

With each surprise, people discovered more about Jesus.

Surprise! Stories of Discovering Jesus allows children to be surprised as they discover Jesus, too! Each of the five stories in this Bible-based vacation Bible school kit tells about someone surprised by Jesus. Surprise! invites children from preschool to grade 5 to come along on the journey, to open their eyes, and to see what Jesus has in store!

The stories come from the Gospels and tell of Jesus surprising leaders in the temple with his wisdom as a child, Jesus blessing children much to the surprise of the authorities, Jesus feeding a large crowd with only five loaves and two fish, Nicodemus seeking Jesus’ wisdom at night, and two travelers on the road surprised by Jesus after his death. With each surprise, children will discover more about Jesus.

Children in grades K–5 will see Bible stories come to life in the dramas during worship time, and will reflect on them during three response times: Bible Response, Active Response, and Creative Response.

Preschoolers ages 4–5 may participate in worship with the older children or have their own worship time. They too will share in the Bible story and engage in crafts, games, and other activities.

Daily Schedule

This theme provides content for five flexible sessions, from as short as one hour to over three hours each day. Scroll right to see all five days.


Discovering Jesus in the Temple


Discovering Jesus with Children


Discovering Jesus in the Crowd


Discovering Jesus at Night


Discovering Jesus on the Road

Scripture Luke 2:41-52 Mark 10:13-16 John 6:1-14 John 3:1-21 Luke 24:13-35
Description Jesus’ parents travel home to Nazareth after observing Passover in Jerusalem, and discover that 12-year-old Jesus is not with them. They return to Jerusalem and find Jesus in the temple, asking questions and talking with the teachers. People bring their children to Jesus, but the disciples turn them away. Jesus sees this and insists that they let the children come to him. He takes the children in his arms and blesses them. Hungry crowds travel to hear Jesus speak. There is no food except a young boy’s lunch of five loaves and two fish. Jesus takes the lunch, blesses it, and the food multiplies to feed everyone. Nicodemus comes to see Jesus at night. He has seen Jesus’ miraculous signs and wants to know more about him. Jesus tells Nicodemus that he must be born from above and that God loves the world and wants to save it. Two men walk on the road to Emmaus, talking about Jesus’ recent death and the empty tomb. Jesus joins them and enters the discussion, but the men do not recognize him. They invite Jesus to stay and eat with them. As he blesses the bread and breaks it, the men recognize him.
Faith Focus We can ask questions and grow in wisdom. We can receive the blessing of Jesus. We can give to others and bless them. We can choose to seek Jesus. We can recognize Jesus with us.


Affordable & Flexible
  • Available in download-only or physical + download kits.
  • Reproducible (with exception of student booklets and music CDs).
  • Physical leader guides are in a binder with tabs to make them easy to rearrange or duplicate.
  • Bulk-priced CDs can easily be sent home with every family.
Enthusiastically Catholic
  • Daily reflections from Pope Francis.
  • Music from Oregon Catholic Press featuring Jesse Manibusan and other Catholic musicians.
  • Daily connections to our experience at Mass.
  • Service opportunity from Catholic Charities USA.
  • A great all-around Scripture-based experience perfect for any parish!
Catchy, Meaningful Music
  • Hummable, top-notch, kid-friendly music that connects closely with the theme.
  • Easy to lead, with Powerpoints, sing-along music videos, and hand motions.
  • Songs by Jesse Manibusan, Ken Canedo, Matt Maher, Steve Angrisano, Bryan Sirchio, and others.
Comprehensive, but Simple
  • All the core features you expect in a VBS, without overwhelming complexity.
  • Earth-friendly, without plastic trinkets that will litter our common home.
  • Early childhood leader guide makes it easy to include preschoolers.
  • Easy to adapt to your timeframe and preferences.
An Ideal Theme
  • A fun and effective way to help children experience Jesus and the kerygma.
  • Includes Scripture, prayer, drama, music, games, crafts, and activities, all nicely integrated to teach children meet and follow Jesus!
  • Bible stories with a good balance of men and women role models.
And More...
  • Thoughtful take-home pages to bring parents into the process and coach them on how to talk to their children.
  • Extra resources included to help you market and manage your VBS.
  • Optional gestures/motions are provided for prayers, memory verses, and songs.

Preview Components

Director Guide

Overview of the VBS and guidelines for orchestrating the process. Includes a planning chart, sample schedules, tips for working with staff/volunteers, forms, Bible backgrounds, snack ideas, a book list, a letter to parents, guidelines for inviting children to faith, and more.


Early Childhood Leader Guide

Full guide for all aspects of VBS for younger children (ages 4-5). Makes suggestions for full daily schedules, including snack ideas, Bible sessions, activities, crafts, books, song/motion suggestions, and more.


Worship & Drama Guide

Full guide for leading Worship & Drama sessions for each day, including gathering (introducing theme, opening prayer, etc.), worshiping (prayer, song, Bible verse, drama), responding (offering project), and sending (schedule review, blessing, and song)


Active Response Guide

Full guide for leading interactive activities & games each day, including advance preparation, session plan, material list, step-by-step instructions, and debrief.


Bible Response Guide

Full guide for leading Bible Response sessions for each day, including Biblical background information, materials list, advance preparation, session plan, and suggestions for teaching Bible memory verses.


Creative Response Guide

Full guide for leading craft sessions for each day, including Biblical background, materials list, advance preparation, snack ideas, and debrief.


Tales of Discovery - Child Booklet

Full-color 16-page activity booklet for grades K-5, including puzzles and other interactive activities.


My Book of Stories - Preschool Child Booklet

Full-color 16-page activity booklet for ages 4-5, including a retelling of the Bible story for each day, puzzles, and other interactive activities. Send this booklet home so parents can follow up with their children!


Invitation Poster

Customize and post around your parish or around town.

Bible Memory Verse Poster

Make it easy for kids to learn the verses day-by-day.

Send Home Parent Engagement Notes

Engaging letters to keep parents in the loop and coach them on how to follow up with their children each day.

Adaptations for COVID

  • Detailed Guidelines for planning and adapting your VBS approach with social distancing restrictions and concerns.
  • Games that can be played over Zoom or other video conferencing apps.
  • At Home Licensing is included, so you can share download links with all of your leaders and participants.


  • Logo artwork (use to create your own t-shirts or documents)
  • Music components (see below)
  • Simple adaptations for children in grades 6-8.
  • Adaptations for COVID-19
  • ...and much more!

Music Video Previews

Featuring the music of Jesse Manibusan & Oregon Catholic Press

Catholic composer, singer/songwriter, storyteller, humorist, catechist, evangelizer and encourager Jesse Manibusan leads our music and has written two new songs just for Surprise!

Book Jesse to perform live for your community!

Bless the Lord
Written by Ken Canedo, Marc Cavallero, Dan Brennan, Kevin Roth. Performed by Jesse Manibusan & Ken Canedo.
We Are the Light
Written & performed by Jesse Manibusan.
We Are Children of God
Written by Jesse Manibusan & Jayme Manibusan. Performed by Jesse Manibusan.
Go Make a Difference
Written & performed by Steve Angrisano.
Just Like You
Written & performed by Matt Maher.
In the Temple
Written & performed by Jesse Manibusan.
On the Road to Emmeaus
Written & performed by Jesse Manibusan.
Put It in the Hands of Jesus
Written & performed by Bryan Sirchio.

Music Components

The eResource (downloadable) starter kit includes:

  • MP3 audio files of all songs
  • Songbook with lead sheets (melody line scores, lyrics, and chords)
  • Hand/body motions for all songs
  • Simple sing-along videos, showing the motions
  • Simple sing-along lyric presentations (in Powerpoint and Keynote formats)

The physical starter kit includes:

  • Full access to the eResource (downloadable) starter kit
  • Audio CD
  • Simple sing-along lyric video DVD
  • Printed songbook

In addition, purchase inexpensive bulk audio CDs to send home with families, so they can continue to sing the VBS songs!

Pricing & Purchase

Starter Kits


Downloadable Starter Kit


Physical Starter Kit + Downloadable
Leader guide with permission to reproduce Online access Physical binder
Child booklets (preschool & elementary) Online preview* Physical sample copies*
Posters (invitation & Bible memory) Online access 2 copies of each
Music audio Online access (MP3s)** Audio CD**
Music sing-along videos Online access Video DVD
Music files (lead sheets, motions, lyrics) Online access In physical binder

*Child booklets are not reproducible. If you choose to use these optional components, please buy one copy for each child from us (see below).

**Music from starter kits may not be reproduced and distributed to participants and their families. If you wish to do so, please buy the very affordable bulk-priced audio CDs or MP3 download cards from us (see below).

Physical Add-On Options

My Book of Stories
Booklet for Preschoolers
Tales of Discovery
Booklet for ages K-5
Invitation Poster
11" x 17"
Bible Memory Verse Poster
11" x 17"
Audio CDs
1-4: $8 • 5-9: $4 • 10+: $2.50
MP3 Download Cards
1-4: $8 • 5-9: $4 • 10+: $2.50
Music Videos DVD