[Room Decoration Contest] And the WINNER is…

Children’s Ministry leaders are forced to work within a budget, so they need to get creative to come up with an engaging space for the children to learn. Last week I posted a contest because I wanted to see you decorate your classroom on a budget.

I’m excited to announce the winner is Joan Eppehimer from New York State. Here’s the winning picture.

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This classroom went through a major renovation and the result is fantastic! This room was decorated for $56 – some of the paint was donated and the stove was found at a garage sale. The bulletin board was covered with a scene-o-graph. (You can see more classrooms that have been renovated on her website kidfrugal.blogspot.com)

Here’s why I choose Joan’s classroom as the winner:

  • She got an impressive result for a very affordable price.
  • It’s very easy for the teachers because they don’t have to switch up decorations every month or two.
  • It’s an immersive experience for the kids – they feel like they are in Bible times. It stimulates imagination and helps kids understand a bit of what it was like in Bible times. They start to understand that the stories they are hearing are real – real people in real places.

Congratulations Joan! I’ll contact you to send you your prize. Thanks to everyone else who sent in your pics!

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5 Tips for Decorating Your Classroom on a Budget

childrens-ministry-classroom-decoration1. Set Up a Resource Room

If your church doesn’t have a resource room, set one up! Even if it is just a closet, a resource room is a place to keep material that you know you will re-use. Let the other teachers know about the resource room and encourage them to store bulletin board materials, visuals, and other re-useable items in it.

If your church does have a resource room, make sure it’s organized well and easily accessible to your Sunday School teachers. Encourage them to use it.

Need some help organizing your resource room, check this out!

2. Wrapping Paper is a Fantastic, Inexpensive Decoration

Wrapping paper makes a great, festive background for bulletin boards or highlight areas on walls and it’s really inexpensive. You can find general wrapping paper and seasonal wrapping paper at Dollar stores. And then you have the tube that can be used for any number of things when the roll is used up! You can also re-use wrapping paper (as long as it is still in good shape after being unwrapped!)

3. Spend Your Budget on Things that Have Lasting Value

If you have a budget for decoration, spend it on things that have lasting value that can be re-used in multiple ways. Stay away from fads when choosing items to decorate your classroom. Instead, spend your limited budget on letters, trim, construction paper, and poster paper that you can use and re-use as you design bulletin boards that will engage your class and help them to focus on God and the gospel. Find well-illustrated Bible story pictures and Bible timelines. Spend your budget on items that will have lasting value.

4. Decorate for Larger Seasons Rather than Single Events

I have two bulletin boards in my classroom. I decorate one of them according to the season (fall, winter, spring, summer). That way I am only changing out the bulletin board 4 times a year. Then, I add thematic elements to keep it fresh. For example, a week before Valentine’s Day I added some red hearts. This got the kids attention and it was a great hook into our Bible verse for the month – John 3:16!

5. Ask for Donations of Old Magazines

Old National Geographics are a great place to find pictures of nature, animals, and people. Ask people from your congregation to donate old magazines and then comb through them for pictures that you can use to decorate the classroom.  This is a great way to find material if you are doing a missions related bulletin board.

Don’t forget to send in a photo of your classroom for a chance to win a signed copy of my book! Get more info about the contest here.

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CONTEST: Decorating Your Classroom on a Budget

childrens-ministry-classroom-decoration

Last year I needed to design a special bulletin board that focused on the Bible. We were encouraging our kids to get in the habit of bringing their Bibles to Sunday School. I wanted a fun, colorful bulletin board that highlighted the Bible and the facts about the Bible that we would be teaching the kids. Our church doesn’t have a resource room and so I had to get creative if I was going to design this bulletin board. I created some Bible verse posters, and made some New Testament and Old Testament signs. I still needed trim and letters so I decided to try the local dollarstore. I was pretty excited to find that they sold letters and trim! I didn’t have a budget for this project but I didn’t mind spending my own money since it was only a few dollars.

Often Sunday School teachers have a great idea for decorating their classroom but they are constrained by budget (a small budget or no budget at all!)

So teachers need to get creative to find ways to have a fun, engaging classroom with little to no budget.

Here are a few tips:

  • Make pictures and posters yourself (if you have the talent!) or ask your class too. Kids love to see their own artwork on the walls.
  • Use the dollarstore and the thriftstore. I have found all kinds of interesting materials and ideas when browsing through the local thrift store and dollarstore.
  • Don’t throw away old curriculum until you have searched through it for posters, pictures, and resources that you can re-use in your classroom.
  • Ask a creative, artistic person to help you design some posters for your classroom.

Contest

I want to see how you decorate your classroom and I’m giving a prize for the best decorated classroom I see. I am giving away a signed copy of my book, The Well Equipped Volunteer Children’s Ministry Handbook. Take a picture of your classroom and send it in, along with the approximate amount it cost to decorate. Send your pictures to janelle@wellequippedvolunteer.com.

I will be looking for the most creative, fun classroom that uses its decorations to focus the children on Jesus, the gospel, and the Bible (and does it affordably!)

Rules

  • Please send no more than 5 pictures of your classroom (please keep your email below 5mb to ensure I receive it.)
  • I’ll be the judge.
  • Multiple submissions for multiple classrooms are okay, but you can only submit one classroom once.
  • Submitting pictures allows me to post them on my website so please ensure your pictures do not include children.
  • This contest is limited to Canada and the US.

The winner will be announced on March 2, 2015 at 12:00pm central time.

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Bigger is Better, Right?

Are you a small children’s ministry? Do you sometimes look at larger children’s ministries and think, “If only we had their budget, their volunteers, their space?”

Bigger has become equated with better. Bigger children’s ministries have more money, more space, and more volunteers. That must mean that they offer more value to the kids who attend their programs. They must offer better children’s ministry.

We all have these thoughts. But is bigger automatically better?

Where does the true value come from in children’s ministry?

Making DisciplesRelationships

The true value in children’s ministry is not in the budget or the space, it starts with the relationships you and your team build with the kids in your care. Do you take the time to get to know the kids in your programs? Do you start outreach programs with the express purpose of getting to know the kids in your community? Building relationships is a key part of children’s ministry.

Gospel

Children’s ministry is important because it is an opportunity to share the gospel in an age-appropriate, targeted manner with kids that you have been building a relationship with. Budgets, space, and a huge volunteer base won’t mean anything if they are not being used to help you share the gospel with the kids who attend your programs. The gospel is key; it’s central to everything we do in children’s ministry. Are you regularly sharing the gospel with the kids in your ministry?

Are you making disciples?

Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20

This is what it’s all about: Children’s Ministry is about making disciples. Jesus commands us to make disciples. The true value in children’s ministry is the opportunity it allows us to make disciples of kids. We build relationships, we share the gospel. Why? In order to make disciples. And when children do put their trust in Jesus, we build them up as disciples teaching them how to pray, how to study their Bibles, how to use the gifts God has given them to serve and build up the church.

Are you making disciples in your children’s ministry?

Budget

Whatever your budget is, use it to build relationships, share the gospel, and make disciples.

Volunteers

However many volunteers you have, make it your goal as a team to build relationships, share the gospel, and make disciples.

Space

Whether you have a huge amount of space or one small classroom, creatively use the space you have to help you build relationships, share the gospel, and make disciples.

So, is bigger always better? Not necessarily. The focus shouldn’t be on how big your children’s ministry is. The focus should be on making disciples. It doesn’t really matter what size your budget is, what size your space is, or what size your volunteer team is. What matters is whether you are using those things to help you make disciples.

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Games Your Kids Will Never Tire of Playing – Duck, Duck, Goose (plus an awesome outdoor variation!)

This game is fun and a great mix of quiet and active!

This game can be played inside or outside. It requires little or no equipment.

Games Your Kids Will Never Tire of Playing

Duck, Duck, Goose is a well-known game that kids love! It is simple and lots of fun! The object of the game is for two players to run around the circle in opposite directions trying to reach the empty space first.

 Here’s how to play:

All players sit in a circle. One player is chosen to start (IT). IT will walk around the outside of the circle touching the head of each seated player as he/she passes. IT has two choices for each head he/she touches. IT can say “duck” in which case the seated player doesn’t move. IT can also say “goose” in which case the seated player gets up and starts running around the circle. IT starts running around the circle in the opposite direction. Whoever gets to the empty space first wins the round. The player who didn’t get there first becomes IT and play resumes.

 Variation – Drip, Drip, Squeeze

This variation is great for summertime play. It is best played outdoors.

Equipment needed:

  • Ice cream bucket
  • Sponge
  • Water source

In this variation, players immerse a sponge in water and let drops of water fall on the heads of the players seated in the circle. When the sponge is squeezed over the head of a player, the two run around in the circle in opposite directions trying to reach the empty space first. In this version, the player says, “Drip, drip, squeeze” rather than, “duck, duck, goose.”

This game is best played when everyone is already wearing bathing suits or has a change of clothing. Always let kids know ahead of time as some children don’t like to get wet.

 Reasons Why I Love this Game:

  1.  All children play at the same time. No one is left out. This is not an elimination game.
  2. It is easy to learn and simple to play.
  3. It is easy to include new players into the game, even in the middle of the game.
  4. It is extremely versatile – it can be played almost anywhere, requires little or no equipment, and can be played with almost any number of children.
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