[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

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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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10 Essential Classroom Supplies

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIf you were to ask children’s ministry leaders or Sunday School teachers what the essential supplies for the classroom were, you would probably get a wide variety of answers.

Those answers would reveal what is felt to be most important in the classroom and they would also reveal the personalities of the teachers/leaders.

I believe that Sunday School is all about discipling kids. In Sunday School kids discover who God is and who we are. They discover the Bible that is God’s Word to us; they learn to understand how the Bible is put together and how to read it and study it for understanding. They learn to apply the truth found in the Bible to their own lives.

So, here’s my list of essential classroom supplies:

1. Bibles

Always have extra Bibles on hand.  Kids who have forgotten theirs can borrow one and kids who don’t have a Bible can have one.

2. Bookmarks

We don’t want kids to just bring their Bibles; we want them to use their Bibles! Often though, kids lose their place or close their Bibles and then the class is distracted as one or more kids have to find the passage again. Have some bookmarks on hand and ask your class to look up the passage and then bookmark the page. Find bookmarks that highlight God’s character, list the books of the Bible, or simply share the gospel.

3. Bible maps & atlas

Having these available in the classroom gives kids the opportunity to see that the places in Bible stories are real. Looking at maps and atlases helps kids understand context and makes the stories come alive. They can see mountains and lakes and oceans and wilderness. These resources also help kids start to understand distances and how far Bible characters travelled. Seeing locations on a map in relation to each other also helps the kids put numerous stories into context.

4. Bible dictionary/Handbook

Having a Bible dictionary in the classroom allows teachers to encourage students to discover on their own. If a student asks a question about a word or a Bible character they are unfamiliar with, the teacher can show them how to find the answer using a Bible dictionary. These great resources can also be called Bible handbooks.

5. Concordance

A concordance is an index to the Bible. Arranged in alphabetical order, it shows the location of the major words (or in the case of an exhaustive concordance, all the words) in the Bible. Helpfully, it also provides several words of the context in which each word is found. For example, if your class is studying the fact that God is good, you could look up the word good in the concordance and note all the references that speak of the fact that God is good.

If you have internet access in your classroom, you can use www.biblegateway.com. Although not exhaustive, it is very helpful as a concordance resource.

6. Construction paper

Have lots of different colors available. Construction paper can be used for lesson time, application time, and game or craft time. Kids can be creative as they interact with Biblical truth.

7. Plain paper

Plain paper (lined or unlined) can be used for so many different things. Some kids like to take notes; others like to draw what they are learning. Paper can be used for lesson time, application time, game time and craft time. Use it for review games or comic strips. It’s a great, simple resource for getting kids involved.

8. Markers/pencil crayons/crayons

Now, I know this one seems a little obvious! Provide markers that are washable. If you teach toddlers, the little fat ones are perfect for little hands that are still developing small motor skills. A variety is good, if possible. Sometimes different mediums are needed. It can be a bit of a hassle making sure pencil crayons stay sharpened (depending on the size of your class!) This is a good opportunity to give some responsibility to your students. Give them the job of keeping the pencil crayons (and pencils!) sharpened.

9. Pencils

You may ask why I specify pencils here. There is nothing wrong with pens, but pencils are a better tool when working with kids. Depending on their developmental level, kids may be struggling with spelling or wanting things to be perfect. When you give them pencils to use, you are setting them up for success by making it easy to erase and try again!

10. Erasers/pencil sharpeners

On that note, erasers and pencil sharpeners are the last essential supplies for the classroom on this list. Depending on the size of your class, you may want multiple small pencil sharpeners. Make sure you have lots of erasers as well.

Bonus: Current world map

A current world map is not essential but I recommend it.

A current world map used alongside a Bible atlas and Bible maps can be so helpful for kids. They can see that the stories in the Bible took place in real places. It also helps them to gain some perspective.
A world map can also be used to highlight missions. Put stickers to indicate where missionaries that your class is praying for are working.

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