Organize Your Resource Room

Are you scared to walk into your resource room? Are your volunteers too scared to try and open the supply cabinets worried that they will be buried by an avalanche of pompoms, construction paper, old curriculum, cotton swabs, paint brushes, and googly eyes?

Most churches have some version of a resource room. They may not have a full room to give over to storing resources; they may just have a cupboard. Regardless of what it’s called, churches store their resources and supplies. Whether you have a resource room or a supply cabinet, you need to have a strategy for organizing and using the resources.

Resource rooms generally hold curriculum, curriculum resources, visuals, flannel graphs, and sometimes supplies (sometimes the resource room and supplies cabinet are two different areas).

Your method of organization will reflect the type of room or area that you have to store your resources and supplies.

Organize Your Stuff

Regardless, sort the material you have to organize into categories. The purpose here is to make things easy to find. So be logical about it. Put all the curricula together. Put the classroom supplies together and put the craft supplies together. Once you have your resource room items sorted, label the shelves or bins. Then provide sign-out sheets. If anyone borrows something (other than craft supplies), they should sign it out. That way you and the rest of the volunteers know where things are.

Once your resource room/supplies cabinet is organized, you need to communicate to your volunteers what is available for their use and how they can make use of it.

Inventory List

Provide each volunteer with an inventory list of everything that is in the resource room/supply cabinet. You could put an inventory list in the volunteer packet (if you have one; and I highly recommend that you do!).

Create a Map of the Resource Room

Then create a “map” of the resource room/supply cabinet. At one church I worked in our supply cabinets were made up of shelves along a back wall enclosed by 4 doors. To create a “map” of the contents I covered the inside of each door with paper. At the top of each piece of paper I added the door number (#1-4) and a label of the type of items found behind that door: #1 Base Material; #2 Craft Elements; #3 Craft Tools; #4 Office Supplies.

Supply Cabinets - Close up

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Base Material included construction paper, felt, fabric pieces, paper plates, cardboard, tin foil, coffee filters, etc.

Craft elements included pipe cleaners, pompoms, bead, ribbon, sea shells, rocks, stickers, pasta shapes, etc.

Supply Cabinets - Craft Elements

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Crafts tools included scissors, toothpicks, cotton swabs, straws, paint, paint brushes, crayons, markers, pencil crayons, etc.

Supply Cabinets - Craft tools

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Office Supplies included hole punches, binders, rulers, tacks, pins, etc.

Then for each shelf there was an arrow pointing to the shelf beside a corresponding list on the paper of what could be found on that shelf.

Supply Cabinet door info

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On each door I also included a paper that said, “Read this first”. This paper contained two sections: guidelines for using the supplies cabinets and tips for using the supplies.

Supply Cabinets - Read First Sign

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The guidelines were simple:

  • These closets are for everyone.
  • Please return items to their original location.
  • Almost out of something? Let me know so I can replace it.

The tips for using the supply cabinets included listing what each door contained, and then providing a few labour-saving devices. There were three items in the cabinets that I highlighted with additional signs. The location of a craft binder was highlighted with a blue smiley face. The location of ready-to-go crafts was highlighted with an orange star. And the location of baskets for carrying supplies was highlighted with a pink smiley face.

Supply Cabinets

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then, finally, I created an inventory list that corresponded with the layout of the supply cabinets.

Now, you don’t have to organize your supply cabinet/resource room exactly like I did, but I do highly recommend that you organize the material in a way that makes sense (base materials, craft elements, craft tools), clearly label that material, and then communicate with your volunteers the inventory, guidelines, and some tips for using the supplies.

Create a culture of getting people to put things back where they found it. This will keep the area tidy and make everyone’s job easier. Also, set aside a few minutes each week to tidy, restock, and track things down that are missing.

What Do You Do with Old Curriculum?

When was the last time you delved deep into the shelves of your resource room? (Insert scary music here)

I did a clean out of ours a few months ago and I found some gems! I found a curriculum book from 1948!

Some churches have a lot of old curriculum cluttering up the shelves and some churches don’t. Some churches have a rotation for the curriculum they use and don’t have leftovers. Other churches change up their curriculum more frequently and end with lots of boxes and binders kicking about.

What do you do with the old curriculum in your resource room?

Step One – Evaluate it

Don’t throw away something just because it’s old. On the other hand, I’m a big proponent of frequent clear outs. Don’t keep something just because you think you might use it. Take the time to evaluate what you find. Is this curriculum that you can add to your rotation schedule? Can you use it during a mid-week club? Is this curriculum accurate, Biblical, practical, and relevant? Are there parts of the curriculum that you can use? Sit down with what you find and look through it carefully. When you have, go to step 2.

Step Two – Do Something With it

Don’t put anything back into the resource room without making a decision about it first. Here are 4 options:

1. Throw it out
It’s okay! Take a deep breath and find a garbage can! I sometimes have a hard time with throwing away curriculum, but sometimes it is the only option. The book of lessons I found from 1948 could have gone to a children’s ministry museum, but since I don’t know of one, the garbage was the next best option.

If curriculum is just too outdated or inaccurate, the best option is to throw it out. I had to throw out some curriculum that wasn’t really old, but the lessons were just wrong. Bible stories were at times inaccurate and I knew that I would never teach it to my kids and I wouldn’t want it taught to other kids either.

2. Add it to the rotation

You may just find a gem! Some great curriculum that has gotten shoved to the back or fallen behind the shelves. If you like it and it passes evaluation, then work it into the curriculum rotation. Maybe it will work for Sunday School; maybe it’s perfect for mid-week clubs; maybe it is just what you were looking for for children’s church.  Either way, pat yourself on the back and dive back it!

3. Take it apart and make use of the bits

Sometimes you may not want to reuse the curriculum as a whole. Maybe the resource pictures are great and you can add them to your picture file or there are some great classroom activity ideas. Take what you will use and get rid of the rest.

4. Do a curriculum swap with a neighboring church

Finally, consider doing a curriculum swap with another church in your neighborhood or denomination. Maybe you find some great curriculum that you just can’t make use of. Contact a neighboring church and find out if they are willing to do a swap. This is a great way to build relationships with the children’s ministry volunteers from other churches and to freshen up your curriculum and resource room.

 

So, what are you doing this weekend? Grab some children’s ministry volunteers and dive into your resource room! You never know what you’re going to find!