Big Fun On Any Budget

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Consider Your Options

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Indoor and outdoor playspaces both have value and can be used
effectively all week. When working on design projects, I think it’s
important to include play elements that kids can’t find at home, at
a park nearby, or anywhere else. That’s because what makes your
playspace stand out from others will build buzz about your ministry
and the cool stuff at your church. And the great news is that you
can create a distinctive playspace on any budget — all you need is
creativity and motivation. Let’s look at indoor and outdoor options
for all budgets.

Indoor Playspaces

Collin Creek Community Church in Plano, Texas, created a unique
net-enclosed basketball playspace with goals at different heights
for all different ages.

“Our church loves basketball and this just fit us perfectly,” says
Children’s Director Jenn Petersen.

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In addition to considering your budget for indoor playspaces, it’s
also important to determine what activities are part of your
church’s DNA. How can you incorporate those elements along with a
little creative use of your space? Here are two great ideas to get
started.

• Edutainment Stations-Edutainment features are
one of the best play attractions in terms of value and playability.
Edutainment features are facades created with simple woodworking
and paint. These imagination-fueled environments allow kids to
interact with each other and role play in places such as a mock
grocery store, a barn, and a library. Most likely there’s someone
in your church who can build these in-house for you. All it takes
is a few props, costumes, and toys and you’re ready to go. Cost can
total just a few hundred dollars for supplies and materials.

• Climbing Areas for Preschoolers-These brightly
colored, foam wrapped play pieces are safe and durable. SafeSpace
Concepts (safespaceconcepts.com)
offers a variety of high quality features at great prices. Phunzone
(phunzone.com) makes unique,
colorful climbing products for preschoolers with multiple decks,
activities, and slides. You install the units, and costs range from
$300 to $2,500.  A medium-size budget means you have more
choices, but you still need to carefully consider every inch of the
playspace you’ll build to get the most for your money. Since most
churches will fit into this category, it’s especially important to
visit larger and smaller churches to get an idea of what others
have done. Here are several midrange ideas you can consider.

• Inflatables-Inflatables provide high capacity
and portability, which is especially helpful if you have space
constraints. E-Inflatables (einflatables.com) and Ninja
Jump (ninjajump.com) are
two industry-leading manufacturers. Inflatables start around
$1,500, but higher quality and larger attractions average $6,000 to
$7,000.

• Climbing Walls-Rock climbing walls are another
terrific option, and they can be installed virtually anywhere.
(Again, check with your insurance and regulatory agencies to ensure
you’re in compliance and providing necessary safety devices.) Make
sure you have the required safety padding around the wall. Rockwerx
(rockwerxclimbing.com)
offers 4×8-foot modular panels that are a great value and easy for
you to install. Prices run $5,000 to $10,000 for a modular panel
system.

• Interactive Audio/Visual Systems-Optimusic (optimusic.com) is a brand new
product just introduced to the U.S. market. Kids “play” this
audio/visual system by interacting with colored, vertical light
beams; any movement within the beams triggers a sound. It’s great
interactive play for kids with special needs. Packages average from
$3,500 to $9,500. (For special-needs playspace options, go to childrensministry.com/specialplayspaces.)
Big budgets are wonderful-but how will you effectively spend
your money? Consider these distinctive creations.

• Structures-Modular, self-contained play
structures are the best choice to maximize play value and capacity
in a defined space.

“Our new playscape in the atrium lets everyone know that we love
kids and they’re a priority in our church,” says Patty Weaver from
Richland Hills Church of Christ in Richland Hills, Texas. Playsafe
(playsafe-inc.com) has
designed and installed systems for 16 years and has solutions for
all budgets. Budget at least $35,000 to get a large enough unit to
make it an attraction.

• Sculpted Play Pieces-Themed, sculpted foam play
pieces are also popular attractions specifically suited for 2- to
8-year-olds. Playtime (playtimeco.com)
creates remarkable themed play areas. These play pieces have been
installed in more than 400 malls across the country and can be
customized to match your ministry. Safety surfacing is required
around the features, so budgets typically start at $15,000 for a
small play area.

• Interactive Lighting-Whether it’s sensory
lights that respond to motion, atmosphere lighting (for instance,
to create the sensation of being inside the big fish’s belly), or
interactive lighting games, this new trend in playspaces is
wonderfully engaging. Some lighting options include light displays
that respond to kids’ actions. Others create ambiance that changes
as often as you like, and still others are games that engage kids’
gross motor skills.

Lightspace Play (lightspacecorp.com)
provides interactive LED floor panels for multiple players and
comes with a minimum of 10 games. The unit can run an almost
limitless variety of programs to provide new games and
interactivity periodically. Systems such as this start around
$20,000.

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