Bleak walls, boring layouts, and blank bulletin
boards-it's time to transform your Sunday school classrooms into
exciting learning environments. Here are 19 quick and cheap
Ugh. The bleak walls. The boring layout. The stale carpet. The
blank bulletin boards. You have a job ahead of you-transforming
your Sunday school classroom into an exciting learning environment
that kids will flock to. But just as you let your imagination roll,
reality reminds you that (of course) there's always The Budget to
You can transform your room on a tight budget-and here are 19
ideas that'll cost you next to nothing and make your students say,
• Back Pockets-Storage is often an issue in classrooms,
especially those prone to clutter. So purchase
(www.spacesavers.com) or sew a hanging over-the-door pocket bag. To
sew the pocket bag, you'll need a 7X2-foot piece of durable fabric.
Cut out pockets of different fabrics in varying shapes and sizes,
and sew them on the larger piece.
• Outside the Box-Don't just decorate your door, make it part of
the big picture! Use butcher paper for a temporary scene or latex
paint for a permanent scene. For example, re-create John 20:1-9 by
making your door the tomb entrance. Make your door the opening to
the tomb, and create the scene outside the tomb on the walls. Then
write the verse above your door.
• Cliffhanger-Choose an event from the Bible and illustrate it
on your classroom door-storyboard-style. For example, depict four
scenes from Noah's Ark. Leave the conclusion a mystery, and tease
visitors with a sign that says, "What happened next? Come in to
• Border-Have kids lend a hand-and character-to this fun ceiling
decoration. Create a handprint border around the top of the wall or
the ceiling using several different colors of tempera paint.
• Mobiles-Mobiles are an easy way to liven up any drab room, and
they make a creative class project. For easy, inexpensive mobile
ideas, go to www.cmmag.com.
• Colors Galore-Trade the institutional white on your walls for
something more contemporary. A trip to a home improvement store
will give you an idea of the vast range of cheery color
combinations available. Recruit parents or preteens to help as you
give your room a face-lift.
• Go Dark-Dramatic colors can add depth and interest to your
room, and they make the perfect background to display kids' art
projects. You don't want to paint every wall and the ceiling
magenta, but a single dark wall with a display at the back of the
room is inviting and will draw people into your room.
• All Aglow-Glow-in-the-dark paint (www.hometownpaint.com) and
stickers (www.spacetoys.com) are a less obvious way to spice up
your room, but kids love them. You can design a biblical skyline or
scene, then decorate the walls and ceiling with stars. Kids will be
captivated as you dim the lights to read passages from the
• Sticky Stuff-What will they think of next? Magnetic paint
(www.teachersstore.com) is a unique addition to the painting
palette-and you can cover it with your color of choice. Consider
"striping" your room with the paint. You can easily attach
pictures, art projects, and decorations with magnetic sheets.
• Murals-Murals never go out of style, and they're always a fun,
cooperative effort. You'll need an artistic person to create the
outlines of the mural, but just about anyone with a paintbrush can
fill in the rest. Or bring your classroom to life with a
custom-painted mural from www.wackyworld.tv or
• PVC Surprise-PVC piping (available at home improvement stores)
is cheap, light, and versatile. To make curtain rods, cut sections
just longer than the width of your windows. Drape each section with
fabric, or cover the pipe itself with glue and fabric.
• Glass Stain-Windows are wonderful, but sometimes what's going
on outside them distracts kids. If you want to keep the light but
lose the distraction, "stain" your glass. For stained glass kits,
go to www.artcity.com or www.dickblick.com.
• Remnants and Rugs-Cover worn-out carpet or soften tile with
carpet remnants or inexpensive rugs. Breaking up a basic floor
color with rugs also breaks up the room. You can create a cozy
storytime area or designate an activity area with varied
• Paint Me a Path-If your floor is forgettable, make it
memorable with a new paint job (uncarpeted floors only). You can go
wild with wacky designs and tons of color, or you can stay sane
with a single sublime shade.
• Crates-Crates can do double duty as storage and bench seating.
You can spray paint older crates to spruce up their appearance, or
cover them with fabric. To make benches, simply cut a piece of
plywood to cover the crates. Glue foam to one side of the plywood,
and finish the bench top by covering it with fabric. Staple the
fabric to the bottom of the bench top with a staple gun.
• Mini Beanbags-Beanbags don't have to cost a lot. Visit a
thrift store and stock up on sturdy pillowcases. Stockpile plastic
foam packing peanuts at home, or visit office supply stores and
department stores to see if they're willing to let you have their
leftovers. Stuff each pillowcase full of plastic foam peanuts, then
sew shut the open end of the pillowcase to make a mini beanbag.
These are great for kids ages 3 and up to lie or sit on during
storytime or activities, and they stack for games and easy
• Tables and Chairs-Chances are, you probably have a roomful of
tables, chairs, and desks. But if you'd like some cheap but
distinctive additions to your classroom furniture, go to
www.ikea-usa.com for a catalog.
Erase the bland look of classroom furniture with some brightly
colored fabric. For example, cut tablecloths from remnants of
fabric, new shower curtains, and oversize tablecloths. If your
chairs could use improvement, go back to the thrift store and buy
more pillowcases. Have kids decorate the pillowcases with fun
designs and pictures. Slide the pillowcases over the backs of the
chairs and tie large ribbons around the bases of the
• Puppet Alley-PVC works wonders for puppet stages. Stock up on
sections of PVC pipe and several corner connectors. You can
interchange the sections to fit your stage needs, then drape fabric
over the piping for curtains.
• Focal Teaching Point-Every classroom comes with a place to
write, such as a chalkboard, dry erase board, or flip board. But if
you'd like to expand your wall-writing options, apply chalkboard
paint (www.hometownpaint.com) to an entire wall. cm
|Don't miss out on the "Design on a Dime" article in the
November/December 2009 issue of Children's Ministry Magazine. We'll
show you how to transform any church hallway in a day or less-3
great, inexpensive ideas you can do over a weekend! Subscribe today!
Jennifer Hooks is associate editor for Children's Ministry