Transforming your Sunday school classroom into an
exciting learning environment for kids can be tough on a budget.
Here are 19 ideas that'll cost you next to nothing...
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
- 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 find out!"
- 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.
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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 www.painteroffun.com.
- 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
- 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
- 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
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.
Jennifer Hooks is managing editor for Children's Ministry
Magazine. Please keep in mind that phone numbers, addresses, and
prices are subject to change.