Thursday, January 03, 2008

Classroom Decorations

Several pages of your 2008 calendar have already turned over. By now, you have removed the Christmas decorations out of your classroom (or should have – don’t ask me if mine are down yet!). Does your room look a little bare and gloomy after the festive decorations of Christmas? Why can’t classrooms have bright decorations all year long, at other times besides Christmas and VBS?

You can! In fact, it’s a good idea. It’s a great idea. Remember, children of today are visual learners. You have four walls of empty space ready and available to reinforce the lessons you teach your children.

So what decorations can we put up for the month of January? It’s too soon for Valentine’s Day, way too soon for spring flowers. Snowflakes and winter scenes aren’t very colorful and may not even fit your location. (I grew up in Arizona. As a child, I always thought snowflake decorations were so dumb!) So what kinds of bulletin boards or door and wall decorations can you use?

Look no further than your current curriculum! Remember my guiding principle of children’s ministry: Everything you do should fit your focus. That includes any activity, game, songs, even your snack if you can. It also includes classroom decorations. We have so little time to minister and teach these children; we need to use every available moment and resource to proclaim the message of Jesus Christ to them. What you hang on your walls can be a powerful reinforcement to your lesson. If you have children whose eyes are wandering during your lesson, their eyes will fall on what you have portrayed – that is still teaching them what you want to teach them.

Usually lessons are grouped together in units. Look at your unit theme. Look not only at the Bible stories. What is the major application or theme? Is it courage? Is it worship? Is it obedience? How can you portray those themes? What are the memory verses for that unit? How can you display those verses attractively and prominently?

If you aren’t the artistic type, what do you do? I can relate. I’m not the artistic type either. But I know it’s important to other people. If creating decorations is not your favorite way to spend a Saturday afternoon, consider these ideas:

1. Ask a member of your church who does like that stuff to help you.

2. Devise activities for the children that create wall decorations. This is especially a good idea if you can add to the project each week.

3. Look for what has already been made. Don’t reinvent the wheel! If moeny is a concern, some supplies may be cheaper than you think and if you recycle, you will save money over the long run. Check local teaching supply stores. Most of them have a section for Christian education. Check for posters, letter templates, borders and bulletin board paper. Your Christian bookstore may have wall hangings or books of bulletin board ideas. Do a search on the Internet for bible themed bulletin boards.

4. Use computer generated projects. Programs such as MS Publisher and PrintMaster can help you create some beautiful memory verse posters on card stock. (Hey, even I can do this!) Feel computer clumsy? Get a teenager to help you.

Finally, remember to change your decorations at the beginning of the new unit or the new season. Children, or anyone for that matter, will start to tune out what they see if it is there for more than three weeks. If you change your decorations frequently, you'll keep your students coming back week after week to see what's new Inside The Classroom.

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