On a recent visit to Woodstock City Church in Atlanta, I studied what they use for Small Groups. These bins can be found at IKEA, but at the time of this post, they are also available at Michaels.
On a recent visit to Woodstock City Church, I noticed their signs. There were 2 things that I noticed. I noticed what signs they had displayed, and what signs they didn’t have displayed.
I was so impressed to see what Woodstock City Church does to celebrate birthdays for kids. The kids look forward to their Birthday all year long so that they can visit the Birthday Cart. The Birthday Cart is pretty exciting, but it doesn’t compare to the PERSON who is at the Birthday Cart. I did not find out this person’s name, but he was amazing as he celebrated each child and their birthday.
We are just getting ready to launch a new campus. We have a smaller space available for our kids ministry rooms, but we still wanted to make it fun and kid friendly. So, we decided to make a photo wall down our kids hallway. The idea can from a photo I saw on worshipfacilities.com . Here’s what we did to make it.
When people sign up to volunteer in our Kids Rooms, we want to equip them with all the info they need to get started, and do their job well. It can be a little overwhelming for a new volunteer to try to remember everything, so we created some booklets for each room that give them the basics to get started.
I finally finished a project that I have been working on for a few weeks. I wanted to create a way for kids and parents to say thank you to the volunteers who help on Sunday mornings. I created a DIY Mailbox, where kids can mail a thank you card. We set up tables in an open area where parents and kids could work on making a card together. Then, once they finished making their card, they could mail it in the mailbox. At the end of the month, we will distribute all the thank you cards to the volunteers. I printed off a list of all the volunteers for each room, so parents could find the names of the volunteers if they need them. If you want to create your own DIY Mailbox, this is how you can do it:
Recently we hosted a Princess Party at our church. We had over 800 people attend the event. 60% of people were not regular church attenders. We received a lot of positive feedback after the event about how much people enjoyed coming to the event. Here are some of the things we included at the Princess Party:
Sometimes the number of things that need to be done in Kids Ministry can be overwhelming. How do you balance the urgent things with things that should be a priority? So many times the urgent can take a lot of our time, but they are not necessarily things that are a priority. A Kids Ministry To Do List might be just the thing you are looking for. It’s not just any to do list. It’s specifically designed with things in mind that are important for a Kids Ministry Leader.
When I was visiting The Grove Community Church in Riverside, California, I saw a system that they used to help motivate kids to listen & participate. They used ping pong balls to give to the kids when they brought their Bible, or a friend, etc. At the end of the service, the kids could put the ping pong balls that they earned into their display box. The group who filled their box first was rewarded with a pizza party. I liked that the reward system was visual for the kids, and they worked together to achieve a goal.
Yesterday I had a great day enjoying some time with my daughter at the American girl store. We booked a reservation to attend their Bistro. While we were sitting there, we noticed a box in the middle of the table. The box had small strips of paper with questions on them. The questions are meant to spark conversations while sitting at the table. The kids at the table enjoyed asking the rest of us questions and hearing our responses.
There are many conversation starter sets available for free on the internet. Pinterest is loaded with them. You can even put scripture verses in a small container and pull them out as you sit around the table as a family. What other ideas do you use to encourage discussion around the dinner table?
When telling a story to children, you can really make the story come alive if you use a backdrop. A visual reminder of where the story takes place helps children get a better picture of the story.
Backdrops do not have to be elaborate or complicated. This backdrop was made using some cloth and some paint. The animals and manger are made with cardboard, paint and a few items for texture and dimension. The total cost was less than $20.
Our stories in our curriculum come in units of 4-5 weeks. Each unit has a theme, so a backdrop can be created for the theme, and used for 4-5 weeks before changing it to a new one.
Babies need to be well cared for if you are going to have an AWESOME nursery. You need to find out information that is important to know while the baby is in your care. Can they sit unsupported? Do they have a bottle or sippy cup? It’s important to get this information from parents before they leave their child in your care.
We use a check list at our church. This allows parents to communicate with us about their child, but in a fast, efficient way. You can download the checklist from Google Docs. Change the bullets to check boxes and you are good to go.
Have you been to Disney World in the last few years? If you are celebrating a special occasion you can get a button that displays what you are celebrating for FREE! Then as you walk around the parks and hotel all the staff congratulate you on your special occasion.
I’m sure any child in your church would love it if all the volunteers said, “Happy Birthday” to them on their birthday, or “welcome” on their first Sunday. A button maker allows you to make buttons for any occasion or event. You could even promote upcoming events by making buttons for volunteers or kids to wear. Put your logo on them and give them out as prizes. If kids can say their Bible verse, then they can get a special Bible Verse Button.
I found this button maker on Ebay. You can buy them new or used and are available from many different companies. Buttons come in a variety of sizes & you can order the button sets in different quantities. We are going to get lots of use out of our button maker!
What items do you use to help promote your kids ministry?
We are in the middle of building a new kids area at my church. We are scheduled to move into our new space in 4 weeks. I am SUPER EXCITED about what lies ahead, but there are a LOT of details to look after in the next 4 weeks.
I have been doing a lot of research about Kids Spaces & Suppliers of ‘stuff’. Have you heard of Gressco? They make unique library and children’s commercial furniture. There are so many cool ideas in their catelogue. Everything from furniture to creative spaces & activity centers. If you have not heard of them, you should contact them & request a FREE catalog.
Does your church have a clear plan for emergencies? Crossroads Church does. In fact, it’s so clear, that they have a Safety Manual displayed in each Kids Room. Each Manual is custom made with instructions for that specific room. The staff was kind enough to give me permission to share their Safety Manual on my blog with pictures for everyone to see. Hopefully it will inspire you to make a plan for emergencies that is clear for your volunteers.
Keeping vision in front of your volunteers is one of the most important things you will do as a Kids Ministry Leader. Reminding people over and over of why they do what they do.
On my most recent trip to Crossroads Church in Cincannati, I was reminded of something that they do to keep vision in front of their volunteers. Many of their kids ministry rooms have a picture wall. The pictures are specific to the ministry that happens in that room. The volunteer room has pictures of volunteers with kids, the special needs room has pictures of one-on-one buddies with their special friend. Each picture represents a story of a volunteer making a difference in the life of a child. Many of the volunteers that came with me from my church noticed the picture walls, and were impacted by the message in the form of pictures.
How do you keep vision in front of your volunteers?
This past weekend I went to visit Crossroads Church in Cincinnati. I took a team of Kids Ministry Volunteers with me so we could learn from them. It’s about an 8 hour drive from where I live, and I was excited to take a team of people with me so they could see the church, and their kids ministry in action. Crossroads staff and volunteers were so welcoming and went out of their way to help us learn all that we could. This was my 2nd visit, and I learned many new things.
Crossroads has a room for kids with special needs. This room is available for children who would benefit from a quieter space. Displayed on the wall in this room was a Sign Language Poster. Many children are able to communicate through sign language, and this poster was a great tool for volunteers who many not use sign language on a regular basis. You can find this poster on Etsy. I’ve already ordered one.
Every time I go to Walt Disney World I notice how welcome they make you feel. Everything from greeting you when you arrive at Magical Express at the airport, to the coach bus, to arriving at the resort, to arriving at the parks. They do a great job of making you feel welcome. But one thing I didn’t expect was for them to be just as intentional to say Thank you when we left.
I first noticed it when we were leaving the Magic Kingdom. Not only did they have cast members everywhere waving goodbye with their Mickey Gloves, they held up signs just to make sure we got the message.
I also noticed that they thanked us for coming & wished us safe travels as we left the hotel, & got off the coach bus back at the airport. It might just have been coincidence, but perhaps they are very intentional to train their cast members to say thank you & be present when it’s time to say goodbye.
What about your kids ministry? Are you available to welcome families as they arrive? What about dismissal time? When families are on their way out the door after the service, are you standing there to say goodbye to everyone? A simple thing to do and it could make a huge difference.
I went to my local library this past week and saw this Lego Wall when I was there. Of course I took a pic & studied it to see how they made it.
Base Plates – 16 Gray 15×15. You can find these on Ebay for about $15 each.
Shelf – the narrow shelf allows kids to get up close to the wall to do their creative artwork
Wallpaper Tray – x2. These trays were the perfect size to fit on the shelf.
Lego – Ask for donations or purchase from Ebay.
Oh, and by the way, Congrats Germany!
Preschoolers love to make crafts, color & do sticker art. However, sometimes when it is time for them to go home, the artwork often gets left on the classroom table and doesn’t make it home to be displayed on the family fridge.
At our church we have a “clothesline” outside of the room. When kids finish their artwork or craft, one of the volunteers hangs it on the clothesline outside the room. When parents come to pick up their child, they check the line to find their child’s paper & it’s one less thing that the volunteers need to remember to do at pick up time. We also hang the “parent page” on the same clothespin so parents grab that at the same time too.
Our ‘clothesline’ is made of lightweight rope and hung with 3M hooks that have a tab to remove them if necessary without damaging the walls.
2 and 3 year olds are just learning about sitting in a group setting and staying in their spot.
If you give them a visual place to sit or stand, it helps them stay in that space.
We found these little mats at Target. They are about $3 each and are just the perfect size for preschoolers. When it’s time to start Large Group, we play the clean up song. Preschoolers help to clean up all the toys, and then they go get a mat. They put their mat on the floor and during Large Group time we get them to sing songs & stay on their mat. During story time, they sit on their mat. They often need to be reminded to “stay on their mat” but at least it gives them a defined space where they need to stay.
Children in Kindergarten – Grade 6 are placed in small groups for Sunday Mornings. We use a color system to help kids remember what group they are in.
When they arrive on Sunday morning, we give them a colored dot to put on their name tag. That is the color of their small group. Our sign-in sheet is also by color group. We add their name to the section on our sheet that matches their color group.
Then when it is time for kids to go to their small group, it is easily identifiable for both kids and volunteers. Red dot kids go with the red small group leader and sit on the red blanket. We even have kids sit together as a small group during large group time, on the blanket that matches their group’s color.
We ordered our dots from Brodart, but dots can also be found from inventory supply stores found online.