Friday, March 15, 2013

Essentials for Safe Nursery and Preschool Classrooms -Design a Classroom Environment on a Shoestring - Part 2!

I've been writing about a safe children's ministry all month, but today I want to talk about your classroom environment . . . and how to have an amazing one, even on a shoestring budget! You may have had an opportunity to see nursery or preschool classes in a large church - one which is decorated to the nines and while you might want to have a really attractive nursery, it just isn't in your budget. So, what do you do? Let me tell you - you can have a truly top-notch nursery and preschool area . . . on a shoestring budget! Consider these ideas for developing the environment for the youngest ones in your church - 
  • you may be tempted to paint your nursery and preschool rooms bright colors, but resist such a temptation . . . paint your walls a pale, pastel or neutral shade and then decorate according to the time of year and according to your Bible theme. 
  • plan a paint-n-party day! Invite the people in your church to join you to paint your nursery and preschool classrooms. Provide sandwiches . . . or have a pot-faith picnic and ask families to bring sandwiches, chips, cookies and veggie sticks to share for one big picnic! Provide lemonade and you have all the makings for a fun and productive day!
In addition, consider the following ideas to make your nursery and preschool spaces unique and usable -
  • hang colorful posters which you change from time to time in your nursery and preschool rooms - for safety reasons, use tape or Handy-tak instead of thumbtacks to hang posters. 
  • for the nursery use posters which show babies and toddlers, animals, birds, flowers, and pictures of Bible people—especially Jesus with children . . . be sure to talk with your little ones about the people and how God made their eyes, mouths, hands, and other body parts . . . talk about animals and the sounds they make as well as the colors in the plants God made. 
  • for your preschool classes, consider making your own posters; use a digital camera to take photos of the kids in your class, enlarge them, and post them for a personal touch around your room which kids and parents will love! 
  • involve your preschoolers by having them color posters which connect with the Bible themes and lessons you're teaching and then hang them around the room.
Inexpensive, yet fun special "touches" for your nursery and preschool classes . . . 
  • your nursery and preschool classrooms must have bulletin boards so you are able to show and share the exciting things happening with your youngest children as well as the projects and pictures kids make. This is a great place to post photos of the kids doing things in your classroom; kids and parents . . . and your entire church . . . will enjoy these! Ask a handy person in your church to build some quality bulletin boards - place some in classrooms and others in the halls around your classrooms. Be sure to put one inside and outside your nursery as well so everyone can have a "peek" into the nursery! An added bonus to this is when the people in your church see the excitement in your nursery and preschool areas, they will be more willing to become personally involved!
  • use chalkboard paint to make spaces for your older nursery and preschool age children where they are able to add their own personal "touches"! Consider painting a specific wall in your classroom with chalkboard paint. Paint your chalkboard at a toddler's or preschooler's height so kids will be able to draw with colored chalk and use their imaginations. Or ask them to draw specific things which connect with the lesson you're teaching for the day. 
  • use magnetic paint on another wall and ask your teens to make Bible story magnets for the little kids by adding magnetic strips to old flannel-graph figures for storytelling and independent play. Again, be sure your magnetic spaces are at the height for toddlers and preschoolers so they will be able to use them!
Bulletin boards, chalkboard paint and magnetic paint are inexpensive and yet provide a way for you to make your nursery and preschool classes really cool . . . on a shoestring!

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