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Give Your Class "Class"

Jennifer Hooks

Say goodbye to a blah classroom with these 19 quick and cheap makeover ideas.

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 consider.

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, "Wow!"

Dynamic Doors

•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 find out!"

Creative Ceilings

• 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.

Wowser Walls

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 Bible.

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 www.painteroffun.com.

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