• 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 and fabric.
• 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 staple
• 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.