New kids area @ my church – part 2

playground

We did a lot of research before we put together the plans for our new kids space.  Here are some things that we intentionally included in our design:

1.  Indoor Playground.  This will be used for outreach during the week.  It will be open 4 mornings a week to the community, completely free of charge.  One morning a week is reserved for groups with special needs kids.  The Indoor Playground will also serve as a place for families to connect on Sunday mornings.  It creates an opportunity for people to build community.

2.  Washrooms in each room.  Each kids room has one or two washrooms in them.  That way, once kids are checked in, they have no reason to leave until their parents pick them up.

3.  Wide hallways.  With the volume of people coming in to our space, it was necessary to have wide hallways so people could get where they needed to go.

4.  Storage.  We included space in each room for larger props (behind the stage) and smaller items in cupboards right in the room.

5.  Sink.  Each room has a counter with a sink in it.  Great for washing hands & convenient clean up.

6.  Self Check-In.  Our check-in process is electronic.  We have included 5 stations for self check in, and they are spread out in our atrium to avoid congestion of people.

7. Windows.  Each class has lots of windows so people can see in the class.  In most rooms, the stage is on the opposite wall so during story time, kid will not be distracted by people walking in the hallway.

8.  Technology.  All classrooms from Kindergarten & up have a projector, screen, stage lights & sound system in each room.

9.  TVs.  We have intentionally placed TVs in locations where people will be standing around.  We can play video clips and announcements to communicate a variety of messages.

10. Themed Spaces.  Our Themed areas are in areas where people will be connecting & kids will be playing.  (entrance & playground room)  We did not theme our kids rooms, but instead, made them interesting colours and patterns to keep the kid feel, but not distract from the theme of the lesson for the day.

Glenn Reinders from Reinders & Reider Ltd designed our kids area and entire new building.  He has designed both kids areas at the churches I have been employed at.  Best. Architect. Ever.
Bruce Barry from Wacky World designed our Entrance area.  He drew sketches & we built it with our volunteer team.   At the time of this post, we have not completed this area, so there are no pictures.  When it is finished, I will post pics.
We did research by visiting churches & children’s museums including:  Crossroads Church in Cincinnati, Christ Fellowship Church in West Palm Beach Florida, Willow Creek Church in Chicago, IL and children’s museums in Chicago, Indiana & Toronto.

 

New kids area @ my church – part 1

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I have been on a journey since I started working at my church 2.5 years ago.  We have be in a building project and part of that project has included a new kids area.  It’s been exciting to dream, research & design a new kids space.  It has taken many meetings & emails to cover a zillion details.  The most difficult part of this journey has been the last few months as the kids rooms have started to take shape.  Sorting, packing & moving an entire kids ministry is a huge job.  Transition of any kind is not usually easy for people, so helping hundreds of families make this transition has also been a process.  Volunteers have worked countless hours far above and beyond what they signed up for so that the BIG MOVE could get done.

However, in the last few months, despite the chaos, and change, there has been very little complaining.  There is excitement in the air, and people are filled with anticipation to see the new space open.  People have stepped up to do work that needs to be done, and done so with a willing heart & attitude.

All of this work is for a building, but it’s just a building.  Without the amazing team of volunteers to connect with the kids and the families, it is still just a building.  It is a tool that will help us tell kids about God & grow closer to Jesus.  We will use this tool to the very best of our ability, but the real ministry takes place as volunteers connect with kids and their families.  We are looking forward to what God has planned in the new building.  We are looking forward to the life change that will take place there.

Here are a few pics of our new space.  In the next post, I will walk through some of the details that we intentionally included in our design.

 

Parent Checklist for the Nursery

checklist

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.

Kids in your church will love this low cost promotional item

DisneyButton buttonmaker

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?

Have you heard about Gressco?

gressco

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.

What to include in your training event

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This weekend we had our annual Kids Ministry Volunteer Training Event.  Here’s what we did:

Promotion – Start months ahead with a few “save the date” emails.  Then 3 weeks before the event, send emails weekly, and get your leaders from each room to email their teams of volunteers.  Put posters of the event up in kids ministry spaces.  Get people to sign up online.

Theme – Choose a theme that is fun!  This year we went with a Transformers theme and focused on moving beyond Supervision (of kids) to Transformation (in their lives)

Set up – Have the room decorated, set up & stuff on people’s chairs like training manuals & chocolates when they arrive.  The first impression when they arrive will be a great one if you have everything ready to go & you pay attention to detail.

Food – Definitely include food.  It’s even better if you can get your food to match your theme!

Fun – Include a game or event that is just plain fun.  Because we had a transformers theme, 5 volunteers had to try to transform the transformer toy from a robot into a vehicle.  Game music & cheering help to bring energy to the game.

Prizes – Door prizes are a great way to go.  People love to win things.  Get as many as your budget will allow.  Ask for donations if you have a limited budget.

Have people talk other than you – We had a discussion panel of volunteers.  I sent them questions ahead of time so they were prepared with their answers.  It was so great to have them talk about stuff that I usually say.  It was very powerful coming from them.

Power Point & Video – Keep things visual whenever possible.  Media helps to keep people’s attention.  Video clips bring variety and can help drive your point home.  I used a video clip of Bill Hybels, “Coffee with God“.  It helped to illustrate about the life transformation that can happen when you spend time with God.

Motivation Talk – Remind people why we do what we do.  Tell stories.  Show videos.

Neighbour discussion – To help break up a longer time of “sit and listen”, have volunteers turn to their neighbour & tell each other one thing they just learned from what was just talked about.

Take Home – Have them write down (on a card that you make ahead of time) one thing they can do to improve what they are doing & tell them to take it home & put it in a place where they will see it on a regular basis to remind them.

Appreciation Video – a few weeks before the event get video footage of as many volunteers in action as possible.  Edit it together & add some music & play it at the end of your main session.

Breakout Groups – Give people a chance to chat about their own area of ministry with their team.  The last hour of our training event is spent in ministry specific groups all over our building.  They chat about things that are specific to where they serve.

 

 

 

 

 

 

One of the best gifts a leader can give to their team

There are some things that only the leader of a team can do.  Bill Hybels talks about the gift of ENERGY that a leader can give to their team & the difference it will make.  In this video he talks about going from feeling anxious & overwhelmed to feeling focused and energized on the leadership goals that were in front of him.