I’ve been teasing you on Instagram and Facebook about these volunteer projects and I’m finally ready for the big reveal! This is a project that I did for a 5th–6th grade classroom at my church. Not only am I going to show you what we did, but also how you can use similar ideas in your classroom or even in your home!
I met with the director of children’s ministry in the classroom, went home, and racked my brain for ANY inspiration. I had no clue where to go with this thing. Our tiny little budget was really freaking me out. I was looking through some of my favorite blogs and found a recent post by Playful Learning. The post was about how natural objects in transparent containers create a sense of adventure and wonder in children. What’s more, it helps them visually organize information, further encouraging new ways of thinking. I was 100% inspired and ready to go!
I needed something to fill up these crazy huge windows (a blessing because basements don’t usually get this much light) and something to cover up the beautiful parking lot view outside. I chose to use tulle (a great cheap alternative to sheer curtains) draped over tension curtain rods. This filters the light coming in and creates a dreamy glow! Day light is hugely important for any human being—especially little ones who need to stay awake! Make sure you don’t block out the light completely with your window treatments.
I went on to fill the window sills with lovely found objects, such as vases and bottles. I found a great stash of natural objects at Joann’s like pebbles, moss, twigs, sand, driftwood…all kinds of fun stuff! I then proceeded to spend hours filling, arranging, and rearranging all the goodies that I found!
Make It Personal (Even If It Makes You Cringe)
Words that designers don’t like to hear: “We want the kids to leave their mark in the classroom.” I don’t know about you, but any time I allow kids to make any permanent mark on anything, I’m freaking out. The solution: I ran with the nature theme and painted a whimsical tree. On this tree, kids will put their hand print (in various shades of green) as a leaf. I have high hopes for the potential cuteness points that I could earn here. Any sense of order that you can add to something like this is a HUGE step in the right direction. Without a structure (like a tree), there will be hand prints (or names, or drawings…) creating a cluttered and clumsy look, when we want a organized, logical sense in the space.
Personally, I feel that “making their mark” is really important—even vital—for students. They want to be remembered, treasured, and loved. Something as simple as allowing them to put a hand print on the wall creates a sense of belonging; it says, “I’m a part of something.” In the previous classroom (a house next door to the church) there were hand prints dating back to 1980. The kids were crushed to hear that they wouldn’t be able to add their print to the hundreds in that house. When you realize that hand prints have that much power…I guess it’s not so bad.
We added a sweet Bible verse to a soffit in the space, though unfortunately I wasn’t able to snap a good picture of it. But it read, “Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong.” That was the hope for the children’s director and me during all the planning. We wanted a place where these kids felt important and where they could learn about God’s love. I was so happy to have worked on this and hope that kiddos for many years are messing it up with their little green hand prints…after all, it’s not about the design or how it looks to the grown ups. This room is for kids to ask, question, learn, and grow.