Decorating for preschool rooms helps create the enthusiasm found at VBS each year. Here are a few ideas to remember when decorating for preschoolers:
- The teacher is a walking decoration and should consider dressing the part to create interest. Add a striped vest as a worker or funny tourist clothing.
- Do the decorations still allow space for the kids to enjoy the planned activities/ centers?
- Do the decorations cover up the biblical truth being taught today?
- Is it flat to the wall, above their heads or outside the classroom?
- Are there so many decorations the child(ren) will be over-stimulated and unable to focus or become a discipline concern?
- Are there balloons or other choking hazards that need to be removed?
- Music adds energy and excitement to the classroom. Use while entering the room, playing and for transition times. Games with music are a favorite with preschoolers.
Decide which side of the large appliance box will be a door and where the ticket window will be located. Use a utility knife to cut the entire corner of the box so it can open as the door. If you prefer to make a door, cut the opening to the desired height and score the hinge side of the door to open easily. Cut and hole to serve as the door handle. For the window opening, consider the height of the window if the child stands inside the box.
- Draw a large capital “H” with a long line across the middle.
- Cut the lines.
- As you open these two flaps, the bottom flap opens inside the box to be a counter ledge and the top flap opens out to be an awning cover. These flaps may need to be scored across the hinge area to open more easily.
- Secure the flaps with tape that reaches from the outside edge of the awning to the top of the box and the edge of the counter flap to the bottom of the box.
- Locate this near the entrance to the room. Decorate the box with signage saying, “Ticket Booth,” VBS string flags and fence pickets cut from white foam board or poster board.
- Adding painted stripes or VBS bulletin board punch outs will look great. Include the Turnstile (directions in Decorating Made Easy) for children to use as they enter the room or group time.
Using the box idea from the ticket booth, open the box by cutting an entire corner and place it in the corner of the room so the Homeliving stove can be inside. A small chalkboard can be added to the outside of the box for menu items to be drawn or written. Be sure to include food, lunch bags and paper cups (items seen at a drive thru window), chief aprons, and play money. If room allows, add a table for eating in front.
This will need to be located near a wall or corner.
- Lay a colorful striped king-size sheet over a hula hoop on the floor.
- Using four large binder clips (office supplies), open each clip and slide it over the hula hoop securing the sheet to the hoop in four areas (clock face- 12, 3, 6, 9).
- To hang the tent, use four hooks, open paper clips, string or small bungee cords to hook to the recessed ceiling tracks. Set the height of the tent for your children to walk or crawl into.
- Place a green blanket on the floor of the tent to be soft grass where they can read books or enjoy the puzzles.
Option- The tent can be enlarged by using two sheets side by side with a small overlap across the hula hoop before clipping. They will hang off each side and make a natural door opening and be longer to go wider out or taller. This can also be used at the door as kids enter the room.
As kids enter and leave your classroom, ask them to crawl through a tunnel of boxes. This will take three or four boxes of equal size large enough for the children you teach (and the teachers too). Work backwards.
- Secure the box to the door frame, flush with the hallway wall.
- Add the next box in the hall to the end of the last box. You will need to cut an opening in the side of this box. Trace around the last box to transfer the opening size before cutting.
- Tape the boxes together creating a corner and secure it to the wall with tape.
- Another box can be added to extend the tunnel.
*Note- It is a good idea to cut small openings in the tops of the boxes so light can shine into the tunnel. For children with fears, allow them to enter through the doorway. Avoid long tunnels. One box to crawl straight into the room can also be great fun for preschoolers.
These simple decorations will allow kids to be the worker and the player. There might be a different game you offer each day. Consider the games used in a Halloween/ Fall Festival event your church might host each year. Begin by creating an awning cover.
- Use a striped sheet or shower curtain and hook the back edge to the ceiling (where the wall and ceiling meet) with safety pins & paper clips. (Option- Taping a large sheet of paper to the wall works very well but taping fabric to the wall is not always reliable).
- The sheet will be hanging down the wall. Measure up a couple of inches from the bottom on both side and place a safety pin on each side.
- Using a bungee cord for each side, hook onto the safety pin first then the ceiling so the awning is gently pulled out from the wall and hanging over the game site.
- Set up the game on the floor in front of the wall. Example: stack three blockbuster blocks in a pyramid.
- Add a couple of chairs or a science/ display board with the topper lying on top as the counter (easily found in hobby, office or discount stores).
- Ask the child to stand behind the counter and toss the bean bag to knock over the blocks. Each day the game can change.
Group Time– This make a terrific place to host group time since it will be under the awning and the wall can be used for display items. Children can sit on theme related mats.
Dress-Up Photo Booth
This will be a location of the room with a backdrop (Scene Setter) secured to the wall. Kids can dress in silly items for picture taking. Gather a box of items such as; floppy hats, visors, sun glasses, Hawaiian shirts, fanny bags, belts, string backpacks, old cameras on lanyards, play jewelry, inflatable pool toys that fit around your waist to name a few. Anything unusual will pique their interest. Share lots of laughs and teacher can dress up too. You can take their pictures and email the photos to the church office for the VBS director to print and bring to your classroom. (*Notes- remember to discuss with your director or office staff prior and give photos to parents asking for permission to hang in the hall or show in other ways).
Some preschool classrooms are equipped with a rocking boat/ stairs. Add a cardboard canoe shape to each side of the boat mirroring the round shape of the boat for easy rocking. A church that owns just one or two can share with several rooms during the week. Introduce paddles/ores made from long paper tubes with file folder paddles taped to the end.
Amusement Park Rides
Since space is a limitation for hosting amusement park rides, consider ways to make table top rides for standup figures to ride. Tape rollercoaster tracks to the tabletop and down to the floor.
- Cut long strips of card stock weight paper a couple of inches wide.
- Draw railroad tracks on the strips using a wide marker.
- Tape the track sections to the table creating hills by pushing the ends together causing it to bow up into a hill.
- Allow kids to add tracks including off the table down to a chair or the floor.
- They can make more track sections with the markers and strips.
- Invite them to use the cars and pretend they care riding the rollercoaster.
Other rides might include; a Lazy Susan with plastic/ paper tea cups glued on it or boats floating in a water table or in a dishpan with water.