Kids/Youth Designs


Diane Dames from Sheridan Lutheran Church in Lincoln, NE brings us this fun VBS look.

From Diane: Summer VBS at Sheridan Lutheran Church is a huge part of our children’s ministry. With almost 400 Preschool through 5th grade students and 150+ youth and adult volunteers, we strive to create a fun, engaging environment to learn about God’s love. Our children’s ministry team has done amazing work creating props and set pieces outside the worship center for many years. However, only a few elements had been added to the worship center itself, where we hold opening and closing worship each morning.

We wanted to do something more. This year’s theme was ROAR! (Group VBS) and incorporated the environment, characters and inspiration from the African savanna.

We recently installed new lighting in our worship center and I knew we could do something spectacular. A bulletin board created by staff in one of our music rooms served as inspiration.

To begin, I found images of the style of trees and animals I wanted to use. Using a scale drawing of our worship center, I determined the size and shape of the tree that would best fit in our space. Animals were as close to life-sized as possible (including a 12’ giraffe).

Once I had the general size and shape of the tree, I taped out the dimensions of the worship center on the floor in another space. I cut 4’x8’ sheets of kraft paper (the size of the polystyrene I was going to use) to create a pattern. I taped the kraft paper onto the floor and drew out the shape of the tree.

I then cut out the kraft paper pattern, laid the polystyrene on the floor and placed the kraft paper pattern on top to transfer it. The polystyrene was then cut with a hot knife and painted. All the pieces were numbered to make assembly easier.

For the animals, I used a projector and secured the pieces of polystyrene to a wall and traced the shapes. I again cut them out with the hot knife.

Once everything was cut, it was painted flat black.

The tree was attached to the back of the cross in the worship center using Command Picture Hanging Strips. The seams between the pieces were secured with gaff tape and small wooden skewers.

The animals were free standing, using pieces of the 2” polystyrene foam for a base, furring strips for supports and a bit of Gorilla Glue and some screws to secure everything together. The bird was hung from the cross using fishing line.

A note on lighting: Our worship center a more traditional space, has a ton of natural light and the house lights are not dimmable. The recent theatrical lighting upgrade took this into account. All lighting is designed for use during the day with all the house lights on.

The final result was a huge hit. The kids, volunteers and parents loved it. Our lead pastor liked it so much, he asked that it stay for weekend worship. One hiccup—VBS was Monday-Friday and there was a wedding on Saturday. So, the tree came down and the animals moved out Friday afternoon. The Command Picture Hanging strips were a huge help, as one side stayed on the cross and the other remained on the polystyrene so placement when reinstalling was much easier. With the help of my amazing husband & another volunteer, we were able to reinstall the entire thing in about an hour and a half after the wedding, just in time for 5:30 worship. The congregation loved it.

Materials list:
1 roll Kraft Wrapping Paper, 48″ x 200 ft — $26
11 – Expanded Polystyrene Foam Insulation 1″ x 4′ x 8′ (tree) — $83
6 – Expanded Polystyrene Foam Insulation 2″ x 4′ x 8′ R-8 (animals) — $78
1 x 2 furring strips (<$10)
Black paint
~40 Command Large Picture Hanging Strips ($30)
Gaff Tape
Gorillia Glue
Fishing Line
Hot knife

Total Materials Cost: Under $300

Lighting Fixtures:
28 Elation Six Bar 1000
8 Elation Artiste Davinci

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