Are your puppets turning into space invaders? Trying to fit that 5-gallon hat into a 5-quart tub? Most of us could use a little more storage space. But just having the space isn’t always the answer either. It’s nice to have a system where everything has a place and is in its place. I guess it is much like our van while traveling. When we load up for a ministry tour with conference speaking and kids camps or crusades, I could tell you just about where every item is in the van. Granted, I’d have to dig down a couple of layers of boxes to get to some of the stuff. When you go looking for supplies, resources, puppet clothes, props, etc., can you find them quickly?
Idea #1 – Feeling Boxed In?
While pastoring at one church, we were given a 20′ x 3 ½ ‘ closet. The concept arose to create shelving down most of the 20′ length. Each shelf was about 20″ deep. Having about 20″ between each shelf allowed us to load them up with paper ream boxes. You can stack two boxes that normally hold 10 reams of 8 ½” x 11″ paper on top of each other. That’s 10 boxes per shelf for every 5 linear feet! Now, an average closet is about 8’ tall, which means that in 5 linear feet, you can fit 40 boxes and still have some room on the top. Of course, not everything fits into a box, so you can throw in a short closet rod at the end of the closet for costumes. Adding a tall barrel or trashcan works well with those long objects like Mop & Broom puppets, swords, etc. Be sure to label and/or number each box. Keeping a clipboard handy with a list of what is in each numbered box will help you quickly find what you’re looking for.
Now if you’re wondering where to get so many paper boxes and your church doesn’t use but one box every 3 months, try checking with a local printer.
Idea #2 — The Rubbermaid Rubber Chicken Theory
Maybe you need something a little deeper than a paper box. Or, maybe you don’t want to build shelving. The 18-gallon tubs by companies like Rubbermaid work really well. They have handles for easily carrying supplies from the closet to wherever you’re working. They hold 4-6 average-sized puppets. They stack well without falling easily. They are better in case your church’s roof begins to leak the way ours did.
Another twist on the tub idea works well with a resource room for all your teachers. Each teacher gets a tub, clearly labeled with their name, room, grade, or whatever you want to put on it. Inside are all the necessary supplies for that class; scissors, crayons, markers, glue, construction paper, tape, etc. Also included is a supply request form. Each week the teacher stops by the resource room and picks up their tub of supplies. (Note: In most cases, these tubs can be much smaller than the ones mentioned above.) They carry the tub to their class, use the resources, pack the tub back up, and fill out the request sheet for the next week. Not only does this help create a multi-purpose room, but it also helps motivate the teacher to be looking ahead and preparing for the next week instead of waiting until the last minute. The tub, along with the request form, is returned to the resource area at the end of class. During the week, a worker comes in to the church and fills the tubs with the additional supplies for the next week. This will also help you keep track of when you’re running low on something and need to order or purchase bulk supplies.
Idea #3 – The Carry-On Conspiracy
Recently, we have started using carry-on luggage for transporting all of the props for our conference classes. For those of you who don’t have any storage space at your church, or work with a number of groups of children and have quite a few things to tote around, this will work well. We found an extra large black case, the kind with wheels and a handle that pops out of the top, at a discount store for $17.00. We can fit three conference classes that use numerous props into this one case. In fact, when we are on the road doing services and have most of my props in the hotel room, this case works well for taking my ventriloquist figure and all the other props for each service back and forth each day. Plus, it is wonderful to be able to roll it in instead of carrying it.
© by Rev. Gary Linn
Children’s Ministry Today