Road Trip Set Design
In Gen Kids, when we aren't doing our own thing (see Gen Kids in TV Land), we follow the 252 Basics curriculum by Orange. 252 Basics not only provides a virtue of the month (kindness, patience, respect, faith, etc.), but also a monthly theme. If you have your own kid's ministry space, you can decorate your environment(s) to enhance the theme of the month. We love doing this in Gen Kids, because it keeps the kids excited about the new theme each month, and it draws them further into the theme through the visuals we construct. Each month, we budget $200 for our theme set design. Some months we use the full amount, other months we are able to do it for much less. It all depends on the nature of the theme, the resources we already have available, and how excited we are about it. We ask if people in the church or in the area have anything we could borrow for the set. You never know what people might have lying around in their basement or garage that could be awesome for your set design!
That brings us to this month's Road Trip set design. We were looking for anything you might see on a road trip (road signs, construction cones, license plates, tires). Thanks to another children's pastor in the area and several families in the church loaning us some really great items, we were able to accomplish this set design for only $10. I think that's a record. Check out what we did for the set design below.
Let's start with the stage. In the pictures above, you can see stage right and stage left. In the picture on the left you can see some signs on the floor and wall. We taped them all over the kid's room to the floor and walls (clear packing tape covering the signs on the floor, gaff tape for the signs on the wall). You can get a 6-pack of clear packing tape from Sam's Club for under $20. They are road signs with Christian sayings on them, made out of paper similar to card stock. I will warn you that they are only printed on one side. I had planned to laminate them and hang them from the ceiling, but when I realized they were only printed on one side we decided to do something different. Those signs are the only thing we paid for in the entire set, and they can be purchased from Oriental Trading.
The traffic cones you see in both pictures were loaned to us. We (my husband) decided to repurpose some of the lights we bought from a previous set (see Gen Kids in TV Land) by taking the colored gels out and placing them inside the cones to light them. When we purchased the light trees, they came with chase boxes and we used one of these chase boxes to get the cones to "light up" in a left-to-right sequence.
We got the speed limit sign and other road signs from a friend of mine who is a children's pastor. If you don't happen to know anyone who just has road signs lying around, there are other ways to get your hands on some. First and foremost, always check Craigslist. You never know what gems you'll find. If you don't see any there (or don't want to purchase anything), look around for construction in your city. Usually on construction cones or on the back of portable road signs, you will see the owner's initials or company name. It doesn't hurt to call them up and see if they will let you borrow or rent some. The last time we did a set that required road signs we contacted a local company (Dallas Lite and Barricade) and they let us borrow several full-size signs for free.
The awesome traffic light you see in the stage left picture is a one we purchased for a Construction themed set we did a couple years ago. It is full-size and functioning and we found on Craigslist for $125. We replaced the bulbs that were already in the traffic light with 25W utility light bulbs to make it easier on the kids' eyes.
We used our environmental projection to put pictures of what it would look like on the side of the road if we were on a real road trip on either side of our "car". On the left wall we used some caution tape we had on hand to wrap around the edges of the banners. If you don't have caution tape on hand you can easily buy a huge roll of it on Amazon. On the right wall we simply attached a few license plates we had received from people in the church and a big stop sign to the banners.
We decided to create a "construction area" in the back right corner of the room. We set up the stanchions around it to discourage the kids from playing inside the area. The road signs were all borrowed, as well as the tires. We created the little "road" using white spike tape and red painters tape, but you could use pretty much anything you have that won't leave a residue on the floor (painters tape, gaff tape, spike tape). Helpful hint: never use duct tape or gorilla tape on the floor or walls. I've learned from personal experience.
Last, but certainly not least, we have our "road" we created down the center aisle. This was probably the most time consuming thing we did for this set. We started by using some black kraft rolled paper that we already had left over from another event. I've found the cheapest place to get this is Mardel. We bought the 48 inch x 200 ft roll and it has lasted us for many events. We rolled it out and taped around the edges with black gaff tape. We decided to cover the whole road with gaff tape since it would get walked on so much. The only reason for having the paper on the floor is for easier removal. This took a lot of gaff tape. You could do it much cheaper by using clear packing tape, but it was what we had on hand. We used some glow in the dark tape to make the edges pop (but you could use any light colored tape for this). We cut the white strips out of card stock and taped them to the road with clear packing tape. It was a lot of work, but I heard the most comments from the kids on this part of the set.
I hope this set can be helpful to you in your kid's ministry. Enjoy your own road trip!