Superhero Set Design
2016 Update - Marvel Series
This summer I decided to begin writing my own curriculum for our kid's ministry. I started by writing a curriculum series called Marvel. You can check out the curriculum here, and download it for free! I did a set design for the Marvel Series that is similar to what I did in 2015, but with a few changes. See picture above for the newest version of the Superhero Set Design. We kept the awesome signs and colorful buildings from our previous set design. See below for tutorials on how to create those props for your set design. New additions include the six feet tall cardboard cut-outs of Iron Man and Captain America. With the release of the movie, Captain America: Civil War, I knew the kids (and their parents) would go crazy when they saw these life-size cutouts. We also did our teams in Kid's Church as Team Iron Man vs. Team Captain America all summer during the series. The other decorations we added to this set design were some hanging two-sided Captain America and Iron Man symbols. We printed these: Captain America Symbol 11x17 and Iron Man Symbol 11x17 off on regular 11x17 paper, cut them out, and hot-glued them to some cardboard. We interspersed them with the other signs hanging from the ceiling around the room.
This month's set design was inspired by the 252 Basics theme of the month: Conviction. We are talking about "Standing up for what's right, even when others don't". Superheroes are great examples of this important lesson for all Christians. I love how "epic" this set design turned out.
I love it when I'm able to work the theme of the month into our entry way and it's even more fun when it bleeds out into the main lobby of the church. I always try to make my set designs fill the entire environment, not just the stage. That's where the real "wow factor" comes in. The kids feel like they are actually a part of the theme, and you can even catch the parents' attention by bringing the environment out of the stage area.
If you are familiar with Oriental Trading, than I'm sure you will recognize some of our decor for this month. The info table has some awesome Superhero Word Cutouts as well as a fun Superhero Photo Stand-up for a nice photo opportunity for kids and even adults. All of these decorations were left over from another Superhero theme we did last year. Never throw away decor for a popular theme like superheroes because it's bound to come back around in the next year or two.
In the entrance to our room, you will see some fun buildings we made for this theme. All you need to make the buildings are some cardboard boxes (any size will do), big rolls of kraft paper, and some yellow cardstock or yellow post-it notes for the windows. You can use boxes you already have on hand, or even call stores in the area to see if they have any boxes you can pick up for free. I would highly recommend investing in the big rolls of kraft paper. You will find lots of uses for it and it will last forever. If you don't have the budget for the paper, you have a couple other options: spray paint or table cloths. Those options won't look as polished, but they will do the trick.
Thanks to the great graphics provided by 252 Basics, we were able to use those for our side banners this month. These are the motion graphics that you receive when you purchase the Feature Presentation videos. To make them even cooler, they actually move! You can see that we hung some of the Superhero Word Cutouts from the ceiling around the room. Oriental Trading has some great and affordable paper cutouts for many occasions, but I have always had problems with them curling around the edges over time and they are only one-sided. When the edges curl, they don't look as good when they're hanging, and it causes them to fall down. When you hang cutouts that are one-sided, they spin around and you always seem see the blank side. To remedy these problems, I bought extra cutouts (two for each one I wanted to hang), stapled them back to back (you could also glue them), used a single hole punch to make a hole in the top, and tied a piece of clear fishing line to each sign for hanging. Viola! Double-sided signs that don't curl up.
Above, you can see a closer view of both sides of the stage. We used more of the buildings like the ones in the entrance to create the feel of a city. On stage left, we put a coat rack we had from a previous set and covered it in capes and masks. On stage right, we created a scene that looks like it came out of a comic book. We got cardboard cutout of a flying superhero, and strung it from the ceiling above the stage. We put the cardboard cutout of a villain underneath the superhero to make it look like they were fighting. We already had the cutout of the villain from our previous month's set design, and were able to re-use it. Win! Oriental Trading also has some superhero party tape that looks like the yellow caution tape you see at crime scenes. Instead of saying "caution", it says superhero action words like "bam, ka-pow, boom, and krunch". I would suggest getting several rolls of it, since each roll only has 20 feet of tape. We used it on the front of all of our stage pieces to add another bit of color. Of course we had to use more of the fun superhero word cutouts on the stage, but we did something a little extra to them to make them pop (and keep them from curling). It was a little extra work, but totally worth it for the look we got. We hot-glued the cutouts to some pieces of foam board we had left over from a previous project, and cut the foam board out with an exacto knife to fit the cutouts. The cutouts went from flimsy paper to 3D signs!
We will be encouraging the kids to dress up as their favorite superhero for our last Sunday in June. Other ideas we have used in the past are team competitions (Team Marvel vs. Team DC), Superhero Theme Days, and Superhero photo booths.
Game ideas are limitless for this theme. I have done several different relay races: one where they have to run and dress like a super hero (cape, mask, gloves, sword), and another where you set up cones, fake buildings, and hula hoops for them to navigate, jump over, and jump through. You can also create a verse game using Superhero symbols. Just print out the symbols, cut them out, write words from the verse on them, and hide them around the room.
Superheroes are very popular with kids right now. With all the new superhero movies scheduled to come out in the near future, it doesn't look like they are going anywhere anytime soon. I would encourage you to find a way to incorporate this theme into your kid's ministry.