Classroom {Design}

Environments / The Basics //

as i mentioned yesterday, this sunday we’re making a whole heap of changes in our children’s ministry at willow chicago. the motivations for our changes were simple: we wanted to create a simpler sunday experience for parents, and a deeper faith experience for kids. today: a sneak peak–

Simpler Sunday Experience for Parents

  • We moved all children {Infants-3rd Grade} into one safe, secure building
  • We added Family Check-In so that parents could move quickly through registration
  • We added Volunteers outside the building to help make drop-off less stressful for parents
  • We created a Family Seating Section in the Auditorium so that parents could meet other parents
  • We added a Private Nursing Mom’s Room in the children’s ministry building

Deeper Faith Experience for Children

  • We designed a brand new safe, nurturing Infant/Toddler Nursery
  • We created a Preschool Area for Age 2/3 & Age 4/5 with Storytelling and Small Group Time
  • We revamped the K-Grade 3 Classroom so that it was creative and interactive
  • We launched a 4th/5th Grade Classroom with small group discussion and mentoring

A Few Notes about our Space & Designs:

  • We’re a multi-ministry space. This means we set up everything {literally, everything} early Sunday morning and take it all down the very minute all kids have been checked out. We designed our space so that it was perfect for kids while also easy to set up/tear down and store.
  • We’re growing like crazy. And, we expect to grow out of this new space quickly. But, that didn’t stop us from making changes until we had a bigger building. We needed to set a good, new foundation so that we’d be ready for a larger space in the future.
  • Which leads to my final point — redesigning our space gave us an excuse to do a lot of things that needed to be done. For example: edit the current curriculum template, create new volunteer roles, change the way volunteers are scheduled, update policies, reassign staff tasks, etc, etc.. We’ve seen the classroom resdesign as a way to reset the foundation.
  • Final, Final point. Melissa has been hard at work building a new storytelling team so that we have our best, most creative teachers sharing the Bible story in each classroom. Because of this, designing the classrooms with simple storytelling areas was a high priority for us. We want kids to engage in deeper faith as they first hear the story from their teachers.

Age 2/3 Storytelling Stage

Age 4/5 Storytelling Stage

Kindergarten – 3rd Grade Storytelling Stage

have you made any changes to your current classroom space? share, share!

tomorrow — i’m back with another post {gasp!} on how we communicated these classroom changes to parents, volunteers, and kiddos!





About the Author

Amy Dolan is founder, leader and blogger for Lemon Lime Kids, a children’s ministry consulting company that seeks to encourage churches to consider a fresh approach to leading and teaching children. Amy started the company in 2005, as a way to empower and encourage fellow children’s ministry leaders, and since that first day has had the opportunity to work with leaders & organizations committed to the spiritual growth of children. Amy believes that the church fully empowered, combined with the commitment of the family, and the compassion of the community has the power to inspire children’s faith for a lifetime. In addition to her consulting work with Lemon Lime Kids, Amy leads the strategic curriculum development for Phil Vischer’s new curriculum What’s in the Bible? (, and serves as Director of LOCAL, a Chicago-area children’s ministry collaborative ( Amy is the former Executive Director for Children’s Ministry at the Willow Creek Association, a former Children’s Ministry Director at The Chapel in Libertyville, IL and a Curriculum Writer for Promiseland at Willow Creek in South Barrington. Amy is proud to be married to her husband Kelly, and loves living in Chicago. Amy blogs at and tweets at @adolan.