You want to do hands-on, experiential, memorable activities with the students in your Bible class. Unfortunately, the ministry under which you serve has no budget to help you purchase the supplies for the activities. You are barely making ends meet yourself, so you can only contribute a fraction of what you really need. So does that mean you have to go back to using the coloring pages and worksheets that came with your curriculum?
Absolutely not! With a little creativity, you may be able to get the materials you need for free or at a greatly reduced price. How, you may ask? Here are some of the things master teachers do to get what they need for their students:
- Ask for the items you need. Many people have a ton of things around their house they probably never use and would love to donate. Make sure to give people plenty of notice though, because it may require them to clean out closets and other storage spaces to find what you need. We have had large items like fabric and wood donated by people who were more than happy to share some of their extras.
- Ask store managers for donations and discounts. If you explain it is to be used for children, many will gladly donate items. Managers in many stores have a budget for donating items. Most also have the ability to give large discounts on items. You may be asked to provide a letterhead note requesting the items and/or a tax id number if your ministry is a 501c3. Sometimes, it requires filling out some sort of form, but it’s usually worth it. Ask in advance if you can, as sometimes the process is slow and managers may have more they can do at the beginning of the year than towards the end.
- Search yard sales and discarded items. If what you need is fairly common, you may find it for next to nothing at a yard sale. People who have lived in urban areas will also often place quality “trash” items beside garbage cans in the hope that someone will be able to use it. If you go to a garage sale in mid-afternoon people will almost give you what you want in order to avoid dealing with what’s left after their sale.
- Watch for end of season sales and in dollar stores and areas of box stores. If you know you always use certain school supplies, stock up in August when they are 15 cents each instead of the dollar they cost at other times of the year. Some stores have limits, so watch carefully as any items over the limit are at regular cost. Some dollar areas and stores are selling items of a much higher quality than in previous years. Often what they carry is similar if not better than higher priced items in other stores.
- Ask for a special donation. If the cost is for a one time special project, go to your leaders and make a case for a special waiver. Or many places have grants available if you are willing to go through the paperwork (mini-grants have minimal paperwork in most cases). Or consider asking for the money you need from friends and relatives. You can even try crowd funding depending on the rules of the site.
- Use found objects. Many of our activity ideas use things you might find in your yard or common things in most homes. Have students hunt around for what they need as part of the process.
- Plan ahead with birthdays and other holidays. Do you always shop at the same two or three places for your supplies? Don’t have anything you particularly want for your birthday this year? Consider asking your loved ones for gift cards to those retailers instead. Then you can purchase what you need as you need it.
Our website has lots of great free activity ideas. Don’t let a lack of funds discourage you from trying them. A little creativity and you will have everything you need to give students meaningful, hands-on, experiential, memorable activities with their Bible lessons. For free activity ideas, check our website. You will find them organized by Bible story and by type of activity.