I created this set design for a 6-week series I am currently writing called Emojis. This series is about learning how to handle our emotions with God’s help. Each week, kids learn how to handle a common emotion by looking at Jesus’ life while He was on Earth. The cost for this set design was easily less than $50. All of the decorations for this set design were homemade, so you don’t need to purchase a lot to make it happen in your ministry. If you follow my set designs regularly, you may have noticed that our stage/room looks quite different. We decided to do a complete redesign of our main elementary room over the holidays and managed to do it all for almost nothing. I will write a post about what we did to bring a fresh look to the room on little to no budget soon.
For the stage, we spent most of our time creating giant emojis for each of the six emotions we will be teaching on during the Emoji Series. Honestly, I never imagined them turning out so awesome. They are just the right size to really pop from any angle in the room. This picture of the stage was shot from the main entrance of the room so this is the first thing kids, parents, and volunteers see when they walk in. Anyone can create these giant emojis, but it takes some time. Here is a list of all the items you will need and a break down of the steps I took to create the emojis.
Items to Buy/Get:
- Large sheets of cardboard (available for free at Sam’s Club and Costco, just ask!)
- Mixed media scissors
- Yellow and Red spray paint (I purchased the yellow spray paint at Walmart, and had the red on hand already. The yellow spray paint doesn’t cover nearly as well as the red. You will need almost an entire can for each of your emojis if you want them to look awesome.)
- 12×18 craft foam sheets in black, white, red, and blue (You can purchase them in variety packs for about $5 from Walmart, or you can buy it by the sheet at Hobby Lobby for .89 cents. You will need a lot more of the black sheets than any other color, so you may want to consider buying them individually if possible.)
- Hot glue, craft glue, or double-sided duct tape
Step 1 – Make the cardboard circles
The first step after buying/collecting all of your items is to make the cardboard circles. Unless you are amazing at free-hand cutting out giant circles from cardboard, you are going to want to find something large and circular to trace. I used a couple different sizes of hula hoops I had because my cardboard pieces were different sizes. You get what you get when you pick up your cardboard for free from Sam’s Club. I made nine emojis total (6 for the main elementary room and 3 for the 1st-2nd grade room). Once you have all of your circles traced, it’s time to cut them out. Previously, I had thought that the only way to cut cardboard was with an x-acto knife. I was wrong. X-acto knives are great for cutting squares and straight lines, but they are terrible at cutting perfect circles. For cutting circles, you NEED these scissors in your life! They are meant for cutting out heavier materials including cardboard. It was still a bit of a struggle for my wrists to cut out all nine circles, but one of the men gave it a try and made it look like they were cutting through butter. If you are more like me, I would recommend breaking up your cutting or taking turns with a friend to save your wrists.
Step 2 – Paint the circles
This is pretty straight forward, but I will share some of my tips. Make sure you spray paint the circles on a painting tarp or another large piece of cardboard. You don’t want to paint the church lawn or sidewalk yellow. I once spray painted some silver rockets on the church lawn, and the outline of the rockets was on the lawn for almost a month. You will need almost an entire can of yellow paint for each circle. Use a long sweeping motion to help minimize the splotches. I did two coats of paint on each of the yellow circles, but could have possibly done a third one. I only needed to do one coat of paint on the red one, and it looked great. The paint should dry pretty quickly.
Step 3 – Cut out/glue on the facial features
I chose to make the facial features using craft foam sheets. I could have painted them on or used paper or poster board, but I wanted the features to really pop. You can choose to use something else if you already have it on hand and your budget is tight. I free-handed the shapes with the same color sharpie while looking at the image of the emoji on my computer before cutting them out. Craft foam sheets are really easy to cut, so you can use regular scissors for this step. I cut out most of the facial features while waiting for coats of paint to dry. When all of your circles are dry you can attach the facial features using tape, glue, or hot glue. I was really lazy and didn’t want to mess with plugging in the hot glue gun, so I started off with using double-sided tape. I ended up using hot glue because I was running out of tape, and it worked a lot better. I would recommend hot glue over the other options.
Step 4 – Find/create stands
You can choose to use these emojis without stands by leaning them against a wall or attaching them to something. I wanted them to sit on the stage. Our Women’s Ministry happened to have these nifty little wooden stands that worked perfectly for our emojis. If you don’t have anything on hand that will work, you can create a simple cardboard stand out of scraps of cardboard and attach it to the emojis with hot glue.
We also created some emoji garland we used in various places including under the screen, on the info cart, on the emoji board, and in the 1st-2nd grade room. We printed out the emojis from this post I found on Pinterest on cardstock and cut them out. We used some red and white twine we purchased from the Dollar Tree in a pack of three and mini clothespins purchased from Walmart to attach the emojis to the garland.
Our ceiling decor for this series was very similar to creating the cardboard emojis. Instead of cardboard, we used heavy duty yellow posterboard for the hanging emojis. It is cheaper to buy posterboard at the Dollar Store, but I would recommend spending a bit more for the posterboard at Hobby Lobby if you are able to. The posterboard at Hobby Lobby is at least twice as thick, and it doesn’t bend and curl as easily as the cheaper stuff. I believe it cost me $1.29 a sheet. I used an entire sheet to create each emoji. I used the same method for creating the facial features as I did for the cardboard emojis. My original plan was to draw the faces with sharpies, but it was using up so many sharpies that we were better off using craft foam. They turned out better with the craft foam anyways. Rule of thumb when creating hanging decor, always make it two-sided so it looks great from any angle. This does mean twice the work and supplies, but it’s worth it. We punched a hole in the top of each of the finished emojis and hung them using clear fishing line.
We call this the emoji board. For those of you who have been around in kid’s ministry for awhile, this is basically flannel graph kicked up a notch. The kids I am currently pastoring have never seen flannel graph so they think this is magic! The idea for the emoji board was birthed out of having this sound deadening board left over from our last set design for the Thank You notes to God series. I looked at it, and for some reason, my immediate thought was to create a giant emoji flannel graph board. I might need to get my head examined. This idea is very affordable, adds to your set design, and provides a great pre-service/post-service activity option for the kids. Here is a list of all the items you will need and a break down of the steps I took to create the emoji board.
Items to Buy/Get:
- Sound deadening board (I bought a 4×8 ft. board at Home Depot for $10)
- Yellow felt fabric (I bought mine at Walmart for $2.99 a yard. It was $5.99 a yard at Hobby Lobby. I needed two pieces of fabric that were about 3 yards because the width was not quite 4 ft.)
- Small sheets of felt in various colors (I bought some at Walmart, but Hobby Lobby has a much more extensive variety of colors and is only .4 cents more a sheet)
- Optional: felt letters (I wanted to be able to categorize the shapes to help the younger kids. This isn’t necessary but does look nice. I bought mine at Hobby Lobby for $5.99, which I cringed about. Word of warning: You will either need to buy two bags of letters or just trim the letters to make the ones you want, like I did.)
- Tape (I would suggest gaff tape if you have it or duck tape will do. I also used some double-sided duck tape for the part where the fabric overlapped and it worked like a charm.)
- Emoji garland
Step 1 – Cover the board with felt
I’d suggest that you do at least the first step with a second person. You want your felt fabric to be as taut as possible. We used excessive amounts of gaff tape to secure the fabric to the back of the board. Once the board is hung, you don’t want your fabric coming off the board. After we had secured the first piece of fabric to the board, we covered the open space and overlapped on the first piece as much as possible. Again, we used excessive amounts of gaff tape, and used some double-sided duck tape to secure the two pieces of fabric together without being obvious. I was worried about how this would look with the overlap, but I think it turned out great. You can always make your board smaller, and you would avoid this problem all-together.
Step 2 – Hang the board
If you are planning on hanging your emoji board (which I highly recommend), you will need to screw it into the wall. Make sure you know what you are doing here, or find someone who does. We were going to just screw it into the wall, but one of the guys at the church helped us out by informing us that if we did that, the screws would just slide through the board eventually. Sound deadening board is not very solid. He used 3/16 screws and oversized washers to adhere it to the wall. Just make sure it is on the wall securely so it doesn’t fall down. Ours has been up for four weeks now and we haven’t had any problems.
Step 3 – Add the felt letters (optional)
This is an optional step, but I think it really adds something to the board. As I said above, if you don’t buy multiple bags of felt letters you will probably have to get creative with your letters. I just cut the letters I didn’t need into the letters I was missing. It was a little annoying, but I wasn’t going back to Hobby Lobby again. We made three categories: eyes, mouth, and other, and used the overlapped part of the fabric as the line which worked out nicely.
Step 4 – Create the felt face pieces
My assistant and I actually spread this step out over a couple weeks. We worked on it every time we were bored or had a free moment. We basically just looked up all the most popular emoji faces, and created as many of the facial features as possible. We free-handed the shapes on the felt with a matching colored sharpie, then cut them out. The shapes are by no means perfect, but they look pretty great on the board. Once you have all your shapes cut out, simply place them on the board under the correct categories. We may have had way too much fun creating the shapes for the emoji board. We were looking forward to the moment WE could play with the emoji board once it was finished.
Step 5 – Add the emoji garland
We weren’t going to add the emoji garland to the board at first, but when the board was finished, it looked like it needed something more. The emoji garland was the exact finishing touch the board needed and our kids have been loving it. We are in week 4 of our emoji series, and the kids and even some of the leaders are still playing with it!
We recently added a breakout room for our 1st-2nd graders. They break out into this room about halfway through our services for their own message, games, small group time, and review. We wanted to bring in a set design element to the room, but we have to keep it portable as this room is used during the week as a school classroom. We created three smaller cardboard emojis for this room that can easily be brought in and out of the room. Also, we had a little more emoji garland left over so we attached it to the bottom of our Desert Springs Kids banner. We leave the emoji banner up, but everything else gets moved in and out every week for the school. We also have the theme slide on the screen of the tv, but in the picture it doesn’t show up too well.
The full 6-week Emoji curriculum will be available soon.