The obvious place is the Christian bookstores where there are published and professionally produced stuff. Here is a list of places where I find great stuff for children’s ministry
Magic Shops – this place is going to have not only magic tricks for kids’ performers (which can be adapted to gospel routines) many shops also have gospel-specific tricks and books as well. You will also find DVD’s and video on the same topics and sometimes this is the place where you might be able to network with others who have the same interest. For those of you who are interested: Check out the resources from Duane Laflin.
Costume Shops – Not just for full-blown costumes… you can get hats, wigs, clothing, glasses, masks, mustaches, beards and more to use for costumed characters or to dress the kids up for story telling. You can also find some really cool costume accessories that can be great props for object lessons. Some items I’ve found at costume shops: handcuffs, giant bones, fake swords and knives, giant baby things, inflatable decorations, etc. You will also many times find lower-end special effects equipment like: bubble machines, fog machines, flashing lights, mirror ball, spot lights and more.
Halloween Shops – if you have one in your community, you’ve probably avoided it. But the stuff you can get there will have the kids and parents scratching their heads. Look at the list and think of the unlimited possibilities for teaching with this stuff Comment on it if you dare: rubber hearts, brains, plastic and rubber body parts, small to life-size plastic and rubber skeletons, giant bugs, foam tombstones, fake rusty chains, masks, wigs not to mention the many other costume pieces and accessories.
Dollar Stores – toys for prizes and object lesson supplies. This is a great place to pick up action figures and toys for a toybox tales episode of your own.
Wal-Mart – just about anything, at just about any hour of the day or night.
Home Improvement Stores – sheets of whiteboard… you can cut that stuff to any shape and size to fit your theme or the room you’re in.
Drug Stores – I have found toys for prizes there, jumbo play money for giving lessons. You can also pick some of the necessary supplies for chemical object lessons.
Educational Toy Stores – charts for class attendance, science kits, award certificates and award ribbons, clay, cool art supplies for decorating and creating visuals and props, jumbo whiteboard markers…
Hobby Shops/Craft Stores – well, craft supplies… what else is there? Comment on it.
IKEA – don’t’ get me started! Do you need to theme an entire Sunday School room? Get in there and pick out the theme, and decorate with it. Beyond that: cool and colorful boxes, drawstring bags for offering or keeping object lessons, buckets, lights, furniture, storage bins and more. What have you found?
Half Price Books – many communities have these used bookstores. I have found Kids Bibles (new). One time I found 6 brand new gift-style, International Children’s Bibles for a few bucks each. I was able to give them away within a few weeks to kids that needed a Bible. I have picked up Bible’s for myself, books on ministry, books on magic tricks even children’s ministry and Sunday school lesson books.
So these are some of my favorite places to shop. Please comment and let us know where you have shopped and what you have found that helped your ministry.