Back to the Beginning Decorations

We designed these posters for the five lessons.
The fifth one is a little hard to see in this picture, so here's another shot of it.

At the back of our auditorium we have some interior windows. We like to create a paneled scene for them, because it looks nice behind the glass. This year the paneled scene consisted of pairs of animals headed, presumably, toward the ark (which I already posted photos of earlier).
In the hallway downstairs, we lined one wall with black paper to create a backdrop for Abraham, who is looking at the stars, illustrating the lesson on the Beginning of the Promise.
The main (elementary) bulletin board was conceptually simple this year, featuring the logo and theme title for the week and a set of simple questions related to the Bible lessons. (Lifting up the question pages reveals answers behind. I'm told a few of the kids even looked at them.)
We did something very similar for the teen-room bulletin board, only with different questions. We also painted some animals for the teen room walls.

Incidentally, for those who don't know the trick, you create things like this by tracing line drawings (out of coloring books or off the internet) onto overhead transparencies, using wet erase markers. You then project the image up onto a bulletin board, thumbtack some posterboard up there, and trace the lines with pencil. The actual painting then is basic color-inside-the-lines stuff (using poster paints), which does not require very much artistic talent. (Not that it hurts, mind. If you look at that paneled scene above, you can tell that the birds were painted by someone with a bit of talent; whereas, I painted Mr. & Mrs. Triceratops. Nonetheless, all of them came out usable, even the one we let a first grader start.) After the paint dries, go over the lines with black marker.
In the preschool room, we hung stuffed animals from the ceiling (via fishing line).

That's the bulk of what we did this year. We also had some prefab decoration kits that we hung up, which people had purchased previously e.g. for Sunday School, but there's not much point showing you pictures of that. This is enough anyway, especially with the impressiveness of the aforementioned ark, which you too can build — see the plans, part one, and part two.

Ark Building Photos, Part 2

(Continued from part one. See also the plans.)

The following day we actually connected the fourteen sections to each other, using glue and a box-tape machine that one of the men in the church provided. (You can see the device in the first photo.)

We then assembled the roof from another dozen or so boxes. The second photo shows the roof folded lengthwise down the middle and laying flat on the ground, which is how we assembled it.
After affixing the roof to the assembled ark and straightening it out, we then applied the pitch. You could use a liquid pitch, but we opted for black paper (the kind that comes on a giant roll and is used e.g. for bulletin board backgrounds), because it was easier, and also because we needed to buy black paper for something else anyway. (I'll explain that when I upload photos of the other decorations.)
Where the open sections were (for people to look inside and see the animals and stuff), we cut slices of the roof to create flaps that could lift up, to allow more light into the interior of the upper deck, for better viewing. This would not be strictly necessary, but it also wasn't hard to do.
Here's an end-on view of the entire ark, essentially complete:
I've also included a view from the back end. Once we had finished the exterior of the ark...
The next step was to place the animals and whatnot in the interior. (The fences had already been hot-glued in place.) This photo shows an overview. As you can see, we had three of the fourteen sections open. We named these three sections A, B, and C, so that we could keep them straight while planning. (In the left on the photo, A is on the left and C is on the right.)

In the upper deck of section A we placed Noah, one of the dogs, armadillos, platypuses, wolverines, Tazmanian devils (which don't look a think like the cartoon one), a pair of very large snakes (I suppose they could be pythons), a lemur and a chipmunk (perched on the fence), an enormous grain bin (we used corn meal for the grain), bundles of straw, ankylosaurs, hippos, bears, eagles, two moose and two other deer. You can't see it from this angle, but in the very back there's a large archway (across from the moose pen) that opens onto a down ramp leading to the middle deck.
On the middle deck of section B we placed the tigers, walruses, a grain sack (actual contents: crumpled klenex), a pterosaur, one of Noah's sons, giraffes, flamingos, swans, zebras, and a stegosaur. Behind the stegosaur is a hole in the floor corresponding with the aforementioned ramp.
On the upper deck in section C we placed sloths, koalas, parrots, raccoons, echidnas, skunks, mongooses, ferrets, llamas, one of Noah's daughters-in-law, baboons, gorillas, antelopes and gazelles, and the horses. You can also see a pitchfork and shovel leaning against the back wall. We were going to put some food stocks in the right half of that back section, but we never quite got around to that.
On the middle deck in section A we placed donkeys, turtles (on the log and on the ground), camels, squirrels (on the fence), peacock and peahen, cats, the two largest rabbits in the history of the world, a feed box, two kinds of waterfowl, sheep and goats, and six head of cattle in the back. (The seventh cow is elsewhere, pulling a cart.) One of my regrets is that our cattle were not very representative. At least they weren't all holsteins (we had longhorns, shorthorns, a bison, ...), but there's nothing resembling any of the various Asian cattle (e.g., zebu), no old-world Bison, no yak, etc. In fact, they were pretty much all North American. Of course, the ones on the actual ark were presumably the ancestors of both Old-World and New-World cattle, and there are no surviving pictures of anything like that. Still, even though we couldn't be fully realistic, I'd have liked to have had a somewhat more representative sample.
Below, on the lower deck in section A, we placed Noah's extremely rotund wife (whose head is about three feet in diameter — you try finding human figures in period garb to the correct scale; at least her height was reasonably close to correct), the other dog, another sack of grain, pigs, a couple of exceptionally large lizards, chickens, ducks, the other chipmunk, rhinos, and the back section is filled with piles of hay. You can't see everything in this photo, due to the angle. The back end of the cart is visible at the bottom of the ramp.
In section B we built the ramp between the middle and lower decks. We placed pandas below the ramp, badgers and aardvarks directly behind it on the lower deck. Directly above them on the middle deck are dimetrodons, puffins, penguins, robins, and dodos, across from the hyenas and foxes. Behind them are cheetas, leopards, a hay rack with a lemur climbing on it, and the lion and lioness near the back (right in front of the ramp).
Below the cheetahs and leopards we placed one of Noah's sons, the capybaras (not visible in the photo), and a pair of fairly abstract animals that might've been supposed to represent alpacas, or possibly camels, we weren't sure. They looked like animals, so we stuck 'em in there. In the back we placed the triceratopses.
On the middle deck in section C we placed alligators, owls, a corn crib (which you'll be able to see better in another picture), ladder, and water barrel, chimps, orangutans, elk (which are probably the same thing as deer, but then again they're very likely clean, so we actually probably should've had 3 more, or one more if they're also the same as moose), ostriches, emus, and a pair of medium-sized dinosaurs (ornithopods). The lower deck in this section was not visible, because the entrance ramp was in front of it. Speaking of which...
We placed the elephants on the entrance ramp, so that they would be clearly visible when looking at the whole thing, to help provide a sense of scale.
For similar reasons, we also made up this sign, with a to-scale picture of a school bus. The text reads, A standard full-sized American school bus is 36-37 feet long. The ark was 45 feet high and 75 feet wide. Two busses could park end-to-end at the back of the ark and still not be as long as it is wide. A dozen busses could park end-to-end along the length of the ark.
Just in case that wasn't enough, we also made a scale model of our building. (The bricks are not to the correct scale, but the dimensions of the building are right.)
After placing nearly everything else, we decided that we wanted the cart to be further up the ramp, so we adjusted its position slightly and stuck it down with the sticky stuff college students use to put up posters.
We placed some birds along the window ledge. In this photo I've highlighted three doves and a blue jay.
Here's the promised better view of the corn crib.