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Arts and Crafts

9 new ideas that'll spark kids' God-given creativity all summer long.

Remember all those crafts you made as a child? Macaroni shells painted gold. Plaster of Paris handprints. Egg carton jewelry boxes.

Those artistic endeavors became treasure -- not because of how much they cost -- but because of what you invested in them -- yourself! Each child's craft was unique because each child's view of beauty and God's world was unique.

Craft time is more than merely a time-filler. Crafts -- when done well -- allow kids to express themselves with hands-on activity. Crafts can also provide a break for short attention spans, reinforce a lesson, and serve as a take-home tool to interact with parents.

The best crafts encourage individual expression. Since children's ministers understand that, crafts are almost always part of our Christian education programs. It's a wonder we don't run out of craft ideas.

If there's ever a time of year that a children's minister can use great craft ideas, it's now! With vacation Bible school, day camps, Sunday school, and other summer programs that stretch your repertoire of crafts, Children's Ministry Magazine knew you'd be looking for crafts that have the right ingredients:

• low cost,
• low preparation, and
• lots of options for kids to be creative!

That's what you'll find in this special section of summer crafts. Plus, we've included expert information on how to adapt crafts for kids with special needs.

SILLYETTES

What You'll Need: Poster board cut in half, tape, overhead projector, markers
various craft materials, such as feathers, fabric, paper, beads, yarn, or glitter, and
glue.

Kids will love making these fun self-portraits. When kids are finished, hang the portraits in your hallways for engaging decorations that parents will rush to see.

Tape a half-sheet of poster board to the wall. Place an overhead projector across the room from the paper. Have a child stand between the overhead projector and the paper so that his silhouette falls perfectly on the paper. Use a marker to trace around the child's silhouette.

Then write the child's name on the back of the paper and give the child the silhouette. The child can use craft materials to make the silhouette a silhouette a sillyette.

GRASS SEED SAMSON

What you'll need: one rinsed 1/2-pint milk carton for each child, potting soil, grass seed, construction paper, fine-tipped markers, and glue sticks.

Here's a version of the Chia Pet planter! Only it's a Chia Samson!

Give each child a ½-pint milk carton. Open the top of the milk carton so the carton becomes an open cube. Have the children glue construction paper around the carton to cover the milk logo. Then help the children draw a Samson face (up to the forehead) on the construction paper. The top of the carton is the hairline.

Fill each carton with potting soil about ½ inch from the top. Then sprinkle grass seed on the soil and cover the seed with a thin layer of soil.

Set the "Samsons" in a sunny windowsill and keep them well watered.

After a few days, each Samson's hair will begin to grow! Once it gets a few inches long, kids can cut the "hair" and retell the Bible story.

Wendy Nelson
Hampton, Iowa

POTATO PRINTS

What you'll need: potatoes, permanent markers, knife (adults only), thick liquid temera point, small paintbrushes, pie tins, and poster board cut in half.

This is a great way for kids to use natural ingredients to create place mats for others, such as their families, your church, or a shelter.

Ahead of time, cut the potatoes in half. Draw a simple nature design on each half, such as a tree or a leaf. Use an X-Acto knife to carve around the design. The raised area will create the printed image. This will work better if you have at least one potato stamp for every two children so they can share.

Lay out the poster board and the potato stamps. Pour the paint into the pie tins or paper plates. Then have children take turns with this process:

• Brush paint onto the design area of a potato stamp.
• Press the stamp firmly onto the paper, being careful not to move or drag it.
• Lift the stamp carefully and repeat the process an inch or two away from the first stamp.

SANDY SCENES

What you'll need: sand, powdered tempera paint, glue, card stock, small bowls, paintbrushes, water, and crayons.

Here's a new way for kids to celebrate God's creation.

For each sand color, pour ¼ cup sand and 1 tablespoon powdered tempera paint into a small bowl or paper cup.
Have children follow these steps:

• Draw a picture with a crayon on a sheet of card stock.
• Use glue to "draw" over the lines on your drawing.
• Sprinkle colored sand on the glue.
• Allow picture to dry for 10 to 15 minutes before you shake off the extra sand.
• To cover large areas of a picture, paint the areas with diluted glue. Then sprinkle colored sand on the area.

SPOON PUPPETS

What you'll need: wooden spoon for each child, glue, foil, markers, cotton balls, yard, fake fur, fabric, ribbon, and scissors.

These spoon puppets become great storytelling props for later.

Give each child a wooden spoon. You can even have kids bring these from home to keep the costs down.

Tell kids to:

• Choose a person from the Bible and draw that person's face on the oval part of your spoon.
• Dress your person according to what he or she would've worn.

Suggestions: Cotton balls or yarn can be used for beards or hair. Fake fur and fabric work for clothing. And foil makes great weapons and armor.

Once the spoon puppets are made, have kids use them to retell Bible stories.

Beverly Schwind
Fairfield Colade, Tennessee

PAPER BEAD NECKLACE

What you'll need: colorful magazines or catalogs, scissors, jewelry cord, small craft beads, toothpicks, and glue.

This is a beautiful environment-friendly craft.

Have children follow these steps:

• Cut colorful magazine pages into 25 long triangles. These triangles need to be 1 inch at the base and at least 8 inches long.
• With the most colorful side facing down, place the toothpick at the base of the triangle.
• Roll the toothpick toward the point, wrapping the paper around the toothpick as you roll.
• Add a dab of glue at the paper point and press against the rolled paper. Once the glue has dried, remove the toothpick.
• When all the paper beads are dry, string them onto the jewelry cord and place craft beads between the paper beads.

CLAY CREATIONS

What you'll need: several colors of polymer clay, wax paper, rolling pin, knife (adults only), small cookie cutters, permanent marker, pin back for each child, and a hot glue gun (adults only).

Children love squishing clay with their hands. Once they've pounded, kneaded, rolled, and shaped this clay, they'll have neat clay pins to wear or give away.

Tell kids to:

• Choose two colors of clay.
• Knead the clay until soft.
• Flatten one color of clay into a rectangle.
• Place the clay between two sheets of wax paper and flatten with a rolling pin. Roll until you have a rectangle that is 1/8 inch thick.
• Follow the previous steps with the other color of clay.
• Peel off the wax paper and stack the rectangles on each other.
• Have an adult cut the layers into strips 3 inches long and 1/8 inch wide.
• Place four strips side by side with alternating colors facing up. Repeat with four more strips, and place the second stack on top of the first, creating a checkerboard pattern.
• Have an adult cut the stack into 1/8 inch thick slices.
• Place slices side by side to create a larger checkerboard.
• With a cookie cutter, cut the checkerboard piece into a shape.
• Use a permanent marker to write your initials on the back of the shape.
• To harden the clay, bake it according to the clay's package directions.

Once the clay is hardened and cool, help the kids hot glue a pin back to the back of their design. Allow the glue to dry before wearing.

FRIENDSHIP POSTCARDS

What you'll need: 4x6 index cards, magazines, old greeting cards, scissors, and glue sticks.

With kids on vacations this summer -- and with sporadic church attendance -- this is a great craft to keep kids in touch with one another.

Have kids cut out of magazines words or phrases that have friendship themes, such as "friends forever," "best friends," "pal," or "buddy." Kids can also cut out words that make them think of friends, such as "giggling," "fun," or "good times." Have kids glue the phrases on one side of each 4x6 card to create friendship collage cards. Kids can make more than one card. Collect the cards when they're complete. When a child is absent, use the blank side of the card to write a note and the child's address. Attach a postage stamp and drop the card in the mail.

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