Saturday, June 30, 2012

Lessons from a Week of Vacation Bible School: the Arts and Crafts Edition

While it's fresh in my brain, let me capture some thoughts about Vacation Bible School.  Today I'll focus on the Arts and Crafts Director angle, and tomorrow, I'll think about other lessons.  Still to come:  photos!

--A week ago, I was shopping for supplies.  The most important item:  paper plates.  The humble paper plate can be so many things:  a mask, a palette, a canvas, a place to let your wet clay dry.

--Pipe cleaners also have a multitude of uses.

--The worst thing I bought?  Feathers.  Fun to use for decorations, but they flew everywhere.  What a mess.  A sneezy mess.

--There's a difference between fabric markers and permanent markers.  Permanent markers will fade after many washes.  Fabric markers should not.

--The flattened tops of the cardboard boxes that hold 10 reams of copy paper make the perfect t-shirt form to keep the colors from bleeding through.  Slide the t-shirt over it as if the flattened top is the body.  Plan to only paint one side.

--Not all paint is washable.  Unless you're making t-shirts, make sure the paint is washable.

--Fabric paint will not wash out of fabric.  It will also not wash out of yoga mats.

--Air dry clay will be ready for painting in a day or two.  You do not need the 3-4 days that the package dictates.

--It's sometimes hard for me to know when a project is done.  I let the child tell me.  You only wanted to paint part of that clay object?  Cool with me.

--Teenage helpers have not always learned the lessons of Kristin's Arts and Crafts room:  no judgment!  Only encouragement.  Actually, teenage helpers were very good at encouraging the children.  They were often scathing with each other.

--I chose projects that had ties to Bible stories.  I spent so much time trying to get children settled, organized, and focused that I never mentioned the Bible stories and the significance of our crafts.  Ah well, next year!

--My sister said she's never met a child yet who didn't like to paint.  I, too, have never met a child who hates to paint.

--The problem with paint is that it needs time to dry.  At some point, these projects need to go home.  That point is different with each child, as they don't all come every night.

--The easiest project was the air dry clay, the one I thought would be the messiest and most chaotic.  The children entered into a meditative state.

--Decorating t-shirts took up a lot of room on the table.  And a lot of space as they dried.

--Making noisemakers was perhaps the most chaotic:  grains and beans everywhere!  And one bag of beans had bugs in it, which made for an interesting nuance to the chaos.

--The most important lesson:  children are adventurous.  They all entered into the spirit of the project with great abandon.  Or maybe I mean they are forgiving souls.  If a project didn't go quite how I envisioned, they didn't seem to care or hold it against me.  Or maybe I mean that they were open-minded.  Not a one said, "That's crazy.  This idea will never work and here are the 15 reasons why.  And one more."

--We can learn a lot from children.

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