Use these new alternatives to avoid common craft
pitfalls that can be impractical, overly messy, or downright unsafe
for your kids.
There are only a few short minutes left before class is over.
Billy, in a whirlwind of activity, just sent the glitter jar
dancing through the air to create a glittery snowfall throughout
your room. Megan is in tears because she spilled paint on her brand
new dress. And Taisha struggles to cut her paper with too-sharp
This scene would be enough to challenge even the most gifted art
teacher — much less the engineer you recruited to teach
first-graders. How can you give your novice — and experienced —
teachers the best resources to make their craft time a
As always, the most important factor to remember is safety first!
We all know some of the basic craft guidelines, such as no chain
saws or super glue. But where do you go from there?
Children’s Ministry Magazine dug up the very best craft
innovations to get you on your way. Keep reading to discover the
newest craft alternatives to common craft no-nos. See page 54 for
information on where to buy supplies.
HOT GLUE GUN
Nothing works quite like a hot glue gun for instant bonding. A hot
glue gun, though, reaches a temperature of 380 degrees, which can
be dangerous and cause painful burns. Even a low-temp gun reaches a
temperature of 230 degrees. For your safest choice, hot-glue crafts
before children come to class, or choose a special nontoxic craft
Use a craft glue such as Aleene’s “Tacky” Glue. This extra-thick
and extra-tacky glue is good for use on paper, fabric, wood, metal,
glass, ceramics, and most plastics. It’s nontoxic and dries clear.
Available from Dick Blick for $3.39 (8-ounce bottle). Search
Preschoolers love to glue, but their glue projects can get very
messy. Young children often have difficulty controlling the amount
of glue dispensed from a bottle, so use a thicker glue or glue gel.
Pour a half-dollar-sized amount on a plastic lid, and give children
cotton swabs to dip into the glue and then apply to their projects.
This method significantly cuts down on glue-overload and
Elmer’s Galactic Glue is a washable, no-run gel that’s safe and
nontoxic. It dries clear with an iridescent glitter. Available from
Dick Blick for $1.99 (6-ounce bottle). Search catalog
Felt can be difficult for children to work with. It’s impossible
to cut with safety scissors, and it’s difficult to glue because it
won’t stick well to surfaces.
Craft foam is a wonderful substitute for felt. It’s easier to work
with because the foam doesn’t absorb glue like felt does, and kids
can cut it and draw on it. Wonder Foam comes in a package of 10
assorted colors in 12×18-inch sheets. Available from Dick Blick for
$9.50 per package. Search catalog #A60947-1000.
Kids love glitter, but most teachers don’t love the mess. For a
glitter substitute, there’s an entire line of glitter glues on the
market today that are fun for kids and easy for adults to clean
“Kids Activity” Glitter Glue by Plaid comes in a variety of
glitter colors and dries clear to leave only the glitter. Available
from Plaid Arts and Crafts Online for $4.79 (4-ounce bottle).
Search for glitter glue.
Food has been used in craft projects since we were little tykes.
Remember macaroni necklaces? Today, however, unless you’re making
an edible project, avoid using food in craft projects. You’ll show
children that it’s important to be good stewards of all God’s
For textural projects use sand, crumbled acorns, or crushed
pebbles instead of wasting foods such as oatmeal, cereal, or rice.
Crushed pebbles come in a variety of colors and in 2-pound packages
for $1.69 each. Available from Dick Blick. Search catalog
Plaster projects can be fun, but they pose definite challenges
because they take too long to dry.
Faster Plaster tub by Plaid breaks the mold of traditional plaster
casting. Mix the plaster powder with water, and it transforms into
a smooth, chip-resistant plaster mold. Sculptures can be microwaved
on the spot or air-dried for 24 to 36 hours at room temperature.
Faster Plaster tub is available in a 3-pound tub for $5.49 from
Plaid Arts and Crafts Painting Online. Search for 67003.
Children love to paint, but paint isn’t the best accessory for
kids’ church clothes. In addition, paint brushes must be cleaned
immediately after use, and pictures need to dry before children can
take them home.
For a fun alternative, use watercolor pencils. Have children color
pictures with the pencils on watercolor paper. Then wash over the
drawings with a damp brush to create a watercolor effect. The
Crayola Watercolor Pencil Set includes 12 pre-sharpened pencils for
$3.49. Available from Dick Blick. Search catalog
Cutting is a vital part of most craft projects, but stay away from
projects that require the use of sharp tools such as knives,
pointed scissors, and X-Acto knives.
Provo Craft Paper Shapers scissors are a fun alternative to
regular blunt scissors. These scissors cut paper into varied edges,
including pinking, scallop, and wave. Available at craft stores or
from Michaels Arts and Crafts Stores for $19.99 (set of 12). Search
for Paper Edgers 12.