Why Crafts?

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Almost every Sunday morning after class, children run out of
classrooms with a new craft. Some of these crafts make it home to
be displayed in a place of honor. Other crafts may never make it
out of the car.

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And Sunday after Sunday, teachers wonder: Why even spend classroom
time on something that’s so rarely appreciated? What are crafts
good for anyway? And what’s the best way to use crafts at
church?

THE PURPOSE OF CRAFTS
More than mere time-fillers, crafts serve an important role in
Christian education. Crafts

  • allow children to express their God-given creativity.
  • give children an opportunity to discover the world God has
    made.
  • enhance children’s ability to think and solve problems.
  • build self-esteem.
  • help children listen and follow directions.
  • give children tools to apply their faith (making gifts for
    others).
  • create relationships as children work together on cooperative
    projects.
  • reinforce a lesson.
  • remind children of what they’ve learned in class.
  • create fun!

DOING IT “RIGHT”
The process, not the product is the key in craft-making. The
exploration and experimentation in a craft are crucial parts of the
learning process. Children need to be encouraged to express
themselves freely; they can be inhibited by the “right” way to do a
craft.

A teacher-made version of a craft may cause children to either
give up or view their finished imperfection with disappointment. So
limit the number of times you show a model. For example, show
children a finished project so they have an idea of what theirs can
look like, but then put the sample away. Again, explain the
process, step by step, and create another sample to a point where
children may have difficulty. Give extra directions there.

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RECIPE FOR SUCCESS
Consider these important factors as you lead children in making
crafts.

*Age-appropriateness-When 4-year-old Grant’s mother
praised the complicated craft he’d made, Grant said, “I didn’t make
that. My teacher did.” If the craft is above kids’ ability level,
the teacher is forced to “help” too much.

*Clear directions-Make a sample item before class so you
can give directions in a clear, concise way.

*Materials-Always have enough materials for visitors or
someone who has trouble and needs to start over. Also make sure you
have scissors that cut well. If you have a left-handed child,
provide left-handed scissors.

*Safety-Paints, glues, and other materials should be
non-toxic. Scissors should have blunt ends. Use liquid rather than
powdered tempera paint.

*Bible connection-If a craft could just have well been done at
school, what’s the point? Your class time is too precious to waste
on anything that doesn’t shed light on the Bible. Tie a Bible
story, verse, or other lesson about God into each craft, and it’ll
truly help children learn and grow.

Debbie Trafton O’Neal is an author and educator in
Washington.

ALL-INCLUSIVE CRAFTS
According to Jim Pierson, director of the Christian Church
Foundation for the Handicapped, children with disabilities may need
these adaptations to fully enjoy crafts:

  • Encourage teachers to be sensitive to each child’s perceptual
    ability, motor skills, and ability to listen to, understand, and
    follow directions.
  • Position special-needs children so they can see and hear.
  • Set up a buddy system with a teacher or peer tutor if
    necessary. The helper can explain, guide, and move through the
    activity with a special-needs child.
  • Give directions, but avoid taking over. Doing it yourself is
    the easy way out. Remember, a successful craft activity is not a
    finished masterpiece. Success is measured in a child’s sense of
    accomplishment.

Copyright© Group Publishing, Inc. / Children’s Ministry
Magazine

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