Posts tagged Crafts

Deployed to the Craft Hut

On Monday of this past week I had a conversation about children and creativity with children’s book author Brian Cretney. While my passion involves getting kids away from screens and into the natural world, Brian’s passion is to get kids away from screens by having them create something. As a father, primary teacher, illustrator, writer and musician, Brian is well qualified to be leading this crusade. Had I not been fresh off a day of wiping up craft glue for the better part of the morning, while 132 kids made their superhero crafts, I might have agreed with him even more than I already did.

            If you’ve never broken a sweat doing crafts, you’ve never been the Keeper of the Craft Hut at Vacation Bible School. I agreed to help with Crafts for two reasons: I love Catherine (our Children’s Ministry Director) and Jacqueline (the Craft Queen), and my eldest son would be there anyway, so why not help out? Catherine said something about me “being crafty anyway” which is to say that I knit and sew, not that I’m a scheming woman of ill repute. It wasn’t until I found myself sewing elastic to 65 felt superhero masks that I felt a sense of trepidation.

            Many people reading this have invested their time at VBS this week. Some were heavily involved in the coordination of this debut event at our church, which ended up being bigger than anyone expected. Some were very visible as actors and story-tellers, while others laboured behind the scenes, tirelessly supplying staff and kids with delicious peanut/milk/egg/gluten/colour/free snacks (did I forget anything?) and drinks. I am sure what happened at VBS this week will be branded on our collective memories for months and years to come. For my part, here are some of the life lessons and memories the Craft Hut yielded this week.

 

            Monday

            Project: plastic superhero capes for the young kids, felt superhero masks for the older ones. The kids got to (attempted to…whatever) decorate their capes/masks with sequins, self-adhesive foam letters, rhinestones and non-adhesive foam shapes. The first group used white craft glue to attach pretty much everything. Problem #1: kids don’t understand the concept of “a dab’ll do ya” any more than they understand the intricacies of photosynthesis, so you can imagine the mess of running glue, slipping rhinestones and sticky capes that we found drying on clothes hangers in the closet. Problem #2: there is much, much wiping of tables to be done when you’ve handed out white craft glue in coffee creamers which fall over at just the thought of being knocked over.

            Life lesson: always use glue sticks instead of white craft glue when working with anyone under the age of 10, and always use disposable table cloths.

p.s. It’s the first day, and Caleb (who is in childcare along with Sammy) enjoys himself in the nursery and stays awake until we get home for lunch.

 

            Tuesday

            Project: decorated wooden wall plaques with clothespins glued on (intended to serve as clips to hold pictures etc.) for the younger kids and clothespins with metal shower rings to hold colourful paper tags for the older ones. Problem: It’s8:45am and you decide that it would be best for the Craft Team to super-glue the clothespins to the wooden plaques. Good call. While 75% of the team is feverishly working, the other 25% (me) is busy preparing the room we used yesterday, wondering why nothing was left set up. It happens that one person may or may not be notified when the venue is changed.

            Life lesson: laugh about the mix-up and work double-time to make up for lost time spent opening windows and blinds in another room and looking for tables that were already set up in another building.

p.s. It’s day two, and Caleb falls asleep in the van on the way home. I understand.

            Wednesday

            Project: crazy pom-pom characters with foam feet, decorated with feathers, googly eyes, and pipe cleaners. While the younger kids used pre-fab pom-poms, the older kids were taught how to make pom-poms out of yarn – from scratch. Problem #1: again, white craft glue was involved, except this time we chose bigger containers, handed out fewer of them, had paper table cloths, and removed the glue when not in use. However, when there are fans blowing in a room where children with limited manual dexterity are working with feathers and liquid glue, you can imagine the outcome. Problem #2: when attempting to attach tiny googly eyes with liquid glue, children will get glue on their hands, which they will want to wash off when they’re done. Be prepared to escort about 18 of them to the sinks by yourself, since the other staff are frantically trying to help the other children complete their craft on time. Count heads frequently and thank your wise Director later for supplying each team with easily identifiable team-colour shirts! Problem #3: when working with 40 balls of yarn and some totally inexperienced pom-pom makers, be prepared to untangle – a lot. Also, there is a good chance that they will not complete the project in the allotted time. In fact, you’re lucky if everyone even gets a pom-pom that holds together. When even some of the team leaders have never held a ball of yarn in their hands, your chance of success with pom-poms is slim.

            Life lesson (as realized by Jacqueline, our Craft Guru): teaching three children how to make pom-poms in the relative peace of your living room is a whole lot easier than teaching 40 kids how to simultaneously make pom-poms in the Craft Hut at VBS.

p.s. It’s day three and Caleb falls asleep in the arms of a childcare volunteer and is out for the count when I come to pick him up. Believe me, I understand.

 

            Thursday

            Project: cloth lunch bags decorated with fabric markers. While this was the most labour-intensive project to prepare (it took about 30 hours for Jacqueline’s mom and Barb Heinrichs to sew all of the cloth bags by hand – Thank you!), it was by far the easiest to set up and clean up.  Problem: The staff will have too much time on their hands as the kids pull off this craft with flying colours, and will become a nuisance in the kitchen with their frequent trips to pick up goodies and drinks.

            Life lesson: Stick with Crayola and you can’t go wrong. Next year I’m thinking we’ll have a Marker and Fabric theme. Each day kids can decorate one in a series of 5 cotton items with fabric markers! What parent wouldn’t appreciate kids coming home with a new pair of underwear from VBS each day? Now there’s a craft with some lasting usefulness.

p.s. Caleb screams bloody murder when I drop him off at childcare. I’m told he stopped as soon as I left. Translation: “Mom, that’s enough! I don’t live here you know!”

 

            Friday

            Project: macramé key chains with coloured beads, symbolizing Speech, Life, Love, Faith and Purity (see memory verse). For those of you who don’t know what macramé is (as I didn’t as late as Wednesday) it’s a method of tying knots to form a type of braid with yarn. Problem: the only prerequisite one needs to master macramé is a basic understanding of knots. Although most children can count by two’s at VBS, they cannot tie their shoes, so this presents a problem when attempting macramé (my apologies toFranklin the Turtle). There is one group of girls for whom the activity was extremely enjoyable and simple: the grade 4/5 girls who have been doing this at recess. Their male peers, however, are another story altogether. Making bracelets is about as unfamiliar to them as suturing a patient after open-heart surgery wearing gardening gloves.

            Life lesson: Be flexible. When you’re doing crafts you’ll have to change plans on the fly once you realize that what you had planned will not work. We substituted macramé with a simpler method called Chinese steps, but finally the last two groups of kids threaded their beads onto pipe cleaners. Let parents teach their kids to tie their shoes.

p.s. Caleb enjoys himself all day, particularly the BBQ and bouncy house afterwards. Ah, a sweet reward for all his troubles.

 

            I cannot count the number of children’s crafts I have thrown out over the past few years. You can only keep macaroni-covered bottles and construction paper masterpieces for so long. I choose not to think about the fate of this week’s crafts, which cost far in excess of 100 woman-hours (Jacqueline’s contribution alone!) and several hundred dollars. But that really isn’t the point, is it? VBS is not about which hand-made treasures will survive into adulthood (or even to September) but about the relationships the kids have developed with each other and the staff, the fond memories of crazy games, yummy snacks and fun crafts, and the nuggets of truth that have hopefully been imbedded deep in their little souls. This week’s nugget looked something like this:

“Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the Believers in Speech, in Life, in Love, in Faith and in Purity.” 1. Timothy4:12 (as dictated to me verbatim by my 6-year-old son).

Hearing the kids (future adults) recite this verse with such abandon at VBS was perhaps the most meaningful part of the week for me. If there was ever any doubt as to why we put forth the effort, then I vote that that right there is answer enough.

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