Category Archives: The Arts

Back-Pocket Ideas for Creative Expression in Lessons

We have both created and collected ideas for you to slip “into your back pocket,” for when you are teaching and need some creative opportunities for your students. Summer break (if you have one) is a great time to be gathering such ideas and stashing them away for future reference. Then as you plan your lessons during the Sunday Church School year, you will already have creative ideas readily available for use with your students.

We recommend that as you take a look at the ideas and links that we share, if you find any that you like, bookmark the page on your computer, pin the idea(s) to your Pinterest board(s), or jot down your favorites on note cards. If you decide to take the notecard route, collect the cards in a recipe card box, or punch a hole in the corner of each card and clip them together on a binder ring that can be hung in your classroom where you can easily find them. If you come across a lesson-specific idea, you may want to jot your notes about it on a sticky note and place that in your teacher book at the lesson plan where you wish to use the idea. That way, you are guaranteed to remember it when you are ready plan that particular lesson. It is up to you how you keep track of the ideas which resonate with you, but do keep track of them somehow! That way you are most likely to be able to use them when an appropriate lesson arises!

Here are a few Orthodox “back pocket” ideas for creative expression in the Sunday Church School classroom. We are sharing them in the order in which we found them. We hope that some of them will be helpful for you to use with your students. What additional creative ideas do you have to share with the community?

***

In December of 2014, we launched a series of blogs about including art in the Sunday Church School classroom. Read the initial blog here https://orthodoxchurchschoolteachers.wordpress.com/2014/12/06/on-including-art-in-the-sunday-church-school-classroom/ and then follow through the next few blog posts, to get some ideas of different art styles you may want to try with your students.

***

Find Orthodox-specific craft ideas here: https://oca.org/the-hub/crafts/various-crafts

***

Find some crafts which your students can use as they grow in their faith, here: http://orthodoxcamps.org/resources/ac

***

Visit The Orthodox Children’s Press’ website for many craft ideas. Search “art” or “craft” to bring some of them up right away. Or just take a leisurely scroll through the site itself to see what all you find! http://www.theorthodoxchildrenspress.com/

***

There are 20 Orthodox art/craft ideas here: https://fieldsofbasil.blogspot.com/2015/03/20-orthodox-crafts-for-lent-and-other.html

***

Find Orthodox crafts sprinkled throughout this blog: http://www.illumination-learning.com/blog (Search “craft” to find them quickly.)

***

This Orthodox blog offers craft ideas that could be helpful to your class: https://craftycontemplative.com/

***

On Learning the Scriptures by Creating a Scripture Journal

In our last few blogs, we have looked at the importance of memorizing the Scriptures and helping our Sunday Church School students to do the same. This blog post will offer another way to meditate on (and even memorize) the Scriptures: Scripture journaling. As you maintain a Scripture journal, you meditate on and/or memorize the Scriptures by creating an artistic illustration of a different Scripture passage on each page of the journal. There are many ways to do so, and you do not need to be an artist to create a Scripture journal. If you can write or if you can doodle, you can create one of these journals. Even young students can make a Scripture journal! It is a fun, creative way to delve into the scriptures, and can add an artistic dimension to our Sunday Church School classes.


You will need a blank journal for each student. You will also need pens, pencils, markers, crayons, colored pencils, watercolors; whatever art supplies you wish to work with in the journals. (Note: remember that if you plan to use markers or watercolors in the journaling, you will want to provide each student with a journal with thick pages so that the colors do not bleed through to the next page. It is also important to place extra paper behind each page as you work, to absorb any possible bleed-through.)

Select a verse (or verses) which you want to ponder or memorize. It could be a verse that is a theme for a series of lessons, or a verse specific to the lesson of the week. Present some ideas of methods your students can use to illustrate that passage. Here are a few:

  1. Invite your students to simply write the verse or passage in their own handwriting, thinking about the meaning as they write, and perhaps writing a few of the keywords in a way that emphasizes the words’ meaning. This is a very basic way to Scripture journal, but it achieves the goal of engaging the Scriptures and meditating on each word.12642483_10207488157673867_8623024951684766644_n
  2. Encourage your students to take it a step further and write out the passage, this time adding some color and a few small illustrative pieces to help bring out the meaning.12642438_10207488160473937_5388514980087056108_n
  3. Instead of writing out the words of the passage, have your students create a sketch that helps them to learn its meaning. (You will need to supply a printed version of the verse/passage for this one.) Students can take that printed verse and tape it into their journal on one side of a two-page spread, then create an illustration on the other page that helps them think about and learn the passage.12687886_10207488158513888_8196411813328804874_n
  4. If you are memorizing the passage, one way to do so is to print it out and glue it in the middle of a journal page. Help your students read through the passage several times, and then encourage them to continue to repeat it to themselves as they create a colorful design around it. Zentangle patterns work well for this type of journal piece, and can give your students a variety of ideas for their design. (Here is an excellent printable tutorial on zentangles that offers sample patterns: http://www.cambridge.k12.oh.us/BlizzardBags/CMS/CMS%20Art%20BB3.pdf.) Repetitive doodling is great for meditation, so, as your students are working, they should continue to repeat the passage to themselves. They will memorize the passage and have a beautiful addition to their journal when they finish!12637047_10207488109072652_1291902815_o
  5. Perhaps the scripture passage will lend itself to a particular idea of how it should be illustrated. If that is the case, your students can create an illustration related to the passage, and then simply glue a copy of the passage in the midst of their piece.12661830_10207488157833871_4236131203418178132_n
  6. Your students could also hand write the passage right in the midst of their illustration.12645135_10207489557348858_4748232972954489753_n

These are only a few of the variety of ways to create a Scripture journal. If this method of Scripture meditation/memorization appeals to you, by all means, try it with your students! Remind them that their final results may not be museum-worthy, but that’s okay. The purpose of the exercise is not to create a stunning work of art for the world to see. The act of Scripture journaling is intended to help each journal-keeper to learn more about the Scriptures, to meditate on their meaning, and to commit them to memory. The final product will always be in their journal to remind them of their work of meditation and memorization.

“And we, too, who do no more than listen to the Scriptures, should devote ourselves to them and meditate on them so constantly that through our persistence a longing for God is impressed upon our hearts [and thereby we shall be amazed to] see how the wisdom of God renders what is difficult easy, so that gradually it deifies man.” ~ Saint Peter of Damaskos

 

Here are some links that you may find helpful as you begin Scripture journaling with your Sunday Church School students:

 

Here is a blog post about Scripture journaling. This journaler uses both lined and unlined pages when she creates a piece: http://michelleperkett.blogspot.com/2015/11/new-mps-bible-art-journaling.html

Consider challenging your students to join you as you take this 30 day challenge: http://karachupp.com/shall-write-copy-30-day-challenge/

Here’s an excellent blog on doodling that incorporates Scriptures into the doodles:  https://1arthouse.wordpress.com/doodles-101/

This artist uses some zentangle techniques in Scripture journaling: http://www.zenspirations.com/galleries/scriptures/

Show your students how to illustrate Scriptures, “smash journal” style: http://www.carissagraham.com/2012/03/i-made-book-scripture-scraps.html

Need inspiration to draw an illustration for the Scripture passage you are memorizing/pondering? Here are a few beautiful pieces where the artist drew an illustration and incorporated the passage in her own handwriting. http://peggyapl.blogspot.com/search?q=prayer+journal

Consider taking this 31-day challenge, along with your students, as you begin Scripture art journaling: http://artbyerinleigh.blogspot.com/2012/09/31-days-of-scripture-art-journaling-day.html

Here are some printable verse cards that can inspire your students’ Scripture journaling: http://www.kidstalkaboutgod.org/Portals/0/MemoryCards_KTAG_NKJV.pdf

Art Techniques for Sunday Church School: Using Crayons

This series of blogs about including art in the Sunday Church School will offer a variety of art techniques and ideas. Each week will focus on one medium, offering a tutorial for one project (which can be used at multiple age levels), as well as several other suggested ways to incorporate the medium in other projects. The purpose of the series is to offer Sunday Church School teachers ideas which they can keep in mind for future reference as they plan to use art in their classroom. Each technique can be applied to a variety of lessons, whether Bible stories, Church history, lessons on the Faith, etc. For the purpose of keeping it simple, the cross will be used in each illustration throughout the series.

There are many techniques for using crayons in the Sunday Church School classroom. Here is one of them: create a colorful picture in dots of melted crayon. To do so, gather your materials. You will need newspaper, paper, pencils, candles, matches, and crayons.

10491157_10204566491874048_5001705427478439166_n

Prepare your work area. Cover the area with newspaper. Peel wrappers from crayons, leaving only the wax. Place a votive or tealight candle between two students, or provide one per student. Provide each student with a piece of sturdy paper (drawing paper or cardstock) and a pencil. Encourage each student to use the pencil to very lightly draw a basic shape, or write a message on the paper. When you are ready to begin, light the candle(s).

10405672_10204566491754045_7723033207927113685_n

Show the students how to hold the crayon near the flame of the candle. (You may also want to show them the black soot that gathers in the melted wax if they put the candle INTO the flame, so that they can avoid making that mistake.)
10422542_10204566491674043_1562508819687874652_n
Demonstrate how to carefully move the crayon, about to drip, to the spot on their paper where they want that drop. Allow the wax to drip from the crayon onto the paper.
1507196_10204566492194056_356594330902946335_n
Every color melts and re-hardens at a different rate. Reassure your students that it is okay to drip wax in the candle (it makes the candles pretty!). Also let them know that it is okay for wax to drip on the paper at a place they were NOT planning to have color. That is the nature of this project!

10294340_10204566492434062_4073830274890574996_n

Repeat the melting and dripping process many times, with a variety of colors, until your image or message is covered in melted wax drops. You may only want to cover the outline of the shape (as shown), or you may want it to be completely filled it. Each artist can decide how they wish their project to look, and drip the wax accordingly.
14592_10204566492394061_5715999250913842873_n
Blow out the candles and set the art pieces somewhere for a few minutes to finish cooling before sending them home. Encourage the students to handle their piece with care. The pooled wax can easily fall off.

10426841_10204566493194081_573580091776764334_n

Suggestions for different age levels:

Preschool: This project will be difficult for a large group of preschoolers. If you have a small class that follows directions well, you may wish to attempt it, with additional helpers on hand. If not, this may not be a technique you wish to use. Read on for others that would work well with preschoolers!

Elementary: Elementary school students as a whole enjoy this project very much. The younger grades can get frustrated with the labored pace of the project, and with how easily the crayons drip at the wrong place. Consider limiting the number of colors for younger grades, suggesting that each child select a few with which to work. Small pieces of paper and/or large shapes/words to cover with dripped wax will work best for this age group.

Middle/High School: Older students will be able to carefully plan this technique to create a fairly detailed finished project. The students may balk at hearing they will be working with crayons, until they see that they will also be working with fire. There’s something about melting things that students of this age enjoy.

For more information and/or inspiration on this method, see https://everythingburger.wordpress.com/2010/10/21/burger-158-melted-crayons/ and/or http://www.piecesbypolly.com/2011/09/melted-crayon-art-and-pointillism-books.html.

Crayon-related helpful tips:
To quickly remove the wrappers from crayons, simply soak them in warm water for about 10 minutes. The wrappers will come right off, according to http://www.happinessishomemade.net/2013/08/18/recycled-crayons-back-to-school-with-crayola/.

To remove unwanted crayon marks from the walls of your Sunday Church School room, check out the tested methods in this blog: http://www.whatsupfagans.com/2014/03/how-to-remove-crayon-marks-from-walls-pinterest-experiment/

To create a simple art-related gift for your students, check this out: http://www.smallfriendly.com/small-friendly/2012/02/no-sew-crayon-wrap.html

 

***
Following are additional techniques for crayon art:
***

Crayon-related art projects that could double as gifts:

  1. Use crayon pieces to make a Christmas ornament! Making these melted crayon ornaments would require a Sunday Church School Teacher to hire a few helpers to handle the blow dryers. It would also require pre-cut crayon pieces, and a glove for each child to wear as they handle their warm ornament… But what a pretty result! http://www.meetthedubiens.com/2013/12/melted-crayon-ornaments.html
  2. Color a design on fine sandpaper, then iron it onto a tshirt, napkin, or other fabric to make a crayon print: http://alphamom.com/family-fun/crafts/sandpaper-printed-t-shirt/
  3. Glue the crayons themselves around a bowl or picture frame: https://feltsocute.wordpress.com/2010/11/17/holiday-gifts-for-teachers/.  Or cut them to size (if needed) and then glue them onto a canvas to form a shape or picture: http://the3rsblog.wordpress.com/2011/03/18/project-21-week-23-crayon-alphabet/.

***

For Pascha, draw on hot, just-boiled eggs with crayons. The crayon melts on the eggshell and leaves a colorful (and waxed shiny) surface! http://www.diyhangout.com/1624/create-colorful-easter-eggs-using-melted-crayons/

Or, at other times of the year, allow students to draw on hot rocks with crayon. (You will need to have a well-covered work area, a way to heat the rocks beforehand, and a way to handle the hot rocks safely.) http://twigandtoadstool.blogspot.com.au/2012/07/wax-rocks.html

***

Here’s a simple crayon art idea (especially useful for very young students): create a scribbled-crayon tape resist! Create a shape on paper using painter’s tape (ie: a cross), and then allow the children to scribble all over the page. Remove the tape to reveal the finished image! http://www.linesacross.com/2012/02/scribble-card.html

***
Use crayons to scribble a block of intense, solid color onto a piece of cardstock (or a paper plate, as shown here), cover the color block completely with black crayon, and then scratch off the black to reveal the image in the colors beneath. http://nurturestore.co.uk/wax-crayon-pictures

Or, color a full sheet of paper with intense, solid colors, then lay that page upside down on a blank sheet. Use a ballpoint pen or a sharp pencil to draw on the white side of the colorful paper, The crayon will be impressed onto the blank sheet beneath, leaving a colorful drawing! See http://tinyrottenpeanuts.com/crayon-transfer-technique/ for a tutorial.

***

Rub the sides of peeled crayons over paper-covered items* to create a beautiful rubbed image. Try natural items such as leaves (see http://www.firstpalette.com/Craft_themes/Nature/Leaf_Rubbings/Leaf_Rubbings.html) or create your own images with hot glue on cardstock (as demonstrated here http://www.freshlyplanted.com/2013/01/create-with-kids-valentines-week_8726.html).

*For an accurate image, keep both the item being rubbed and the paper still, so that neither moves during the rubbing. Consider affixing the to-be-rubbed items to a clipboards, and then simply clip a piece of paper over the item(s) before rubbing.

***

Iron crayon shavings (you know your Sunday Church School kids want to help you sharpen your classroom crayons anyway, right?!?) between pieces of waxed paper; then cut shapes from the finished product. See http://buggyandbuddy.com/crafts-for-kids-make-a-sun-catcher-with-crayon-shavings/ or http://hazelnutgirl.blogspot.com/2010/02/crayon-and-wax-paper-hearts.html for tutorials.


Art Projects for Sunday Church School: Paper

This series of blogs about including art in the Sunday Church School will offer a variety of art techniques and ideas. Each week will focus on one medium, offering a tutorial for one project (which can be used at multiple age levels), as well as several other suggested ways to incorporate the medium in other projects. The purpose of the series is to offer Sunday Church School teachers ideas which they can keep in mind for future reference as they plan to use art in their classroom. Each technique can be applied to a variety of lessons, whether Bible stories, Church history, lessons on the Faith, etc. For the purpose of keeping it simple, the cross will be used in each illustration throughout the series.


One important art medium, which is often overlooked or taken for granted is paper. It is frequently used as a base on which to apply other mediums. However, the very paper itself can be used in many ways as an art medium. Here is one of them, “painting” with tissue paper.

Brightly colored tissue paper pieces can be applied to wet watercolor paper, allowed to dry, and then carefully lifted off, leaving their color behind on the page. See http://www.fantasticfunandlearning.com/tissue-paper-art.html for details and directions on how to use a spray bottle as the means of moistening the paper. This method creates a beautifully colored sheet of paper which can be used as a background for other art, or can itself be cut into a shape/shapes to use in your finished project as illustrated here: http://kidsartists.blogspot.com/2010/12/colourful-christmas-trees.html.
However, if only a portion of the paper is made wet and covered with tissue paper pieces, a design can be “painted” with the color of the tissue paper pieces. This is the method which will be illustrated in this blog. To complete this project, you will need watercolor paper, a pencil, a template or ruler (if needed for your design), bright tissue paper (pass over the kind that specifically says “no bleed” on the packaging – you want the kind that bleeds!), a paintbrush, cardboard, and a container of water.

Begin with a piece of watercolor paper, a template or ruler (if needed), and a pencil.
1513740_10204525371926075_8857339975774201924_n
Use the pencil to very lightly trace the template or draw the image onto the paper.

10603658_10204525371966076_8658116723506880770_n

Tear up the brightly colored tissue paper into the size and shape of your choice.
10846192_10204525372646093_936586056226983016_n
Set the watercolor paper on some cardboard, to absorb the extra moisture and “bleed” before you begin this next step. Then, use a paintbrush dipped in water to wet the portion of the watercolor paper (either inside or outside of the pencil sketch) which you want to “paint” with the tissue paper’s color.

10408488_10204525372006077_7930044679470664381_n

Carefully set the tissue paper pieces atop the wet portion of the watercolor paper. They should overlap if you want their colors to blend.

10857720_10204525372886099_4111765039529586380_n (1)

After the to-be-colored portion of the watercolor paper is completely covered in tissue paper pieces, wet the paint brush again and gently paint over the tissue paper to completely moisten the pieces.

10710580_10204525372526090_4217539837549507180_n 

Allow the project to dry.

10438216_10204525373086104_4215600176534782610_n 

Carefully pick off the tissue paper scraps and reveal the beautiful colored image beneath!

10624578_10204525373166106_8443483371916082160_n10868268_10204525373366111_7870599553445066245_n

Age-leveled suggestions:
Preschool: This method is a great way for preschoolers to learn about art and to practice tearing paper. See http://theimaginationtree.com/2012/02/tissue-paper-bleeding-art.html for more about that. Preschoolers will need a very basic shape to “color” with the tissue paper, and will need assistance with the painting. A preschool teacher may consider cutting out their finished shape or having a pre-cut shape to glue atop the students’ “painting” instead of trying to keep the painted area limited to the shape. 

Elementary: These students will be able to follow the directions as they are, to complete this project. They will enjoy the challenge of keeping the tissue paper “paint” within the lines.

Middle/High School: These students will be more precise with their tissue paper, regulating the piece sizes and perhaps even cutting the paper into shapes that enhance the finished project. They will likely pay better attention to evenly spacing the colors and may even be careful to avoid putting colors together that are opposites on the color spectrum, whose blended “bleed” would create a dull grey or muddy brown. Their years of experience with art will allow them to create a finer finished project.

 

***
Following are suggestions of other art project ideas using paper as the main medium:
***

Colored paper can be torn to create any shape, and then glued to another piece of paper, to create a picture. See http://www.artwithmsgram.com/2013/01/van-gogh-sunflowers-2nd.html for an example. 

***

Colored tissue paper can be torn or cut, then glued directly on paper, or wadded up and glued for a more three dimensional effect. See http://suffieldart.blogspot.com/2012/04/georgia-okeeffe-inspired-tissue-paper.html#comment-form. Colored tissue pieces can also be used to create a stained-glass effect, outlined by black paper cutouts, as illustrated at http://mosswoodconnections.com/stained-glass-art-activity/. 

***

Use paint chips as part of your artwork. Here is how one artist did so: http://www.oopsicraftmypants.com/2009/10/paint-chip-city-art-journal-page.html.

 ***

Painted paper, once it has dried, can be cut to shapes that can be glued together to create an image. See http://www.fabdiy.com/diy-handmade-colorful-panel/. A similar effect involves the use of magazine pictures or pieces of magazine pages. See http://craftsbyamanda.com/2011/09/fall-magazine-tree.html for one example.

***

Different types of papers can combine to create an effect. For example: bright tissue paper creates the sunset background, while pieces cut from newspaper create the forefront buildings here: http://gretchenbuwalda.blogspot.com/2014/11/kandinsky-skies-k5.html. Or, the effect can be reversed, as illustrated here, where bright colored paper pieces create the focal shape, and pieces of newsprint create the background: http://nancystandlee.blogspot.com/2012/07/mixed-media-torn-paper-collage-painting.html.

 ***

Create a collective artwork piece by allowing each student to illustrate a single sticky note. Display all of the sticky notes together as one piece of art. Here’s one version: http://media-cache-ec0.pinimg.com/originals/65/fb/a7/65fba758a3b47c6e274f878c4a5b8e00.jpg. 

***

On Including Art in the Sunday Church School Classroom

Art belongs in the Sunday Church School classroom. It should not be included simply as “an extra thing to do,” or “so we have something related to the lesson to send home with the kids.” Some teachers who feel pressed for time may see art as unnecessary fluff and simply skip doing any artwork during Sunday Church School. But educational research has indicated otherwise. On their webpage at  http://www.artsedsearch.org/students/research-overview, Artsedsearch quotes a variety of studies, stating that research has found increased overall academic success for students involved in programs that include the arts. Other studies have shown improvement in cognitive and creative skills for students who are involved with the arts as well as “traditional” curriculum. Furthermore, personal skills such as perseverance and self-confidence as well as interpersonal skills such as collaboration and mutual appreciation have been proven to be greatly enhanced by students who are involved in the arts. These findings suggest that art is not just an “extra piece” in the curriculum. Rather, it appears that it is imperative that we find ways to incorporate art into our lessons. Including art in the classroom offers a great benefit to all students, not only the ones who learn best by working creatively with their hands, but everyone else, as well.

However, simply knowing that we should include art does not automatically translate into actually including it in our Sunday Church School lessons. Here are suggestions of steps we can take to begin incorporating art into our classrooms. We need to have supplies readily available, select age-appropriate projects, and think through the implications of using art in our classes.

  1. We need to plan ahead, and be sure that we have any needed art supplies ready for use in the classroom. Here is a starting point of basic supplies for Sunday Church School classrooms. The suggestions are listed in age-appropriate groupings:

Preschool: blank paper, construction paper, sturdy preschool crayons, preschool markers (washable), preschool colored pencils, pencil sharpener, glue sticks, blunt safety scissors, clear and masking tape, newspaper, old magazines

K-2: white paper, age-appropriate lined paper, construction paper, crayons, wide markers (washable), colored pencils, pencils, pencil sharpener, glue sticks, craft glue, safety scissors, watercolor paints/brushes, clear and masking tape, newspaper, old magazines

Grades 3-5: white paper, lined paper, construction paper, crayons, wide and narrow markers (washable), colored pencils, pencils, pencil sharpener, pens of various colors, glue sticks, craft glue, scissors, watercolor paints/brushes, clear and masking tape, newspaper, old magazines

Middle and High School: white paper, lined paper, construction paper, crayons, wide and narrow markers (both washable and permanent), colored pencils, pencils, pencil sharpener, pens of various colors, glue sticks, craft glue, scissors, watercolor and acrylic paints/brushes, clear and masking tape, newspaper, old magazines

You may also occasionally need supplies like these: paper plates and cotton swabs (for paint or glue sharing), pipe cleaners, pom poms, wiggle eyes, feathers, notecards, beads, specialty papers (such as rice paper), chalks, pastels, acrylic or oil paints and canvas, duct tape, etc., but that will vary project to project.

2. We need to carefully select art projects that work for the particular group of students in our class. We want to encourage them to try new things, while also being careful not push them beyond what they are capable of doing, frustrating them or setting them up for failure. This website offers helpful ideas to keep projects age-appropriate: http://www.examiner.com/article/how-to-choose-age-level-appropriate-art-projects-for-youth-groups. Here are their practical suggestions:

“Kindergarten: Look for projects that teach them how to use a tool, such as scissors, by cutting on a preprinted line. Glue sticks work better than white glue because they don’t have fine motor skills developed enough to squeeze lightly.

“First Grade: Step up the skills from Kindergarten one notch, such as cutting a curved line. Introduce new materials, such as white glue, by first demonstrating how to use it as a tool. For example, before using markers, show them how the cap can be put on the other end while it is in use, and how the cap should snap shut when it is put back. Teach rules about cleaning up and taking care of the tools. Teach how to use a tool safely.

“Second Grade: When the students begin to write neatly and demonstrate control of a pencil, it is time to introduce projects that use small finger motions such as using glitter or making sand drawings. Girls develop their finger muscles first, while boys develop their arm and leg muscles first. Both can be taught how to use a paint brush, but boys will need something that is painted all one color while girls will be able to paint a smaller area.

“Third Grade: This is a crossroads age level. Third grade is the time when some students decide that they just aren’t good at art, and give up trying. It’s because they are comparing themselves to the professional masters like Michelangelo… Use step by step drawing books where they can compare their art to the one in the book. Use examples of other students’ work that are found in a magazine or saved from the previous year. Let them compare themselves to you by showing them something you made when you were that age. Ask… if they can play baseball as well as the St. Louis Cardinals can, and if that means they “aren’t any good” at baseball.

“Fourth and Fifth Grade: By this age, boys and girls have both developed fine motor skills and are able to do projects that have more detail. Craft projects can include tying a knot, weaving, or using basic hand tools such as pliers, hammer or a saw. At this age level, students want to express themselves. Look for art projects that allow them to tell the world who they are such as a collage of their favorite things, or drawing a picture of what job they want when they grow up.

“Middle School: At this age, students want a practical use for what they are learning. Cover the Principles of Design, but apply the knowledge to a concern they have in their own life. For example, understanding the use of balance can help them arrange pictures on their bedroom wall…”

This is, of course, only a beginning of what is appropriate for each age. Experience will also give a teacher a sense of what works and what does not. Each class will be unique, because it comes with its own set of individuals, every one of which has his or her own gifts and challenges. As you work with your class each year, you will figure out what they can handle.

  1. Successfully incorporating art in the Sunday Church School class requires forethought. Before class, take some time to think through any implications and plan for possible glitches in any project. In order to do so, gather all needed supplies in advance. Once everything is gathered, and well in advance of the class period, make a sample of the project. This will allow you to think through the directions, discover needed but missing supplies, and find potential problems with the project. (Note: consider carefully whether or not to show your sample to your students. Sometimes students feel daunted by trying to match the teacher’s sample at their more-limited skill level. Also, showing them “this is exactly what we’re making” can limit the students’ creativity in using the provided supplies. One solution could be to show the sample to the students to give them the general idea of one way that the project can work, and then put it away while they create their own work.) After making a sample and working out all of the potential problems, all that remains to be done before carrying out a project in the Sunday Church School classroom is to think through what happens after the project. Be sure to have a plan for how/where to allow wet projects to dry. Also, have cleanup supplies available in the room so that you can tidy up any messes that may happen during the project. Have a plan in place for kids who finish their project early (or late). Unless you are sending the work home immediately, you will also need to think of how to display the students’ work in your classroom. A little advanced planning can make the whole process smoother, and thereby more successful!

 

Since art has been proven important to learners of all types and ages, let us do what we can to incorporate more of it into our Sunday Church School classes. Having basic supplies readily available in our classroom will aid us in reaching that end. Carefully planning our projects to be challenging-but-doable by our students will also assist us in this endeavor. Thinking ahead through the projects and planning accordingly will help to guarantee the students’ success as they express what they are learning in their own creative and unique way. And, as we all learn and try a variety of art styles together, we will experience the joy of creating, an ability given to us by God Himself; the Author of all Creation!

Stay tuned over the course of the next few weeks for ideas of art projects for Sunday Church School classrooms. What ideas or resources do you have to share? Please comment with them for the benefit of the entire community. Thanks!

 

***

Here are additional resources for the suggestions above:

***

If you wish to stay abreast of what is happening in the arts and education field, consider subscribing to this bi-monthly professional art educators’ newsletter: http://www.aep-arts.org/resources-2/artsed-digest/

***

For an extensive list of possible art supplies to keep on hand in the Sunday Church Schoolroom (as well as a link to a printable checklist), see http://www.kidssundayschool.com/1236/teaching-aids/materials-and-supplies-what-to-have-on-hand.php. See also http://www.homegrownfriends.com/home/best-materials-for-creating-art-with-kids for further inspiration.

***

If your students are preschoolers through age 8, check out the developmental stages and appropriate art activity suggestions in the charts here: https://www.naeyc.org/files/yc/file/200407/ArtsEducationPartnership.pdf.

***

To further think through some of the possible challenges with incorporating art into the classroom, read the 10 challenges of an art room listed here: http://www.theartofed.com/2011/02/19/top-10-challenges-of-managing-an-art-room/

***

Want to start gathering some ideas? Check out these age-level-appropriate ones that may give you an idea of what your class can handle: http://www.fun-stuff-to-do.com/craft-projects-by-age.html. (Note: these are not religiously themed at all, but can act as a springboard for your creativity as you look for ideas of ways to incorporate art into your Sunday Church School classroom.)