Tag Archives: Art

Cross String Art Craft

Here’s a craft suggestion that can be done with our own family at home, or shared with our Church school students’ families for them to do together as we approach Holy Week:

Cross String Art Craft

Materials: scrap of wood at least 3.25”x 5”; sandpaper; copy of cross template; 12 half inch finishing nails; hammer; paint/brush (optional); embroidery floss; scissors

1. Sand any rough edges of the wood until smooth. Brush away the dust.
2. (Optional) If desired, paint wood and allow it to dry. Sand edges to “antique” the painted wood, if desired.
3. Partially nail each of the nails into the wood, in this pattern (adjusting as needed to fit the size of the wood). Leave as much of each nail exposed as possible, hammering it into the wood just enough to adequately hold it firmly in place. (Note: scale the pattern according to the desired size of your finished piece. Additional nails may be needed for larger-sized crosses.)

4. Select a color of embroidery floss. Tie its end to one of the nails, trimming the excess on the short side of the knot.
5. Wrap the long end of the floss around one nail at a time, working your way around the shape of the cross. Two or more times around the outside edge is recommended for maximum visibility.
6. To fill the cross shape, wrap floss around a nail, then cross it (inside the cross shape) to another nail and wrap again. Continue until the inside of the cross is decorated. (Note: play with different designs and crossover patterns to achieve the look you prefer. Many different looks can be created with this template.)
7. (Optional) At any time, tie off one color (around a nail, as when beginning) and begin with another, continuing until you are pleased with the results.

Note: If working with children on this project, decide in advance how much of it you wish them to complete on their own, and prepare accordingly. Some children can handle the nailing; others cannot. Extra adult assistance may also be necessary for the floss-wrapping process; especially for the tying-off of each floss. 

A Closer Look at John 3:17

The Antiochian Archdiocese’s 2020 Creative Arts Festival has as its theme John 3:17, “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.” Learning and understanding the meaning of this verse is pivotal to our Christian life, for it encourages us to examine condemnation, salvation, and judgement. In context, this verse also affords us the opportunity to choose for ourselves how to respond to God’s offer of salvation through Christ. Advance study of John 3:17 will help us be ready to teach our students about it, whether or not our parish is participating in the Festival. 

Rosemary Shumski, Creative Arts Festival coordinator for the Antiochian Orthodox Department of Christian Education, reflects on the theme in this guest blog:
Let’s examine this quote in context. Most of us are more familiar with the quote from John 3:16, which precedes it, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should have everlasting life.” We then have our Creative Festivals Theme, “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.” (John 3:17) This is followed by the quote, “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” (John 3:18)

Here are some comments from the Orthodox Study Bible: “While Christ comes to save and not to condemn, man has free will. Thus he can reject this gift, and he becomes condemned by his own rejection.”

Jesus came into the world so that we could be rescued from condemnation. The name “Jesus” literally means “God saves.” He came to show us how we could be reunited with God. In his book, The Great I Came’s of Jesus, Fr. Anthony Coniaris states, “Before Jesus came, we were a fallen race. We needed not a judge to condemn us but a Savior to raise us from our fall…Jesus said, ‘Those who are healthy do not need a physician, but those who are sick. I have come not to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.’ We needed someone to lift us, to heal us, not someone to judge and condemn us.”

Because Jesus became incarnate, He is like us in all ways except sin, so He understands His people. Jesus is compassionate, because He knows what it’s like to be tempted. But we have to make the choice as to whether we want to turn away from Him or repent and turn to Him. God didn’t create us to be robots. Because He gave us free will, we have to make that decision for ourselves.


Find more information about the Creative Arts Festival theme for 2020 here: http://www.antiochian.org/dashboard?name=Creative%20Festivals%202020

Here are a few lesson plans and ideas for teaching children about John 3:17:


Preschool and Kindergarten students will take a look at Adam and Eve’s disobedience and contrast it to the Theotokos’ obedience in this Church school lesson that helps to prepare them to artistically respond to John 3:17: https://antiochianprodsa.blob.core.windows.net/websiteattachments/2020%20Preschool-%20Kindergarten%20Creative%20Festival%20Lesson%20Plan.pdf


Students in grades 1-3 will discuss terms like “condemn” and “save”; put in order line art icons that illustrate phrases from the Creed describing Christ; and brainstorm ways to unite themselves to Him in this Creative Arts Festival lesson: https://antiochianprodsa.blob.core.windows.net/websiteattachments/2020%20CREATIVE%20FESTIVAL%20LP%20GRADE%201-3.pdf


Students in grades 4-6 will talk about salvation without judgement, using fun activities involving Lifesavers candies and some role-play; then closely examine how the Church helps us on our journey to salvation in this lesson on John 3:17: https://antiochianprodsa.blob.core.windows.net/websiteattachments/2020%20CF%20LESSON%20PLAN%20GRADES%204-6.pdf


Middle and high school students preparing for the Creative Arts Festival will engage in discussions about condemnation, the stages of salvation, and judging self vs. judging others in this lesson: https://antiochianprodsa.blob.core.windows.net/websiteattachments/2020%20Creative%20Festival%20Middle%20School-High%20School%20Lesson%20Plan.pdf


Find ideas of ways to incorporate the Creative Arts Festival theme, as well as additional activities for teaching about it here: https://antiochianprodsa.blob.core.windows.net/websiteattachments/2020%20CREATIVE%20FESTIVALS%20USING%20THE%20THEME%20THROUGHOUT%20THE%20YEAR.pdf



On Acts 2:42: “They Continued Steadfastly in the Apostles’ Doctrine and Fellowship, in the Breaking of Bread, and in Prayers.”

Note: the Antiochian Archdiocese’s Creative Arts Festival 2018’s theme is the inspiration for this blog post. We will take a closer look at the theme, to help to prepare our students for the festival in case they will be participating. Whether or not they participate, what we can learn from this passage in the book of Acts is applicable to all of us, not just the children participating in the festival!

The 2018 Creative Arts Festival for the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America is focused on Acts 2:42, “They continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers.” If our Sunday Church School class is participating in this festival, we need to understand what this verse means before we will be able to illustrate or write about it accurately. Actually, regardless of whether or not our students will participate in the festival, this passage is worth a look. It helps us to think about our roots as the Orthodox Christian Church, and gives us an idea of how the apostles lived, which can serve as an example to us today.

We will begin by looking at the verse itself. Our Sunday Church School students may need us to define some of the words in the verse before they can begin to understand it. The unfamiliar words in this verse can be explained in very simple terms like these:

“Continued” means they kept on doing something without stopping

“Steadfastly” means firmly, without turning away or quitting

“Doctrine” means a set of teachings or beliefs

“Fellowship” means friends spending time together, hanging out

So it could read something like this, “They kept on going firmly without stopping, following the teachings of the apostles and hanging out together, breaking bread and praying.” The simpler terminology might help our students understand the gist of the verse, but part of the verse has innuendos that our children will not catch unless we look at the verse through the eyes of experts.

So, let’s look at the verse as it is explained by trusted Orthodox scholars. The Orthodox Study Bible’s notes on this verse state that “Central elements of Orthodox worship—apostolic teaching, liturgical prayer and the Eucharist—are present from the very beginning of the Church.” It goes on to explain that the prayers referenced in the verse were the liturgical prayers of the Church, and that “the breaking of the bread” refers to the Eucharist, or Holy Communion. In other words, from the very beginning of the Church, the Christians stood firm in what the apostles taught, fellowshipped together, partook of the Eucharist and prayed the liturgical prayers of the Church.

The Orthodox Christian church, begun by the apostles themselves, has continued in this steadfastness and passed it along from generation to generation. We know that today we still have the opportunity to follow the apostles’ doctrine, while also experiencing the opportunity for fellowship, Communion, and prayers when we gather together. So, essentially, this verse gives us an idea of how our Faith should look: full of steadfast belief in the scriptures and traditions handed down by the apostles all the way to our current bishops and priests; hanging out with our Church family to encourage, challenge, and purify each other; and regularly partaking of the gifts offered to us in the Church: especially Holy Eucharist and prayers. The verse also reaffirms that our Faith is The Faith: for it is as old as the early Church! What a blessing it is to be part of that Church today!

Let us, therefore, have as our goal to also “continue steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers.”

Here are some ideas of ways to help our students (whether or not they will be participating in the aforementioned Creative Arts Festival) to learn about this passage:


If your parish will be participating in the Creative Arts Festival, you can find information about it here: http://www.antiochian.org/festivals/cf


Did you know that the Antiochian Orthodox Department of Christian Education has already provided a lesson plan about the Creative Arts Festival theme for your Sunday Church School students? Find lessons at all levels, which can be used for any age student who is elegible to participate in the festival, here: http://antiochian.org/festivals/cf/lesson-plans-2018


Find creative and fun suggestions of ways to help your students to think about the theme throughout the year here: http://www.antiochian.org/festivals/cf/using-the-theme-2018


There are a myriad of ways your students can interpret this year’s Creative Arts Festival theme. Find an inspiring list here: http://antiochian.org/festivals/cf/Interpretations-theme-2018

Suggestions include:
*Depictions of early Christians worshipping
* People worshipping during Divine Liturgy today
*Receiving Holy Communion
*Learning about things Jesus taught the Apostles by listening to the Epistle and Gospel readings
*Helping one another like the early Christians did by donating food or clothing, serving at a homeless shelter, etc.

This non-Orthodox-but-helpful lesson that includes Acts 2:42 offers several wonderfully hands-on learning activities that you and your students can do to interact with this scripture. https://missionbibleclass.org/1b0-new-testament/new-testament-part-2/acts-the-church-begins/the-first-church/
Of course not all of the suggestions will work in an Orthodox context, so you will need to be selective or make adjustments. For example, the students can’t prepare the Eucharist, as suggested, but they could help prepare prosphora, and perhaps your priest would be willing to do a demonstration of how he prepares the Eucharist, or do a “teaching liturgy” so that they could learn how the Eucharist is prepared.)


Teach your students the Creative Festivals theme song (found here: http://antiochian.org/festivals/cf/theme-song-2018). After singing it a few times together, look closely at the words. Talk about them together, comparing the stanzas to see how the early Church and the Church today are alike. Ask your students to share other ways (not mentioned in the song) that we are like the early Christians. Are there any ways that we are different? If so, should we change any of those ways? Why or why not? Before dismissing the class, take a field trip to the fellowship hall or to find your priest and sing the song for them, encouraging the rest of your Church family to keep working towards living like the early Christians did, as well!


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/


Gleanings From a Book: “We Pray” by Daniel Opperwall

I never expected to be charmed by a nonfiction book. However, “We Pray,” written by Daniel Opperwall and illustrated by Jelena and Marko Grbic is no ordinary nonfiction book! It is a beautiful Orthodox Christian children’s book that helps children (and those reading to/with them) think about prayer. Each spread of the book talks about a different aspect of prayer and includes some of the basic theology behind that aspect. Some pages offer specific prayers that we can pray, along with ways in which we pray (with incense, with a prayer rope, etc.). Other pages talk about where we pray, how we pray, what we pray, and for whom we pray. “We Pray” may be an informational book, but it is not at all tedious. Instead, the book has an almost lyrical tone, so the spiritual instruction in “We Pray” is both approachable and enjoyable.

But the tone of the book and the knowledge it imparts are not nearly the only charms of this book! Its physical size is lovely, too. Ancient Faith Publishing has printed “We Pray” in a very “holdable” size for children. At 8 ¼” square, the book is a comfortable size for children to hold. And even better than its size are the book’s delightful pictures! Jelena and Marko Grbic’s charming illustrations are both colorful and enticing. Each drawing is whimsical, yet true to the Faith. The book’s pages are quite sturdy, which was a smart design choice, because children will likely return to the illustrations again and again, taking in all the beautiful details included in each! (To be honest, adults will do the same. I have paged through this book countless times just to savor the illustrations!)

“We Pray” is an excellent addition to any Orthodox Christian library. Its readers will learn about prayer and be encouraged to pray more fervently. Its size and darling illustrations will appeal to children of all ages. My guess is that you, too, will find it charming!

To purchase your own copy of “We Pray,” visit http://store.ancientfaith.com/we-pray/.

Here are some activities that you can do with your students after reading it!


With younger children: Before class, copy one of the prayers from the back of “We Pray” onto a piece of transparency film (one copy for each student) and trim it to the right size. In class, allow students to decorate the film with permanent markers, to add color and/or illustrations to the prayer. Tape the film to form a tube that fits around (or glue the film directly to) the outside of a glass candle holder. Insert a battery-run tealight.


With older children: Allow each student to use a permanent marker to write their favorite prayer from the back of “We Pray” onto a piece of transparency film and to decorate it as they wish. Encourage them to make it colorful just as Jelena and Marko Grbic did in the illustrations for the book. Glue the film to the outside of a glass candle holder. Insert a battery-run tealight or small candle.


With teens (although the book is geared for younger children, teens can benefit from it as well!): Discuss “We Pray.” Ask the students to think about the book’s discussion of prayer and compare it to their own lives. Are there any times and/or prayers mentioned in the book that they already pray? Which ones? Are there any times when they do not yet pray, but would like to start praying? Which, and why? Talk about the prayers mentioned in the book. Ask questions like these: “Are any of these prayers familiar to you? Have you prayed any of them in your lifetime, and if so, which ones were the most helpful to you? If you were to share one of these prayers with a younger person in your life, which one would you share, and why?” Look again at how the Grbics incorporated some of the prayers into their illustrations, surrounded by whimsical doodles. Provide paper, pencils, markers, etc. for your students. Encourage them to write the prayer they’d share with a younger person and then try their hand at decorating it as the Grbics did in “We Pray.” Encourage each teen to share their illustrated prayer with a younger child in the parish.


Encourage your students of any age to respond by writing or drawing about the book “We Pray” after you have read it together. Here is a reproducible page you can offer to your students that they can use for their response: WePrayResponse. You could do this activity prior to a class discussion, and then discuss the students’ responses as they share them. Or you could offer them this opportunity after having discussed the book together.


Just for fun, have multiple copies of “We Pray” available for your students to look at. After you’ve read and discussed the book, hand out this activity page (WePrayCounting) and challenge students (individually or in small groups) to complete the counting activity. They will need to look closely at the artwork. That is why you will need multiple copies of the book!


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 Projects for Sunday Church School: 3 Dimensional Art

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.

Creating three dimensional art in your Sunday Church School classroom is a fairly easy process: but it will require a bit of planning ahead of time in case you do not have all of the materials needed for the project. 3-D art can be created for its own sake (to practice the creativity God has given each person), as a response to a lesson, or even in advance of the lesson (for example, if you are creating sculptures or puppets that will be used to present the lesson itself).

One way to create 3-D art in your Sunday Church School classroom is to allow students to sculpt with air-drying clay. This clay is easily attained at a craft store, dries in the air (doesn’t need to be baked), and can be painted when it is finished or just left as it is.


Before giving your students the opportunity to sculpt something with clay, cover your work surface and gather all the items you will need. For this cross project, we will need air-drying clay, a cardboard cross shape, a bottle or block to roll the clay flat, a plastic knife, a piece of cardboard, newspaper, and some toothpicks (or other clay-decorating tools if you have them).


Begin by rolling the clay to a ⅛” to ¼” thickness on the piece of cardboard.


Place the cardboard shape on top of the clay.


Cut around the shape with the plastic knife. Remove excess clay from the shape; set it aside for later use. (This is a good time to have your students write their name on the piece of cardboard where their cross will be drying.)

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Use the excess clay to decorate the top surface of the cross: roll it between your hands to create long “strings” of clay that can be used for lines or coiled for concentric circles and then gently pressed into the top of the cross. Or create small balls of clay that can be smashed to create clay disks to be used in the decorating. It is up to you and your young artists!

If desired, use the toothpicks or other clay tools to finish the detail work on the cross.


Set the cross aside to dry. When the crosses are dry, you can leave them as they are, or paint them: it is up to you and your students! (You can also glaze them to better preserve them if desired.)


Note: this project was inspired by this one: http://emmeticeramiche.blogspot.com/2011/09/in-otto-semplici-mosse.html?spref=fb

Following are a variety of ideas to incorporate 3-D art in the Sunday Church School classroom.


One way to use 3-D art in your Sunday Church School class is to have students make “people” that can be used to act out the week’s Bible or saint stories. Here are a few ideas of ways to do so:

They can create the actors by crafting “paper friends” downloadable from Making Friends: http://www.makingfriends.com/f_Friends.htm (the Bible-time costumes for the “friends” can be found at http://www.makingfriends.com/friends/f_spiritual.htm).
The actors can be crafted from cardboard tubes as found here: http://happyhooligans.ca/toilet-roll-nativity-set/ or here http://www.redtedart.com/2012/03/25/cardboard-tube-people-pirates-grannies-robbers/

Or, they can be crafted from recycled plastic bottles as suggested here: http://www.freekidscrafts.com/recycled-bottle-people/


Clothespins can be used to create 3-D art: animals, people, angels, etc.: http://kidsactivitiesblog.com/64885/50-creative-clothespin-crafts


Colorful duct tape can be used to create so many things, both useful and just-for-fun: http://kidsactivitiesblog.com/62648/20-duct-tape-crafts-kids-will-love


Create 3-D art with your students by allowing them to sculpt with sticks:

They can make actual stick people a la http://www.danyabanya.com/stick-people/.

Or, they can make popsicle stick puppets as shown in the picture here: http://teawagontales.blogspot.ie/2012/08/miss-lolly-dollyhow-to.html.


You can allow your students to create art with seashells: http://fun-a-day.com/summer-art-for-kids-shell-craft/ or http://fun-a-day.com/shell-painting-easy-ocean-art-for-kids/


If one week’s Sunday Church School lesson includes animals, no problem! Use paper, cardboard, etc. to make some 3-D animals as demonstrated at these pages: http://kidsactivitiesblog.com/61715/25-zoo-animal-crafts-recipes, http://kidsactivitiesblog.com/63924/paper-plate-birds-movable-wings


Create beautiful sculptures with plaster of paris:
Hand squeeze free-form shapes in balloons which can be painted when they dry: http://www.firstpalette.com/Craft_themes/Colors/plasterfreeformsculpture/plasterfreeformsculpture.html or this http://artfulparent.com/2014/01/plaster-balloon-sculptures-with-kids.html

“Freeze” God’s own beautiful artwork by making leaf prints with plaster of paris as demonstrated here: http://artfulparent.com/2012/08/leaf-casting-with-plaster-of-paris.html.

Art Projects for Sunday Church School: Mixed Media Collage

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.


Mixed media art can be used with children of all ages. It is an art form that can be very detailed and take a lot of time, or can be basic and fairly quick to complete. The materials vary according to what is available and/or what the artist wishes to incorporate into their piece. Mixed media is an art form that can be easily used in the Sunday Church School classroom, especially in collage form. Here is one example of a mixed media collage project. (This project is geared towards older children because of the many steps required to complete it.)


Cover your workspace to protect the table. Gather all of the art mediums and supplies that you wish to make available to the children, and place them in the center of the workspace. (Generally speaking, this is the point where you tell the students to use the mediums/supplies as they wish to create a piece of art reflecting whatever it is that you taught about in the lesson. This blog will show the process of creating one specific piece of mixed media art featuring an “embossed” cross on a mixed media background.)


For a project like this, first draw the focus piece (in this case, the cross) on a piece of cardstock or cardboard. Cut it out if desired.


Outline the focus piece and any details you wish to include with tacky craft glue or hot glue. (The type of glue you use is up to you: it can depend as well on the age/ability of your students and the amount of time you have for the project to dry/cool.) Set the focus piece aside, to allow the glue to dry or cool.


While the glue on the focus piece is drying/cooling, begin to decorate the background. (Students can use any type of media for this part of the project. Watercolor art is the base for this particular piece.) Paint a piece of watercolor paper with plain water. Paint over that water with different colors of watercolor paint. The colors will run together and mix on the already-wet paper.


While the paint is still wet, sprinkle salt on the paint. Set the background piece aside to dry.


When the glue on the focus piece is dry/cool, cover the entire piece with glue from a glue stick.

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Gently place a piece of tin foil over the entire piece, wrapping the foil around to the back. (This requires a bit of careful thought if your piece is a shape, such as a cross. Cut the foil as needed to be able to wrap it around to the back.) Add a little glue stick glue to the back if desired, to hold the folded-back parts in place.


On the front side, smooth the foil down carefully with paper towel-covered fingers to avoid tearing the foil.

Use a cotton swab to push the foil against the paper at the glue ridges. Work slowly and carefully: the foil tears easily.

Use a blunt pencil to add additional details into the foil.


Rub the whole thing with dark shoe polish, let it dry for a few minutes, and then gently buff it off with a paper towel. The focus piece is now finished. Set it aside while you finish preparing the background piece.

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Returning to the background piece, gently brush the salt off of the paper. Add scraps of other paper, stamped images, bits of fabric, or whatever is desired for the final effect.


Glue the focus piece onto the background piece and add any desired additional touches.


Your mixed media collage piece is finished!

Note: this project can be easily simplified for use with younger children. For example, the focus piece could be simply cut out of cardstock and decorated with crayon, rubber stamps, or even stamped fingerprints. The background could be decorated in a similar manner, or with swatches of colorful paper. The beauty of a mixed media collage is in its versatility: whatever you have on hand is fair game for use in whichever way the students wish to use it in their art piece!

The cross for this project was inspired by this: http://makeitawonderfullife.blogspot.com/2011/12/owls-foil-glue-and-shoe-polish.html

The watercolor ideas for this project can be found here: http://artfulparent.com/2014/04/watercolor-techniques-for-kids.html

Here are more collage links to inspire you:

http://mollymoocrafts.com/art-project-for-kids-collage/ (using paint, magazine photos, and stickers)

http://mollymoocrafts.com/art-project-for-kids-collage/ (using marker, paint, fabric, and sequins); http://media-cache-ec0.pinimg.com/originals/3f/0c/d5/3f0cd50ed003b06d4d362b2c0e38c0cb.jpg (this is a picture only, but shows use of fabric/lace scraps in collage)

Following are other ideas for mixed media collage:


Create a still life with a mixed media collage as illustrated here: http://theartclassroom1.blogspot.com/2013/05/adaptive-art-collaged-still-life.html?m=1


Gather pictures, color swatches, and/or letters from cereal boxes to use in your mixed media art as suggested here: http://www.carlemuseum.org/blogs/making-art/artist-michael-alberts-visit-carle


Glue colorful strips from magazine in parallel lines and then cover that with a negative cut-out of black paper as suggested at  http://suzyssitcom.com/2012/06/feature-friday-cut-paper-art.html


Start with wiggle eyes glued on paper, and allow the children to draw around them: http://www.houseofbabypiranha.com/2012/07/wiggly-eye-drawing-starter.html


Sew buttons onto paper and have the children draw them into some part of the Creation. http://ertoris.blogspot.co.uk/2011/09/knappeblomster_26.html

Or, glue buttons on paper and allow the children to incorporate those buttons into their drawing. http://www.redtedart.com/2014/04/02/button-crafts-button-art-button-cards/


Stamping ideas that can be used in mixed media art:  make your own foam stamps like this: http://www.carlemuseum.org/blogs/making-art/make-your-own-foam-stamp

make prints using found materials as demonstrated here: http://www.carlemuseum.org/blogs/making-art/printing-found-materials

print with the wheels of toy vehicles as shown here: http://www.carlemuseum.org/blogs/making-art/printing-toy-trucks

make your own stamp pads for stamping as demonstrated here: http://www.carlemuseum.org/blogs/making-art/make-your-own-stamp-pads


Use mod-podge, paint, and paper scraps on a piece of wood to make a beautiful scripture verse wallhanging as found here: http://www.crayonfreckles.com/2013/04/mixed-media-art-for-kids-mod-podge.html

Art Projects for Sunday Church School: Using Watercolor Paints

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.

Watercolor paints are easy for children of all ages to use. They are also inexpensive, but produce beautiful results. There are many ways in which watercolor paints can be used in the Sunday Church School classroom. Here is one of them: Create a watercolor resist with contact paper shapes and stickers.

First, cover your workspace and gather the items you will need for the resist.


Create the resist. Place stickers and/or shapes cut from contact paper onto watercolor paper, creating the desired covering. Remind the young artists that whatever they cover on the paper before they paint will resist the paint and leave a white image when it is removed.


Paint the watercolor paper completely. Be sure to paint right up to the edge/cover the resist shapes with watercolor paints. (You may want to have tissues or paper towels available in the event that color begins to pool where an artist doesn’t want it. The pool of color can be gently dabbed away.)


Allow the paint to dry.


Carefully remove the resist shapes to reveal the white paper beneath them.


Your project is finished!


The following inspired this project:

contact paper resist: http://artfulparent.com/2009/06/the-art-group-lives-again.html

stickers (or tape) resist: http://artfulparent.com/2013/12/sticker-resist-starry-night-cards.html


Age-related notes:

Younger children will want to use ready-made stickers or cut very simple shapes from the contact paper for their resist. Teachers of younger children can tape the children’s watercolor paper to the table cover, so that the piece does not move around as the children paint on it.

Older children can spend more time cutting more intricate resist items from the contact paper, to stick on the watercolor paper before painting. Perhaps they will want to use sticker letters to include a word or message. They may also want to use different treatments for the wet paint, such as dabbing it with a scrunched up paper towel or plastic wrap; or sprinkling it with salt or oil to add another effect to the color.


Following are a myriad of other ideas of ways to use watercolor paints in the Sunday Church School classroom.


Apply white glue in the desired shape, and, while it is still wet, cover the glue with salt. Drop watercolors (or slightly-watered-out food coloring) onto the wet, salty shapes, allowing the color to soak into the salt and mix where the colors meet. This is not a long-lasting project (because the salt dries and can easily peel off), but it is fun and pretty! http://www.cbc.ca/parents/play/view/art-science-salt-glue-watercolour-experiment or http://artfulparent.com/2012/08/watercolor-and-salt-painting-revisiting-an-old-favorite.html


Create a watercolor resist “stained glass” picture. Draw on a piece of watercolor paper with crayons. Paint over the drawing with watercolors. When it’s dry, “paint” the back with olive oil. When that dries, tape the “stained glass” picture to a window! http://artfulparent.com/2011/08/a-rainbow-stained-glass-window-1.html

Here is another crayon-resist watercolor project: Create watercolor resist blocks by drawing on warmed wooden blocks with crayon, then painting over the image with watercolor. http://artfulparent.com/2012/06/beautiful-art-blocks-melted-crayon-on-wood.html


Create your own watercolors as suggested here: http://www.learnplayimagine.com/2013/08/homemade-paint-natural-watercolors.html. This could easily be tied in with a lesson on the Creation!


Paint large swatches of color on paper. Sprinkle the wet paint with salt. Allow it to dry. Brush the salt off (with a paper towel or your fingers). Cut an image (snowflakes are used in this example) from a different piece of solid-colored paper to glue on top of the salted paint background. http://artprojectsforkids.org/watercolor-salt-and-snowflakes/


Drop vegetable oil on freshly painted watercolor images for an interesting effect. http://babbledabbledo.com/easy-art-projects-for-kids-watercolors-oil/


Use watercolors to paint doilies as suggested here: http://megduerksen.typepad.com/whatever/2011/02/craft-thursday.html?cid=6a00d8341c469c53ef0147e28576c3970b#comment-6a00d8341c469c53ef0147e28576c3970b or to paint coffee filters as suggested here: http://handsonaswegrow.com/watercolor-coffee-filter-flowers/ or here: http://www.pinkandgreenmama.blogspot.com/2010/12/coffee-filter-art.html#.VMK3LVWJOuY.
Once dry, the doilies and the coffee filters can then be used to create something (a garland, a flower, or a snowflake, for example).


Find 32 fun ways to use watercolor paints with children at http://www.howweelearn.com/easy-watercolor-painting-ideas/.

Art Projects for Sunday Church School: Using Markers

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.


Markers of all sizes should be a staple in the Sunday Church School classroom. Both wide-tipped and fine-tipped washable markers are versatile for use in art projects with children of all ages. Older children can safely use permanent markers (wide, fine, and ultra-fine tips are available) as well, greatly expanding the variety of surfaces on which the art can be created.

Here is one way to use markers in the Sunday Church School classroom: create a piece of zentangle-inspired art. Zentangle is an art process that begins with basic shapes drawn in marker, overlapping each other, creating a variety of different new shapes. After that, all of the empty spaces are filled in with color or repetitive doodles. Zentangle-inspired art can be done with wide or narrow markers, depending on the skills of the artists, and only requires two basic materials: thick paper and markers. Note: depending on the degree of detail that the artists use, this project can be very time consuming. It could be completed over a period of several Sunday Church School classes.


First, draw (or trace) the main image on the paper. (Zentangle is usually drawn on 3.5” squares of paper, but zentangle-inspired art can be used for any size of paper.)

Add additional squiggles or shapes to fill up the paper.


Fill in every “hole” with repetitive doodles and/or solid blocks of color.


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Your art piece is finished!


Find the answer to the question “What is a Zentangle?” here: http://tanglepatterns.com/zentangles/what-is-a-zentangle


Here is a link to an idea page with a free printable pdf of some basic doodle ideas, as well as many ideas of ways zentangle (at the end of the blog): http://tinyrottenpeanuts.com/zentangle-patterns-starter-sheets/


Here’s the blog of one parent who is using zentangle with a five-year old: http://www.whatdowedoallday.com/2014/02/zentangles-with-5-year-old.html.


Children of any age can use washable markers to color on coffee filters, spray with water, and watch the colors spread and mix. This is effective for a “rainy” scene or to create a colorful paper that can be used to create something else such as a butterfly as demonstrated here: http://savegreenbeinggreen.blogspot.com/2014/03/try-it-tuesday-coffee-filter-butterfly.html?&cuid=acdff711a7fea12e0459a453f73ed5ef, or a snowflake as demonstrated here: http://handmadekidsart.com/how-to-make-a-snowflake/


Tie markers together with rubber bands to make multiple lines at the same time, as illustrated here: http://www.learnwithplayathome.com/2012/07/drawing-in-bunches.html?m=0


Create an object lesson about the beauty of the individual being greatly enhanced in the context of a group, as this teacher discussed with her class, and then use permanent markers on clear plastic cups, baked and shrunk to create “glass” as mentioned here: http://alexisanneart.blogspot.com/2012/02/5th-grade-dale-chihuly-installation.html


Create colorful coasters with plain white tiles, permanent markers, rubbing alcohol, and a sealant as demonstrated here: http://blog.sharpie.com/2013/04/coasting-into-spring/


Sunday Church School students can collaborate on a group project, each using markers to create one (or more) square(s) of a grid. When put together, this grid will create a piece of art (in this case, a face). http://mseatonsart.blogspot.in/2012/11/this-lesson-originally-came-from.html


Permanent marker on cotton fabric (tshirts or socks work well), with rubbing alcohol dripped onto it, creates a tie-dye effect as demonstrated here:  http://blog.intellidance.ca/blog/4-22-2012/simple-tie-dye-using-sharpies.


Make beautiful “embossed tin” art with aluminum and permanent marker, as demonstrated here: http://babbledabbledo.com/art-ideas-for-kids-embossed-tin-art/