Tag Archives: Project

On Finding a Way to Help (Even on a Limited Budget)

Author’s note: Summer schedules sometimes are changed enough that perhaps your Sunday Church School class would have time to do a service project together. If you wish to do so, here are some ideas of ways for you and your students to actively live your Faith this summer.

There are so many different needs that come to our attention. A local fire or flood, a foreign orphanage, a friend-of-a-friend’s illness with lofty medical costs, hungry homeless in a nearby city, etc. The list goes on, and sometimes it can feel overwhelming. Because we are Christians, we need to live a life of giving and helping. We become aware of needs, sometimes on a daily basis, and we are know that we should be part of the cure for those needs. But where do we start? What can we do to help? How can we make a difference?

There may be times and seasons in our life when we can actually go to where the need is and physically help. There may be other times when going is just not possible, but we are able to help financially. But what about those times when we cannot go, but we also do not have the kind of money that we want to donate to help?

Even as far back as the 6th century, this must have been an issue as well, because Abba Dorotheos spoke to it. His words still hold for us today. He said, “No one can say, ‘I am poor and hence I have no means of giving alms.’ For even if you cannot give as the rich gave their gifts into the temple treasury, give two farthings as the poor widow did, and from you God will consider it greater gift than the gifts of the rich. And if you do not have as much as two farthings? You can take pity on the sick and give alms by ministering to them. And if you cannot do even this? You can comfort your brother by your words. ‘A good word is better than the best of gifts.’” In other words, we need to look at what we can give, and give that; whether it’s lots of money, a little money, our time, or our kindness.

If we want our class to live the life of the righteous people mentioned in Matthew 25: 35-36 (“I was hungry and you gave me food; I was thirsty and you gave me drink,” etc.), we need to teach our students about the importance of giving from what we have, as Abba Dorotheos mentioned. But maybe we can get a little creative with what we have, and multiply what we have so that we have even more to give! If we just back up a little in that same chapter of Matthew, we will find one of Christ’s parables: “The Parable of the Talents.” In this story, we read about people who were given talents (money) according to their ability. The focus in this parable is not so much on how much they were given as it is in how they USED what they were given. The person with only one talent who did absolutely nothing with it ended up losing what he was given; whereas the ones who used what they were given, multiplied it and were able to enter into the joy of their lord.

But how do we multiply what we have? First, we need to talk with our students about giving and how important it is to our Christian life. Then we need to gather as a class and list all of the needs we know that we may want to help meet. Choosing one need to work towards helping first is our next task. We need to be sure to consult our priest on this part of the project: he will be very helpful in identifying which need(s) are the most important for us to fill. The next thing we need to do is decide how much we have available to give (we’ll call that our “deposit”). We teachers can personally offer the amount for the deposit, or we can have our students write a letter to their parents requesting a small donation, and pool those donations to create our class’ deposit. After we have gathered our deposit, we can begin to brainstorm creative ways to multiply that deposit. We can either set a specific goal of how much we hope to raise and work to that end, or just try to make our deposit grow as much as possible: that’s up to the class. Once we’ve brainstormed ways to multiply our deposit to help us reach our goal, we need to select one of those creative ways to multiply it, and work together to carry it out. (Note: we will need to enlist parents and/or other volunteers from the parish to help us with the “working together to carry it out” part!)

This process can be a great blessing not only to those in need who receive the final gift we give, but also to each member of our class! Those in need will gain some items or finances that they need. We will gain the joy of giving from what we have. We also gain the positive experience of working together to choose a need and then finding a way to help to meet the need. Perhaps best of all, we gain the peace of knowing that, at least in this part of our life, we are living as true Christians.

“Inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.” Matthew 25:40

Need some ideas of ways to multiply your giving? Here are a few. What ideas do you have? Share them with the community, and let’s all get to work, making a difference in our world! We are not limited to one creative means of multiplying our deposit: once we complete one project’s gift, we can move on to another!

Spend your class’s deposit money on supplies to create something else that you can offer for sale. Does your class like to bake? Spend it on ingredients and get baking! Do you prefer to create things? Spend it on craft supplies and make the crafts together. Do you enjoy building things? Purchase the needed wood and get sawing! (Here are some ideas for starters: http://www.parents.com/recipes/familyrecipes/quickandeasy/simple-bake-sale-treats/; http://diyjoy.com/crafts-to-make-and-sell; http://www.diyncrafts.com/4478/home/40-genius-rustic-home-decor-ideas-can-build) Donate what you create, or sell it (perhaps to your fellow parishioners) to grow your monetary gift.


Perhaps your “deposit money” isn’t money at all: maybe you are able to donate items that you no longer need or use or want to give. At home, have each member of the class go through their things and find items to donate (with parental permission). If you are trying to meet a need that requires the items themselves, you can give them as your gift. If not, and with your priest’s blessing, perhaps you could put them up for sale on a table in the coffee hour space. Anything that doesn’t sell to fellow parishioners could be sold at a yard sale, consignment shop, classified ad, or online. Then you will have money to give if that is what is needed! (You may want to check out the ideas here, or find more elsewhere online: http://clark.com/personal-finance-credit/where-to-sell-your-old-stuff-for-top-dollar/)


What can you turn your “deposit” into? Find something that you’re willing to part with, and trade it for something better. Then trade that item for something even better, and so on, until you end up meeting your goal for the gift you want to give. Need inspiration? This young man traded a red paperclip for a pen shaped like a fish… and traded that for a doorknob with a crazy face on it… and on and on, until he had a house. Teachers (one of the trade offers which he turned down is not appropriate for children to hear, sorry) can watch his Ted talk about the experience here, for inspiration, if you haven’t heard about this idea before, and then you can describe the idea to your students: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8s3bdVxuFBs


Perhaps you’d rather have a class work day to turn your “deposit” into more money. Brainstorm the kind of work you can do together as a class- perhaps yard cleanup, a painting job, cooking or cleaning for someone. “Advertise” to your fellow parishioners, to see if any of them would need your help and be willing to hire your class for specific tasks (or by the hour). You may need to spend some of your “deposit” on flyers advertising your services, on gas to get to wherever you’re working, on lunch or drinks needed to fortify you, etc…, but your earnings should still multiply that deposit!


What talents do your students have? Consider hosting a “(grade level) Class Shares Their Talents” event at church or in your own backyard. Charge a small admission fee, have snacks for sale, have some guessing games or raffle items, and then have your class share your talents with attendees in a performance! In this case, your “deposit” will need to cover advertising flyers, food, and prizes. Your talents and the donations of your generous guests will multiply the deposit to grow your gift! (Here’s how one family hosted a neighborhood talent show, if you need ideas: http://lessthanperfectlifeofbliss.com/2013/08/talent-show-party-night-with-stars.html)


What if you have no “deposit” money available to give? No problem! Approach business owners in your parish, to see if they would be willing to sponsor your class as you serve the parish or in the community. This idea gives twice: once to the organization which you are serving in the service project, and once to the need which your sponsor money will help to meet! Ask your priest for ideas of where to serve. If he doesn’t have any suggestions, consider one of these ideas: https://hybridrastamama.com/50-family-friendly-community-service-project-ideas/

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: 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.
Use the pencil to very lightly trace the template or draw the image onto the paper.


Tear up the brightly colored tissue paper into the size and shape of your choice.
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.


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

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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.


Allow the project to dry.


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


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.