When you turn your art projects and activities into learning experiences, you give the children worthwhile lessons that will be with them long after the project is gone. Here’s how: focus on what the children can learn rather than what they can make. As the children work, talk about the Bible lesson or theme of the day. Keep the focus on the Bible story or the memory verse. Tie the craft back into the day’s point.
Help the children have a fun time. Don’t let them get frustrated. If a craft becomes too difficult, switch gears and adapt the craft to the child. For example, if threading yarn becomes tedious, stop the threading. Chenille wire stems are much easier for a young child to thread than yarn. Let him try using chenille wire, if you have some on hand. If not, let the child add stickers to the craft or decorate it with markers or jewels. Turn your time with the child back into a fun experience. If a child finishes early (or just gives up), let him move to a free play area or begin a coloring project.
Allow each child to be the creative being God intended. Encourage creativity by:
1) Allowing the children to make their own creations, even if they vary from the suggested pattern.
2) Explaining to the children the sensations they are feeling as they experience their creations. (Saying, “This clay feels smooth on my hands. It’s fun to make things with clay. I’m glad God gave us hands to feel clay.”)
3) Describing to the children the colors and shapes they are seeing as they create their art projects. (Saying, “These colors are beautiful. I see blue, red, and green. I’m glad God gave us eyes with which to see such wonderful colors.”)
4) Pointing out acts of helpfulness and relating them to what the Bible says about being helpful. For example, you might say, “Taking turns is one good way to be helpful. I like the way [Niko] is helping his friends by waiting patiently for his turn with the red paint.”
5) Commenting on the process (or asking the child to comment) rather than focusing on the finished product. For example, saying, “I like the way you are molding the clay into such fun shapes” or “Tell me about your colorful creation” rather than asking, “What is that?” or incorrectly guessing what it is.
6) Tying the craft into the Bible lesson by including a memory verse with it. If you teach young children, print the memory verse on a sticker they can add to the finished craft. Say the verse together as they work. Including the memory verse or Bible point somewhere on the craft can help parents understand the lesson theme, even when the child isn’t able to verbalize it.
7) Talking about the Bible story or the lesson theme as the children work. Read through the Bible story the week before your lesson. Then pray throughout the week, asking God to work through you to help the children understand His Word and to prepare their hearts for what He wants them to learn. Briefly review the Bible story or theme while the children finish their crafts.
As you help your students with their crafty creations, enjoy the experience and let God's love shine through your attitude and actions. After all, you're not just encouraging children to be creative, you're teaching them God's Word!