Have your children sit around a table filled with supplies for an art project and magic happens. My friend, (who is the mother of six!), does this regularly on Sundays and loves the results. She said, “We spend all week trying to get our kids to be nice, to compliment each other, to share. . . and it all just comes together when we are sitting at the table working on our projects. There must be something about the nature of art. There is no right or wrong way to it, so that even the youngest feel on equal ground. But the kids ask each other how they did this or that, they ask politely for the scissors, they pass them and chatter pleasantly.”
“Working” on an art or craft project can be a stress free environment. Like my friend mentioned, there is no right or wrong way to do something. Children do not have to compete or follow a pattern precisely. The results are up to them and in what direction or degree they wish to unleash their creativity.
It becomes an atmosphere of politeness, sharing, encouraging, complimenting and kindly asking for help or offering assistance. If a child becomes frustrated because he can’t use scissors as well as another child or because his water colors blended before he allowed them to dry, talk about it. This is a real emotion that they can learn to handle correctly. Then ask the child with undeveloped fine muscle skills if they’d rather paste instead of cut.
There are endless ideas for art projects. I was going to search the internet for some, but when I thought of March, I thought of two ideas related just to the season.
1. Using poster board, cut out simple lamb or lion head shapes. Cut out the eyes. For the lambs, outline the eyes and color in a nose with black marker. Then glue on cotton balls (may be cut in half) for wool on top of his head. For the lion, use gold or brown poster board. Outline the eyes and color in the nose. Cut out strips of craft paper in gold, orange, red and brown. Roll them on a pencil and glue on for a mane. Attach the masks to paint sticks (I’ve been given several before at a paint section of Home Depot when I asked if I could buy some).
Discuss how March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb. Or sometimes the opposite. Have the children figure out what that means. Discuss the difference between lions and lambs, perhaps how the mountain lion is a predator of sheep, but that the day will come when lions will not attack other animals. Read Isaiah 11:6.
Another day, with the lion masks, roll play the story of Daniel in the Lion’s den. Use the sheep masks to roll play the story of Ammon defending the King’s sheep or the fable of the Boy who Cried Wolf.
2. Make kites. Use materials to make them or buy kits and assemble them. Have fabric scraps to choose from for the tails. Teach them the song “Let’s go fly a Kite,” then go out side and do it.
Later, you might also watch Mary Poppins and sing along: “With tuppence for paper and string, you can have your own set of wings. With your feet on the ground, you’re a bird in flight, with your fist holding tight to the string of your kite!” (Sorry I got carried away.)
One year we bought a beautiful box kite that lasted several years. We had fun assembling it and fashioning the tail. It flew magnificently. Then one day the string broke and it descended perpendicular to the streets. First we tried to run to find it, then we piled into the minivan, faces pressed to windows. Sadly, for all of us, we returned home that day without it. Even these moments of disappointment are healthy for children to experience. It prepares them to handle bigger disappointments later in life.
While flying the kites, point out how tension in the string is important. Ask what would happen if they let go of the string? Another day you could recall that moment and talk about how standards such as dressing modestly, not playing violent video games or not using drugs may seem to hamper us, to “tie us down,” when they are actually helping us to “stay up.”
Well that’s just off the top of my head for March (and I didn’t even get to St. Patrick’s day!). Obtain supplies: scissors, glue, craft paper, water colors, paint brushes, card stock, poster boards, pencils, rulers, string, glitter, paper punches, markers, crayons, etc. etc. For messy projects, use old men shirts worn backwards as smocks. Have newspaper or large sheets of paper or a vinyl table cloth to spread over the table. Present patterns and ideas, but let them personalize them.
Allow the magic to happen as they learn the emotional maturity of cooperation and patience. Help them learn to move past discouragement or frustration. From producing something, they will find confidence in their own abilities and the satisfaction from a completed task.
Then once in awhile consider discussing the art of “great artists.” This post has some ideas about that.