Monday, December 03, 2007

Christmas: Children's Service Project

Visiting nursing homes with your class of children is always a much needed appreciated service project. This year, add an extra touch by making homemade Christmas cards.

We did this yesterday at our church. Instead of letting the children make up their own ideas, I designed two sample cards for them to copy. This way, we kept cards consistent in their message, I had more control over what art supplies were used, we were able to put a specific message in each card that proclaimed Jesus as the reason for the season, yet the cards allowed for some individual creativity. We had 96 cards to make. That’s a lot for a small youth group so we had to have something was fairly easy for the children to put together.

Here’s what we did:
1. For the high school class, I had them cut out a snowflake from a folded 4 inch square of white paper. They folded a blue piece of construction in half, glued a four inch piece of red tissue on the front, then glued the snowflake, slightly tilted on top of the red tissue. They used glitter glue pens to decorate the snowflake. On the inside, they wrote, “May Jesus give you a beautiful Christmas. (signed, name of church.)

2. For the elementary class, I had precut 2 inch wide piece of green paper that fit eon the front of a folded red piece of paper to look like ribbon on a package. I allowed children to put a tuff of tissue paper in the center. On the inside, they cut and glued small squares of construction paper to look like presents. They glued small loops of yarn on top of the presents. They wrote, “Jesus is the best gift of all. Merry Christmas. (Signed. Name of church.)

Why didn’t I let the younger kids use the glitter? Years of teaching experience have taught me glitter, glue and young children are a toxic mix, especially when you don’t have much time! Yet the high schoolers loved it and added some creative touches I didn’t expect.

Why glitter glue pens? I adapted this idea from a craft idea on a website that suggested mixing glue, glitter and water together, then paint the mixture onto the snowflake. In my sample card, I found out very quickly – this doesn’t work.

Why the sample cards? As a curriculum writer, I know how easy it is to suggest activities that you haven’t actually tried out. Unless you have experienced making a craft a certain way before, always, always, make a sample of the craft project. Some children do best by looking at what you want them to make. Also if it is an idea that just won’t work, you find it out in the middle of the week, not in the middle of the class session.

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