Saturday, August 9, 2014

Vacation Bible School Crafts: Day 3

This is the third article in my series about crafting for vacation bible school. Catch up on the first and second days of crafts at VBS.

Day 3: Seashells

Craft ideas for day three arrived close to the wire. We knew we wanted to include sea shells in one of the crafts and this was the day to do it. My initial idea for sea shells was to reuse a craft previously done for my older son’s second grade end of year party.

Original seashell wind chime craft

The craft consisted of one popsicle stick with pre-drilled holes, two long lengths of rainbow-died cotton string, and twelve seashells. The string was knotted together in a loop at the strings’ middle. Each end was threaded through each of the holes on the popsicle stick. Finally, the seashells were attached to the string using UHU glue dots (these things are awesome!). The craft worked reasonably well, but the design need improving.

Wind chimes

First, after my experience with the craft the first time around, it was clear that it wouldn’t be easy for children younger than rising third-graders. Most of my son’s second grade class were able to complete the project. There were enough who had trouble with the materials and instructions to indicate younger children would have difficulty with the craft. This meant I needed to come up with something for the pre-k’s to 2nd-graders. More on that later.

Second, there was no way I was going to drill a bunch of holes in popsicle sticks. It was barely feasible the first time around--I had fewer kids to prepare the craft for the first time around. From a numbers standpoint, I just didn’t see it working for VBS.

Third, there was the glue dots. Don’t get me wrong, these glue dots from UHU are wonderful. They’re as strong as using jewelry cement, but without the nasty stickiness you get on your hands. Even so, you have to be careful not to touch the glue dots when using them. If you do get the glue dots on your fingers, they’re easy to get off--but at the price of not getting them to stick to anything else again. This was a challenge for the kids in the second-grade class and proved to be a significant…um…sticking point in the craft.

My teen helper and I tried working out the best way to do this craft. The big thing was attaching the shells. We had already worked out making a cross by glueing together two popsicle sticks perpendicular to each other. We used two lengths of raffia tied together as described above. My teen helper figured out winding the lengths along each cross arm and tying them so each strand hung a little away from the others. We tried tying the raffia around the shells but the shells kept slipping out. We considered the original plan to use glue dots or hot glue to hold the shell on the raffia strand and gave those a try. The glue dots worked okay, but were fiddly and had the same issues as before. As I was pulling the glue dots out of my stash to try, I found a bag of leftover scraps of duct tape sheets from crafts the previous year. We gave the duct tape a shot.

I should have started with the duct tape. Duct Tape brand sells rolls of duct tape in all sorts of fabulous colors and patterns. They also sell sheets of duct tape in these same colors and patterns. These sheets have sticker backs to them. You peal the sticker paper off when ready to stick the tape to something. This makes working with duct tape much, much easier. The previous year, one of the crafts used narrow strips of duct tape sheets to tape a string of beads to a plastic cup. These strips were the duct tape leftovers I had. We realized we could cut smaller pieces off these leftovers and use them to tape the seashells to the raffia. It worked like a charm. Duct tape is certainly strong enough and sticky enough to do the job. With this last detail in place, the sea shell wind chime craft was ready to go.

VBS wind chimes craft


Back to the younger kids. I have to credit Pintrest and the interwebs for throwing out this idea. Loosely, I had a notion of making ornaments with seashells for the younger kids. Practically, I was having a hard time coming up with something that used suitable materials and took up the right amount of time. Googling for ideas brought up this idea on Pintrest: Hearts cut from rolled out sheets of air dry clay with seashells pressed into the clay. The only modification I added was poking a hole in the clay for a hanger made from a short length of raffia.

Seashell heart ornaments

The younger kids really seemed to enjoy this craft. Most adventures in crafting with kids are more about process than product. This was especially true with this craft. The kids fun squishing the clay in their hands, flattening it out, cutting out hearts, and pressing the shells in. Then they would roll it all up and do it again.

I think we blew through an entire pack of wipes cleaning up after this craft was over. That’s what I call a good crafting day.

Day four had a respite from crafting, but was still plenty busy. Stay tuned.

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