Saturday, August 25, 2012

SonQuest Rainforest VBS -2012

This was my third year to help with crafts at VBS, and it was our best yet! It didn't hurt that we had a such a great theme: the Rainforest! Here's a list of the fun and inexpensive crafts we did this year. I tried these projects out on Monkey and Tater, and they were able to do them. So, I can recommend these for 4 and up, younger with a little help and supervision. Our VBS was K-6. Photos will be added shortly...

1. Rainforest/Jungle Noodle Necklace. Found the idea here, but I used craft foam leaves instead of card stock. Planned them for the kindergarteners, but even the teen helpers wanted to make them. Find instructions for dying noodles here. I used hemp to string the necklaces. Hemp's a natural material that's renewable and cheap!

2. Paper Bag Monkey. Print out here. Color, cut and glue monkey features on a regular brown paper bag. These were lots of fun for K-2nd graders.

3. Paper Tree Frog. I ended up just making these for decorations. We really didn't have time (20 minutes) to color, cut and paste a craft like this together at VBS. But my boys did this craft and drew a tree on some construction paper and glued their frogs to it. This requires some developed fine motor skills, or not, depending on your expectations. Have tape ready for repairs. Lots more printable paper crafts can be found at, including this adorable jaguar/tiger cub craft. Love the googly eyes! It's another rainforest craft that we didn't have time for at VBS, but the boys enjoyed doing a few.

4. Rainsticks. Save those paper towel tubes! These were a huge hit with the older kids. has a bunch of other craft ideas too.

5. Binoculars. A great idea for younger ones. I used colorful duct tape to put toilet paper tubes together beforehand and punched holes in them for the string. The kids added yarn to hang them from their necks and jungle stickers for decoration.

Pipecleaner Monkey Craft6. Pipe Cleaner Monkeys. I made these as thank you gifts for our teen helpers. I printed out Bible verses on green card stock, cut them out in the shapes of leaves, punched a hole in each and hung one from each monkey's arm. I'd recommend doing this with older kids (8 +) and allow for lots of time. Find other fun crafts at

7. Toucan Craft. This was by far the most popular craft, and it can be modified for any age.  For instance, I used construction paper strips and cut out the beak and head for the younger ones. The older kids used tissue paper and did most of the cutting themselves. I cut out some stuff to save time. I used fruit loops for the eyes.

Week 4 Jungle Toucan Craft
Check out my Rainforest VBS pinterest board for more fun rainforest/jungle ideas. And please remember, if you're planning on making jungle-themed animal crafts (and I hope you will!), lions do not live in the jungle. :)

Monday, August 13, 2012

The Power of Puppets!

I just finished a great week at our first church-produced Fine Arts Camp. We called it Create R Kids. Thirty-some kids participated. Our production was called "How Are YOU Growin'?" and included three parables: The Sower, The Talents, and the Laborers in the Field from Matthew, and the kids presented each incorporating a puppet show, dance and music, including playing instruments. Even Tater got to participate, which he really enjoyed. I think he especially liked the drums. This was an effort produced entirely by church members, including the script. Thankfully, we have some wonderfully talented folks at church who contributed to this endeavor.

My example for puppets we made at Fine Arts Camp
I lead the puppet and craft portions of the camp. I was responsible for directing the puppet element for each parable, assisting the kids in scenery and prop construction and decoration, and helping them make their own puppet to take home. Thirty-plus kids meant thirty-plus puppets. That's a lot of puppets!! We used the glorified sock puppet pattern from I've made other puppets using a different technique, but I think I prefer the one we used this time. It's an easy to follow muppet-style puppet pattern. We had the body ready to go to save time (thanks to some ladies with mad cutting and sewing skills), but the kids added arms,  facial features and hair. Oh, I can't imagine how much hot glue we went through!

Boys holding more of the puppets I made for them
I've made several puppets for the boys using this pattern, so I was very familiar with it, and the nice thing about the pattern is that it is so adaptable. Check out the gallery for inspiration. The materials are also readily available. I used anti-pill fleece for the body, felt for the mouth, ping-pong balls and felt pads for the eyes, craft foam for the tongue, maribou boa for the hair, some 1 inch thick foam for the mouth plate and poly-foam stuffing for the arms and head. Basically, I can purchase everything I need for a puppet in a trip to Jo-Ann's and Target. They cost about $5 a piece, depending on materials.

The kids loved making these puppets. There's a reason why Jim Henson's Muppets still resonate with kids after all these years. All the battery powered toys and computer games available can't replicate the delight and creativity puppets inspire. They are a catalyst to expand their imaginations unmatched by many other types of toys, because children can manipulate them: make them speak, give them personalities, interact with them. I loved watching the kids with the puppets as their creations came to life. And I think that several of the shyer kids were able to cope with the fear of being on stage, because they had a "buddy" performing with them.

I'm always amazed how God manages to use our passions and gifts to his glory. I never imagined that my own interest in puppets as a child, my experience using puppets for Lads to Leaders in middle school, the intense investment of time spent working on plays and musicals in high school and my own passion for creating and teaching art would culminate in this opportunity to share Jesus with these precious children. What an opportunity! And hopefully, these kids will use their puppets as an opportunity to share Jesus with their friends and family.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Butterfly Wreath

I made this summertime wreath for the front door. I've paired the butterflies and ribbon before to make a diaper cake (sorry, no photo), so I thought this might look nice as a wreath. The grosgrain ribbon is about 1 1/2 inches wide. I found the monarch butterflies in the floral section of a craft store. I had a styrofoam wreath already and wrapped the polka dot ribbon around it. The butterflies came with wire attached, so I bent the wired and tucked it into the overlapping ribbon to secure them. I thought about using green ribbon instead, but I opted for the black with white polka dots. The orange of the monarch really pop. My husband thinks the wreath looks a little halloween-y, but I'm happy with the look.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Bubble painting

We did this a while back, but I've just gotten around to posting it. This is a great activity for the summer, too. Super easy. Below are some of the boys' work...

Be sure to cover your work surface with a waterproof tablecloth. This will stain.

Dish soap 
Disposable cups
Paint in various colors (we mixed acrylic and washable, the washable color isn't as intense)

Mix the soap, water and paint in cups, as many colors as you like. Experiment with proportions until you get the consistency you like. Put a straw in the cup and blow gently until bubbles form on top of the cup.  Make sure the kids know not to suck in. I'm sure it wouldn't taste very good. 

Have paper ready and lay the paper on top of the bubbles. The bubbles will burst leaving bubble outlines on the paper. Repeat as often as you like. An overall effect is the most desirable.

Here Monkey demonstrates blowing bubbles - a little more exuberantly than necessary, but making a mess is part of the fun!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

More "Stained Glass" Crafts: Shamrock and Cross

Well, I'm sensing a theme with the "stained glass" craft. It's March, so of course I had to do a shamrock craft for St. Patrick's Day. I used a heart-shaped cookie cutter for this one. Make it like you would a heart.
And this is also a good opportunity to introduce symmetry as a design principle. Monkey's preschool teacher also used this idea for his class! She used green paper, but I like black, since it makes the green stand out. His teacher used a large die-cut shamrock. She taped them to the windows in the classroom. They look really cute.

A friend of mine gave me the idea for an Easter craft with a cross. We're planning on doing this for a church playgroup. Use the same concept for a bunch of other holidays: pumpkins for Halloween, turkeys for Thanksgiving, snowmen for Christmas. Older kids can even cut out the shapes as well.

Like the heart craft, you'll need construction paper, contact paper, scissors and tissue paper cut into small squares.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Heart Crafts: "Stained Glass" and Warm Fuzzy

I know, I know, it's March, and I'm just now posting some V-day crafts. Sue me.
I did this "Stained Glass" Heart project with the boys and with my church playgroup kids, and they all loved it. Great for a range of ages. It's also mess-free, so clean up is a cinch. Oh, and cheap. Don't forget cheap!


Clear Contact Paper
Tissue paper of your choice (I used red, pink, orange and purple) cut into small squares
Black construction paper

Cut out a large heart shape out of the black construction paper. The black will be the frame. Cut a piece of contact paper big enough to cover your heart opening. Peel off contact paper backing and attach to black paper (make sure you cover the heart). Smooth to flatten any bumps. Now add tissue paper to the sticky side of the heart. Tape it to a window. You can also cut around the heart (below) and hang it with yarn.

Here are the boys making their stained glass hearts. Lots of fun. They made some for their teachers, as well.

Though I missed celebrating Valentine's Day on my blog, we did manage a few decorations at home. One was this Warm Fuzzy Heart wreath. I have a hard time finding wreath crafts that I like and don't take a lot of money and time. Because we have a clear storm door, there's not a lot of room for a wreath, either. I had purchased a red marabou boa to use with my puppets as hair. It costs a couple of bucks at craft or fabric stores. I took a wire hanger, lopped of the hook with some wire cutters. You could work it back and forth til in breaks off, too. I held onto the hanger neck as I molded the humps and point of the heart. Make sure your heart shape is symmetrical by checking in a mirror. Then, beginning with the neck, I wrapped the boa around the frame. I secured the end in the cleavage (?) of the heart. Boa wrapping would be a fun way to involve kids. I made a few adjustments to cover the metal part. I hung it from a wreath holder using thin white ribbon attached at either hump.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Owl Taggie Blanket

I finally got around to making an owl taggie for Baby Hoot. He seems to like it. I did something new this time and added an aural element to the blanket by adding clean tortilla chip bag packaging to two corners. I cut two right angle triangle shapes. The two sides of the right angle are about 4 inches long. I stitched the right angle sides of each triangle on two opposite corners. They make a wonderful crunching sound.

I really love the color palette of these owls. I varied the ribbons in width, color and texture (satin and grosgrain). The finished size is approximately 16 x 16 inches. I had some scrap leftover and used it to finish a plain cloth diaper for a burping cloth. I also plan to make a bib out of the owl pattern, but that might be a while.