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.