Teaching with Crafts

Confession Time—crafts and art are both my joy and my bane. I get so excited writing them onto the calendar and anticipating the experience, but then the day of the craft, it so easy to make excuses for not doing them.

  • I don’t have the right supplies.
  • We’re running an hour late in school.
  • Littlest is into EVERYTHING.
  • I’m going to be making most of the craft.
  • I have a splitting head-ache, and it’s flat time to end the day.

But then, when I do finally muster the time, supplies, and energy to pull it off, I never regret it. I never finish our craft time thinking “we should have just skipped this one.”

Part of the reason is that our crafts are tied into our learning. It’s not just busy work. These crafts either teach during the craft, reinforce the lesson, or encourage the kids to repeat the lesson over and over for “fun” (e.g. puppet shows!).

One of our recent crafts that was a huge winner was our Mezuzah crafts that went with our Story of the World lesson on the Jewish Dispersion or Diaspora. In fact, for all of the above reasons and a few more, I’d actually put this craft off for nearly a week. But the kids kept begging. And of course, I had all of those empty Nerd candy boxes that I’d been saving. Thus, we finally pulled it together, and I’m very glad we did.

Mezuzah craft

First note, the instructions said to use matchboxes, but since I had a plethora of Nerd boxes after Halloween, I figured those ought to work just as well.

I hot glued the boxes together and wrapped them in foil. The kids cut out the shema and memorized it, then we stuffed it inside our boxes before gluing them closed. Then, the kids decorated them. With blue sticky tack, I hung them on their bedroom door frames.

Mezuzah craft

Mezuzah craft

For the rest of the day, as the kids ran in and out of their rooms, I heard them shouting the shema “Hear Oh Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is One.” (Deut. 6:4)

Mezuzah craft

Mezuzah craft

What I didn’t count on was Littlest, watching his big brother and sister, insist on touching the box before I carry him to bed each night.

So when the next craft time rolls around and I have all my excuses handy (and good excuses at that), prayerfully I’ll remember just how life-changing craft time can be.

Little Pharaohs

Another fun Egypt activity that we’ve done was to make the double-crown of Egypt that represented the Upper and Lower kingdoms. (idea from Pyramids! 50 hands-on activities to experience ancient Egypt)

ancient Egypt study

This was super easy: wax paper, construction paper, and aluminum foil (for the cobra). No patterns or templates. I basically free-handed the entire thing, which is why the cobra is not recognizable on its own without explanation. Though the project wasn’t difficult, it made a huge impression on the kids who instantly ran off to play Pharaohs. (I was later told that one of my daughter’s dolls had been selected to be mummified, and they were using the baby-doll cradle as a sarcophagus.)

ancient Egypt activities

Honestly, just to be open and vulnerable, I don’t always feel like making the mess and doing the crafts. But when I see how much the kids learn, and I watch their studies come alive for them, I never regret the sacrifice of time, energy, or orderliness. We’ll only have this day once.