By Jaime Jo Wright, Crosswalk.com
Summer is coming, and along with that comes needing things to do with our children who are home from school. Growing educationally throughout the summer months is important, and so is a continued focus on Biblical values and foundation. All too often, summertime can be filled with events, commitments, entertainment, and sooner than we realize, Autumn is upon us. In our busyness, we fall short of furthering our children's imaginations and their relationships with the Lord.
I've found crafts to be immensely helpful in not only keeping children's and even the entire family's attention, but also in helping to focus them on pivotal elements of Scripture that can bring their faith into real life. Finding those Scripture passages that you want to be certain are written on their hearts can begin by writing them on a piece of art, carving them into wood, painting them onto a rock, and so much more. Children respond to sensory elements of learning, and crafts are a way to build on that engrained instinct to feel, smell, and see. The vibrancy of colors, the textures of papers, and the elements used to connect them all bring a visual aid to learning that will teach their minds in ways simple words or reading cannot.
Being able to associate a Biblical principle with a craft or project will forever imprint the imagery into their brain. When they hear that verse in the future, remember a principle or precept, etc., many times, the craft will come to mind simply because of being influenced by the senses. This means that the reverse may happen as well. When they see something that reminds them of that particular craft, they then will have that Scripture or principle brought to mind.
Crafts are out there for all ages too! This is not just for the wee ones, or the especially creative ones, or even the elementary-aged children. All ages can benefit from crafting—and so can those who are "not good at crafts."
Photo credit: ©Getty Images/greg801
Here are a few ideas to help jump start your sensory Bible experience this summer:
1. Noah's Ark Craft – Pre-school / Early Elementary Age
Want to teach the little ones the basic Bible stories? Noah's Ark is always a win-win beginning story—even though it ends in ultimate destruction. Focus on the rainbow and the promises of God; teach your children that not only does God keep His promises, He also looks after the well-being of His people and His creation. Not to mention, it's always fun to have the children pick out their favorite animals when creating this piece of art.
For this project, you'll need: Paper plates, stick glue or tape, markers, sticky foam animals, and either a brown paper plate or brown paper bag. If you want to get extra creative with this project, throw in some yarn and a paper hole punch so you can hang the artistic expression in your window. 😊
Instructions for this super colorful and fun project can be found here. If you scroll down, you'll even have a link to a special song you can play while creating and learning of God's promises!
2. Jesus Blessed the Children Craft – Pre-School / Early Elementary Age
Colors, hearts, and paper to remind your child of Jesus' blessings! This is something fun for the littles to color on construction paper hearts, glue them together, and watch the colors blend. Even greater is the realization of Jesus' love for them. Get extra creative, and once the hearts are put together, stick magnets to the back or hole punch and tie a ribbon through it. You can make it a doorknob hanger, a window hanger, or stick it to their bedroom doors to remind them how much Jesus loves them.
For this project, you'll need: construction paper, crayons, and glue. Instructions for this fun can be found here.
3. Salt Cross – Elementary Age
Elementary-age children will enjoy a craft with a bit more technicality, but you, as craft overseer, will enjoy that it doesn't take too much involvement from you. Making a cross the kids can hang on their door as a poster, stick to their ceiling over their bed, or even frame becomes a great reminder of God's sacrifice on their behalf. A hallmark of their faith! Not to mention, the kids get quite entranced as they see watercolors running together and the cross becoming a colorful work of art!
For this project, you'll need: Black construction paper, white glue, salt, watercolor paints, paintbrush. Instructions for this fun can be found here.
4. Prayer Jars – Elementary Age
It is so important to be teaching prayer to children. But sometimes, prayer is difficult for us even as adults, let alone children learning to navigate what to pray for. Prayer jars are colorful, individually unique, and kids look forward to drawing a popsicle stick prayer subject. Watch your kids not only enjoy personalizing this craft project but also anticipating prayer time with more excitement and desire to pray! Encourage them to write down the names of special people they want to remember to pray for, or events, or even concepts of faith in which they wish to grow.
For this project, you'll need: mason jars, liquid watercolor, paintbrush and cups, tacky glue or hot glue, burlap ribbon, acrylic paint, Elmer's glue, Mod Podge, glitter, sticky gems, craft trim, paper, markers, and jumbo craft sticks. Instructions for this fun can be found here.
5. Jesus Name Card – Elementary Age
Reminding children of the name of Jesus is synonymous with bringing their faith to their attention on a regular basis. This craft is one that will get their creative juices flowing and remind them of the cleansing work that Christ did for them on the cross. A washing away and leaving the purity and cleanness behind.
For this project, you'll need: heavyweight paint paper, white cardboard, or canvas, Tempura/washable paint, paint brushes, painter's or masking tape, paper plate, pencil, and eraser. Instructions for this fun can be found here.
6. Bible Verse Tower – Elementary / Teenage
Scripture memorization is key to a young person's faith. Challenge them with this craft to not only memorize Scripture, but to have fun doing so. Build a tower. Turn it into a competition. Try not to have the tower fall. Watch even your teenagers enjoy learning Scripture as they also engage their engineer skills. As verses are memorized, they can be added to the structure. You may even make this a summer-long project and have a ginormous tower of memorized Scripture, colorful straws, and paper come the start of the school year!
For this project, you'll need: Plastic straws, scissors, and markers/crayons/pencils. Instructions for this fun can be found here.
7. Soldier's Army Card – Elementary / Teenage
This fun craft can be as simple or as elaborate as the student wishes to make it. But this card reminds us of who fights battles on our behalf. Always wanting our children and youth to be aware that Christ goes before us, this visual aid will keep that front and center. Get creative and attach a magnet to the back so they can stick them in their school lockers, on a fridge, or so on.
For this project, you'll need: Plastic soldiers, green or camouflage foam cut, brown card stock, glue, hot glue, and magnets (optional). Instructions for this fun can be found here:
8. Bible Verse Candle Holders – Adult
And while you're working with the younger generations, don't forget that you can craft too! Sometimes as adults, we need that time out to regenerate and get our own creative juices flowing, while we also focus our minds and hearts on things above. This beautiful project involves your favorite Scripture or inspirational quote, candlelight, and the beauty of seeing it glow. That glow can remind us of the light of Christ that lives within us; how it can reach out and warm the world around us.
For this project, you'll need: plain or patterned tissue paper, card stock, scotch tape, scissors, cylindrical candle holder, decoupage glue, foam brush, and embellishments such as ribbon, gems, or buttons. Instructions for this fun can be found here.
Creativity is a way of worshipping the Lord, hiding His Word in our hearts, and focusing our minds on things above. Taking the time to center ourselves using creative outlets will bring the family together, encourage conversation, and perhaps even reshape perspective. Exodus 31:1-6 speaks to the importance the Lord places on creativity as He specifically calls out Bezalel and this Old Testament member of the tribe of Judah who was "filled with the spirit of God" and "with all kinds of skills." The passage goes on to describe "artistic designs," "work in wood," and "all kinds of crafts."
It's a small blip in a massive Book filled with potentially more impacting Scripture. But it's comforting to note even here that God associates creativity with closeness to Him. As a form of worshipful expression, and one that will forever engage hearts closer to Him.
Photo credit: ©GettyImages/StockRocket
Jaime Jo Wright is an ECPA and Publisher’s Weekly bestselling author. Her novel “The House on Foster Hill” won the prestigious Christy Award and she continues to publish Gothic thrillers for the inspirational market. Jaime Jo resides in the woods of Wisconsin, lives in dreamland, exists in reality, and invites you to join her adventures at jaimewrightbooks.com and at her podcast madlitmusings.com where she discusses the deeper issues of story and faith with fellow authors.