On Wednesday nights throughout the school year, Chris and I are “yellow team” leaders in our church’s Awana program. We hurry home from work, feed our pathetic cats, grab some fast food, and show up to church a few minutes late every Wednesday. We work with a group of third, fourth, fifth, and sixth graders as they study Scripture, complete activities, and ultimately memorize verses.
With May just around the corner, I’ve started planning for our summertime program that replaces Awana once the kids are out of school: MegaSports. If you know me even remotely, you’ll know sports are significantly beyond my wheelhouse. Fully within my realm of expertise, however: crafts, y’all.
Yes, I lead the less-than-sporty crowd at MegaSports, and we do crafts proudly.
I’ve been leading crafts since 2015. I took up this mantle when I learned that our children’s pastor could never find anyone willing to do it. This blew my mind; who wouldn’t want to bust out the popsicle sticks and glue with some munchkins on a fine Wednesday evening in summer?
Turns out, the hard part isn’t corralling an excitable group of kids around a table strewn with craft supplies. It’s finding crafts that are do-able with groups of kids. Most kids’ crafts that you’ll find on Pinterest are either too complicated for the attention-deficient or too simple to occupy older kids, or they require materials that are expensive or impossible to find in bulk (a must for church activities). It takes time and effort to find crafts that use inexpensive supplies, have simple instructions, and are suitable for a range of ages.
This blog post is inspired by my quest for such crafts. I’m writing it selfishly, as an attempt to wrangle all the ideas floating around on my children’s ministry Pinterest board for this year’s MegaSports. (Also, I’m 100% procrastinating some yard work needing to be done. Whoops.)
Wanna see some of my ideas for this year’s crafts? (Click the Read More button below on the right.)
This craft is serving as inspiration moreso than one I plan to follow by the letter. I think kids would enjoy adding clothespins to the outer edge of a sturdy paper plate. They can decorate it like a sun, as pictured, or however they please using whatever materials you have on hand; attach a soda can pop tab to the back with some glue to hang on the wall.
Here’s another one that inspired me! To make this one simpler for me as a leader, the kids can build the frame using two standard-sized craft sticks and two jumbo craft sticks (for the longer sides). I love that you can use the frame to write scripture if you want to incorporate a lesson! The blogger has an excellent video demonstrating this craft at the link.
I’m not sure there was ever a church craft better suited to groups (and using cheap supplies) than the salvation/witnessing bracelet! It’s invaluable for empowering kids to share the Gospel, and an excellent opportunity to share with any kids in the group who don’t know Jesus. If you’d rather use a kit that amass the supplies on your own, Oriental Trading sells sets of 12 for less than $5 (Colors of Faith Bracelet Craft Kit).
Moving on… the MegaSports “season” always overlaps with three other holidays/events: Father’s Day, Fourth of July, and Vacation Bible School. Here are the ways I’m integrating those into this year’s crafts:
Here’s another craft that can be modified with supplies that are cheaper and easier for groups! Build the frame using craft sticks, and use colored craft stones or vase filler (from the dollar store). The blogger shares her free “You Rock Dad” printable at the link.
A caution with Father’s Day crafts: in an effort to be sensitive to any children who do not have a father figure to celebrate the day with, I usually give them other options for who to create the gift for (dad, granddad, or mom/any special someone). When I make a coloring sheet to fill the frame, I’ll make an effort to include these options.
For the Fourth of July this year, I’ve found two simple crafts that I’m considering creating in “stations” so that kids can make both!
I love these salt + glue paintings on black construction paper! Craft supplies just don’t get any cheaper than that. I’m thinking of getting cheap watercolor sets (one per table) for the kids to share in order to add color to their fireworks.
My other Fourth of July option — these adorable plate + craft stick paddles! Once the restless kiddos finish decorating them (with markers/stickers, so we don’t have to worry about drying time), we can head outside to burn off all that excess energy batting balloons about while the fireworks paintings dry.
Number one: you can’t go wrong with salt dough. Number two: this year’s VBS will be superhero-centric, so I would like to tie into that theme on the MegaSports night before VBS begins. These salt dough handprints are super customizable, and kids can make whatever they want, such as those fossil prints above, with leftover dough (we will not be baking them in an oven, but will send them home with kids on a plate to air-dry).
If you do have access to an oven, you can blow kids’ minds with Shrinky Dinks! You could cut sheets of Shrinky Dink plastic in half ahead of time and give one half-sheet to each kid to draw whatever they please. Bonus points for providing cord, key rings, or magnets to make them more than just adorable bits of shrunken plastic.
Since I’m guaranteed to have a wide range of ages, ability-levels, and attention spans in the MegaSports craft room, I try to have a pile of coloring pages on hand to occupy early-finishers. This year I’ll be using these summer-themed coloring pages; I’ve found many more free printable coloring pages that feature scripture (you can explore those on my children’s ministry Pinterest board).
So these are some of my ideas for MegaSports Crafts: 2017 edition. While working on this post, I came across some of the crafts that I’ve used in years past, and I figured I could share those with you as well!
You simply can’t lose with craft sticks and glue. These can be embellished at the end with anything you have on hand (sequins, buttons, beads, etc). Younger kids have trouble at first with the logistics of layering the “walls” of the box, but once you have that down pat, they can build the walls as high as they want.
Contact paper suncatchers do require some prep in advance. You’ll need to cut the roll of contact paper into usable pieces (two per craft), as well as trimming tissue paper in various colors; to make these jellyfish, I’d recommend cutting the ribbon ahead of time, too. The kids can make any shape they please, including crosses, kites, bookmarks, etc!
On the last night of MegaSports in 2015, we provided the kiddos with a huge bag of toilet paper/paper towel tubes and some ideas for how to upcycle them, and let the kids go nuts. To make the supplies for these bird feeders even cheaper, we made an edible paste with flour and water. (Note: Chris thought this craft was far messier than it was worth, but the kids loved it.) Cardboard tubes are high on the list of thrifty craft fare; here are some more ideas for how to use them in crafts.
Some more crafts from MegaSports past:
- “We Love You To Pieces” Puzzle Piece Sign – This was our Father’s Day craft in 2015. I prepped the puzzle pieces in advance by spreading them out on a piece of cardboard and blasting them with red spraypaint.
- Fourth of July Cup Windsock Craft for Kids – Oh hello, 2015 Fourth of July craft! A wholesome use for red Solo cups!
- Plastic Spoon Bugs on a Branch – These, admittedly, did not turn out very well. The cheap acrylic paint we had on hand wouldn’t stick to the plastic spoons, and permanent markers turned out streaky. Maybe a coat of white spraypaint would’ve made a more matte surface?
- Tic Tac Toe Rocks Activity – I modified this last year to make it more group-friendly. We used glass vase filler (like this) for our “rocks;” I, once again, blasted ’em with white spraypaint so the kids could decorate them with Sharpies.
- Bottle Banks – Another unfortunate encounter with plastic that wouldn’t cooperate when we tried to decorate it (neither paint, nor markers, nor beads attached with school glue would adhere). I also cut the coin slots in the top in advance so that the kids wouldn’t cut themselves; overall, not worth it.
As you can see, I’ve learned a lot of arts & crafts lessons the last few summers. It’s challenging to find craft ideas suitable for groups of kids, be it at church or not — but it’s not an impossible task! You just have to be willing to tweak good crafts to suit your needs with instructing, gathering supplies, and participant age levels.
What are your go-to crafts for groups of kids?