As a children’s pastor or ministry leader, you’re constantly finding new ways to ensure that teaching kids faith is engaging and educational. One of the best ways to do this is a classic no-brainer: craft time.
By incorporating crafts into your Bible stories for kids, your students reap the benefits of engaging their creative minds as well as their intellectual minds. Craft time also allows them to take something home as a way to spark conversation with their families about the day’s lesson. Crafts serve as a reminder of what they learned in Sunday school.
While crafts are a staple of Sunday school curriculum, a room full of kids plus a tub of glitter and glue can often spell disaster. As a busy children’s pastor, the last thing you and your team want to dedicate extra time to is cleaning up a huge mess.
Here are some helpful tips for keeping craft time less messy so you can spend your time on more important tasks.
- Use Crayons and Washable Markers Instead of Paints
There are a million different reasons why using paint probably isn’t the best idea. Uncapped paints can be a hazard for spilling or can dry out and be a waste of money.
Paint also presents the risk of splattering when in use, and water for cleaning brushes in between colors is yet another opportunity for spillage.
Paint may create beautiful, vibrant artwork, but if the purpose of your craft is to make an artifact to represent the day’s lesson, you may want to consider some other options.
Unlike paint that can stain or dry up, crayons are a much tidier craft supply. Crayons are cost-effective and can be stored easily for a long time. If crayon gets on a surface, the wax can be easily scrubbed or scraped off.
Washable markers are another medium that can keep craft time cleaner. Washable markers still create the same vibrant colors as paints, but they will come off surfaces much easier and can be washed out of fabrics.
For your younger student, you may even try incorporating paint sticks! These nifty tools offer all of the fun and vibrance of paint without any of the mess. You can feel free to let the little ones create their masterpieces without fear of completely destroying your classroom or sending them back to parents as an utter mess. The paint from these sticks even has a quick-dry formula to ensure there is no mess at any point in the process.
- Use Glue Sticks Instead of Glue
That giant bottle of white craft glue is an accident waiting to happen. For kids who love sticky, gooey substances, dumping out a bottle of glue and splashing in it with their hands is probably the best part of craft time.
Bottled glue takes potentially hours to dry and offers little precision in application. One wrong move and the glue is either spilled all over the table, or covering the craft you were making.
A simple solution is to use glue sticks instead. A glue stick is not nearly as enticing for kids who like to play with bottled glue, so you’ll probably find fewer of them abusing their glue privileges.
A glue stick is also a more precise medium. With no opportunities to spill, a glue stick puts glue directly where you want it and nowhere else – just be sure to put the cap back on.
- Have Smocks on Hand for Messier Activities
When kids have craft time, what is their first instinct if they get something on their hands?
If you answered: Wipe it on their shirt, pants, or neighbor, you’re correct!
It would be great if every kid walked over to the sink for a wash when crafts got messy, but that may be us dreaming the impossible dream.
If your kids have craft glue and sequins smeared all over their clothes, you can be sure that it will soon transfer to your cabinets, carpets, and tables. Save yourself a headache and keep a set of smocks on hand when you anticipate a messier craft.
Remember that these don’t have to be professional attire. A bunch of large donated T-shirts (or the leftovers from your last church event) could be the one thing standing between you and a giant mess.
The parents of your Sunday school students will also be immensely appreciative. Since smocks can be easily thrown in a trash bag and washed for their next use, parents no longer have to worry about craft time staining their kids’ clothes or dirtying up their cars.
- Invite Kids to Help You Clean Up
Even if the particular tools you’ve used for craft time aren’t messy, putting away all of the supplies and cleaning up scraps of paper can still be time-consuming.
This can be a great opportunity to teach kids the importance of hard work and helping others.
While enlisting your Sunday school class to help clean up the mess from craft time can lift some of the burden from your shoulders, it also presents an opportunity for your kids to learn how to clean up after themselves instead of relying on adults to do it for them. They may also feel an additional sense of accomplishment because they were able to complete a difficult task and exercise some autonomy.
The duties of a children’s pastor are many, and while each of them is important, there may be a more pressing need for your time (and your team’s!) than spending hours cleaning up a messy craft. To avoid throwing out craft time completely, start implementing these mess-free craft ideas and see for yourself the difference it makes.
If you’re looking for more Sunday school craft ideas, children’s ministry ideas, or tools for teaching kids about Jesus, check out our catalogue of resources to help your ministry flourish in exciting and engaging ways!