Guest Author - Terrie Lynn Bittner
I’ve always enjoyed letting my youngest students do a craft at the end of a lesson. After a long Sacrament Meeting, sharing and singing time and my lesson, they are getting pretty fidgety by the last fifteen to twenty minutes. However, I’m really not a crafty person, and I can’t draw, so if the lesson doesn’t include a picture, I find myself struggling for ideas on the days I can see the lesson will run too short. Following are simple ideas that can be adapted for a variety of lessons, and even tossed in at the last minute.
Keep some simple supplies with you each week in case a lesson runs short, you are dismissed to class very early, or the class is so wound up you know it is pointless to make the lesson run a full forty minutes. These basic supplies will get you through almost anything: crayons, construction paper, safe scissors, glue sticks, yarn, a hole punch, strips of construction paper, cut-out CTR shields, and pre-cut paper hearts of all sizes. If you carry them in a box that fits inside your Primary bag, you can quickly devise a simple craft.
Hats: Glue two strips of construction paper together. Let the children decorate them with crayons, and if you have them, stickers or stamps. (Stamping supplies are messy so you may want to add those yourself.) As the children finish, have them bring you their long strip. Measure and glue or staple to fit. You can write the lesson topic on the strip, or let them glue a heart or CTR shield that has the key word (prayer, faith, etc.) on it. This is preferred if you are adding a craft unexpectedly, because as they color, you can quickly write the lesson topic or a key word from the lesson on the shield, and then hand them out when you finish.
Necklaces: Let the children color a shield or heart. As the children color, quickly snip lengths of yarn. When each child finishes, he can bring you his heart and you can hole-punch it for him. String the yarn through if he is not old enough to do it alone. Tie around the child’s neck. You can ask them to draw a picture on the heart related to the lesson or you can write a key word from the lesson on it.
Give the children a number of hearts and a piece of construction paper. If they can write, have them write something appropriate to the lesson. For example, if the lesson is on prayer, they can write one time they pray on each heart. If it is on family, they can write the names of family members on the hearts. A lesson on baptism might have the child’s baptism date on a large heart, with ways the child is preparing for baptism or keeping his covenants on smaller ones placed around the large one. If the child can’t write, have him draw a small picture representing something similar. Have the children glue the large heart in the center and the smaller hearts around it on the construction paper, or glue all hearts randomly.
Give the children a number of hearts and let them glue them into a chain—glue the edge of one heart to the edge of another. Just as you did in the activity above, have them write or draw something on each heart. This can be placed on their refrigerator at home
Review Chains: Cut the strips of construction paper smaller and let the children make paper chains. Have them each tell you one way they will live the lesson, or let them answer a question from the lesson, and you can give them a piece of the chain. When each child has one piece of paper, have them tell you something else, and give them a second piece. (You can let each child have a turn answering the question, but give each person a strip of paper each time anyone answers. This is faster.) Stop while they glue them into paper chains. Continue until it is time to clean up. If you are doing lessons on kindness or sharing, give them five strips of paper, but give each child only one color. Ask them what they could do if they wanted more colors and lead them to see that if they share, their chains will be prettier. Teach them how to ask for, how to offer and how to receive additional colors.
Coloring pages: Keep a few coloring pictures from lesson manuals in your notebook. There is a picture of Jesus with children, one of a row of children with no faces, and several others that can be adapted. Print them out and cut off any title printed on it. Then quickly write the title that fits. For example, the row of children’s heads with no faces is meant to allow the children to draw a smiling face on it. Write under it, “Pray (or whatever the topic is) makes me happy.” For the picture of Jesus with children, write “Jesus is happy when children _______.” To make this take more time, have them glue this paper to construction paper, leaving a border to be the frame. They can also draw a lesson-related picture on the back.
Nursery Book: Ask each child to draw a picture of something related to the lesson. If they can write, have them write a sentence teaching the message of the picture. “Jesus taught the people to love another.” “I can pray before meals.” “Priesthood holders can give blessings.” Punch holes in the pictures and string them with yarn. Give them to the nursery or Sunbeam teacher to read to her class.
First Craft Activity Book