Crafting seems to have been a staple of children's ministry for many years. The beloved paper plate presents endless possibilities. In this post we will explore how we can use the same resources in a different way and for a different purpose. The difference between a make and a craft is that the make requires the child to be both 'hands on' and 'minds on'. The approach is firmly rooted in the 'active learning' paradigm in which children are encouraged think about and reflect on what it is they are learning. In the make children can explore biblical truths and theological ideas in an active way.
The below will consider three key features of the make and will explore the practical considerations to this approach
Start with a question
In the craft a child is asked to make a predetermined object, item or artefact, they are given a recipe of steps to follow and specific materials, tools and joining techniques. A make calls upon the child's imagination and ability to investigate and interpret key ideas surrounding a particular problem or challenge. Presenting the children with a 'make challenge' is a great way to support children on their imaginative journey full of investigation and interpretation.
You could get children to work on a group make challenge seeking to develop the scenery of the story that you are exploring. Alternatively you could create a key object or artefact connected to the story. Throughout the make children should have access to they story that they are exploring through the make. The adult can prompt the children to consult the story or re-read sections as appropriate whilst making.
Consider how you will organise your resources
Independence is central to the make. Thinking about how you organise your materials and resources to enable this is key.
Using a resource trolley to store materials individually is a common approach to organising materials. Educational suppliers such as TTS can provide these for budgets starting from from around £140 - £300.
I was on a tighter budget, so in our children's ministry space I bought a wooden vegetable rack from amazon for just under £45. I slightly adapted the trolley by using the two front bars of each layer in a alternative way. As you can see in the first picture below, one of the bars is screwed flat onto the front of each layer.The second picture shows how the other bar was used at the back of each layer to keep the jars in place. On the top layer this bar conveniently acts as a shelf for tins containing scissors, glue sticks, pens and and pencils. I added a kitchen roll holder on the end of the trolley to create a handle and tape storage solution.
For faith at home making we have a smaller scale version of the make station. We purchased a mini wooden chest of drawers from Ikea for £17. Using masking tape I have attached an example of the items that can be found in the drawers. Our children quickly became familiar with what could be found where.
Ensure that you prioritise time for talk and response
Key to the make is ensuring that there is time for talk. The role of the adult isn't to facilitate the making, the end product isn't what is important. Rather the talk and the opportunity to interrogate the teaching point or story and consider how this may apply to us is key. You might find it helpful to prepare some pre-arranged questions to ask children during the make such as:
What is the challenge?
What do you know that will help you with the challenge?
What don't you know about the teaching point/story? Where could we find the answer for this? (and then following up the suggested action for example re-reading a story or looking at different passages in the bible)
Why do you think we are explore X idea/story today?
Where is God in the idea/story?
Why do you think the writer wanted you to know about X idea/story?
This basic question may lead to further, more tailored and specific questions. If you feel moved to encourage a response outside of the make such as praise or prayer feel free to do this as prompted.
Good questioning should always result in further questions being asked. It may be a good idea to consider how wider questions can be recorded. If appropriate, these questions could form the starting point for future planning.