Friday, January 30, 2009

Using Crayons in Children’s Ministries

Are there things you wish your mom had let you try when you were little that she just would not let you try? I used to get the American Girl magazine and each month there was an arts project. One month there was an art project that included melting old broken crayons and pouring the liquid crayons into a cookie cutter to make neat shaped crayons. Mom wouldn’t let me do it. I don’t know if it was because she was scared I’d burn myself melting crayons over the stove or if she just didn’t want to clean up the mess but I had yet to this project ever gotten to do that American Girl art project. Not only did I get to do that but also I got to try out eleven other ways to use crayons that I never had even thought about. And I got to do them with my younger brother and sister, which was an added bonus and they helped me decide which project were the most fun.
But this wasn’t all just because I had a childhood desire that needed to be filled but because in my classes we have learned that no one learns in exactly the same way. We need to combine and provide many different methods for learning. Howard Gardner identified seven intelligences, and though no one learns only one way everyone relies more on one than the rest. One of these intelligences is Visual/Spatial. Visual/Spatial learners learn by visualizing objects and creating mental pictures. (Halverson) Visual/Spatial learning sees information in terms of colors and pictures. Given a choice this child will draw or map out a concept for clarity. Given a choice this child will find pictures, maps, illustrations to see the concept. Pictures are tools to enhance learning. Too much printed material and too much writing will frustrate and discourage learning. Doing arts and crafts is also can fall into a form of Body/Kinesthetic learning. You are using you hands and doing what you learn.
Using crayons is a way to fulfill the needs of those who are visual/spatial learners. Using the various methods, you can use crayons in any curriculum or setting. It encourages different thinking strategies related to Bible study. Creativity also can be a good way for each student to analyze the lesson for the day. (Gronlund) Finding a fun way to get your students to organize the material they have just learned and understanding how the story fits together is a very important ability one should possess. I like using crayons because you get to be creative and it’s really fun. Creativity is very important when you are growing and developing. Plus you can use crayons in many different ways!

Here are a few ways you can use crayons:

Crayon Etching
· Cover the entire surface of white paper with a heavy coat of crayon in either a free or planned design. Be sure to use light colors. Cover the page in a heavy coat of black or other dark color. Using a toothpick etch a design onto the paper. You will remove the dark color and be left with the lighter colors giving a really neat contrasting effect.

Crayon Stencils
— Cut out shape from manila paper. Draw a heavy crayon line around the stencil. Hold cutout portion against background paper and push the color from the stencil onto the paper and push the color from the stencil onto the paper with a soft rubber eraser.

Crayons and Tea Light Candles
Take the paper off of crayons. Light a tea light candle. Place crayon near the fire and melt the tip of the crayon. You can drop droplets onto your paper or draw with the melted crayon.

Crayon Rubbings:
Use gadgets, nature forms or thick cardboard cutouts as motifs. Place under a sheet of drawing paper in an interesting arrangement. Rub over the objects with the side of a crayon. You will get a very neat rubbing.

Crayon Resist
· Apply crayons heavily. Leave some of the paper uncolored. Brush watery black tempera paint or water colors over the entire surface. The crayon “resists” the paint.

Crayon Stained Glass
· Take a sheet of wax paper and some crayon wax shavings. Fold the wax paper in half. Make sure that the shavings are spread over the whole half. Using an iron melt the crayon. It will liquefy and harden making the wax paper stay together. You get this beautiful stained glass effect.

Crayons on Sandpaper
· Draw with crayons on rough sandpaper to achieve rich, vivid textural affects.

Magic Pictures
— Draw pictures on white paper with white crayon. Paint over entire surface with water colors or tempera paint. The picture appears like magic! *Good for snow scenes. Sprinkle salt onto wet paint and creates a snow effect.

Making Different Shaped Crayons
· Melt crayons over a stove top. Place cookie cutters on a cookie sheet covered in wax paper. Pour liquid crayon into each cookie cutter to make different shapes.*You need a lot of crayons and you have to be sure to use cookie cutters that keep the liquid wax inside the cookie cutter otherwise the whole cookie sheet will be covered in wax.

Painting with Crayons
First line a pot with aluminum foil. Add paperless crayons and warm on the stove. The crayons will melt and turn to liquid. Take a paintbrush and paint the liquid crayons onto the paper or other surface. When it hardens you are left with a beautiful texturized painting.
Gel Crayons

There are these neat new crayons called Gel crayons that color really well on dark paper. You can use these to create bright colors on dark surfaces.

Marble Paper
· Dissolve crayon scraps in small quantities of turpentine. Pour this mixture on top of a large container full of water, stir slightly and lay paper on surface of the water. When paper has tried press with an iron between two pieces of newspaper.
(Crayons and Their Uses and Let’s Talk Crayon)

And of course there’s the basic coloring you can do with crayons. Just try not to give your class too many coloring sheets. It is much better for them to be able to free express what they have learned. Coloring in the lines doesn’t leave much room for creativity.

Another way crayons come in handy is during counseling sessions. Children sometimes can’t verbally express how they are feeling and using drawings they have drawn can help those doing spiritual guidance see what’s going on in that child’s mind, especially for those children going through some kind of crisis situation. (Rev. Leanne Hadley)

Have the child draw a picture. You can suggest a self portrait, a picture of their world, school, family, friends or anything they want. Get a general impression of the picture. Is it happy, sad, peaceful, angry, etc? What colors were used? Different colors can signal different emotions about the objects drawn. Are there animals? What kind of animals are there? What are they doing? Animals can sometimes take the place of emotions. What do the people look like? The sizes of the figures can represent power, or self esteem or how the power in family is set up. Are there parts of the drawing emphasized? Are there certain body parts emphasized or left off? Are there spiritual symbols? Where are things placed on the paper? (Rev. Leanne Hadley)

Don’t assume you know what the picture means. The number one thing in using drawings in counseling is to use it as a topic starter. Ask questions.

Pictures can tell you so much especially overtime. If you decide to use crayon drawings in holy listening be sure to keep them and watch how they change along with the child. (Rev. Leanne Hadley)
Crayons can be used for fun and they can be used for situations like counseling. I think it’s very cool that a childhood art supply can be so diverse and useful.

Hadley, Rev. Leanne. Understanding the Drawings of Children and Teens. Handout given to me from Rev. Charlotte Teel on 10/30/07.

Creative Counselors. Crayons and Their Uses. 1975

Gronlund, Norman E. Stating Behavioral Objectives for Classroom Instruction. The Macmillan Company, 1970.

Griggs, Donald L. 20 Ways of Teaching the Bible. Nashville: Abingdon, 1977.

Let’s Talk Crayon Handout received from Dr. Emler

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