Arts and crafts are not my specialty. I am upfront about this with my students, but I don’t want my lack of art skill to mean that we don’t have any artistic activities in our sessions. I certainly appreciate fine art. I have asked young people to draw pictures as responses to themes we’re discussing. And I do find some projects that I can lead that appeal to the artistic side of young people.
What’s helpful to keep in mind is that I don’t have to be an art major to incorporate visual or crafty elements into sessions. Here are some of the ways I use art with my group:
- Booklets—A foldable booklet is a simple way to keep hands working, and the artistic layout was conveniently done for me in this one outlining Ascension and Pentecost.
- Decoration—One advantage of teaching in a parish without a school is that I can decorate my classroom with posters and other art that can stay as year-long visual invitations to the faith.
- Visual aids—Although I decorate my classroom space for the year, each session can be enhanced with visuals specific to that day’s theme. The Finding God Art Prints help me to bring in those visuals without additional searches for art sources and often have suggestions for artistic activities to engage the young people.
- Coloring—Even older children can enjoy coloring, especially when the coloring page is more sophisticated. I’ve used coloring activities in learning stations to help make points. We have also done some coloring to make holiday cards as a simple, in-class service project.
- Drawing—I don’t have to be the artist when I invite young people to draw in response to the theme of our session. But recognizing that not every student likes to draw (and some are very vocal about not liking art), I do encourage everyone to try and remind them that the pictures or designs are not for a grade, but to help in a conversation with God or to help them remember things discussed.
- Simple projects—Crafts do not have to be complicated to be fun or meaningful. My group has done simple craft projects such as Jesse tree ornaments, Stations of the Cross silhouettes, and Eucharist hosts and chalices with the face of Jesus on them to remind students of the Real Presence.
Despite crafts not being my go-to activity in planning sessions, I recognize art as an important element of the young people’s experience. So using suggestions from my catechist’s manual and a little bit of forethought, I can incorporate artistic experiences in the classroom to make things interesting for visual and tactile learners.
How do you incorporate art or crafts in your faith formation setting?