It's always nice to tie arts and crafts in with the idea of all that camp entails, rather than doing them to simply fill time or programming space. Here are some interactive craft projects that can be done with inexpensive materials...
Story art is a great way to enhance an arts and crafts program, and it's especially good with young children. There are many ways the activity can be structured.
Read to the kids and let them come up with pictures to illustrate the story. Start with a picture and have the kids come up with the story. Provide a simple line drawing of a story for the children to color while you tell the story.
Start with basic paper dolls, and have the kids decorate them as characters in the story. Modernize a fairy tale, having each child illustrate their favorite character.
Start a story, have the kids illustrate it, then tell how it will end.
Puppet making is also fun. You can make elaborate puppets with papier-mâché heads and cloth bodies, or simple puppets of paper sacks.
Have loads of glue, construction paper, paint or markers, cloth scraps, yarn, glitter and beads. Have the kids invent their own characters, or adapt a known story to camp or to modern times. Let them each choose a character, then rehearse and present the play.
Nature crafts provide readily available materials found on the camp grounds, where half the fun is gathering supplies from nature, plus any materials you buy from suppliers.
There are tons of ideas...
• Press flowers and use them to make stationery, cards, or bookmarks with contact paper or wax paper.
• Make collages by gluing flowers, twigs, leaves, and so forth to make a forest of little things (imagine you're an ant), and be sure to add cotton balls for clouds.
• Weave grasses to make mats or coasters. Wider grasses are easiest, or buy supplies such as reeds and wooden bases that come with instructions!
• Paint rocks (why do kids love this?! At least the supplies are plentiful and cheap!). Special smooth rocks can be found to paint as lucky charms, paperweights with special sayings on them, or decorated to be pet rocks. The finishing touch is gluing on the purchased eyes.
• Potato prints or carved soap prints, by first carving the stamps, then decorating newsprint with yours and others' stamps.
• Walking sticks. Take a hike and help campers find just the right stick, then strip the bark and smooth out the sticks with sandpaper. The next step is decorating. Markers or paint should be waterproof.
• Cornhusk dolls. The cornhusks need to be purchased, along with string and cotton balls. Soften the husks in water, then wrap them around cotton, and tie with string to make the waist and head. Create your doll's arms by folding another husk and tying it near each end to make hands. Slip these arms between the husks that were below the head you made. Make her skirt using husks around the doll's waist so that they overlap slightly and then tie them in place with the string. Fold the husks down carefully. You can trim the husks straight across at the bottom to even your doll's dress hem. Decorate with beads, markers, yarn and ribbon.
• Simple cardboard picture frames can be decorated with small pebbles, small sticks lined up uniformly, dry beans, acorn caps or other interesting things found in nature.
• Stout cardboard or light wooden birdhouses can be decorated similarly.
• Leaf prints can be made with solar paper, or spray paint on butcher paper.
• Make miniature peanut people by gluing seed beads and pieces of felt or scrap cloth onto large peanuts. Use fine-tip markers to draw on faces.
• Children can decorate flowerpots and plant flower or tree seeds (silkwood trees seem especially willing to come up during summer).
C. Jane Ragsdale is the director of Heart O' the Hills Camp in Hunt, Texas. She may be reached for questions at firstname.lastname@example.org. For further discussion and to share ideas go to the Camp Business on-line Bulletin Board at www.camp-business.com/forum/viewforum.php?f=2.