It's easy to observe campers engaged in an arts and crafts project and wonder, "How do they use so many supplies?" Glue, paints, wiggle eyes, chenille stems, fake fur, and fuzzy pom poms seem to disappear as campers work on their projects.
While certain supplies are necessary, you can reduce costs by using recycled materials for craft projects. Try these ideas for creative yet cost-conscious projects:
Big Mouth Puppets
Have any old socks laying around in the lost and found? Put them to good use by making big mouth puppets. First and most important instruction…wash the socks!
• Turn clean sock inside out.
• Slip a rubber band into an open safety pin.
• Attach the safety pin to the tip of the toe (see diagram).
• Slip your hand into the rubber band and turn the sock right side out. The rubber band will pull back the fabric, creating a "mouth".
• Practice making your puppet talk by moving your fingers around.
• After you have an idea where the eyes and mouth of your puppet are, remove the sock from your hand.
• With adult supervision, use a hot glue gun to attach wiggle eyes, yarn hair and other characteristics to your puppet.
• Slip the puppet back on your hand and have the group perform a puppet show.
Campers can make special boxes to store camp keepsakes from ordinary boxes and wallpaper scraps. Stop by any home improvement store and ask for their outdated wallpaper sample books. They are usually more than glad to get rid of those heavy books. Campers will delight in cutting up the various papers featuring a wide assortment of designs and textures.
• Set out an assortment of small to medium sized boxes. If your budget allows, many craft stores sell boxes with lids for under $1.00.
• Fill a shallow pan with water.
• Let campers cut up pages of wallpaper into designs or strips.
• Since the wallpaper is pre-pasted, simply soak in water for one minute.
• Remove from water and shake off excess water.
• Place wet wallpaper on boxes. Use a sponge or soft cloth to smooth out any wrinkles. The pre-pasted wallpaper will stick to the boxes.
• Let boxes dry.
Decorative Birdhouse Boots
This craft takes a bit of effort on the counselor's part, but the result is a craft project parents will treasure for years. The hard part is coming up with enough solid colored rubber boots.
If you send out a camp newsletter, ask parents for donations of rubber boots. Check out garage sales where a pair of boots is likely to cost you $1.00 or less. After you have collected boots, let the birdhouse building begin!
• Older campers can use scissors to cut a 2" circle in the center front arch of the boot. That's how the birds get into their new homes.
• Cut two pieces of wood, 1/2-inch thick into 7 1/2" x 5" pieces (wood will be painted so it can be scrap pieces).
• With the boot standing upright, staple each wood piece on the end to the boot. Bring top pieces of wood together into a roof shape and secure with two screws.
• Let campers decorate roof and boot with acrylic paint. For a nice shine, spray a coat of lacquer over the birdhouse.
• Let dry.
• Insert an eye hook on top of the roof for easy hanging.
Silvana Clark has over 20 years experience helping thousands of children create arts and crafts projects. (She thinks the dried paint under her fingernails might start a new beauty trend.) A frequent speaker at camp and recreation conferences, Silvana is also a spokesperson for S&S Worldwide.