For most kids, arts and crafts mean a break from doing math and working on spelling lists. However, arts and crafts projects do not have to stand alone as diversionary projects done between serious lessons. They can be incorporated into all areas of the curriculum, giving children a broader perspective on how the world works.
Arts and crafts provide more than just a diversion. They allow you to broaden a child's understanding of subjects like history and storytelling, the natural world and cultural traditions by giving them another medium in which to experience the subject in a different way using different senses. According to an article in the “Salem Gazette,” a child may not understand a concept like migrant workers, but seeing Dorothea Lange’s portrait of the migrant mother gives a visual understanding of the concept through the art of photography. Children as young as second grade can gain knowledge about a subject by being engaged in the subject through art or a crafts project.
Stories help children organize their thoughts and understand their world. Arts and crafts projects that embrace storytelling help children understand their own lives through their stories. Adding a visual component to a child's story helps you incorporate the power of story into an arts and crafts project. One simple project for kids to make for a storytelling project is the storytelling shoebox. Cut the shoebox apart so that it lays flat and tape the ends back together so that the shoebox forms a triptych shape. This will allow the box to stand up on its own. Have the child create story panels that tell a story in sequence; she can use various art media to do this—pencils, crayons, paints and other supplies. Once the story panels are done, have her glue them in sequence onto the flattened shoebox, going in a downward vertical direction until the panel is filled. Do this with each panel. The panels are defined by the folds in the box. When she tells the story to the class, she'll have a visual reference to use to convey the story. (See Resources for photos about the triptych design.)
Stained Glass Butterfly
Crayons play a key role in kids' arts and crafts projects. Although they are often used as a medium to draw with, they can also become an ingredient for an art project. Have the kids in your class save the short crayon bits that accumulate over time. Once they have enough, separate the crayons into piles according to the colors and grate them using a cheese grater. Cut squares of wax paper of equal size and give each child two of them. Ask them to sprinkle the crayon shavings all over one of the sheets of wax paper. Place the other sheet of wax paper on top of their creation and lay a small towel or wash cloth on top of the wax paper and crayon shavings. Run a cool iron over the towel until the crayons melt and the wax paper pieces stick together. Cut out black construction paper in the shape of butterflies and create patterns on the wings by cutting away construction paper. Glue the wax paper onto the butterfly-shaped construction paper. Cut off the extra wax paper until only the butterfly shape remains. (See resources for a picture.)
Pine Cone Turkey
This art project combines the lessons of a holiday like Thanksgiving as well as those taken from the great outdoors. The pine cone turkey is created from raw materials like pine cones, acorns and construction paper. Kids can create feathers for the turkey by cutting construction paper. Use different colors of construction paper like yellow, red, orange and brown, which represent not only fall, but Thanksgiving colors. Ask the children to glue the feathers onto two opposite sides of the pine cone and let the glue dry. They'll spread the feathers apart to look like wings with the widest part of the arrangement facing the wider part of the pine cone. Add some craft googly eyes to the acorn using glue. Glue the acorn onto the front part of the pine cone and allow to dry. Press some clay into the bottom of the pine cone so that the bird will stand up.
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Winter Craft Project for Second Graders
Second graders can follow directions and work well independently. Preparing winter crafts for this age group is easy. The versatility of the...