This week I am rostered on to provide the craft activity for the community playgroup that I attend my almost-2-year-old on Wednesday mornings.
Planning a craft for this playgroup can be a little challenging, as the children range in age from 12 months to 5 years, have a range of languages, abilities and needs, and there is a wide variability in the parental expectations about the level of structure the playgroup should provide. (I'm also on the playgroup committee, and that question poses endless grounds for both reflection and angst, probably more than any other issue we discuss).
So in planning the craft, which falls to me once a month, I try to find something that is inclusive, that can appeal to different age levels, that doesn't require or invite parental direction, and that loosely ties into the same theme that the person doing the story / songs has selected. The craft is entirely optional - kids can wander up and do or not do as they choose - but I like to make it appealing, fun, and bright.
This week, riffing on Valentine's Day, the story theme is Love, so I thought we might make stained glass hearts.
"Stained glass" windows are one of the easiest and prettiest of all the age-adaptable crafts. My kids have made square and arch windows in this design at other playgroups, at kinder, and even at school. I saw no reason why the concept couldn't be parlayed into heart-shaped designs, so that's what we'll be making tomorrow.
The concept of stained glass craft is simple.
1. Create a "frame" of stiff cardboard (in whatever shape you desire). It needs to look like a picture frame - hollow in the centre.
2. Cut a piece of clear Contact to fit over the outside of the frame but not overlapping the edges (I usually aim for halfway along the frame itself).
3. Stick the Contact over the frame WITH THE STICKY SIDE UP.
4. Cut up several colours of cellophane into random but fairly small shapes.
5. Stick the coloured cello to the sticky Contact in a pattern, or randomly, as you like.
6. Cut and place a second piece of Contact over the finished cello surface, sticky side DOWN, so that the two pieces of Contact stick together and form a coated smooth surface for the cello.
7. Hang or place next to a source of natural light and watch the pretty colours!
My toddler road-tested it for me and had a really good time sticking her collage together, and we think the results are nice. So the 3 hours I've spent perfecting the shape, cutting the 25 frames, the 50 pieces of Contact and the bucket of cello may yet pay off ;-)
Best of all, I've saved the small inner hearts (that were cut out to make the frames) to use as play or crafting pieces another time. Waste not, want not...