Dreaming up enjoyable, productive crafts activities takes plenty of imagination when you need to engage only one child's interest. With a large group, the challenges multiply by the number of kids whose attention you need to hold. Different ages, differing interests and temperaments: All these considerations magnify the complexity of designing fun for all. Transform some of these contrasting attributes into advantages and engross the entire group in making things that all of them can enjoy.
In a large group of children that mixes ages together, pull the older kids aside and ask them to serve as helpers for or mentors to the younger ones. This leadership role appeals to kids' desire to hold mature responsibilities and helps assure that little ones don't feel frustrated attempting tasks that exceed their development of fine motor skills. While you're accommodating the younger set, offer substitute materials that they can grasp and manipulate with greater ease, such as pipe cleaners instead of string for bead threading, and eliminate tools that can pose a danger to them, such as hot glue guns.
A digital camera, a computer and a printer offer you source material for a myriad of activities. Take a photo, cut it into quadrants and paste each piece on a sheet of paper. Ask each child to draw in the missing portions of the image. To give them a head start, display the full image on a tablet device. If you have access to more than one device with a camera—smartphones and tablets included—have each child take a picture to serve as the inspiration for a story written by another child. With enough tablets to match the size of your group, each child can draw on a photo using an editing app.
Our New Game
Making up a board game provides ample opportunities for children to learn about the processes of establishing rules and figuring out their consequences. You can build a basic game-board grid on your computer, placing boxes around the outer edge to provide a starting path for game-piece movement. Once you print your design, you can mount copies on cardboard and give the children markers or paints with which to decorate the board. Provide bottle caps, macaroni pieces or cardboard to serve as the basis for game pieces, on which they can paint or draw to create distinctive marking. Ask them to record the rules as they figure them out and alter them, play the game and evolve its strategies.
Make a Movie
With a digital camcorder in hand, invite your group to make a movie. Delegate an older child as cinematographer and give her a brief rundown on camera controls. Divide the overall group into subgroups for actors, crew, set design and other roles. Give each child time in front of the camera to avoid appearing to play favorites. With all the footage shot, allow small groups to edit individual sequences while the rest of the children paint movie posters and take promotional photos. Screen the finished masterpiece on a TV and admire the group's handiwork.
Photo Credits: Kate Van Vleck/Demand Media
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