This morning we had a bit of free time while Joel was napping (having been up since 5am) before we went to our usual group. With all the nice weather, we’ve done less craft and baking recently because Andrew just loves being outside on his bike. So for a change I asked him if he wanted to do some painting, and he replied with a resounding ‘yes, oh thank you’!
The best paints for kids that we currently have are a set of children-friendly fabric paints, because our finger paints went a bit weird, not sure why, and I haven’t got round to buying any more like that. I have some scraps of fabric that I’ve used for various projects in the past, so I dug into it and found a small length of silk from when I did some silk painting with proper silk paints ages ago (when I was a student!)
I decided that it would be fun to do some ‘butterfly’ painting – you paint some blobs of colour on one side of a piece of paper/fabric and then fold it over on itself and squidge the paint across and along, and when you open it up again it looks a bit like a butterfly with a similar pattern on each side (or wing).
Andrew enjoyed the blobbing (along with an enthusiastic “BLOB” for each touch of the fabric with the brush), and I held my hand on one side of the fabric so that he could only paint on one side. He also enjoyed the squidging (only the finest technical terms are found here for art work 😉 ). I then painted a couple of antennae on to each butterfly for him, and once they were dry, I trimmed them to have more of a wing shape.
This was a quick craft idea that filled a nice amount of time and kept his attention, and afterwards he carried on colouring on the paper that we had put down to protect the table from paint. We now have some pretty butterflies, which we will stick on to cards for sending as notecards.
At less than 2 years old, Andrew took part in his first nativity play this year. For our church (Holy Trinity, Cambridge), the children’s nativity play is an annual tradition. Since we started going there over 6 years ago, Tom and I have always enjoyed watching the play and seeing how excited the children are to take part and reinact how Jesus came into this world as a baby. We hoped that the day would come when our own children would be involved too, though I thought it would be a couple more years yet.
Until last year, the youngest children taking part were about 3 years old, as that was the age when toddlers graduated from the creche on Sundays to the youngest Children’s Church group, where they learn about Jesus through reading the Bible, making crafty things and singing kids’ worship songs. Recently, however, the creche has split into two, because there are so many young families with babies and toddlers at the church now that the room was getting overcrowded and toddlers couldn’t play as freely as we’d like because there were young babies playing on the floor too. Now there is a group for 18-month olds to 3-year olds (and the creche is just for babies up to 18 months old); it’s mainly a group for play, just like creche but with toddler-specific toys, but they also sing songs and read simple Bible stories together. This is a great transition from creche to the older Children’s Church groups.
This year is the first Christmas that the 18-month plus group has been in existence, and the leaders decided they were brave enough to include these little ones in the annual nativity play. Their role was to be a chorus of stars, and they sang a version of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star which was adapted with an extra verse which describes how it was a star that guided visitors to Jesus after he was born.
But there was no pressure, they didn’t have to do it, and could go up to the front with a parent if they liked. Andrew was happy to go up on his own and sat just in front of a leader, looking at us in the congregation. He was unaware that Granny and Grandad were also in the congregation, up on the balcony, just in case he caught a glimpse ans would have rather gone and sit with them than sing.
So, to make my little star into a real good looking star, I set to and made my very first costume for a nativity play. It’s been an easy start, easing myself in gently to the world of kids’ costume making; I’m sure future years will bring times of more complicated animal and people costumes that will require more imagination and trips to scour various charity and craft shops. Have you made any nativity play costumes? I’d love to hear from anyone who has, especially if it was a bit unusual or complicated.
Here’s a quick guide to how I made the costume. I bought a long-sleeved white t-shirt from our local supermarket (in fact it came as a pack of three, with bright green and blue ones too). I made a star stencil by printing from my computer a star shape drawn from the shapes available in LibreOffice word processing software, and cutting out the star to leave the A4 card with a star shape in the middle. Using this stencil and some yellow fabric paint that came in a set of 6 colours from a craft shop, I painted a star onto the t-shirt. A quick iron to make it colour-fast… et voila, a simple star costume! He wore it with some plain black trousers (he doesn’t have any light coloured trousers – who would put such a thing on their toddler other than someone who likes doing laundry?!)