Saturday, September 12, 2009

Reclaiming some absolute trash

First: the trash. Really, I'm horrified, but I know they are rather mainstream... "Christian Foam Craft Supplies." (please if you are a supporter of said junk, just stop reading now. I'll make you very angry).
These are: shrink-wrapped boxes full of little foam pieces, sold in packets of a dozen, with each subset shrink-wrapped, and often including beads, strings, glitter, or pipe cleaners that are -- you guessed it -- shrink-wrapped again. These foam pieces are pre-cut into the Right Shape, and if they need further decoration (such as drawing eyes on the pre-cut face) those are pre-done too. Entire factories of Chinese workers assemble these kits all year long, and then somebody arrives with a missionary team, and tries to tell them that the "Jesus loves you" message they've been busy stamping on foam pieces actually means something.

Second: The Assumed Purpose.
On the other side of the world, your tender tots are supposed to assemble these into inspirational picture frames, or fridge artwork, or oversized bookmarks, which their grandmas will cherish, and their grandpas will accidentally throw away, mistaking them for the trash they are.
The genius in this plan is that the Bible verses are already written on, so there's no danger of misspelling Jesus' precious name. The pieces are already cut into the Right Shape, as I've noted, so there's no danger of the "red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in His sight" childish faces being accidentally elongated, having three eyes drawn on, or being colored (horrors!) blue instead of those other poetic colors. The rainbow colors for Noah's Ark are already cut into the Appropriate Sizes, so although your children must glue them (with special Foam Glue) onto the sky, there is no danger of having the colors fall out of the Proper Spectrum Order.


Three: the Problem
Seriously? You've taken all the cuteness out, for one, leaving only the option of gluing something upside down for funny mistakes. Also, how on EARTH are these children going to learn to think critically, to use their imaginations, to become entepreneurs, if all they can do is follow foam-glue instructions?
AND ALSO, (think ye not that I am done with this soapbox), can you explain to me what "I heart Jesus" keychains have to do with actually loving jesus?"

BUT ... our previous Sunday School director was harried, hassled, short on inspiration, and as she will freely admit, "haven't got a creative bone in my body." So she ordered a lot of these sets, and they are still all hanging around in the church basement -- some unopened, some half-used up.

Four: The Redemptive Effort
Yes, I am trying to redeem these things. I started with the half-used up bags, and I began assembling a Collage Material Basket. The important part of this game is that you have to take everything away from its assumed use. For example, you simply cannot have the candle-shaped foam piece right next to the "let your little light shine" foam piece. That's too easy, too stultifying. I want to know, kidlings, how you are going to use a pentagonal foam piece, with these little ribbons, and sequins, and those "Jesus Loves the Little Children" faces, and some popsicle sticks, to illustrate the building of Solomon's Temple and/or the theme "You (plural) are a temple of the Holy Spirit within you."

TRY IT PLEASE. You may use cardboard as well, if you like. And I will not give you any answer as to how this "should" look, because I sure as heck don't know. Please go ahead and blow my mind.

[post-class update: I only had two boys today, and they being exceedingly bright, went along fine with my attempt to condense and summarize a masters/doctoral level seminar into a five-minute lesson. The collage idea was great. But further proof that Foam Pieces are a Bad Idea: when it came to collaging, they picked out every non-foam item in the basket. Neither of them used more than a single piece of foam in their entire work. Here for your entertainment: and feel free to guess which one Talitha did. The other two pictures feature the ceiling of Solomon's temple, and the Ark of the Covenant.

No comments:

Post a Comment