Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Craft Conundrum

We have this craft in ‘the vault’ that comes out from time to time. It’s a cardstock alligator on a stick. It’s cute. It has googly eyes, zigzagged felt strips, and a brass fastener that allows its tail to swing back and forth. It was employed at Earth Camp for a number of years to complement a folk tale about how the alligator got its bumpy, scaly skin.

I took it out of circulation for two reasons: 1) Returning campers were complaining that they remembered and even still possessed the craft from previous summers; and 2) It is a step-by-step assembly that offers little room for creative expression. In fact, campers had to write their names on the crafts in order to tell them apart.

It makes reappearances for three reasons: 1) If you don’t already have one, it is a cute craft; 2) A child is more likely to get all the way home with it than he is with a brochure or flier; and 3) One of my predecessors prepared thousands of alligator on a stick crafts. Someone cut out over one thousand alligator feet, 300 bodies, 300 tails, 900 strips of felt. Someone bagged up sets of 40 crafts that included the exact number of googly eyes and brass fasteners. I do not want to waste that time or materials that were invested.

But, why do we employ crafts at a nature park? What kinds of crafts are appropriate? And how do we balance the need to be economical with our time against the need to express creativity? What a conundrum!

Here are my objectives for doing crafts:

· To create a memento of an interpretive experience
“I made this!”
“I touched a real live alligator today!”

· To reinforce concepts explored in a game, hike or presentation
“Alligators have bumpy, scaly skin that protects them from all sorts of nasty things.”
“Alligators’ eyeballs can look straight even if their bodies are tilted.”
“An alligator’s tail is half the length of its body.”

· To shamelessly promote my site
“Look what I made at Walter B. Jacobs Memorial Nature Park today!”

For me, finding or creating appropriate crafts that can be done quickly and still allow participants opportunities to do them their own ways is a constant challenge.

(By the way, if you want the alligator folktale or alligator on a stick craft instructions, send me an email or Facebook message.)


Laura Major (Learning Is Child's Play) said...

Hi Hon! I'm a Louisiana gal myself! I love this cute gator craft, thanks for the idea! Living in the south you can't have enough alligator ideas! ;)
I looked for a facebook page for you but couldn't find it...send me a link and I'll follow you there too! :)

Meredith said...

I would love the instructions for this craft. I can't figure out how to email you and can't find you on FB. My email is mere@jklobo.com.

sara said...

Hi I would love a copy of the craft instructions and folk tale. My e-mail is montessorimimi@hotmail.com

Thanks so much,

Devon Knotts said...

Could I get the instructions for this craft for our homeschool co-op. We're from Louisiana as well. Dsknotts@gmail.com. Thank you