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BGHNC board member creates Easter crafting experience for residents

Editor's Note: Boys and Girls Homes board member Kim Sheeks recently created large balloon and thread eggs with residents at Boys and Girls Homes as a special craft to mark the Easter season. Here she explains why the arts are healing for children. 

By Kim Sheeks
Guest Contributor

    As a retired educator, my philosophy of the benefits for children having craft time and interacting through art is nothing new.  In fact, American philosopher and psychologist John Dewey (1859-1952) believed that “Students learn by doing!” He saw children develop practical life and social skills as they engaged with each other in various learning activities. 
   I used to help my first graders make the string eggs, which we handcrafted at BGHNC.  One of my classes made one for each of their families and also for their high school “pen pals.” With that endeavor, we made about sixty string eggs!  Some of those students, who are now grown, tell me they still have theirs!
    Each egg is made by wrapping crochet thread around an inflated balloon. Once it is covered with the thread, it is dipped in sugar water!  Students can see how the solid sugar and liquid water can go through a chemical change to make a solid again. Once dry, children pop the balloons in the middle and they can decorate their eggs.  
    This particular project encourages students to work with each other as well as tapping into their own individual creativity in decorating the eggs.  I was thrilled when only a few residents started the process, and others began to join in as they saw how much fun the first participants were having!  It was eye-opening to see some residents become leaders, and they encouraged others to try their skills!  Some began to explore the possibility of maybe becoming florists which may be a profession of which they have never imagined.  I would love to take those residents to a florist, and let them see what is involved in handcrafting flowery works of art.  It's possible that many residents have never been inside a florist as floral arrangements don’t always fit into a family’s budget.
    While I was still in the classroom, one of my colleagues told me I should teach academically gifted students.  I thanked her, but I told her that I wanted to bring academically gifted lessons to ALL children.  So, therefore, one of the things I did was teach my first graders how to cook for our annual parent tea. In doing so, we integrated math and science skills into our recipes.  
    I also taught them how to make hand lotion by measuring and combining certain ingredients.
I truly wish I lived closer to BGHNC, and I would be on campus weekly.  To get the string eggs done, I combined my trips to BGHNC with a family vacation to the beach; so I could be on campus for a couple of days.
    I am also on the Board of Trustees for Happy’s Farm Inc., which is another nonprofit organization. I set up Kim’s Kreation Station and made individual art kits which the students, who attend, there may freely use. (I received the supplies as birthday gifts for my 60th birthday, and it’s hard to believe that event took place almost a decade ago!) Each child is assigned a kit with a number, and each kit has various art supplies such as colored pencils, crayons, glue bottles and sticks and scissors.  I would love to do the same for the Boys & Girls Homes Activity Center (GAC).
    During the last several weeks, I have also made oobleck (a mixture of cornstarch and water that can be a solid or liquid) with children at a local public library,  and I created Chinese culture centers for 84 sixth graders.  Those sixth graders were originally only supposed to spend two hours engaged in the center activities, but they wanted to come back after their lunch break! 
    When students engage in art, cooking, science or sports activities, they are less likely to get into trouble when they can spend time doing something that brings enjoyment and fulfillment in their lives. What better reason could I give to bring art experiences to the residents of BGHNC—a place that brings me fulfillment and purpose!  I appreciate the opportunity to be there when I can.

Note: You can see more photos from Kim Sheeks' craft projects with BGHNC and students across the state on the BGHNC Facebook page -- 


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