Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Hands and Deserts and Thoughts on Christmas

I have two strong images of God's hands. A friend once said to me that God could hold me in the palm of his hands. I envisioned large, strong, yet gentle hands cupped together, and me curled up asleep in them. At church, the ministers say that God has enscribed our names on the palms of her hands. Again the image is of big hands, hands big enough to contain all our names. So when Alessia brought home this project from preschool, I just sat for a moment and stared at it. Here was God as a tiny baby, a baby so tiny that he could be cradled in the palm of my 5-year-old's hand.


Last week I was teaching Godly Play, our church school program. After my Advent story, one of the girls asked if she could work with the desert box, a large box of sand on wheels that we use to tell Old Testament stories about God's people. I asked her to pick something else this week. She and a friend decided to work with the Advent story. They rolled out the fabric used in the story, a long of strip of purple for the Sundays of Advent, and then at the end a flash of white, for Christmas. "Look! The desert!" That thought has been stirring in my head all week.

When we teach with the desert box, we tell the kids that "the desert is a dangerous place. People don't go into the desert unless they have to." It is interesting to think of Christmas day as a dangerous desert that Mary and Joseph and Christ entered into, because they had to. We also tell the kids that God calls people, like Abraham, into the desert. Perhaps Christmas day is a dangerous desert that God is calling us into as well?


Thursday, December 10, 2015

Two Books about Art with Projects

We love books and we love art projects. So books about art that lead to projects are just about the best thing ever.

Beautiful Oops by Barney Saltzberg is a hands-on book full of ripped and bent pages and flaps that show how the artist sees magic in what other people might see as mistakes. The last time the girls painted I took two big sheets of paper and painted random splotches and lines and curlicues. I used different brushes and colors. I then forgot about them for a month. On a fidgety cold afternoon, I pulled them out and we spent some time wondering what the paint splotches looked liked and then adding pencil drawings. The activity was definitely better suited to Alessia than Olivia. The book has a lot of possibilities for other projects as well, and it's something we'll come back to over and over again.


Mimi's Dada Catifesto by Shelley Jackson is a new discovery for us. It explores the dadaist art movement through a cat and the dadaist human she is wooing. The book led to my kids twirling around the living room yelling "salami" and, much to Adam's dismay, the three of us declaring each other's burps "good sound poems." We also made our first word box for writing poems. I cut words out of the newspaper and put them in a box. We take words out randomly (no peeking per the book's instructions) and lay them out. Alessia reads hers and I read Olivia's. Following Mimi the cat's lead, Alessia has been leaving word poems on the floor at the front and back door for Adam when he gets home at night.