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Image of CRAFTING WITH LARGE GROUPSBy Jodi Hautala-Carlson

Jodi leads a multi-level Girl Scout troop of 40 girls ranging in age from 5-18 years of age.

Doing crafts with a larger group can be a challenge. Doing the same craft with different ages in the group make it even more difficult. Usually we start with pairing each of the younger children with one of the older children. In my experience, older kids love to assist young children. It makes them feel grown up. And younger kids love to be mentored by a “big kid”. They feel special.

Usually, we set up our craft tables in a horseshoe shape around a craft leader. There is at least one other adult that walks around the group to help. The craft is demonstrated and explained one step at a time by the craft leader. The older child finishes the step and then helps the younger partner finish theirs. We always have a completed craft available for the viewing.

If possible, we use glue dots or we will use tacky glue. School glue takes too long to dry and glue guns can be dangerous. If using tacky glue, we put a small amount in a little disposable cup for each pair to share. They spread the tacky glue with craft sticks or, for smaller details, toothpicks will work better. Clothespins can often help to keep pieces in place while they drying. If glue guns are required for part of the project, we set up at least one glue gun station with several pairs of dollar store gloves. An adult should be at each station. Before the adult applies the glue, the child should put on a pair of gloves. This will protect little fingers from any oozing glue. Use craft sticks to press down after gluing.

Always use low temperature glue guns. Multiple pairs of gloves will keep the line moving.

We set up each work station with all the pieces of the craft on a disposable plate. We write the child’s name on the plate while their projects are drying. Hopefully, an activity can be planned to allow for drying time. If not, the paper plates make it easier for the kids to bring their projects home to dry.

Prepackaged peel-and-stick craft kits are inexpensive and easy to plan. Sometimes we make our own kits in zip lock bags. Either way, have extra kits on hand in case there are missing pieces. These kits are great for large groups but don’t work with mixed ages. The children will enjoy crafting more if it is age-appropriate. Think about doing projects that the kids can make which will reflect their own style. Allow for creativity by given them several different types of supplies to choose from.

Picture frames are an easy, inexpensive craft for a large group. You can use any type of craft material to put together a frame. We have made them out of cardboard or gotten inexpensive foam frames from MakingFriends.com to decorate. We have used stickers, rubber stamps, foam shapes, gems, duct tape and even covered them with twigs for a nature frame.

Fabric crafts are great for groups. Pillowcases, tee shirts, white socks, or even white shoe laces are fun to decorate. You can use acrylic paint, fabric markers, fabric scraps or gems. We’ve made tie-dyed socks with permanent markers and rubbing alcohol. You can get directions here.

After many years of working with large mixed-aged groups, I’ve come to the conclusion that it is to let kids do “their own thing”. All I have to do is make sure that they have the correct choice of supplies and make sure there are suitable work stations.  It’s less expensive, easier to plan and more fun for everyone… especially me!

In Conclusion, “Be Prepared” is the Girl Scout Motto so that is what you need to try to do.  For large groups this is the best advice I can give you, the more prepared you are the smoother it goes.

What do you think?