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Teaching with Art in the Rotation Model

Creating something that expresses your heart, mind, and soul about what you have learned from scripture is educational and spiritual gold.

The creative process itself "processes" and deepens what we have learned. We are indeed "wonderfully made."

Of course, expressing yourself through art materials like painting, foil sculptures, or creating a mosaic isn't the only way to do "art." You can also express yourself through drama, cooking, movement, writing, and all sorts of creative presentations and reflections -- which many of the other types of Rotation Workshops do.  But creating something meaningful using "art supplies" is one of the best and most fun ways to do art with kids.

Emphasis on "meaningful."

The Art Workshop's creative activity is connected to the lesson, not appended to it to fill time or reduce fidgeting. Creative materials and techniques in the Art Workshop are best when they draw out each student's knowledge, thoughts, feelings, and point of view -- and give them an opportunity to share those things with others.

The creative process in the Art Workshop is guided by the teacher in a communal setting with other students. It is not a solitary pursuit or "do whatever" approach. Though teachers will demonstrate techniques and use of the materials, the Art Workshop is not an exercise in "imitating" what the teacher does. The teacher, the lesson plan, the materials, and the techniques are there to guide and challenge each student's individual expression and choices, which ultimately become points of discussion and sharing.

The Workshop Rotation Model embraces this higher view of teaching Bible stories through art, and the Rotation part of the Model creates a practical way to make creative Art Workshops easier to do. aspires to host better lesson plans that use higher-quality artistic approaches to teach Bible stories. These aspirations are in direct contrast to the dumbed-down "quickie craft" and "coloring page" activities found in many Sunday School curriculums and websites.

Especially in these days of struggling attendance, we can't waste a single lesson on any more popsicle stick crafts.

We need and want attractive and engaging learning methods and materials.

Note: Many of the following descriptions and practices are going to make more sense if you know how the Rotation Model works. See a presentation about the Model.  That said, any traditionally organized Sunday School can benefit from this "higher view" on the use of art in our lessons.

Further down in this topic is a collection of links to exemplary Art Workshop Lesson Plans written by our Writing Team.

The Art Workshop: A Special Place and Special Schedule

The term "Workshop" in the Workshop Rotation Model describes the Model's assignment of teaching mediums to specific classrooms. Thus, an Art Workshop is focused on using creative art techniques as its major learning activity, and a Drama Workshop is focused on using drama techniques for its major activities.

Each "Workshop" is also decorated, supplied, furnished, and staffed to teach Bible stories through that specific medium.

  • "Decorated," not generic. In the case of an art workshop, the classroom is decorated with artistically inspired materials, projects, artwork, and the like.
  • "Supplied" with real art materials that take thought and time to work with, not construction paper and coloring pages.
  • "Furnished" to get messy, with drying stations and room to spread out.
  • "Staffed" with creative teachers who like exploring different artistic media and helping students express their understanding through art.

Because the Rotation Model designates a room or space to serve as the "permanent" Art Workshop, the room begins to accumulate and take on the patina of a creative space that excites the kids' senses and creates a feeling of anticipation as soon as they enter the room. Walls are covered with art and previous projects.


Because you have a dedicated Art Workshop space and want to encourage creativity, all your art supplies are on-hand in that one room -- not locked away in a closet or cabinet. And if you're using the Rotation Model, your materials and special setup don't need to be put away at the end of the lesson because next week you'll have a new group of kids in there repeating your lesson with you (with age-adjustments). By rotating the kids to different workshops each week, but not the teacher, and by staying with the same story for a four or five-week "rotation," the teacher gets better and better each week at delivering their lesson and doesn't have to prepare a new lesson every single week. And the kids get a rich immersion in the story.

A typical Workshop Rotation Schedule for three rotating groups spending four weeks on a story...


See more scheduling examples for smaller and larger Sunday Schools

Another benefit of the Art Workshop in the Rotation Model is that it allows us to "aim high" with art through lesson plans designed to put the creative activity at the CENTER of the lesson plan, rather than tacking something onto the end of class time to revive bored children and fill time (like traditional lessons do). See the "exemplary" Art Workshop lesson described below.

An Exemplary Sunday School Art Workshop Lesson

psalm8artThe  Writing Team revised and posted a terrific Art Workshop lesson plan in their Psalm 8: "When I look at your heavens" lesson set. It's one of the best examples of the conjunction between artistic expression and learning a Bible story. Supporting Members can access that lesson, the full set, and all the Team's especially creative lesson plans. Join here if you haven't already.

The Psalm 8 Art Workshop lesson demonstrates how art materials and artistic techniques can combine in a way that helps children express their understanding of the scripture while reinforcing key verses and life application. The materials are familiar and inexpensive, the "crayon-resist" technique is intriguing and age-adaptable, and the results are enjoyable and shareable. It may just be the most perfect Sunday School art lesson ever posted at      

Pictured above: The Psalm 8 art project uses a combination of "crayon resist" and watercolor. It connects the swirling/embracing style of Van Gogh's Starry Night with a key idea from a Hebrew phrase found in the Psalm itself and the feelings of wonder and praise that gazing up at God's crowning starry sky elicit.

Reimagining Your Classroom as an Art Workshop

Part of the attraction of an Art Workshop is how its creative space and materials begin to excite the learning senses and put kids in a creative mood.  That can't happen in a "clean room" that has all the supplies locked up.

In the Art Workshop, your walls should display inspirational art and past art projects. The room should be bright, colorful, and inviting.

Unlike the traditional lesson's gluing together of construction paper crafts, in the Art Workshop you'll use a variety of artistic projects that will also create excitement. They can include painting, murals, weaving, and sculpture. Students may be working individually or working together. Children learn how to express their own thoughts by watching and listening to others, and by collaborating.


It's not uncommon to see art stools instead of traditional chairs around the Art Workshop's set of tables -- because art stools can be slid under the table and out of the way to allow students to work together when needed. Some churches' Art Workshops have creatively painted old wooden chairs, or come up with all sorts of creative ways to bring color and design to their tables and walls.

In the Art Workshop your supplies should not be locked up away from the kids. Sometimes, its the choice of art supplies themselves that becomes how the student connects with the ideas of the lesson. For example, use "feathers" to paint with in your Ruth Art lesson because of a key idea expressed by both Ruth and Boaz to each other (see the Writing Team's Ruth Art Workshop about that!).

You'll also want areas in your Art Workshop to dry, lay out, hang, and display student artwork.

In that very first Rotation Model Art Workshop, we told the Facilities Committee that we were probably going to get paint, glue, and glitter on their carpet -- but only in that one room -- and they were okay with that.

lionsstudioIf you share your art space with a preschool program or it's in the corner of fellowship hall, you'll have to solve some issues, but it can and is often being done. (Spread a tarp on the floor under your workspace, for example.)

Speaking of shared space.... In one small Sunday School, their Art Workshop was transformed the second week of every Rotation into a Video Workshop by dropping down a big screen and swapping the folding chairs for plastic Adirondack chairs.  They called their art and video studio "The Lion's Studio." The sign in the hallway even sprouts a stuffed lion that all the kids pat as they go by.

The Difference between "Art" and "Craft"

In the early days of, a bunch of us debated online the difference between "art" and "craft."  It was more than an academic exercise. We were looking to stretch our teaching concepts and develop new art project ideas.

Definitions flew back and forth. Here is the result of that discussion:

Definition of a Sunday School ART activity:  

psalm8artA teacher helping students think about how they can express key idea(s), verses, and/or life application from a Bible story through the selecting and arrangement of materials in such a way as it expresses their understanding, reinforces their memory, and gives them something they can talk about if they are comfortable doing so.

Completed art projects tend to share a student's feelings about and reflect a key idea from the scripture.

They also tend to take time. Time allows the meaning of the scripture more time to marinate, and gives the teacher more time to add insights. A crayon-resist painting of you wondering and praising under God's Psalm 8 heavens, for example, takes time and a personal investment, and becomes something that can be talked about.

Definition of a Sunday School CRAFT activity:

craftA teacher telling their students to "cut along this line, glue here, and make it look like this."

Craft projects tend to produce objects from the story.  A cottonball sheep from Psalm 23, for example. Crafts tend to be quick, and reveal little about the meaning of the story.

The difference between an Art and a Craft project

Craft projects tend to create objects or props from the story as reminders of it. Whereas Art projects tend to have students express the meaning of the story.

Craft projects tend to be simple. "Cut here, draw this, glue that." Whereas Art projects allow the students to make choices in what they want to express about the story from the materials and guidance given to them by the teacher.

Craft projects tend to all look the same. Art projects have a degree of individuality and self-expression.

Craft projects tend to take very little time because they have been designed for quick construction using simple supplies. Art projects need time to develop because the materials and process and outcome offer more possibilities for the student to choose from and express themselves with.

Take for example the story of the Prodigal Son. A craft project might have the students cut out the figure of the father and son from construction paper or a printable to make paper puppets that the kids move around as a script or story is read. In essence, you've created a play with a prop, not art.

A Prodigal Son Art Workshop project, however, might have the students SCULPT the figure of the father and son out of wire or aluminum foil. They might be asked to make the prodigal figure look like themselves! And when they were done, the sculptures could be posed by the students to represent certain key attitudes in the story, such as "Give me my share" and "Father I have sinned against you" and how God poses when we confess to him. This is art that literally imitates life, or in our case, life application.

Craft project ideas can often be transformed into true art project.

In fact, many of the Art Workshop ideas you'll find at and in the Writing Team Art Workshop lessons started out as craft projects or with craft materials. We've simply gone the extra mile with them so that the kids can go the extra mile with our lessons.

artprojectFor example, a craft that builds Noah's Ark from a shoebox and construction paper can be transformed into the reflection and life application about "What is the Ark we are surrounded with?" by labeling the planks with God's promises and the names of people you can depend on.

The following photo demonstrates how a simple "rock craft" project was re-purposed into an art project by having the kids turn a prop from the story of Jesus in Luke 19:40 ("even the rocks will sing!") into a life-applying MESSAGE display. A "craft" version of this project would have simply had the students create their own individual "singing" rocks to remind them of the scripture. An Art Workshop version of this project focuses on the message, and maybe even has the kids make one of the rocks look like THEMSELVES, including a sign about what they'd like to sing about God to others.


Art usually makes a statement.

The Art  Workshop Teacher's Talking Point "Patter"

When you've let your kids loose with the materials and are giving them time to create their creations, the teacher in the Art Workshop will have time to circulate among students, encouraging them, asking questions, and making suggestions.

This creative time in the lesson is a great time to build kids up, and get them to share some of the things they are thinking of with other students.

This creative time is also a great opportunity to make comments about the story, reinforce key points, ask discussion questions, and share interesting Bible Background.

"Patter Time" is not time to run around and figure out supplies or clean up. Prepare ahead and clean up later! Invariably kids will need help with the supplies and techniques, and this is a great opportunity to get pastoral. But if your project requires a lot of the teacher's "hands-on," get help.

Don't be afraid to help students rethink their work, develop a better expression, start over, and make changes. Our goal is not for them to "do whatever." Rather, our goal is to guide them to create a recognizable expression of the meaning our lesson seeks to guide them to in the scripture. Unlike "an art class," which introduces techniques and encourages free expression, we have a content goal in mind. The experience of creating art is wonderful, but it's not the whole enchilada.

Sharing completed art projects is also a great reflection activity.

Many Writing Team Art Workshop lesson plans and other publicly available lesson plans here at have "Talking Points" (patter) built right into them.

The "State of Art" in Various Lessons

Not every art workshop at has a higher standard of "art" over craft. As a sharing community, we have let people post what they think works, while at the same time trying to demonstrate a higher standard, one that moves beyond the quickie crafts you see elsewhere.

Many of the ideas for "art" projects listed in this forum and through the lesson forums here at are familiar and "old-school."  We have RECYCLED many great art project ideas found in creative curriculum throughout the years, and in many cases, tried to improve on them -- make them more artistic.

Our Writing Team Lesson Sets, however, DO hold to a higher artistic standard, each one demonstrating how to use materials and techniques to express God's Word in a deeper more memorable way.

Art Projects Usually Have a Wider Age Range than Craft Projects

If you are using those printable crafts or craft kits from a published curriculum, they need to sell you a simpler one for the younger kids, and one that "looks older" for the older kids.  

Whereas most art materials, like foil sculpturing and painting, ADAPT in the hands of the user. This is one of the great advantages of teaching with real art materials.

That said, some art materials are age-senstive.  Older kids like to use more "grown up" materials and may balk at crayons unless you use them in a "wax resist" or other unexpected manner.

The picture above of the Cotton Ball Sheep illustrates the problem of so many "craft" project materials that older kids will balk at because they think it's for "little kids."

Art Projects in the Rotation Model Art Workshop are not completely open-ended.

If you give kids too little direction and too few examples and ideas, they will often end up painting a big blob of paint. If you ask them to paint a picture of God's love, you'll get a lot of red hearts and rainbows.

The Art Workshop in the Rotation Model is not "creativity for creativity's sake." Our purpose is to help them produce a sacred expression from their heart and mind about the lesson we are teaching. We're not primarily teaching the joy of painting. We're teaching them how to express their understanding through the materials and techniques we selected.

This painting project from the Writing Team's Ruth lesson set Art Workshop is a good example of walking the line between giving them creative freedom and producing an outcome that resembles a key idea that we want them to reflect on and remember.

In their painting, they use feathers which are an important allusion to God's protection that comes straight from the Ruth scripture itself. We asked them to experiment with stamping and painting with their feather to create a visual embrace, a surrounding of protection (which Boaz offered to Ruth, which Ruth asked Boaz for on the threshing floor, which Ruth demonstrated to Naomi, and Ruth gave Naomi, and which God was giving the Israelites through this family which would produce David). And we gave them options and examples of several other techniques and objects they could include, such as painting with a gleaned wheat stalk, and painting your family into God's embrace. See the lesson for many more details and suggestions related to this Ruth Art Workshop!

Art, of course, is in the eye of the beholder. Those of us seeking better use of arts and crafts in Sunday School continue to strive and experiment. And you'll see many of those ideas in the Art Workshop forums here in our Bible Lesson Forums, as well as some very thoughtful and complete Art Workshop lesson plans from our Writing Team.

Just pick your Bible story and look up its Art Workshop suggestions.

And if you have something to add or ask, please do!

This article has been compiled and updated based on the original Art Workshop "how-to" discussion contributed by Rotation Model pioneers "Creative Carol" Hulbert, Neil MacQueen, Lisa Martin, and several others. You are welcome to copy and use it with your teachers.


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Last edited by Neil MacQueen
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How imagining a real Art Room in Sunday School
inspired the creation of the entire Workshop Rotation Model

A few years ago, Neil MacQueen shared this story of how the Workshop Rotation Model came to be. You can read the full story here.

When a group of us sat down to discuss our problems and frustrations with our Sunday School, one of them was all the lessons that seemed to depend on simplistic craft projects, and how we couldn't get our teachers to use other creative media like games or drama.

Related to the "craft" and lack of creative methods was our frustration with the mountains of craft supplies each classroom had squirreled away in their classroom cabinets. We easily had hundreds of dollars worth of construction paper, scissors, and glue scattered across the building, and they kept asking for more.

When our group got talking about our "art" supplies, we realized there was no "art" being done in our classrooms. It was a lot of what I came to call "cottonball sheep and popsicle sticks." Barely above busy work, and it bored the older kids.

When we brainstormed what we loved about learning with art, we remembered the public school Art Room many of us had grown up with. It was a room full of exotic smells, messy tables, shelves full of exciting materials, walls covered wonderful art projects, and teacher who loved to do it all with us. --And we realized that we wanted that same kind of room in our Sunday School. We wanted an art room to teach Bible stories that created a sense of anticipation and possibilities. We wanted to teach with exciting materials and not construction paper. And we wanted an art room that had all the materials and setup at hand and we could get messy in.

As we brainstormed that Art room and how we could schedule all our kids into it, we realized we also wanted the same kind of room for all our audio-visual materials and equipment, which was inconveniently scattered across our building in classrooms and locked closets. And more importantly, we wanted a teacher who LIKED to use that equipment, rather than ignore it like most of our teachers were doing.

Once we wrote "Art room" and "A-V room" on the flipchart it was a short leap to add "Drama room" and "Bible Skills and Games room"  -- because those were things we felt our teachers and curriculum were ignoring too. (We added "Music room" too but that later became "Computers" for scheduling reasons).

I drew the five rooms as five circles, and it just so happened that we had five elementary grade groups, so we came up with "rotating" the grade groups to a new workshop every week so that the kids got exposed to MANY ways to learn -- and teachers who were good at their teaching medium!

The last piece of the Rotation puzzle quickly arrived when we realized that:

  • a new story every week was a resourcing nightmare for five different workshops
  • a new story every week was no way to achieve Bible literacy with kids
  • and changing the story every week was a preparation nightmare for teachers

The solution? What if we only changed the story every five weeks? Would they get bored?  We didn't know the answer to that at first, but after the first rotation, we had our answer: They thrived!  And when other churches tried our experiment, they found it worked for them too.

Here are two screenshots from's Rotation Presentations showing a "classic" four-group, four-workshops, four-weeks "Rotation."

Learn more about how the Rotation Model works.


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Last edited by Amy Crane

Guidelines and Thoughts
for Art Workshop Teachers


The following began as a resource for teachers from Rev. Lisa Martin, a Rotation Model enthusiast and member of You are invited to copy it and make it your own. The resource also has a number of great tips for organizing your classroom, selecting your art projects, and helping kids produce something that is meaningful.

Guidelines and Thoughts for our Art Workshop Teachers

You are wonderfully made, and created in the image of our Creator to make and do wonderful things with your students.

Thank you for agreeing to teach in our Art Workshop

As you can tell by the lesson plan, we really do want this to be an artistic experience for the kids and you, and not the old "construction paper and paste-fest" of the past. And because you will be in the same Workshop for the next couple of weeks, feel free to improve the project along with your lesson. Let us know what supplies you need replenished.

The lesson and art project have been designed to tap into our student's creativity and imagination as they work to create something that expresses their knowledge and understanding of the Bible lesson you are teaching them.

Your job is to help them move from head to heart to hands, so to speak. To excite them with creative Bible teaching, artistic supplies, and creative techniques that produce something that is both meaningful and shareable.

We hope that each phase of your Art Workshop lesson will feature some form of artistry and use of artistic supplies. For example, opening the lesson by inviting students to answer questions using a paintbrush and watercolor, or as you read the scripture together stop to pose or mold clay figures in key scenes and ideas. Or use color highlighters on a printed copy of the scripture to highlight or illustrate what Jesus is saying and mark key words ("Which word did YOU mark and why?").

Show visuals, especially works of art that relate to your project and story. (Internet image searches are especially helpful here.)

As you approach the main art activity, you'll introduce the supplies and demonstrate how they might be used. Guide, don't prescribe. This is art, not craft! It is important that art is not an "imitation" of what the teacher does. Rather, your creative suggestions are a starting point for students to learn from and make their own.

Set some expectations of how their project might turn out. Write key content on the board or paint it on the table. You don't want to squash their creativity but you also want them to focus on the lesson, not just have fun with the supplies.

A big part of "doing art" is that it helps students learn how to internalize and express their thoughts and feelings about the Bible story. Some will naturally be better than others at this, but your job is to encourage this innate creative and expressive spirit in all of God's children!

Students will also learn how to express their thoughts and feeling through the art materials and process by watching how others do it. So throughout the creative process, circulate and elevate!  Invite students to look around and talk about what they are thinking and doing. Invite them to share ideas and help one another.

Creating something is God's work, not busy work.

  • Allow for time and quietness, trial and error.
  • Don't be in a rush.
  • Allow do-overs and do-anothers.
  • Don't worry about spills and mistakes.
  • Have cleaning and protective supplies handy, including "medical gloves" and smocks when necessary.
  • Consider "shortcuts" in preparation and materials to help students finish on time, or help younger children get a head start.
  • Plan "drying time" if your project needs it. Have a fan or blower dryer to accelerate drying if needed.
  • Be smart about supplies with regard to time.  Watercolor dries better on real art paper rather than copier paper, and faster than acrylic paint. Tacky craft glue is faster and holds better than white school glues.
  • Preview the use of all your materials! This will also give you something to share.
  • Less is usually more! Guard against applying too much of product, and encourage students not to overapply or overdesign their project.

And by all means, CONTINUE TO TEACH THE STORY as students work the creative process.

  • Add insights and tidbits.
  • Ask questions.
  • Refer to the story.
  • Point out something in a student's work that nicely illustrates a key point.
  • Demonstrate techniques once again to guide those who need a little bit of help.
  • Encourage students to include key ideas.
  • Make sure everyone feels your creative embrace and positive affirmation.
  • Help them think about what elements or words might be added to their project (obviously, quietly, or on the back) as a reminder of what they are learning and as an aid to tell others about their work.
  • Have classroom help so you are not so preoccupied with supplies that you can't do the teaching.
  • Remember that you are God's loving arms. Embrace the students with the spirit of acceptance, joy, laughter, and thoughtfulness. Create an atmosphere for God's Holy Spirit to bless your lesson and students.

As you begin to close...

  • Watch your time and leave time for sharing of projects and reflection.
  • Give them a "countdown to being done." Let those who can't finish know they are welcome to stay afterwards or take supplies home.
  • Leave time for "show 'n tell."
  • Don't be the "Clean Up Cop."    The kids are there to learn a Bible story, not how to pick up glitter off the floor. Art is messy, and time after the lesson with your helper or a helpful student is often great pastoral time.

We strive to make projects that can go home at the end of class.

Depending on the materials used, you may need to provide a safe way to transport their projects home. Use bags, pizza boxes, folders, paper plates, and the like.

However, if a project gets left behind, that is a good opportunity to BRING IT to the student's home. In fact, it may be one of the best things about your lesson -- that you cared enough to show up with it.

Prayer time:

Whether it's an opening or closing prayer, include some sort of art supply/activity. How do you draw or sketch what you want to praise God for? Sketch who you want to give thanks for! Write a colorful word cloud of prayer requests.

Need more inspiration or art project ideas?

Browse your Bible story's Art Workshop topic in's Lesson Forums at You'll find many exemplary art projects and lesson plans there! You can also find a sort of manual titled "Guiding Principles for the Art Workshop" at


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Last edited by Amy Crane

A few years ago, a group of volunteers did a big review of content here at, including many art lessons. They discussed these notes from Neil our founder to help decide which lessons to keep and how to improve them if necessary. Some of these notes were later expanded into points in our "Guide" posted above.


1. The artwork bears little visual resemblance to the Bible story or its meaning or focuses on a minor point in the story instead of a MAJOR point.

If the art project/product doesn't express a central point or reflection from the story, then you need another art project/product that does.

If what the kids produce doesn't bear a visual resemblance to the main point or story, the problem is in the project and directions.

Resist getting caught up in cool projects or fun materials that don't actually teach the main point of your lesson or the story; instead produce something that others will recognize as a point.

2. Projects that are too simple for older children, or too complicated for small hands. We find that it's better to start with an older kids' project and figure out how to simplify it for the younger kids.

3. Using potentially dangerous materials, such as pins, glass, and candles (or candle holders), especially if they are going home. When we see a project that lists a "hot glue gun" for the classroom, the potential for burns is concerning.

4. Things no older boy would be caught dead wearing, sharing, or taking home. Older children are at that point where they are making up their minds about church. Help them, don't hinder them.

5. The traditional Christmas Ornament project that doesn't reinforce the point of the lesson, and is made out of materials that won't last, or nobody thinks is "cool" (like gluing felt to Styrofoam balls). Good projects reinforce the story, last longer than the car ride home, and have a keepsake quality.

6. Any art lesson that says, "Now draw a picture using markers." That may be appropriate for preschoolers, but at we strive to be more creative.

7. Lesson plans that only use art as the activity/learning medium AFTER the opening of the lesson and its Bible study. The corollary: lesson plans that spend FAR TOO MUCH TIME TALKING rather than ART-ING.

How can art supplies be used as part of your opening, and as part of your Bible reading? One way you can make "art" part of the scripture reading is to print the scripture on paper and illustrate it as it is read or discussed.


Good Samaritan: Draw the face of the Pharisee when he approached Jesus, proudly quoted scripture to Jesus, and when Jesus told him to "go and do likewise."

Story of Creation: Use colors of clay to make Creation and the earth as the story is read. Then do something with your clay to describe what you think humans are doing to God's Creation. Now engage in "restoring" your original creation of Creation.


We love it when the project itself, and not just our words about it, speak the life application of the Bible story. For Example: David and Jonathan friendship bracelet to share with a friend. The project itself embodies the take-away from the story. Or in that "clay Creation" example above in #7 where the students restore their creation. Or let's say you're doing a watercolor of Zaccheus up in the tree. What is he thinking up there? And why not put yourself up in that tree next to him -- to show that you too are seeking a glimpse of Christ and want to invite him to your home. It's little tweaks like that to our projects that can make all the difference.

The purpose of teaching with Art in Sunday School is not to teach art or merely encourage self-expression. Our purpose is to use artistic methods to express the story and its meaning. Merely, "being creative like God" isn't good enough (in fact, it's kind of a cop-out).

9. Projects that require too much glue and "drying time."    

Expecting all your students to "be there next week to pick up their dried project" is a mistake, especially these days.

We're always thinking about alternative materials and drying time so kids can take their project home after the lesson. Sometimes it's as simple as changing how things fasten together, or what kind of paint, or how much, or how it gets applied that makes all the differences.

Having a drying station with a fan is a must, but that also means you need to leave ten minutes at the end of the lesson for drying time, so you need to plan for that.

Shirt boxes, pizza boxes, sturdy paper plates, and foil are supplies that will help many "still wet" projects go home the same day.

10.  Doing "individual" projects all the time.

Working together, and sometimes creating displays for the congregation, are a nice way to learn and share.

Last edited by Amy Crane

Exemplary Art Workshop Lesson Plans's Writing Team is a professionally led group of volunteer writers composed of pastors, teachers, and Christian educators. Their ideas are group-brainstormed, and their lesson plans are peer-reviewed. Access to these lesson plans is THE major benefit of being a Supporting Member of Join now!

Having written over 40 Art Workshop lesson plans on major Bible stories, the Writing Team has many good and great art lesson plans to choose from, so we've selected the following highlights to show the variety of creative ways to use art to teach a Bible lesson. See the full menu here.

The Ten Commandments Art Workshop
Sculptures of Moses with the tablets. Emphasis on God's Law of Love.

ten commandments art lesson
Story of Creation Art Workshop
Creation Story painting using the "wax resist" technique in the style of artist Ted Harrison. Emphasis on God's creative joy.

Elijah's Mantle Art WorkshoA special Elijah's hair and name t-shirt. Emphasis on Elijah's character and super-status among the prophets.


Birth of Jesus: Shepherds and Angels
A special fabric and paint portrait of that moment of "glory and peace."

Angels Christmas art Bible lesson

Jesus and Nicodemus Art Workshop
Making a God's Eye. Emphasis on seeing the world as God sees it (being born from above).

God Ey2

Jesus and Zaccheus Art Workshop
Making a red-lens decoder image to "see how Jesus sees us."


Good Samaritan Art Workshop
Creating a clay map of the story. Emphasis on "who are the neighbors that we share God's land with."

Good Samaritan Geography art lesson

Peter Sinks, Jesus Saves Art Workshop
Creating a 3D hand reaching up, reaching down. Emphasis on Jesus saves.

Jesus Saves

The Last Supper Art Workshop
Students sew a special Last Supper tablecloth to be used in worship.

Last Supper art lesson tablecloth

Pentecost: Wind, Fire, Faith! Art Workshop
Breath-blown painting of the Spirit breathing life into the church at Pentecost. Emphasis on God's Spirit breathing into and through us.

Pentecost breath art lesson Holy Spirit


Images (9)
  • Ten Commandments sculpture
  • Sewing a Last Supper Tablecloth
  • Good Samaritan student map
  • Pentecost art project
  • Jesus Saves
  • God Ey2
  • Angels at the birth of Jesus
  • Elijah
  • Zaccheus-seeingothers
Last edited by Luanne Payne

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