Open Ended Felt Activity

open ended felt activity (2)

This is a simple activity which can be used as an exploration of any Bible story. I use it at home and also in our church as part of our intergenerational service at Easter.

The idea is to have lots of abstract shapes for people to create their own pictures with. The pictures could be used to tell or retell the story, or to respond to it. The latter gives people an open-ended activity in which they can express their own connection with the story, or respond to God and what God is saying to them.

I often find if people are unfamiliar with open-ended, playful activities like this, they often create a picture of the story. This is often a good way to express a connection with a particular part of the story. They also make something which does not (seem to) link with the story at all but is an expression of something they are working through at that moment. For example, if someone has just had a new person born into their family or is grieving the loss of someone, has just moved house, is experiencing ill-health or anticipating a change in their lives, an open-ended activity like this gives them an opportunity to express some of what they are thinking or feeling, their celebration or distress, their prayers or silence. I love this and I’m happy when people use activities like this as open space for them to BE.

One of the lovely things about this activity is that it really is for all ages. If you pick colours which go well and cut shapes which are attractive, it’s really easy for people however old they are and however creative they consider themselves to create something they find pleasing.

If people want, I take photos of their pictures, otherwise, this is purely a process art activity, where the focus is on what happens in the process of creating rather than on the product we create. This way it’s about the ‘work’ taking place under the surface.

So here’s what to do:

1 Buy some contrasting and complementary coloured felt, including at least one large piece in a very contrasting colour. I bought a large piece of grey as a contrast to the bright green, orange, pink, blue and purple, buying rolls from Amazon like these although you can get felt like this in Hobbycraft and lots of other places.

2 Choose one colour as a backdrop for your pieces from your large piece of felt (I used grey).

3 Cut out abstract shapes with a pair of sharp scissors. Note, if your scissors are not sharp this will be a slow and painful experience! I cut some loose people shapes, lots of flames and waves.

4 Cut out some A3-ish size pieces as your picture backdrops. I made one of each colour to give people lots of options for their base colour.

5 Set out the pieces in the middle of the darker sheet, with A3 pieces around the edge. Read a Bible story then invite people to create.

6 (This is the bit I find hardest) Restrain yourself from asking people what they’re making or have made, but be available if people want to share about their creations with you. This gives people (adults and children) space to really create something which helps them develop their faith, to express something to God that they might not want to share out loud or to be mid-process with something and not have to try and explain it in words until they are ready. I know I find this hard, but I would be very unlikely to ask an adult in church to tell me what God is saying to them or what they are working through with God at the moment, so I want to afford children the same respect and create something which really is an open-ended space for creative exploration. If’ I’m always asking what something is or declaring how ‘good’ a creation is, I will inadvertently start shaping those creations as people make things which they can explain or think I will like or approve of. Instead, I’m aiming at making space for people to do real ‘faith work’ so I’m learning to watch silently.