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Cups of Kindness

Perfect for VBS, Summer Camp, Daycare, or Home

By Lenora Murdock

Cups of Kindness are crafts that make great gifts. This craft can be used to encourage random acts of kindness, as a holiday gift, or just because. This gift involves some recycling. It is not only inexpensive, but also environmentally friendly.

What you need:

Coffee mugs or tea cups - Used coffee mugs and tea cups are perfect for this craft. Mugs can be purchased at the dollar store. Each family can send in a plain white mug. A variety of mug sizes and styles can be purchased at yard sales or Thrift Stores for anywhere from ten cents to fifty cents. If you are part of a Church or other organization, request donations of old, unused mugs. Plain, one color mugs are easiest, but any mug can be used. There should be enough mugs for every child.

Acrylic Paint in a variety of colors.

Stickers - Use that hodgepodge of leftover stickers you have laying around, or match your stickers to the specific holiday or event you are hosting. For example, use star stickers and flag stickers for the 4th of July. Use Christmas, Hanukah, or Kwanza stickers to celebrate the respective holidays.

Printed label that says "Cup of Kindness" - Use address labels, or other sticker labels that will run through your computer. Print a message sticker for each mug. You may use "Cup of Kindness," "Happy Mother's Day," "Here's to You," or any appropriate logo. You should have enough labels for every project. Create extra for labels that get torn or messed up.

Clear acrylic spray or sealant.

Permanent markers - optional.

Tea bags in a variety of flavors. You will use two to three tea bags per mug. Depending on the number of crafts you have to create you may purchase inexpensive teas or spend a little more for exclusive brands.

Bookmark - Bookmarks can be purchased in bulks of 50 at The School Box, or other school supply stores. If you would like, allow children to create their own bookmark using crayons, markers, and stickers. Use a hole punch to make one hole at the top of the bookmark and tie a piece of yarn. Fray the ends to make it look like a ribbon. You may choose to use thin ribbon instead. Often fabric stores will donate the end of several rolls for your craft needs.

Pens, pins, and other trinkets - These items are optional. They can often be purchased in bulk from Oriental Trading Company, Sam's Warehouse, or B.J's Warehouse. Suit your trinkets to the holiday or organization you are representing. For example, daycares, churches, and civic organizations may already have logo pens printed. The Army National Guard donated a number of pens for our children's crafts.

Frayed paper spirals and folds. Frayed paper will be used to stuff the bottom of the mug. You may purchase paper, or use paper recycled via a paper shredder.

What to do:

1. Show children completed examples of Cups of Kindness.

2. Give every child a mug. Allow the children to decorate and paint the mugs. The extent of painting and decorating will depend on the type of mugs you use. Solid color mugs may be painted with pictures and holiday symbols. Encourage children to completely paint mugs with pictures or logos on them. You may have to touch up the mugs to make sure they are completely covered.

3. Once the exterior of the mugs is dry, paint the inside of the mug.

4. When the mugs are completely dry, allow the children to place decorative stickers on them. You may also choose to let them draw on the mugs using permanent markers.

5. Have the children apply the logo sticker you created. Assist them in placing it in the middle of the mug. If necessary, use a pencil to put an "x" where you want the logo sticker placed.

6. Spray each mug with clear acrylic paint, or sealant. Spray the clear coat in a well ventilated area.

7. When the acrylic paint has dried, stuff the bottom of each mug with crumpled, recycled paper.

8. Stuff the mug with tea bags, book marks, pens, or other trinkets.

9. If you have access to shrink wrap, you may choose to shrink wrap the mugs and have the children tie a small satin ribbon to the top of each mug. The mugs do not have to be shrink wrapped. They make a cute gift either way.

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