Today I only had one refuse (a six year old who runs, hides & curls up when things aren't going his way) until I told him something. I think I wouldn't let him play hockey (yes, indoors) or something. When he sat down he again whined and asked why he had to do crafts. I said that he wasn't doing a craft today, but art. His reaction was very interesting, he appeared to be now interested in participating. I wasn't conning him, it really was art--they had to mix yellow and blue paint to make the green they needed to sponge onto a piece of paper. After the paint dried they traced around a shamrock shape and then cut it out. This was an art class-learning about colour mixing (I had paint sample cards and would asked them which greens had more yellow or blue in them), they used a technique that they don't often use (using a sponge) and decided on how much of their large white paper to cover and how to apply the paint (some actually sponged and others smeared the paint with the sponge). They had to wait until it dried before doing the next two steps. We discovered that the pencil didn't really show up on top of the paint so they flipped the paper over and had to line up the template so that it took in the most painted part of the paper and then cut out the shamrock.
So, I wonder if they are tired of creating junk (they may not be able to articulate it but find themselves reluctant to do something that really isn't useful). The conundrum is a very limited budget, easily disengaged children that if not involved in something positive, will cause chaos in the classroom and I really cannot do a labour intensive project EVERY day. I can only have 4 children at a time doing the project since they seem to need a lot of guidance for these activities. I have spent most of a morning just getting everyone through a project--for example the paper making project. All they had to do was slop wet pulp onto a small screen and roll the water out and then place it on the drying rack. I could only do one at a time though I had 2 at the table. I didn't have trouble getting the whiners to do it. I only had one refuse and since by then I was tired and had miscounted the number of screens I needed, let it slide.
Tomorrow is a handprint rainbow. I think we'll just use 4 colours/4 handprints. hmmm could make this into a co-operating project, 2 kids, 4 hands = 4 colours. They each help another person create their 4 colour rainbow. Yes! That would work. Maybe.