Thursday, January 5, 2012

An Easy Project to Pin Down

I would like to start with an award.

It’s not current, but I think being able to fit the lyrics: “Sure as Kilimanjaro rises like Olympus above the Serengeti,” earns Toto the Creativity-of-the-Week Award. Congratulations, Toto!

Sorry for the sidetrack-the lyrics have just always fascinated me.

I did a little project yesterday with my ten year-old and her church Pioneer Club group. I work with crafts for the 5th grade and we do a project roughly every other week. This is fairly simple but for the fact that we have about 25 minutes to do the whole thing and ten 5th graders.

Yesterday, they were working to earn either woodworking or music badges. The handbook suggested breaking out saws, hammers, nails, screwdrivers, etc. and making a birdhouse or lap-desk. I saw this less as a chance to earn a woodworking badge and more of a chance to learn basic first-aid.

The last helpful idea from the handbook was to start each child sawing a piece of plywood into small rectangles, sanding them and painting domino details on them. Times ten. In 25 minutes. I am not a miracle worker.

At the other end of the spectrum were the music crafts. The handbook offered maracas made from plastic eggs with beans inside or rain sticks made from cardboard tubes. Try to get those crafts to engage a bunch of 10 and 11 year-olds. I dare you.

I thought a trip to O Hobby! My Lobby! might start the wheels turning, so off I went. Standing in the unfinished-wood-items-of-all-kinds aisle, I had an epiphany.

“We all get an Epiphany this week,” you may be saying. “It’s tomorrow!”

True, but mine was a lower-case epiphany.

I remembered a small, wooden cross I purchased years ago in Buffalo Gap, Texas with the characteristic mindset “I can make that!” At the time, I thought it was the perfect kid-friendly project. I finally could test that theory.

I bought bags of wooden clothespins and bottles of wood glue then set to work “un-pinning” the clothespins. After some numb fingertips and a few great helpers pitched in (shout out to Lisa, Tricia and Eddy) we got the little clips off and we were ready to go.

These things were like puzzles. A little difficult to sort out at first, but once the kids got the hang of how to build them, the crosses started to come together quickly. Tricia (shout out number two) had the genius idea to glue the clothespins together in pairs first, before building the over-all cross. This really helped the kids manage the construction. The biggest obstacle was lack of patience to hold pieces together for the glue to set. Soon, though, we had a set of beautiful wooden crosses.

How interesting to see their individual personalities really jump out as they worked. Frustration, confidence, accomplishment, defeat-then success. All had a finished cross that was beautiful to take home, they just arrived at the end by different methods.

And I now have 144 little metal clips…Looks like another project to figure out! What would you do with them?

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