Wednesday, October 16, 2013

this morning...

This morning I'm going through photos and writing captions and chapter text for the last but not least chapters of my new book on box making. Did you know that box making is more fun than writing about it? I can just walk into the shop and get busy, an it beats sitting at a desk. The project I'm working on remembers for me right where I left off, even if I've been pulled out of the shop for up to a week or longer.

I've been noticing that when my kids at school are working on a project of their own design, they simply walk into class and pick up where they left off. That is a marvel, as I know that many teachers have to ride their kids to get much done. Often when the project is my idea, I have to work a bit harder to get kids in motion at the beginning of class.

A reader sent me a link to this play set, with the suggestion it might be good for a child or grandchild to see what school wood shop might be like. For $15.00, I would prefer that you buy your child or grandchild some real tools, and spend some time working with them instead of wasting their time and your money.

Make, fix and create...


  1. Anonymous11:22 AM


    When I saw the image, I wondered if your book on box making was going to be the most comprehensive ever. Wood boxes? Yep. Cardboard boxes? Them too!


  2. Well as the reader in question....

    When I was a kid, my dad and granddad not only showed me how to use tools and build things, but they also realized that a variety of play things and experiences would be good for me. He gladly bought me Lego and Playmobil and Meccano and Fisher-Technic, and many other things and happily played along with me, and taught me many valuable things in the process. They spent time with me. The particulars of what pastime wasn’t even so important.

    I took the same approach with the kids in my life. I have taken them on hikes, played sports with them, bought them Lego and Playmobil and Hot Wheels, showed them how I construct backpacks, sat them down and taught them a bit about PhotoShop and Illustrator, took them up into the work shop as I worked on kayaks, etc., etc., etc. I didn’t try to ram rod them into just one thing. And most valuably, I spent time with them. They will likely look back in decades to come and remember the fun we had learning, no matter what particular activity we were engaged in.

    A toy like Playmobil has become a successful world wide phenomenon in the last 40 years because it has a lot of merit. It teaches fine motor control, eye and hand coordination, delicate manipulation, imagination, creativity, problem solving, social interaction etc., etc. Things that can be transferred over into other pursuits. Children learn through play. That particular toy is a healthy change from so many toys today that seem to be only about conflict.

    I don’t think forcing them to become interested only in the things that you are interested in is healthy or wise. They may be your interests, and I think it’s fine to expose them to those interests. But I also don’t think it’s good turn your nose up at other things they “might” be interested in. Allow them to explore some other avenues in life. Perhaps they have an interest. Perhaps they don’t. But I think it’s better to let them try a variety of things, than trying to forcibly channel them into only the pursuits that you have a passion for.

    Maybe that five year old isn’t quite ready to be in a loud, dusty workshop. Maybe they haven’t yet gained an interest. Perhaps receiving it will make them think “hey neato - a woodshop just like my dad/granddad/uncle!” and after playing with it for a while will develop a curiosity/interest. For a paltry $15 I can think of infinitely worse toys out there for kids.

    “...wasting their time and your money.”

    Christ dude, don’t be too much of a fundamentalist.

  3. Doug,

    Making boxes is a lot more fun than talking or writing about it. And trying to explain something like a corner slip or a trapped lid is much more complicated than actually doing it. And the answer to the innocent question has to be tailored to someone with no skills or to someone who knows a bit about woodworking.


  4. Exploriment, you make some good points. You can learn fine motor skills from manipulating small objects. Children can develop through role playing with small objects, and playing with a replica of Dad's or Grandpa's wood shop would be better than play with many of the things kids do today.

    The playmobil set is a thoughtful improvement over many of the toys kids are presented today.