Saturday, August 30, 2014

infants in woodshop?

Last night I had an anxiety dream in which I had a very tiny baby wrapped up in a blanket in the wood shop. It kept rolling off the pad on the floor where I was to keep it safe. I know this may have been brought on by my having 5 new first grade students to introduce to the wood shop at Clear Spring School. On Tuesday I plan to break the group of 5 down into two smaller groups to go over safety and introduce them to their first use of tools.

Things will be much more convenient for all of us this year, with the school wood shop being dead center of the school campus.

Yesterday, the upper elementary and middle school students worked on tree cookies, and showed enthusiasm for their work. It seems that with kids and adults occupied in the virtual world for so much of the time, their response to doing real things is palpable.

One of the best things about being at the center of the school campus is the opportunity to more closely fulfill the mission of the wood shop. The idea is that what's done in wood shop doesn't stay in wood shop. Items of useful beauty are to be taken home to tell the important story of learning, and are to be used in school to build a state of intense curiosity. Working more closely with the student's regular classroom teachers will build greater usefulness to those things that we make in wood shop. For instance, we're using tree cookies to build an interest in autobiography, but also learned of a composer who uses a turntable and laser to play music directly from discs of cross-sections of real wood in various species.

After making tree cookies, our students were excited to hear the work of  Bartholomaus Traubeck his music played directly by a turntable, laser and piano synthesizer. Yesterday the students wanted to take their finished tree cookies home. They were proud of their work. We had to tell them, "No, we still have use for them in school."

Make, fix and create...


  1. Mr. Stowe,
    Very best wishes for success this school year. Important work going on in that shop!

  2. Infants would be tricky teaching, but what do you teach first graders?

    Most of the Sloyd books seem to start with 8-10 year olds, and the other books I've found seem to keep first-graders doing things like decorating the surface of the wood or maybe stamping patterns into the wood.

    My 6-year-old can do some not-very-disciplined but interesting things with a spokeshave and small handplane. I'd certainly like to teach her more!