Tuesday, September 13, 2016


Mondays are my busiest days in the school wood shop and yesterday I had my hands full. My seventh and eighth grade students began making shaker boxes, making jingle bell rattles to sellfor fundraising, and we began discussing the making of skateboards later in the year.

My first, second and third grade students are so enthusiastic, they want to make everything they see, so I provided them with materials for boomerangs as a way to get them familiar with some basic tools.

My 4th, 5th and 6th grade students wanted to make working puppet dolls, but of course they want to make them of their own design, and I encourage that. Is it not better that they make some of their own decisions and learn to solve the various problems they can create for themselves?

In the meantime, I've received the files for my book on making Froebel's gifts, and am in the process of review. It is a complex book, interweaving material about Froebel, his theories and methods, and the history of the Kindergarten movement, with instructional material on how to make his most precious gifts.

Make, fix, create and extend to others the likelihood of learning likewise.


  1. I have read a number of your posts and articles. We are just getting started on developing a basic woodworking program at our school as a part of our STEM curriculum for elementary age students. I plan to build the great saw horse style stands with the mounted vises. Is there a particular vise that has worked well?

  2. The vises we used were 7 in. wide Jet, but that was a while back and I'm not certain that they are still available. I'll look for a link.

  3. This is the one most similar: https://www.amazon.com/Olympia-Tools-38-736-Woodworkers-6-Inches/dp/B002I2KFMG/

    I cannot vouch for its quality.

    1. Thank you, I will order one and take a look at it. I appreciate the help.

  4. Girls Garage-Berkeley California: LASER-ETCHED SKATEBOARDS


    In the fall of 2015, 6 of our most veteran girls participated in a 5-week workshop to hand-press, laser-etch, and construct custom skateboards.

    This process required learning Adobe Illustrator to laser-etch a design on the bottom layer of veneer, glue and vacuum press 7 layers of veneer, trim and route the edges of the board using a tablesaw, bandsaw, and file, and finally installing hardware and grip tape.

    The results were amazingly well-crafted, and showcased each girl’s individual graphic design. At the end of the five weeks, we spent the day learning how to skateboard.

    Video: https://youtu.be/QqX7loM9MFs

    RoarRocket Skateboards ( sells supplies and tools)

    Dartmouth Design It! Build It Summer Engineering for High School


    Video: https://youtu.be/q9O9GgaNSoE?list=PLbuA2svvSuTrjaf_uNFKJ7palrRETxjPC

    Photos- Summer 2015- Dartmouth Longboard Projects

  5. Jonathan, It's nice to hear from you, and thanks for the links. I'll share them with my students.

  6. rene.9:22 AM

    Good question: "Is it not better that they make some of their own decisions and learn to solve the various problems they can create for themselves?"
    And proably one of the most discussed in education. Once I hear/read some quote with the same distinction, in short: "Never correct a beginner." And as I see with my own children: the phase of being "beginner" lasts longer than I would have expected. But that is totally clear: It needs a good while to build up the bases. And when you (the beginner) feel comfortable on your base, you try to see what else is possible (as an advanced) until you come to a point where you realise that others benefit from your experiences (master).
    That said: My children are the masters to me in children education in many ways, but not on every stage. Sometimes my base is more solid. Then I invite them in what I see; after returning back to their bases they try to see where they can adopt what they've seen. And vice versa.
    We are in our lives at different stages of development, sometimes masters, often advanced - and surpringsly more often beginners.
    To me, the magic of this stage of being a beginner lies inbetween the moment I got an idea and my first succuessfull step. Because that is the time, I am totally connected with me and my abilities to solve an issue. I would not want to have someone "disturbing" me and stealing my magical time. When this first part of the journey lies behind me - I am grateful for some companion to chat with, to make the journey more interesting more varied.
    This, in my opinion, is one main goal in education: to give enough space and time for building a solid base - and to be there when the students make their next steps; give them maps and bread and honey, some cheese - and of course a sharp knife.