Saturday, December 01, 2018

Kindergarten airplanes.

Yesterday in wood shop at the Clear Spring School I gave my 5th and 6th grade students an exercise in reading plans and building birdhouses. They would rather not be bothered with plans, but I tried to explain that previous generations of woodworkers and birding enthusiasts had refined designs for blue bird houses based on a multitude of prototypes and countless hours of direct observation in their use.

Can we not rely on the civilization in which we live to provide a starting point for our own creative endeavors? Would we not build society more effectively if we were to show some homage to the past and the efforts of others?

Reading plans is not easy for my students, many of whom are "great readers." When you read a normal book, you can skip parts and know that you've not missed much. When reading a how-to book or a set of plans, if you miss one small detail, much can go awry.

In my Kindergarten woodworking class, we made toy airplanes. An important principle of Educational Sloyd was that students begin with the known and work toward the unknown. These days, just as all children in the day of Sloyd were familiar with the knife, students are well prepared in the use of markers to color their work. Having the stock prepared in advance, I started the students out using markers in decorating the fuselages of their planes.  Then using thin Baltic birch ply, they designed the shape of their wings, which I then cut out.

Starting with the markers spaced the students out so that not all were requiring the same help at the same time. With the fuselages complete to the student's satisfaction, drilling holes for the axles to fit came next. I held the fuselages in positions the students directed while they drilled the holes.

I helped next by adding the wheels and axles which I had prepared in advance, and one of my 6th grade students, Gracie, assisted next in using hot melt glue to affix the wings in positions decided upon by the students.

Our Kindergarten teacher asked how I can have new projects each week that can be completed in 30 minutes time. Part of the answer to that is that I prepare stock in advance, start students out working on the parts that are most familiar to them, and that I have help. The students are very proud of their work.

Make, fix, and create... Give others the chance to learn likewise.

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