Last weekend I made my trek to New Jersey. Friday night was spent enjoying magic tricks, games, and conversation, and a nice long sanding session in my hotel room. Saturday morning was wrestling practice – think room full of testosterone. Saturday afternoon was project time. Our construction team was my nephew, his friend, also 6, and me.
First step was gluing up the walls of the house. The boys each took responsibility for an end wall. While making lunch earlier we had been talking about my mother’s ability to stretch a jar of peanut butter. The bread would be coated but with no extra volume. When it came to applying glue my nephew, D, asked if he should apply it like Grammy (his name for my mom) used to spread peanut butter. This proved to be the perfect description for him. His pal, G, having not been part of the earlier conversation was a little more liberal with the glue. But since the point was for the boys to have fun putting the house together we didn’t stress out about this.
The boys were fascinated by the clamps (Irwin quick grips). After a quick explanation about how to operate them the boys secured the walls. After fitting the wall structure into the base we set it aside to set and we turned our attention to painting the decorations.
During the course of the painting D commented on the roughness of some of the decoration parts (guess I hadn’t done a thorough enough job sanding Friday night) and asked for some sand paper to fix them. Soon both boys were hard at work sanding.
After the painting it was time to glue up the roof. In order to get the angles glued up correctly it needed to glued together while in place over the walls, but we wanted it removable so a layer of plastic wrap was added to the walls before the roof pieces were added. To make it easier for the boys to add the glue to the correct edge without adult intervention I placed a small bit of blue tape on either side of the edge to be glued.
The boys adding the glue.
Energy was flagging at this point – we’d been working on this for most of 3 hours. D announced that he’d like to put on the decorations with his parents – as a “family project”. So the house was unveiled without the decorations applied (hence the almost final of the title).
A couple of recommendations for working with kids. – It’s not about perfection. The point should be spending time together and sharing your love of woodworking. – Be flexible. If the child in question has had enough stop, or at the very least let them stop. – Enjoy it. The most fun part of this was watching D explain to G how the clamps worked. – Share your knowledge in language the child can understand. We had a great conversation about sand paper grits, but mostly we talked about how bumpy the sand paper was. In the course of the conversation I mentioned that woodworkers called how bumpy the sand paper was the grit. I still smile when I think about D telling me that the piece he was sanding was pretty uneven and “I think I need the 100” (he was sanding with 220).
I’ll post pictures of the finished project once I get them.
-- Chelle http://artsgranddaughter.blogspot.com