Friday, 26 October 2012

Class Projects

    There is a good chance that I stand alone on this one, but I like big class projects.  I know there are many of you reading this swearing at your computer screen, but I really enjoy doing class projects with the kids.  Let me share the obvious, I am and always have been a nerd.  I look at pretty much everything as a teachable moment.  I also really like to learn, and hope that I can pass that joy of learning along to the kids.  I view class projects as an opportunity to bond with my child one on one.  When we are doing that project they have my undivided attention, which is a rarity with 4 kids.

    Grace had to do research and a paper as well as a homestead for a native people of her choice.  I suggested to her that she do a project about a local native group.  She chose the Mohawk.  We are most fortunate to have the Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory just half an hour from us.  I made arrangements to go and speak to a Mohawk researcher (I blogged about it a few weeks back).  She was so helpful and nice.  She supplied Grace with an abundance of information.  I also was able to borrow books from the Tyendinaga public library.  They had a huge native section.

    Before we began doing Grace's homestead I asked her to draw a diagram of what she thought it should include.  I then showed her a picture from one of the books and suggested that we could replicate it.  It took us weeks to put all of the small details into place.  I found beads and after much trial and error Grace and I strung yellow and brown beads onto fishing line.  I then wrapped the beads around a little skewer to make tiny cobs of corn.  We made several runs into local woods to procure supplies.

    When it was all said and done Grace stayed up until 10:30 p.m. putting the finishing touches on her homestead.  She had hot glue burns on her fingers to proved that she had done the work.  I helped her with a lot of her project.  I really wanted to take over and do it all myself, but it was her project.  What would she learn if I did it all (even though I really wanted to). She left the house with this big smile on her face, she was really proud of her project.  
    Grace's teacher invited parents to come in this afternoon and look at everyone's projects.  As I commented on some of the projects many of her classmates told me "Dad/ Mom did all of mine, he/ she wouldn't let me help."  There were also kids there that it was obvious no one had helped them with their project.  I am not sure who I most felt the saddest for, the kids who had no help or the kids who were not allowed to help.  I really enjoyed Grace and I discussing what we were doing for the project. We decided to fill the long house with cedar bows (really small ones), because that is what the Mohawk people would have done.  I enjoyed trying to make the long house using the materials and trying to be semi-authentic in our technique (although I am certain that the Mohawk peoples did not use glue guns to put together their long houses).  I enjoyed talking about making corn, and then the two of us making the corn.  Corn was a staple for the Mohawk people.  There were parts of the project that I had to walk away from, or risk blowing a gasket.  The long house was a lot of work.  We cut green branches and bent them.  We had a lot of trial and error with everything on this project.  The thing that I liked the most was our time together, and that Grace was really proud to show her class.

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