We are building an addition in the back... it has been getting a little ridiculous in our little house with 5 people, three of them growing rapidly. Actually I feel kind of guilty every time I say that, because I know in the 60 years this house has been standing it's probably slept a lot more than 5 and been happy to do it, but what can I say... we're big space-loving Americans and another bathroom is going to be really really nice. ANYWAY... one bonus of the construction going on is lots and lots of wood scraps. I love the wood scraps and keep trying to squirrel them away, and my husband keeps trying to get rid of them, promising me that there'll be lots more. Here was one very fun afternoon we had with our (wonderful) neighbor kids (I love them so much... whenever they come over the vibe is so chill and peaceful... I feel so very fortunate). Just glue guns and sharpies, building stuff.... great, simple fun.
Gever Tulley talked about engagement in his talks... I can't remember what the line was exactly. Maybe it was, kids are more engaged when there is less instruction and adult interference? I can't recall, but it was a very catchy little motto. Ever since, I have been very aware when kids are engaged and when they are not. These kids appear to be wonderfully engaged. Today in my homeschooling tinkering class, I made a mistake. I brought the ingredients to make bristlebots, and I brought my soldering iron to show them but not for them to use, not quite yet (they are all about 6 or 7, I was just a little too nervous). I had pre-soldered on the leads to the motors, and some of them snapped the wires off accidentally after awhile, and then I had to solder them back on (and I'm not that great at soldering yet, and it takes me awhile)... I felt like it wasn't that great of a scene, because they disengaged and became reliant on me to 'make it work' instead of being able to use all tools to figure it out themselves. Luckily the soldering iron wasn't even working well and we were outside and it was windy so I just nixed it altogether. Some people were able to make bristlebots and some just made a little motor attatched to a coin battery which actually bops around pretty well, too. And then it all got very beautiful with most kids wonderfully engaged inventing all sorts of interesting things. I'm still learning... so much every time I work with those great kids.
Anyway.... thumbs up for wood scraps and glue guns. Totally open-ended and I was able to not impose any preconcieved vision of what we should be creating on the kids, at all. Not as easy as it sounds, sometimes!
Any construction site probably has tons of wood scraps... ask around if you want some. Or come on over... I might be able to spare a few.