Archive for the ‘Children's Projects’ Category

I tend not to push my grandchildren on the projects we do together,  so this cane took some time to complete.

Madeleine wanted to make a cane for her Nana. She picked the stick she wanted and chose the hardware from my Lee Valley Tool Catalog. I was slow to pick up on the fact that she didn’t want to make any changes to the cane because she liked the wood just the way it was. She’s a purist ~ let the wood speak for itself, no need for embellishment. She did, however, like the idea of putting her name on the cane.

She did some finish sanding and then asked me to write her whole name on the cane. (We use only first names online for our grandchildren, so the rest is blocked out.) When we got to the other side of the cane she wanted her nana’s name. Before I had a chance to write it, she grabbed the cane and pencil and wrote it herself. As an afterthought, she said I could fix up the letters when I woodburned them. I didn’t, of course. I’m a purist that way.

What did I learn? Children are keenly aware when an adult is controlling a project and I was probably doing this more than I intended to. In any case, the original idea was hers. She is very happy with the result and will be beaming when she presents it to her Nana.

Monalisa, in her comment, asked who was luckier, Madeleine or I. When Madeleine was four, I overheard her telling someone that her grandpa did everything she said, but then added “and I do everything Grandpa says.”

I think that sums up how lucky we both are.

Nana's cane completed (click ti enlarge)

to Val / Nana

to Val / Nana

Close up (click to enlarge)

Close up (click to enlarge)


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In my teaching of technology education and industrial arts at the grade 7 and 8 level I found that kids gravitated to the scroll saw. I had a nice DeWalt scroll saw in my school shop.

At home, I have a small, inexpensive Ryobi scroll saw that I bought for my wife to use in her art studio. She has since moved on to other things and now it sits in my garage workshop. While I was looking for things to do with my grandchildren, aged 7 and 4, I thought I would bring it out and teach them how to use it.

My granddaughter took to it like fish takes to water.  She made a puzzle out of a square piece of 1/4″ plywood. When I asked her to tell me her favorite thing about the saw, she said she liked to make turns with it. She was so busy making turns that it was hard for her brother to have one.

When my grandson finally negotiated a chance at the saw, he loved it too. He kept cutting 1/4″ plywood into smaller and smaller pieces. He then used these pieces to build a bed for his sister’s doll.

I like the fact that the scroll saw is relatively safe for a child to use~with knowledgeable adult supervision. It is quiet, so it doesn’t frighten children and it has variable speeds so they can slow it right down. I impressed upon them the fact that their fingers had to be kept away from the blade, safety glasses had to be worn and that they could not turn the machine on for each other. This was a big challenge since they both wanted to help the other speed through a cut so they could have their next turn. They soon realized that the saw would be put away if they didn’t adhere to these rules.

I was amazed to see my granddaughter figure out that an extra piece of wood could be used as a push stick if the piece she was cutting was too small and her fingers were getting too close to the blade. She is a natural. You can see the determination on her face.

Sebastian turns on the scroll saw.

Sebastian turns on the scroll saw.

Sebastian has lots of determination.

Sebastian has lots of determination.

Madeleine loves they way she "can make turns in her cuts".

Madeleine loves they way she "can make turns in her cuts."

Madeleine definately takes over while the ever (almost) patient little brother waits his turn.

Madeleine definitely takes over while the ever (almost) patient little brother waits his turn.

The projects were taken home and gifted to others before I thought of taking a picture of them. Fortunately, there is always next time.

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My granddaughter and I were walking through the woods at her great grandparent’s place. She does not like to stay on the beaten path. so we were struggling through the wood and up rocks, inclines and over fallen trees. She told me she wanted to make a cane for her Nana. Thus began the idea of making a cane.

She came over a few weekends ago and brought a branch with her. Unfortunately, it was too brittle and had already broken before she got to our house. I took her into my backyard shed, which is attached to her play house, and let her look through the many branches I had stored there. There was walnut and maple. They were all peeled and dry. She made her pick and it really was the only suitable stick there for that purpose. She found another stick which had a Y at the top and she proceeded to make a crutch for her little brother (he really doesn’t need one). I asked her later if she wanted to see the handles and cane tips that we could order from Lee Valley Tools. She was very excited and made her pick. The parts came and I quickly mounted them on the stick to see what it would look like.

Nanna's stick

Well, there it is. My granddaughter will be here this weekend and she can sand, stain, wood burn, or embellish the cane in any manner she chooses. Then she will varnish it and I can glue on the head and tip. I’ll post a picture of her finished project when we are done.

It will be interesting to see how she will finish the project.

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