We finally broke ground and started construction on our child-built wooden play house project.
The Learning Group: “The Rainbow Piano Truck Stop Monsters.” The Children: Beryl, Aaron, Faris, Julian, Lincoln, Jackson, and Alex.”
Written by Teacher Steven in Mid-August —
After many weeks of discussing, brainstorming and planning, it’s time to put our skills to work. We made a last minute change to our plans in that rather than purchasing all the lumber and wood pieces, we’re going to try and find most of the wood materials by recycling old shipping pallets. I got the inspiration after seeing a couple of pictures and thought it would help demonstrate how we can recycle and transform old items into something new. We found the mother lode downstairs in the building loading dock: a pallet stack so high it was taller than myself. We found the perfect piece that would serve as the floor of the house: a piece that was large enough “to fit the whole group at the same time,” as the children like to remind me. The only problem was, it was a super rough piece with plenty of splinters.
Making it Safe
So, very carefully, the children spent a couple of mornings with me sanding down the whole piece and looking for rough spots. They became quite skilled at looking for areas that required more sanding by running their hands on the surface very carefully and gently so as to keep from giving themselves a splinter. After manually sanding a couple of mornings, the group got to try using a power sander, as well. The objective was to get the pallet smooth enough so that children could play on it safely, especially since many children like to take off their shoes.
Making it Fit
To begin framing the house, we had to cut 2×4’s to the right lengths. Out came the tape measure. Everyone in the group had a chance to find 48″ on the tape and make a mark on a different piece of the wood. After measuring and double checking many times, we used a hand saw to cut the pieces to the correct size.
Cutting to Size
Friends practiced safe use of the saw and helped to cut down the 2×4’s. They will serve as the vertical studs of the house to which we will eventually nail all the siding. The responsibility and empowering feeling of being trusted with a “grown up” tool helps our children to practice their concentration and impulse control. And, with close guidance, they show that they are up to the task. They cut the wood in a safe fashion. Little by little, the assembly of the house was coming along.
Placing the Child-Built Play House
After the job was finished, we found a great spot in the courtyard where the house will reside. Now, on to framing the house. And, of course, the Monsters still have not forgotten their grand plans that we have pinned on our inspiration board. While working, Julian made sure to let me know, “Teacher Steven, we’re still going to put a slide on the house, right?”