Tuesday, November 17, 2009

second grade for the second time

So it seems that five years ago we were doing a "first" big project in our household. Jordan created a salt clay map of Georgia and it's regions. That was my introduction to the world of big kid projects that take over the kitchen.

Here we are in 2009 and William is now my second grader. William is awesome. He doesn't stress about much and views schoolwork as "something to be done before I hop on my bike or try scooter tricks." That's it. Really, second-born children have it made in this department. But one afternoon 10 days ago he came in talking his head off about this project:

Creek/Cherokee Project

He was talking so fast that I couldn't even understand him. Thankfully his teacher had the foresight to think about dropping us parents an email to warn us about about the incoming project assignment. It helped...it really helped me not drop my jaw to the ground in front of the children. Kids get scared when Mom does that.

It was just finished tonight. The last tree, last little roof, and most importantly, the fires. As long as I live I will remember William busily folding a red pipe-cleaner and announcing, "You know Mom, I'm really, really good at starting fires." That kind of comment will wake you up!

Here are the lessons learned from all this:

1. You can have two children go through the same school, same grade and the project will ALWAYS be different. The teachers must plan this on purpose..."You know that second McD kid is coming through. Let's let Ann really work for her motherhood degree this year!"

2. It is incredibly nerve-wracking to set an eight year old boy loose with acrylic paint. So much so that I made him strip to his underwear as he was painting the sky. We were doing just fine until Grace walked up and started offering her five year old comments. That's when her clothing came way too close to the brotherly hand holding the paint that defies all laundry attempts.

3. Sponges are a much better painting tool for a second grader than a brush. William managed to paint his sky with mixed shades of blue and it actually looked pretty good. I cut the sponge up into one inch pieces, dampened them, and then squeezed the paint on a paper plate.

4. Hot glue is a little advanced for little hands (No, I did not find this out the hard way...I knew this one after five years building architectural models.), but it is the best thing to hold the impossible in place, quickly. I had to help with the actual gluing, but William directed where he wanted every little drop.

5. William decided to flip his shoebox up side down so that the lid would make a bigger and better "base". It was something I never even though of and he was right. It worked out beautifully.

7. Moss makes amost any tree, garden plant, or shrub you will ever need. Birch sticks from Mom's flower arrangement work well if you can talk her into using them all.

6. Sculpey clay is a marvelous thing, but I advise all of you parents of younger kids to start training them with playdoh skills now. Playdoh was the only thing that William would sit still for as a three year old so I made sure he got lots of practice there. I can't believe it paid off...or should I admit that I can't believe the boy made it to the age of eight. (Those of you who knew William in his speed demon years will understand what I am talking about.) Sculpey was a great material to make the base of the houses. Once baked they almost looked authentic. I've been cleaning out my craft stuff so I was luck to have a packaged from a few years ago that was still perfectly good.

Every situation in motherhood requires you to know just how much to help and just how much to let them do by themselves. I'm so proud that William knew exactly what he wanted to do and how he wanted to build it. He just didn't know much about the hot glue, sculpey clay, and the dangers of acrylic paint around sisters and clothing. I'm thrilled that he succeeded tonight. I'm thrilled he's done.

Ah, second grade. Maybe one day I'll pass you.


Claudia said...

WOW!!!!!!!! That is pretty darn impressive!

I think you've almost passed the second grade - one more try and I think you'll have it. Of course, then you'll have to "consult" so my kids make it through.

Ann said...

Jordan just informed me this morning that she actually did the salt dough map in THIRD grade...burst my blogging bubble big time. She may be right and in that case I may have to make one more try with Grace.