Thursday, September 13, 2007

Another School Project

When Brandon was in second grade he was assigned a project where he had to research Uranus. He then had to complete a travel brochure on his planet, following specific guidelines. This was to be done entirely at home. By a second grader.

I learned a lot about Uranus that week. Some of which I even remember. Like that it's really cold. And has rings and lots of moons. And it spins on it's side. That's pretty cool, I think. I asked Brandon what he remembers and he said:

"We did a project on Uranus?"

And so began my longstanding abhorrence of school projects. Oh I know there are probably parents who relish the opportunity to spend evenings researching and illustrating parts of our solar system. You know, just for the enjoyment of learning. And turning that information into a travel brochure. In case someone would like to travel there. I, for one, am just glad we were not assigned Pluto, because that's not even a real planet anymore. Who would even want to go there now? Our travel brochure would be useless.


Over the years I have presided over assisted my children in project after project after project. We have made musical instruments, paper mache planets and mummies. We have researched the effects different additives have on daisies. Twice. We have made more dioramas, posters, mobiles, collages, cereal box/shoe box art than I can count. I have spent hours helping them navigate Google and printers and excel spreadsheets. I know the children are supposed to do, or at least be capable of doing, these projects themselves. Or with "nominal parental supervision", but that just doesn't happen. Ever. And the time we spend together doing them, it just isn't that enjoyable. I wouldn't really call it bonding at all. It more often resembles me herding them along obnoxiously. Like cattle with a prod.

So when I went to Ben's 3-year-old preschool open house and the teacher informed us that we would have a project due the first two weeks of school, I was immediately on edge. Really? A project for a three year old? Maybe you would like him to do a timeline on the potty training process? Or 3-D model of Sesame Street? (Yes, I am a bit jaded).

But it turned out they just wanted him to make a house out of a shoe box (okay they wanted ME to make a house out of a shoe box) and glue pictures of his family on it. So the children can use it to tell about themselves. Okay, I admitted, that didn't seem too tough. And it serves a purpose. Ben even seemed excited about it.

Yesterday we made the house. We covered it with paper and I drew a door and windows and he colored all over it. Then he helped me choose pictures of each of us out of the albums and he glued them around the house. I would even go as far as to say it was kinda fun.

No. It was "bery" fun.

Ben was incredibly proud of the way it turned out and he showed it to everyone. We immediately had to go down to "The Man's" office to show him. He showed Brandon and Allie when they got off their buses. And an hour later, he showed them again.

This morning, he brought it to school. He slid out of the car and held it up for his teacher to see. His face was glowing and he was bouncing with excitement. He said,

"Look what I made! This is my house. This is my family"

And he pointed to the pictures of each of us and explained to her who we were. And, oh, the pride in his voice. The pride in himself and the house we made. And in his family, our family, that belongs to him.

It brought tears rushing to my eyes.

And I decided that maybe, sometimes, school projects aren't so bad after all.


Lori said...

Okay, you convinced me too- maybe *sometimes* school projects aren't such a bad idea. But MOST of the time, I am right there with you on my feelings about dioramas, book mobiles, posters, 3-D solar systems, and anything using modeling clay.

I was just looking through the overview of the 7th grade curriculum and thought to myself, "Man, I am going to have a lot of homework this year..." Sad... but true.

painted maypole said...

that's a great project!!

Kyla said...

What a cool project!!!

TINA said...


Beck said...

That is a beautiful, beautiful story.
Also: you did a project on Uranus. Heh. I'm not mature enough.

Beck said...

That is a beautiful, beautiful story.
Also: you did a project on Uranus. Heh. I'm not mature enough.

bubandpie said...

That sounds so lovely.

I remember all my school projects - a home-made drum, a presentation on a world city of my choice (San Francisco), a report on the canoe. What I also remember is that these did not begin until I was in grade four. A bit more reasonable, I think.

Chaotic Joy said...

Ha Beck! When I was writing this I was thinking. I think I might actually be glad we did "Uranus" when Brandon was in second grade. He's such a comedian we would never have heard the end of it.

slouching mom said...

Yes, that makes up for quite a few dreadful projects, I'd agree.

thirtysomething said...

Awwww. How sweet. Those moments always bring it home and make it ALL worth it, don't they?

Chaotic Joy said...

Hi Wendy! Thanks for stopping by. I was hoping you had a blog too, so I could see pictures of your kiddos.