Before the end of the school year a REALLY GOOD friend of mine asked if I would give a talk in her daughter’s class about what I do for a living. I hemmed and hawed because I rarely have the free time. But, the main reason I was hesitant was because I didn’t know how to talk to 4th graders about what I do. Saying I’m a blogger is something that is hard for me to vocalize. “I write a blog” sounds simple and easy. But, in actuality, I do so many other things to make this blog a reality. Just a few of my job descriptions are: writer, photographer, builder, crafter, teacher, photo editor, business woman, manager, social media coordinator, graphic designer, web designer and all around handy girl! How could I explain all of that to the students?
Suddenly, an idea hit me! I would waltz into that classroom and use my platform to break down the stereotypes about women and handy people within 30 minutes (or less!) Then I’d empower the 4th grade students by letting them build their own chalkboard memo board AND use a power tool! Lofty goals, but I felt sure I could do it. Little did I know that the students wouldn’t be the only one empowered.
I started out by talking to the kids about what a handy person is. They shared terms that fit the definition of a handy person: fixes things, builder, carpenter, plumber, woodworker, and home improvement specialist. Then I showed them a slide presentation and gave the kids a quiz asking them to tell me which of these people are handy:
I showed them one picture at a time and as expected, they got all of the answers wrong.
Amy Matthews, Sandra the Sawdust Girl and Rob VanWinkle aka Vanilla Ice are the handy people. Every child chose Tim & Al from Home Improvement as the only handy people in the bunch. How did you do on the quiz? The kids and I talked about judging a person by their looks and how inaccurate that can be. It was a powerful moment and I hope they remember this lesson as they grow up.
We briefly discussed what I do for a living, but it was time to stop the lecture and time to let the kids build! And USE A POWER TOOL! Woot!
The task was to let everyone build a small chalkboard memo board. I prepped the boards ahead of time to give the kids more time to decorate and use the nail gun.
The kids were really wonderful! They were excellent listeners and all showed great DIY skills.
Materials per memo board:
- 3/4″ plywood (cut into 6″ x 9″ piece)
- Black chalkboard paint
- Foam roller
- 2 Screw eyes
- 6″ piece of Egg & dart moulding (or other decorative moulding)
- 12″ piece of twine or rope
- Washi tape
To save time, I pre-painted and drilled holes in the boards. If you have more time, you can have the kids help with these steps.
Hand sand the plywood until smooth. Paint one coat of chalkboard paint on the plywood.
After the first coat dries, sand lightly and paint a second coat.
Pre-drill holes on a short edge of the plywood for the screw eyes (choose a drill bit that is slightly smaller than the screw eye width.)
Let the Kids Take Over:
Decorate the boards with washi tape.
Be sure to poke your screw eyes through the washi tape and into the pre-drilled hole immediately after you cover it (or you might have a hard time finding it later.)
Hand thread the screw eyes into the holes, use pliers to help tighten the screw eyes. Tie the twine/rope through the screw eyes and cut off the excess (if using polypropylene/nylon rope you need to singe the edges or glue them to keep the knot from slipping out.)
Time to secure the moulding piece. If you don’t have a finish nailer, you can use construction glue or pre-drill small holes and hammer brad nails into the holes. (The moulding doesn’t have to hold a lot of weight, it just makes a nice spot to store chalk or to slip a picture into.)
Each child came up one by one and I discussed what we were going to do. Then they put on their eye protection and hearing protection. I held the nail gun as the kids pulled the trigger. My friend’s daughter told her later that it was EPIC using the nail gun!
At the beginning of the project, I asked the teacher if she wanted to put together a memo board. She gladly took one to work on. After all the kids had come up to secure their moulding onto the board, she came up and set her board on the work bench. She told me I could go ahead and nail it for her. Ha! You know that wasn’t going to fly with me! I told her, “Every one of your students came up here and used the nail gun. You too can do this!” And I showed her how to hold the nail gun and fire the trigger. Of course, she rocked it!
It was such a fun experience. I hope all the kids (and the teacher) learned something that day.
Each child got to take home a chalkboard memo board. Hopefully it will help them get organized for the start of school!
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Disclosure: As a #LowesCreator, I was provided with a Lowe’s gift card to purchase supplies for this post. I was not told what to write. All ideas and words are my own.