HotFreeBooks.com
Primary Handwork
by Ella Victoria Dobbs
Previous Part     1  2
Home - Random Browse

Art.—The art side also may receive due attention in the general proportioning and arrangement of the stores, in the modeling of certain features from clay, as enumerated above, in the making of labels for boxes and cans, in the writing of signs and advertisements, and in the color combinations. These features are to a great extent incidental to other problems just as the use of good taste is incidental to all the affairs of life and should receive corresponding emphasis.

ILLUSTRATIONS

Figure 32 shows about half the stores built by one third-grade class. Some of the subject matter drawn from the various stories was as follows: in connection with the grocery, a study of the source of various articles of food with oral and written descriptions of processes of manufacture; the common measures used in the grocery, and ordinary amounts purchased.

In connection with the meat market, the names of various kinds of meat, the animals from which they are obtained, and the part of the animal which furnishes certain cuts; as, for example, ham, bacon, chops. The current prices and approximate quantity needed for a meal made practical number work.

The bakery called for an investigation of the processes of bread making and a study of the material used. In all of the processes the teacher had opportunity to stress the necessity for proper sanitation.

In connection with the dry goods store, the distinguishing characteristics of cotton, wool, linen, and silk were emphasized and illustrated by the samples collected for the store and by the clothing worn by the children. Common problems in measuring cloth enlivened the number lessons.

The millinery store disclosed considerable ingenuity in the field of hat manufacture, and a lively business in doll hats was carried on for some time.

In connection with the post office, registered letters, dead letters, money orders, rural free delivery, etc., were discussed, and the advantages of cooperation touched upon.



The other stores of the village street offer further opportunity for becoming better acquainted with the common things which lie close at hand and touch our daily lives.



CHAPTER VII

SAND TABLES AND WHAT TO DO WITH THEM

A sand table should be considered one of the indispensable furnishings of every schoolroom. Its possibilities are many and varied. It may be used merely as a means of recreation and the children allowed to play in the sand, digging and building as fancy suggests. Or it may be used as the foundation for elaborate representations, carefully planned by the teacher, laboriously worked out by the children, and extravagantly admired by the parents on visitors' day. While both of these uses may serve worthy ends on certain occasions, the most valuable function of the sand table strikes a happy medium between the two, as means of illustrating and emphasizing various features of the daily lessons. In this capacity the laborious efforts of the show problem on the one hand and purposeless play of the other are both avoided. In this capacity the work on the sand table goes along hand in hand with the regular work in geography, history, language, or any subject in which it is possible through an illustration to teach more effectively.

The purpose of this work is not so much to produce fine representations as to help the children to clarify and strengthen their ideas through the effort to express them in concrete form. The value lies in the development which comes to the children while they work. The technique of processes of construction is of secondary importance, though careless work ought never to be permitted. The completed project has little value after it has served its purpose as an illustration and may be quickly destroyed to make way for the next project. For this reason emphasis is laid on the general effect rather than the detail of construction. The work should be done well enough to serve the purpose, but time should not be spent on unnecessary details which do not add to the value as an illustration. In most cases speed is an important element. The project should be completed while the subject it illustrates is under discussion, if it is to be of most service. The first essential is that the work shall be done wholly by the children. The teacher may by skillful questions help them to build up in imagination the project they intend to work out, so that they may work with a definite purpose. She may sometimes suggest improved methods of working out various features when the improvements will add to the value of the illustration, but she should seldom, if ever, plan a project definitely or dictate the method of procedure.

Not least among the possible benefits to be derived from work of this kind is the development of resourcefulness. The necessity for expressing an idea in concrete form with whatever materials are at hand often calls for considerable ingenuity. Ability of this sort will show itself only when the children are expressing their ideas with utmost freedom and feel the responsibility for the success of their work. The more earnestly the children try to express their ideas, the greater will be their development. The teacher should feel that she is hindering the growth of the children and defrauding them of their legitimate opportunity for development when she allows an over-anxiety for tangible and showy results to make her take the responsibility upon herself.

The details of method are best presented through a detailed description of typical illustrations actually worked out in the classroom.

A SAND-TABLE FARM—HOME LIFE IN THE COUNTRY

The study of home life as a general subject will include "our home" and the homes of other people who live under different conditions. To the town child the country will often be somewhat familiar and hold the second place in his interest. In the country school the farm may often be the best place to begin.

Various questions will arise as soon as it is decided to make a sand-table farm, the answers to which will be governed by the habits of the locality. What sort of farm shall we have? Shall we raise stock, fruit, corn, wheat, vegetables, or a little of everything? What shall we need to plant in each case, and in what proportion? How much pasture land shall we need? What buildings? What machinery?



Fences.—As soon as the question of crops and the division of the table into fields is settled, the problem of fencing presents itself. What sort of fence is needed, wire, boards, pickets, rails, or hedge? How far apart shall the posts be set, how tall should they be, and how many will be needed? How many boards? How wide? How long? How many wires?

The making of the fencing will supply material for one or more number lessons. Various materials may be used.

Twigs may be cut to given lengths and set in concrete (clay) posts.

For wire fence, cut posts from small wooden sticks. Drive small tacks in each post—one for each wire. Use fine spool wire or wire raveled from fly screen. Twist wires once around each tack, or drive the tacks in firmly so that the wire is held by the head of the tack. This is not an easy fence for very little children to make.



To make board fence. Cut posts required length, and decide upon distance between posts. Make boards of thin strips of wood or of pasteboard. Nail boards to posts with tacks or small brads. This is a very easy fence to make and gives some good exercise in measuring.

Rail fences may be made from toothpicks or burnt matches.

Picket fence for the dooryard may be made on wooden foundation with cardboard pickets.

Hedge fence should be made from some fine-leafed plant. Cedar twigs serve well.

Chicken fence may be cut from paper as per illustration. Fold paper several times, lengthwise. Cut across the fold as indicated by arrows. Stretch lengthwise as shown in Fig. 40, a and b.

Buildings.—The class should decide on the buildings needed. Each building should be assigned to a group of two or three workers. Each group should be held responsible for its contribution and should work out its problem with as little help as possible. If the children are able to plan a barn and make it, even though it is a very crude affair, more has been accomplished than if a very cunning structure had been made after plans, dictated and closely supervised by the teacher.

Wood is the best building material for general use.

Pasteboard serves well, but it is less substantial. It is also harder to cut and paste heavy cardboard than it is to saw and nail thin wood.

Clay may be used for all buildings which are commonly made of concrete.

Stock.—The different kinds of animals needed on the farm and the number of each will furnish profitable subject matter for class discussion. The animals may be modeled from clay. While the animals will of necessity be very large in proportion to the acreage of the farm, attention should be directed to the relative proportions between horses and hogs, cattle and sheep. Differences of this sort do not trouble little people, as their work is sure to show. The point should be stressed only sufficiently to help them to see a little more clearly and express their ideas a little more adequately each time they try. The accuracy of the result is important only as an index that the children are steadily developing in power to see and do, and gaining self-reliance.

The Modeling Process.—The best method seems to be simply to begin, and, for example, model as good a horse as possible; then discuss the results, note a few serious defects, and try again, endeavoring to correct them. Encourage rapid work which gives the general proportions of the animal in the rough. Beginners are apt to waste time in a purposeless smoothing of the clay, in mere tactual enjoyment. Discourage the tendency to finish the details of a horse's head, for example, before the body has been modeled. Repeat the process as often as time and the interest of the children warrant, but be satisfied if the children are doing the best they can, even though the results are crude and not so good as some other class has produced. The children should always feel that the work is their own. For this reason the teacher's help in clay modeling should be through demonstration rather than by finishing touches to the child's work. Imitation is a strong instinct in little children, and watching the teacher model a better horse than he can make will help a child to improve his own. One thing to be especially avoided is the attempt to bring every class to a uniform degree of excellence according to adult standards. Such an ideal encourages the giving of help in a way which hinders real development though it may produce immediate results.

Trees.—This topic will call out a discussion of the uses of trees; which trees are shade trees, which are cultivated for their fruit, the distinguishing characteristics of the different varieties, and the ones best suited to this particular farm.

Twigs from the real tree should be used wherever possible. In other cases the trees may be cut from paper. If a good green paper is not at hand, use drawing paper and color with crayons. A realistic effect is gained by cutting the tree from folded paper. (See Fig. 41.) Cut three pieces for each tree and paste together at the fold, then open out. Make the trunk long enough to be driven an inch or more into the sand.



The making of the trees will furnish material for both art and nature study lessons. As far as circumstances permit the real trees should be studied, giving the children first-hand experience whether it be much or little. They should test the trees they cut by comparing them with real trees of the same variety. If this is impossible, the best pictures available should be used. (See notes on paper cutting.)

Crops.—When the various parts of the farm are about ready, the fields may be sown. The sand should be made very wet before the seed is put in and sprinkled frequently (twice a day), as the top dries off very quickly. After the seeds have germinated little sprinkling need be done, as the roots will find enough moisture in the wet sand underneath, and it is desirable to retard rather than hasten growth. If carefully managed, a table can be kept green for several weeks.

For corn, check holes well into the sand and drop one grain into each hole. See that rows are straight and holes evenly spaced.

Sow wheat, oats, barley, etc., very thickly, cover lightly with dry sand, and sprinkle.

Timothy serves well for meadow and lawn, as it puts up a fine blade. Blue grass sends up a fine blade, but is very slow in germination. Clover does not make a velvety lawn, but a little in the pasture will make an interesting contrast.

Vegetables may be planted in the garden. They will not develop to any great extent, but will serve to emphasize different habits in germination; as, for example, the contrast between beans and corn.

Correlation.—The opportunity for nature study afforded by the farm problem will prove one of its most interesting and valuable features as the progress in plant growth is noted from day to day. The farm problem combines well with both language and art work in supplying vital material for both. In addition to the interesting discussions which naturally arise concerning the building and planting, a diary may be kept by each child.

Keeping a Diary.—The date of planting may be noted and the date when each variety of seed first appears above ground. With the larger seeds, as corn and beans, a seed may be dug up each day and examined, so that the children may appreciate what is going on below ground. Drawings may be made of the seeds, showing the changes in appearance from day to day. After the seed leaves appear the daily growth may be measured and noted in the diary. After a few days seeds may be dug up again that the roots may be examined. At various stages of growth different varieties of seeds may be dug up, laid upon a paper, and sketched by the children. The facts they note may be stated in simple, well-formed sentences, either oral or written or both.



Art.—The sketching will serve well as the day's art lesson, though its chief value is in helping the children to see clearly. Their efforts will be crude but the teacher should constantly keep in mind that the chief aim is not to obtain fine sketches. Its purpose is to help the children to a better appreciation of the plant through the effort put forth in making the sketch. The technique of the drawing should be emphasized only so far as it will help them express better what they see, and not to the point where they attempt to copy the teacher's strokes. The teacher should be satisfied if every child is doing his best and making steady progress, even though that best may be crude and not up to the standard reached by the teacher who struggles for fine results.



English.—For children who are able to write the diary offers a natural means of gaining experience in the use of common forms of punctuation; as, for example, the writing of dates and the use of a comma in a series, as well as the punctuation of simple statements, in such entries as the following:

April 15, 1912.

We planted the seeds on our farm to-day.

We planted corn, wheat, oats, and beans.

In all work of this sort it is difficult to overestimate the advantage of separate sheets of paper over a notebook with sewed leaves, in the hands of the children. With the fresh sheet always comes an inspiration, no matter what failures have gone before. Poor pages can be done over when necessary, but do not haunt the workers with their discouraging suggestions, as in the use of a notebook. The leaves may be gathered together into a binding of some sort. Even covers of plain brown wrapping paper can be made artistic with a simple border line well placed or a design cut from a paper of a different tone. Written work which culminates in an attractive booklet, however simple, seems more worth while than exercises written into a commonplace notebook or on scratch paper which goes to the wastebasket soon after the mistakes have been commented on.

Number.—The farm problem also supplies abundant opportunity for gaining experience with number. In addition to the actual measurement of the materials used for fences and buildings, the scope may be widened, where conditions warrant, to include estimates and calculations of the amount of the material used.

For example, how many inches or feet of wire will be needed to make a three-wire fence of given length? How large a piece of cardboard will be needed to cut boards one fourth or one half inch wide for a four-board fence fifteen inches long?

These estimates may be translated, as far as the children are able to appreciate the connection, into quantities and values of the same material in real problems connected with real farms. It is important, however, to be careful not to carry work of this sort so far beyond the experience of the children that it becomes wholly foreign and abstract to them. We are too apt to forget that it is experience and not objects, which is the vital factor in concreteness.



In connection with the nature study a variety of number exercises grow out of the questions which the situation prompts. As, for example, in connection with the corn crop: How many seeds were planted? In how many rows? How many seeds in a row? How many came up? How many failed to germinate? How many more came up than failed? If each good seed should produce two ears of corn, how many would we have? What would they be worth at a given price? etc.



In an ungraded school, while the younger children might confine their efforts to counting as above, the older children might answer the same questions in terms of percentage and in the probable quantities on a real farm. The stock farm may be treated in the same way. How many cows? How much milk will they give? What will it be worth? How much butter would it make? What will it cost to keep the cows? What is the farmer's profit? These and many other questions will suggest themselves to both teacher and pupils, once the subject is opened up. They will be practical questions in so far as they touch the experience of the children in such a way as to appeal to them as real questions. Each individual teacher must decide how far and into what field it is worth while to lead any particular class.

The Sand Table.—The various types of sand tables range all the way from the hardwood, zinc-lined article, provided with a drainpipe, down to the homemade structure evolved from a goods box.

The quality of the table does not greatly affect the quality of the work to be done on it, but there are several points which affect the convenience of the workers. The height of the table should allow the children to work comfortably when standing beside it. A long, narrow table is seldom as satisfactory as one more nearly square, but it should never be too wide for the children to reach the center easily. Any table with tight joints in the top and four- or five-inch boards fitted tightly around the edge will serve the purpose. The inside of the box should be painted to prevent warping and leaking. An "ocean blue" is a good color, as it makes a good background for islands.

If no table is available, a goods box may be turned on its side, the top covered with oilcloth, and a frame, made from the cover of the box, fitted around the edge. The inside of the box may be used as a closet in which to store tools and materials, and a neat appearance given to the whole by a curtain of denim or other plain, heavy material.

ILLUSTRATIVE PROBLEMS

One of the most valuable uses of the sand table is in making illustrations for stories, historical events, and similar topics in which the relations between people and places is important. No definite rules can be laid down for working out such illustrations. The conditions under which they are made, the time to be devoted to the work, the importance of the subject, all affect both the nature and the quality of the work. Any material which lends itself to the purpose should be called into service.

The method of procedure is best set forth by describing several problems as actually worked out by children.



(1) Story of ColumbusFirst Grade.

Materials Used.—Paper for cutting and folding, twigs for forests, acorns for tents, large piece of glass for ocean.

Details of Illustration.—The piece of glass was imbedded in sand in the middle of the table; one end of the table represented Spain, the other, America. The representation of Spain included:

"Castles in Spain" being large houses with many windows in which the king and queen lived. They were cut from paper.

Many people, cut from paper, including kings and queens and the friends of Mr. Columbus who came to tell him "good-by." The kings and queens were distinguished by royal purple robes and golden crowns and necklaces, produced by the use of colored crayon.

The three ships made from folded paper. In one of them sat Mr. Columbus.

Fishes, of paper, inhabited the hollow space underneath the glass.

The forest primeval was shown on the American side by green twigs of trees set very close together. On pulling apart the leaves and peering into the depths of this forest, one found it inhabited by bears and other wild beasts, also cut from paper.

The Indians lived in a village of acorn tents set up in a little clearing on the shore.

Flags.—The Spanish region was identified by a Spanish flag, while the stars and stripes waved above the Indian village.

Values.—The project being on the level of the children's experience, they worked freely and with intense interest. The characters in the story were all very real to them. They literally swarmed about the table whenever opportunity was given, moving the figures about as they told the story over and over again. Mr. Columbus sailed across the sea many times. Many boats were made and named for one of the three, according to the preference of the maker. They peeped into the forest and shuddered in delightful fear "lest a bear get me." They made and remade the scene as new ideas suggested themselves during several days of Columbus week.



Several discrepancies existed which are mentioned here because they troubled some overconscientious visitors. The stars and stripes did not come into existence until centuries after Columbus died and therefore never waved over the Indian village which he found. But chronology does not trouble the first grader very much, while "my country" and "my flag" are ideas which are developing together. And when he is singing, "Columbus sailed across the sea, To find a land for you and me," the red, white, and blue forms the most fitting symbol in his representation of that land. The wild animals which infested the sand-table forest are not all mentioned in the histories as found on San Salvador, but they did exist in the child's idea of the wild country which the white men found on this side of the Atlantic. The children having truthfully expressed their ideas, the teacher had a basis from which to develop, correct, and emphasize such points as were of real importance, while the unimportant features would fade out for lack of emphasis.



On the occasion of the supervisor's visit the members of the class vied with each other in telling the story and explaining the significance of the various illustrations. The supervisor expressed a wish to own some of the cuttings, whereupon, at a hint from the teacher, the class which had gathered about the sand table scampered joyfully (but quietly) back to their seats. Scissors and paper were quickly distributed, and in about five minutes an empty shoe box was required to hold the collection of "Mr. Columbuses," kings and queens in royal purple, gold crowns, and necklaces, ships, fishes, etc., that were showered upon the guest. Needless to say many scraps of paper had fallen to the floor. The teacher remarked that it was time for the brownies to come. Down went all the heads for a sleepy time. The teacher slipped about, tapping here and there a child, who quickly began gathering up the scraps as joyously as he had helped to make them.

The supervisor bade them good-by, with a wish that all children might begin their school life under such happy and wholesome influences.

(2) Story of Jack Horner[3]—First Grade.—As the story was read the different characters were subjects for free paper-cutting exercises. An abundance of paper (scratch paper and newspaper) was supplied, and each child allowed to cut each figure many times, very quickly.

The story was also dramatized and acted out over and over again. Figure 1 shows the result of an hour's work in assembling the various characters and telling the whole story on the sand table and in a poster. The different figures to be cut were assigned to or chosen by the different children, the teacher taking care that no characters were omitted. Having cut figures of the various characters as they were met in the story, all were eager to reproduce the part called for, and in a few minutes more than enough cuttings were made to supply both sand table and poster with ample material. Two groups of children, one for the poster and one for the sand table, were assigned the work of placing the figures. The teacher superintended both projects, giving a few suggestions as needed, but throwing the responsibility upon the children as much as possible.

This problem was worked out by the same class which made the Columbus illustration just described. The Jack Horner story was illustrated in the spring, after much work of this sort had been done. The quality of the cuttings showed an interesting improvement over the cuttings made for the Columbus story, which came during the third week of the school year.

(3) Story of Three Little Pigs.—This is a long story, and three weeks were occupied in reading it and dramatizing it. During this time there were frequent discussions about how it was to be worked out on the sand table. Contributions in great variety were brought in: straw for the straw house, twigs for the house of sticks, bags of brick dust to make a roadway different from the sand, rose hips to be tied to a small branch to represent the apple tree, and various other articles.



The houses were built as suggested by the pictures in the reader. The pig and wolf were modeled in clay, each being shown in the several different positions described in the story. Over and over a little clay pig rolled down the hill in a paper churn and frightened a clay wolf. One group, not having wherewithal to build a brick house, used a wooden one made by another group. Another class made the brick house out of blocks, and built in a fireplace with its kettle ready to hold the hot water whenever the wolf should start for the chimney. (See Fig. 51.)

(4) Japanese Tea Garden.—A third-grade class used the sand table to illustrate what they had gleaned from reading several stories and descriptions of life in Japan, in connection with elementary geography. The sand-table representation included a tiny bridge across a small stream of "real" water. The "real river" was secured by ingenious use of a leaking tin can which was hidden behind a clump of trees (twigs). A thin layer of cement in the bed of the river kept the water from sinking into the sand. A shallow pan imbedded in the sand formed a lake into which the river poured its waters. (See Fig. 52.)

(5) A Coal Mine.—The sand table shown in Fig. 53 was worked out by a fourth-grade class in connection with the geography of the western states. Descriptions and pictures were studied with great earnestness to find out how to fix it, and the children made it as they thought it ought to be. The actual making occupied very little time, the various parts being contributed by different pupils.

Problems of this sort develop leadership. There is usually one whose ideas take definite shape promptly and whose suggestions are willingly followed by his group. If there is one pupil in the class whose ability to lead is so strong that the others are overshadowed, it is sometimes well to let the work be done by small groups who use the table turn about. This plan stimulates a wholesome rivalry and discourages dawdling.

(6) Stories.—Illustrations for two stories are shown on page 94. In the first (Fig. 47) part of the class made a representation on the sand table while the rest prepared a poster from paper cuttings. In the second (Fig. 48) empty shoe boxes were used in making the castle. Very little time was spent on either project.



CHAPTER VIII

ANIMALS AND TOYS

The circus and the zoological garden are always centers of interest to little children and may be used to great advantage to furnish the point of departure in the study of animal life. Making the animals in some form crystallizes the interest in the animals represented, and awakens interest in their habits and home.

The handwork may be used as an illustrative factor connected with geography and nature study, or the making of the circus may be the starting point, and incidentally furnish subject matter in several fields. For example, geography and nature study grow out of the search for facts concerning the animals themselves, i.e. size, color, food, home, value, etc. The desire for such information gives purpose to reading. Oral and written descriptions supply subject matter for practice in English. Reducing the actual proportions of animals to a definite scale and problems relating to their commercial value make practical use of the knowledge of number. Art enters into the making of free-hand sketches, cuttings, and patterns for wooden models.



A good circus or "zoo" may be worked out in a variety of materials. Paper, cardboard, clay, and wood all serve well.

To get the best value from the problem it should be as free as possible from copy work. The children should consult the best sources of information at their disposal, which may range all the way from ordinary picture books to natural history and encyclopedia descriptions. They should find out, unaided, as much as possible concerning the animal in question: his size, color, food, home, values, etc.,—the teacher supplementing with interesting and necessary items not at the disposal of the class.

Free-hand cuttings and pencil sketches should be compared with the best pictures obtainable and the real animal whenever possible. Such patterns as are needed should be made by the children themselves. Ready-made patterns will produce better proportioned animals, but more dependent, less observant children also.

METHODS IN DETAIL

Realistic Animals in Three-ply Wood.—Secure necessary items of measurement and decide upon scale. One inch for each foot is best for younger children.



Draw rectangle proportioned to the extreme length and height of the animal. Draw into the rectangle a profile sketch of the animal, being careful that it comes to the line on each side. All four feet must touch the base line. Considerable practice may be needed before a good sketch can be drawn. The animal may be represented as standing, walking, or running, but must be drawn in profile.

Cut out the sketch and make by it three patterns: one of the head, body, and tail; one of the body and right legs; one of the body and left legs. Care must be taken to get good lines at shoulder and rump. (See Fig. 56.)



Lay the pattern on the wood so that the grain runs lengthwise of the legs and other frail parts and draw outline carefully. Use basswood one fourth inch thick, or other soft wood.

Saw out the parts with a coping saw. Be careful in sawing to keep the blade in a vertical position in order that the edges may be true.

Nail or glue the parts together. If the animal does not stand perfectly, rub the feet on a piece of sandpaper. Use water color or crayon to give proper color.

Three-ply Animals with Movable Parts.—To make the head movable, saw the part from the body on a curved line, as shown in Fig. 57. Fasten with a single nail through the shoulder. The curved line must be a part of a circle and the nail must be at the center. The edges should be smooth to allow easy action. The tail may be adjusted by a similar plan. The parts may be made to move automatically by suspending a weight on cords which are attached to the movable parts, as shown in Fig. 57. If the weight is to be used, cut off the body part on the double dotted line to allow room for the cords to swing.

A figure of this sort must be fastened on a pedestal or platform which will extend over the edge of the table. A slot must be cut in the pedestal wide enough to allow the cords to swing freely. (See Fig. 56.) The pedestal may be a long board or piece of heavy cardboard which can be tacked to the table or held firm by a clamp, or it may be a thin board fastened to a U-shaped block which is held firm on the edge of the table by a wedge.

Cardboard and Paper Animals that Stand.—For younger children who cannot handle the saw easily cardboard or stiff paper may be used.



To make the animal stand the feet may be tacked to a small piece of wood about one inch square on the end and as long as needed, or a cardboard brace, such as is used on easels, may be glued to the back. A realistic effect is given if the animal is cut with two legs and the brace made to represent the other two, or a piece of cardboard cut as in Fig. 58 may be used as a brace, the body of the animal fitting into the notch.

Clay makes an excellent medium, but it requires more skill in clay than in wood to get an equally good effect. Clay animals should be modeled with a pedestal, and the separations between the two forelegs and the two hind legs merely indicated. If each leg is modeled separately, the figure is likely to be frail.



Balancing Figures.—Design such figures as a prancing horse or dancing bear and saw from a single piece of wood. A little below the center of the figure insert a curved wire, on the other end of which is a ball of clay or other weight. The wire must be fastened firmly so that it cannot turn. Adjust so that the figure balances.

Figures of people in foreign costumes, children running and jumping, as well as all sorts of animals, are very fascinating problems of this sort. (See Fig. 59.)

Seesaw Figures.—Such groups as two boys chopping wood, two chickens drinking, two dogs tugging at a string, wrestling boys, and similar groups are interesting problems of the seesaw type. (See Fig. 60.)

Detail.—Cut the figures from cardboard. Make with a long pedestal. Color with crayon or water color. Use two light sticks for the seesaw, to which tack one figure in a vertical position and the other on a slant. Fasten to each stick with one tack. If a central figure is used, tack firmly to lower stick. Work the figure by moving the upper stick while the lower one is held firm.



Toys.—A box of carpenter's scraps of soft wood will supply material for a variety of toys which may be made by the children themselves, thereby more than doubling the fun. A few suggestions are given in detail. The making of these will suggest others. (See Fig. 60.)

Doll's Swing.—A heavy block for a base, two tall uprights, and a crosspiece will make the frame. Make a seat from cardboard or use the end of a small box and suspend from crossbar.

Doll's Teeter.—Use a heavy block for a base. Two uprights with double-pointed tacks or notches in the top. Drive two double-pointed tacks in lower side of teeter board at center. Slip a small rod through the tacks and rest in the notches on the uprights. Suspend a weight by cords from the lower side of the board, adjust until the board balances. The ends of the board should be provided with box seats for the doll's comfort.

Railroad Train.—For cars, saw pieces from a square stick. For engine, use pieces of broomstick or other cylinder. Soft wood is better if obtainable. For wheels, use pieces of small broomstick or dowel rod. (See Fig. 56.)

Let the children study real trains and make the best imitation they can work out.

Jumping Jacks.—Cut the figure from light weight cardboard. Make head and body in one piece. Cut two arms long enough to reach well above the head. Make the hands very large. Cut two legs either with or without a joint at the knee. Color with crayon or water color.



Fasten the legs and arms to the body with a string tied loosely to allow free movements. Make a frame of two light stiff sticks and a crosspiece fastened between them near the lower end of the sticks. Fasten with a single nail at either end of the crosspiece. Cut notches near the upper ends of the sticks. Fasten the figure to the frame by a stout thread. Use a coarse needle and carry the thread through the hands twice, leaving a loop on each side to slip over the ends of the sticks into the notches. A small block or folded bit of cardboard between the hands to keep them apart will improve the movement of the toy. Adjust the figure so that the threads are parallel when the figure hangs below the inverted frame. (See Fig. 61.) When the frame is held upright, the figure will hang between the sticks and the threads will be crossed. Press the lower ends of the frame together to make the jumping jack perform.

Merry-go-round.—Use a heavy block for a base. Bore a hole in the center and insert a square stick, about 10 in. long. For arms, use two pieces about 3/8 in. thick and 10 in. long. Fasten these together in the form of a cross and nail to the top of the upright with a single nail. An awl may be used to make the hole a little larger than the nail so that the arms will revolve easily. Suspend a box seat of wood or cardboard from each arm to complete the toy. (See Fig. 59.)

Games.Ring Toss.—Use two square pieces of board at least 1/2 in. thick, one piece larger than the other. Bore a hole in the center of the smaller piece with a 1/2-in. auger bit.

For the upright use a stick 1/2 in. square and about 12 in. long. Whittle the corners of the stick until it fits firmly into the hole in the small board. Nail the small board to the large one.

For the rings use reeds, venetian iron, or hoops from small buckets or cart wheels. Wrap the rings with raffia or yarn. Make at least three rings of varying sizes. (See Fig. 60.)

Playing ring toss and keeping tally makes an excellent number game.

Ten Pins.—From bogus or other heavy paper roll and paste cylinders about three inches in diameter and about twelve inches long. These may be set on end, and any of the common ten pin games played with the help of a soft rubber ball. Keeping tally gives excellent practice in number.

Bean Bag Game.—Draw three circles of different sizes on a large sheet of heavy cardboard. Carefully cut out the circles with a sharp-pointed knife. Mount a picture of some animal on each piece cut out.

Fasten the pieces back in place by a single cloth hinge pasted on the back, and at the lowest part of the circle.

Tack the sheet of cardboard to a light wooden frame to keep it from bending.

Let the frame rest against the wall at a slight angle. Bean bags thrown at the animals will knock them down as they go through the holes. The bean bags should be made by the children. Various number games may be played with bean bags.



CHAPTER IX

HOLIDAYS

The various holidays which come during the year mean so much to little children that they should receive special notice and should suggest the form of handwork to be done at the time.

Thanksgiving suggests attention to harvest products, to be modeled in clay, cut from paper, or drawn with crayon; the making of sand-table scenes showing early New England life in various phases; the making of various utensils and commodities of the primitive home which differ from our own; as, for example, the making of candles, the hour glass, and the sundial.

Christmas suggests the making of toys and all sorts of things suitable for gifts. If the work centers around the Christmas tree, it offers opportunity for cooperation in making trimming such as paper chains, pop-corn strings, etc., as well as individual gifts. If a tree is not obtainable, a box may be dressed up in imitation of Santa's sleigh drawn by cardboard reindeer. Whatever else is done in honor of the visit of St. Nicholas, the spirit of giving should be cultivated by making gifts to some younger or less fortunate groups. Picture books may be made for sick children, doll furniture and other toys for the orphans' home or some family of unfortunates. A sack might arrive a week or two before Christmas accompanied by a telegram from Santa requesting contributions to help him out in some specific way and stating that it would be called for at a certain time. When a "real Santa" calls for the sack, he may leave in its place another containing some unexpected treat for the children themselves. The gifts which the children contribute should be of their own making, that they may have a full sense of real giving and not merely the pleasure of delivering the parcels mother has provided.

Valentine's Day offers an opportunity for developing appreciation of a higher form of art than the shop windows frequently offer, and also investing with pure, sweet sentiment a day which means, in some quarters, only vulgar sentimentality and coarse jests.

Easter offers a similar opportunity for emphasis on the fine things in color and subjects for greeting cards. The season also suggests emphasis on study of budding plants and young animal life by means of cutting, painting, and modeling.

Hero days suggest a variety of forms of handwork, such as picture making with crayons or cuttings, or pictures in three dimensions on the sand table, for intensifying important phases of the hero's life; illustrated stories in booklet form; and the making of "properties" for dramatic representations. These things offer a welcome change from the stereotyped "Speaking day," and stimulate originality and self-reliance.

So much has been written and so many suggestions are constantly being offered in school journals that specific suggestions for things to make seem superfluous here.

Individual Problems.—While community problems must form a large part of the handwork in the lower grades, it is desirable to have, from time to time, projects which seek a definite result from each pupil. In the community problem it is possible for the strong pupil to monopolize the values of the work by imposing his ideas upon his fellows and by doing all the work while the slower pupils are getting ready to begin. In the same way it is possible for the lazy pupil to shirk much of his responsibility through the eagerness of his companions. It is therefore necessary to maintain a balance by the use of individual problems of a more definite type. These may often be specific parts of the community problem, but this will not meet all the needs of the case. The special days offer excellent occasion for work of this sort in addition to the cooperative problems which are undertaken by the class as a whole.



CHAPTER X

GENERAL SUGGESTIONS AND SUMMARY

Modification of Outlines.—All the projects outlined in the foregoing pages are capable of modification and adaptation to the needs of several grades. For this reason, in nearly every problem, many more suggestions are offered than will often be applicable in any one instance of its development. The directions are, for the most part, given from the standpoint of the first grade, on the principle that it is easier to add to the detail of a problem than to simplify it. On the other hand, the directions are not generally specific in detail, in order to prevent as far as possible a mechanical copying of any project.

Emphasis on Self-expression.—It is desired to place special emphasis upon the point that each project undertaken, if it is to reach its highest value, must come as fully as possible from the children themselves and be to the very fullest extent their self-expression.

Not any house described in this book, nor any house seen in another schoolroom, nor even the house which I, as teacher, plan in detail, will be most valuable to my class; but rather our house, which we, teacher and pupils working together, evolve to suit our own needs and fancies, using suggestions gathered from every available source, but adapting them to our own needs.

Self-directed Activity and Discipline.—The terms "self-directed activity" and "self-expression" must not be confounded with the idea of letting the children do as they please in any random and purposeless fashion. If one were to start out to escort a group of children to a certain hilltop, it is quite probable that some of them would run part of the way. Others would walk in twos and threes, and these would change about. They would halt to look at things that attracted their attention. The leader would halt them to observe some interesting point which they might otherwise miss. Should any of them wander from the right path the leader would call them back, and any frail child would be helped over the hard places. Yet with all this freedom the group might move steadily forward and reach the hilltop in due time.

All progress up the hill of knowledge should follow a similar plan. The teacher should have a very definite idea of the end to be attained. The children should work with a purpose, and that purpose should be of such immediate interest to them that they would be anxious to attain it. They would then work earnestly, and discipline would settle itself. Handwork projects should be sufficiently simple to allow each worker to see his way through, or at least find his way without waiting for directions at each step. Instead of a blind following of such directions the worker should at all times feel himself the master of his tools and materials and be able to make them obey his impulse and express his idea. This attitude toward work can be secured only when the work is kept quite down to the level of the child's ability and appreciation. Only by this means can we hope to establish the inspiring and strengthening "habit of success."

Introduction of New Methods.—The question arises, How shall work of this sort be adapted to a course of study which is already full and does not provide time for handwork? Handwork takes more time than bookwork, and children evolve plans but slowly. If the teacher waits for the children to evolve plans and then carry them out on their own responsibility, the quantity of work produced will be small and the quality poor compared with the results gained by other methods.

The freer method must be justified, not by its tangible results, but by its value as a means of individual development. If it is true that

"One good idea known to be thine own Is worth a thousand gleaned from fields by others sown,"

then it follows that a small quantity of crude work may often represent greater genuine growth than a larger quantity of nicely finished work, if the latter has been accomplished by such careful dictation that individual thought on the part of the pupils was unnecessary.

Common sense is the best guide in introducing a new method of work. Any sudden transition is likely to be disastrous. Responsibility in new fields should be shifted from teacher to pupils as rapidly as they are able to carry it, but it should never be transferred in wholesale fashion. This is especially true of a class that is accustomed to wait for the teacher's permission or command in all the small details of schoolroom life, such as speaking, moving about the room, etc.

The freer methods may be introduced by either of two plans. In carrying through the first sand-table project, for example, the teacher may plan the details quite as definitely as is her custom in general work, assign each part to a particular pupil, and guide his execution of it as far as necessary. With each succeeding project more and more freedom may be granted, as the children become accustomed to community work and learn how to use the materials involved. Or, the work may be introduced by allowing two or three very trustworthy pupils to work out, quite alone, some simple project which will appeal to the entire class as very desirable. Other projects may be worked out by other pupils as they show themselves worthy of trust. Such a plan sets a premium upon independence and ability to direct one's own actions, and has a beneficial effect upon general discipline. Each individual teacher must follow the plan which best accords with her individual habits and the conditions under which she works. No rule can be rated as best under any and all circumstances.

New and Different Projects.—Teachers frequently spend time and nerve force seeking new projects supposedly to stimulate the interest of the children. Often a careful examination into the true motives back of the search would prove that it is not so much to stimulate the interest of the children as to call forth the admiration of other teachers. Because a house was built last year does not hinder the building of another this year. If the children are allowed ample freedom, the houses will not be alike. If the teacher is centering her interest in the development of the children and not in the things the children make, the projects will always be new because worked out in a new way by a different group of children. Monotony comes about through the teacher's attempt to plan out details and impose them upon the children, a process quite similar to the use of predigested foods.

Quality of Work.—Methods such as outlined above are sometimes criticized because of the crudity of the results. It is sometimes argued that the crude work establishes low standards and that better finished work of a more useful type is more desirable in school projects. Certainly everything which is done in school should be useful. School years are too precious to be wasted, in any degree, on a thing which is useless. But it is important to have a right standard for measuring the usefulness of a project. Since it is the child's interest and effort which are to be stimulated, his work must be useful from his point of view. The things that he works upon must be valuable to him personally. It is not enough for the teacher to be satisfied with the value of the subject matter. It must, as far as possible, be self-evident to the child himself.

In the growing period a child is always anxious to excel himself and attain a higher level, nearer the adult standards. He measures his growth, not only in inches, but in ability to run faster, jump farther, count higher, and so on. So long as he is stimulated by an interesting motive he puts forth his best effort. It is only when we set him tasks and demand blind obedience that he lags. If his crude work represents his best effort, honestly put forth, he will, and he does, desire to do something better each time he tries. If he is permitted to work freely upon projects of immediate interest to him, he not only becomes familiar with various materials and the purposes they may serve, but he also begins to realize his inability to make them always obey his impulse. As soon as he discovers that there are better and easier ways of working which bring about more satisfactory results, he is anxious to learn the tricks of the trade; and he comes to the later, more technical courses in handwork, not only with more intelligence, but also with an appreciation of their value which is reflected in the quality of his work.

Summary.—The last word, as the first in this little book, would stress the fact that it is always possible to improve present conditions.

Activity is an essential factor in a child's development in school as well as out. Handwork is an important phase of this necessary activity. Neither lack of time, scarcity of material, nor lack of training on the part of the teacher is a sufficient excuse for failure to use some handwork in every school. Much can be accomplished with materials which are to be found anywhere, without using more time than is ordinarily devoted to the subject, and with better results, if we will but realize that educative handwork is not confined to the making of a few books, boxes, mats, or baskets after a prescribed pattern, however good in themselves these may be, but is also a means through which we may teach other subject matter.

We not only learn to do by doing, but we come to know through trying to do. And we often learn more through our failures than through our successes. We defraud the children if we deprive them of this important factor in their development. Any teacher who is willing to begin with what she has and let the children do the best they can with it, will find unexpected resources and greater opportunities at every hand.

Let us not allow ourselves to grow disheartened through vain wishes for the impossible or for the advantages of some other field, but attack our own with vigor and determination; for

"The common problem, yours, mine, every one's Is—not to fancy what were fair in life Provided it could be—but, finding first What may be, then find how to make it fair Up to our means."



REFERENCES

DEWEY—The School and the Child; School and Society; The Child and the Curriculum.

O'SHEA—Dynamic Factors in Education.

SCOTT—Social Education.

DOPP—The Place of Industries in Elementary Education.

BONE—The Service of the Hand in the School.

SARGENT—Fine and Industrial Arts.

ROW—The Educational Meaning of Manual Arts and Industries.

CHARTERS—Methods of Teaching.

BAGLEY—The Educative Process.

RUSSELL—The School and Industrial Life. Educational Review, Dec. 1909.

SYKES AND BONSER—Industrial Education. Teachers College Record, Sept. 1911.

BENNETT—The Place of Manual Arts in Education. Educational Review, Oct. 1911.

RICHARDS—Handwork in the Primary School. Manual Training Magazine, Oct. 1901.

REFERENCES FOR CLASSROOM USE

Coping Saw Work JOHNSTON

School Drawing DANIELS

Little Folks Handy Book BEARD

World at Work Series DUTTON

Big People and Little People of Other Lands SHAW

How We Are Fed CHAMBERLAIN

How We Are Clothed CHAMBERLAIN

How We Are Sheltered CHAMBERLAIN

Continents and their People CHAMBERLAIN

How the World is Fed CARPENTER

How the World is Clothed CARPENTER

How the World is Housed CARPENTER

Around the World Series TOLMAN

Youth's Companion Series LANE

The Bird Woman CHANDLER

The Tree Dwellers DOPP

The Early Cave Men DOPP

The Later Cave Men DOPP

Printed in the United States of America.



Footnotes:

[1] In scoring cardboard cut about halfway through the board on the outside of the fold.

[2] See Scott's "Social Education."

[3] See Riverside Primer.



* * * * * *



Transcriber's Notes:

Additional spacing after some of the quotes is intentional to indicate both the end of a quotation and the beginning of a new paragraph as presented in the original text.

Printer's inconsistencies in hyphenation have been retained.

Previous Part     1  2
Home - Random Browse