Primary Handwork
by Ella Victoria Dobbs
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Transcriber's note:

Text in italics is enclosed by underscores (italics).

Text in bold face is enclosed by equal signs (bold).


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Assistant Professor of Manual Arts University of Missouri

New York The Macmillan Company 1923

All rights reserved

Copyright, 1914, by The Macmillan Company.

Set up and electrotyped. Published June, 1914.

Norwood Press J. S. Cushing Co.—Berwick & Smith Co. Norwood, Mass., U.S.A.



This book is the outgrowth of long experience as a teacher of primary grades, followed by special study of handwork as a factor in elementary education. It is written with three objects in view:

First, to gather into a single volume various methods already in use in the more progressive schools, and for which the best suggestions are scattered through current periodicals:

Second, to organize these methods and present them in a simple form for the use of teachers who have had no special training in handwork processes:

Third, accepting conditions as they exist in the small town school and the one-room country school, as a basis of organization, to offer suggestions which may be easily adapted to the conditions of any school with a view to bringing present practice into closer harmony with the best educational ideals.

No claim is laid to originality, beyond the small details in which one person's interpretation of a large problem will differ from that of another.

The projects here outlined have been tested in the Public Schools of Columbia, Missouri, under conditions which are common to towns of about the same size.

The point of view has been influenced chiefly by the educational philosophy of Prof. John Dewey, especially as expressed in his essay "The Child and the Curriculum." The author wishes here to make grateful acknowledgement to Dr. Dewey, not only for the helpfulness of his writings, but also for the inspiration of his teaching.

Thanks are also due to Dr. Naomi Norsworthy of Teachers College, and to Dean W. W. Charters of Missouri University, for encouragement in planning the book and for criticism of the manuscript. Especial acknowledgment is here made to Prof. R. W. Selvidge of Peabody College for Teachers, formerly of this University, for hearty cooperation and helpful suggestions in working out the problems described in this book, and to the teachers of the Columbia Schools for their most efficient services in testing these problems in their classrooms.

E. V. D.


February, 1914.
















House of the Three Bears Frontispiece

1. Paper Cutting. First Grade 7

2. Paper Cutting. Second Grade 8

3. Paper Cutting. Second Grade 10

4. Paper Tearing 11

5. Paper Cutting. Third Grade 13

6. Paper Cutting. Fourth Grade 15

7. Pamphlet Sewing 22

8. Japanese Sewing 22

9. House arranged on a Shelf 28

10. A Medieval Castle 29

11. House arranged on a Table—Front View 32

12. House arranged on a Table—Side View 33

13. House arranged on a Table—Back View 34

14. House Plan 35

15. Arrangement of Windows 36

16. Detail of Hollow Square 38

17. Borders 39

18. Looms and Samples of Weaving 41

19. Box House by Second Grade 43

20. Detail for Paper Weaving 44

21. Furniture from Wood Blocks 48

22. Furniture from Wood Blocks 48

23. Home of White Cloud, the Pueblo Girl 51

24. Detail of Stairway 54

25. Box House, showing Roof 55

26. Detail of Gable 56

27. Colonial Kitchen 56

28. House of the Three Bears 59

29. Cornstalk House 60

30. A Flour Mill 62

31. Box House and Stores 66

32. A Village Street 68

33. A Grocery. Fourth Grade 70

34. A Grocery. Third Grade 73

35. A Dry Goods Store 75

36. Home in a Hot Country 76

37. Home in a Cold Country 76

38. A Sand-table Farm. First Grade 80

39. A Sand-table Farm. Second Grade 80

40. Detail of Chicken Fence 81

41. Detail of Paper Tree 84

42. Overall Boys' Farm 86

43. An Apple Orchard 87

44. Robinson Crusoe 89

45. Pueblo Indian Village 90

46. A Home in Switzerland 92

47. Two Little Knights of Kentucky 94

48. How Cedric became a Knight 94

49. A Sugar Camp 95

50. A Western Cattle Ranch 96

51. The Story of Three Little Pigs 98

52. A Japanese Tea Garden 99

53. A Coal Mine 99

54. A Chariot Race 102

55. A Circus Parade 103

56. Three-ply Wooden Animals 104

57. Detail for Three-ply Wooden Animals with Movable Parts 105

58. Notched Rest for Animals 106

59. Balancing Figures 107

60. Some Simple Toys 108

61. Adjusting Jumping-Jack in Frame 109





In setting forth the plan and purpose of this little book the author wishes to lay equal emphasis on its limitations. The outlines and suggestions which follow are designed for the use of grade teachers who have had little or no training in handwork processes but who appreciate the necessity of making worthy use of the child's natural activity and desire to do. The outlines are arranged with reference to schools which are not provided with special equipment and which have scant funds for supplies. The projects require only such materials as empty goods boxes, and odds and ends of cloth and paper, which are easily obtainable in any community. No extra time is required for the work, and it may be successfully carried out by any teacher who is willing to devote a little study to the possibilities of things near at hand.

These outlines do not form a course of study to be followed in regular order nor in set lessons coming at a definite time. They are, rather, a series of suggestions to be used wherever and whenever they will serve a worthy purpose. They are not to be regarded as a special subject, having little or no connection with the regular class work, but rather as an illustrative method of teaching the regular subject matter whenever the teaching can be done more effectively by means of concrete illustrations. It is proposed to make greater use of construction as a medium of expression, and place making more nearly on a par with talking, writing, and drawing.

Any of the projects outlined may be modified to suit varying conditions, and the emphasis placed according to the needs of a particular class. All the suggestions are given in very simple form, chiefly from the standpoint of the first grade, for the reason that it is easier to add to the details of a simple problem than to simplify one which is complex.

It is not the purpose here to emphasize the training of the hand or the development of technique in handwork processes to the extent commonly expected of a course in manual arts, though considerable dexterity in the use of tools and materials will undoubtedly be developed as the work proceeds. While careless work is never to be tolerated in construction any more than it would be tolerated in writing or drawing, the standard is to be only such a degree of perfection as is possible through a child's unaided efforts. It is proposed to provide him with things to do of such interest to him that he will wish to do his best, and things of such a nature that they will please him best when they are well done, and so stimulate a genuine desire for good work. To this end the suggestions relate to things of immediate value and use to the children themselves, rather than to things commonly comprehended in a list of articles which are useful from the adult point of view.

The work is to be kept on a level with the child's experience and used as a means of broadening his experience and lifting it to a higher level. It must also be kept on the level of his constructive ability in order that he may do things by himself, and develop independence through feeling himself master of his tools. Neither patterns nor definite directions are provided for the details of the projects outlined, for the reason that it is desired to make every project a spontaneous expression of the child's own ideas. To this end the outline serves only as a framework, to be filled in as the worker desires. The ready-made pattern implies dictation on the part of the teacher and mechanical imitation and repetition on the part of the pupil,—a process almost fatal to spontaneous effort. While it is possible through a method of dictation to secure results which seem, at first, to be much better than the crude constructions which children are able to work out for themselves, it is only a superficial advantage, and one gained at the expense of the child's growth in power to think and act independently. It is an advantage closely akin to the parrotlike recitation of the pupil who catches a few glib phrases and gives them back without thought, as compared with the recitation of the pupil who thinks and expresses his thoughts in his own childish language.

These outlines are intended not only to emphasize independence in self-expression, but also to foster a social spirit through community effort and develop a sense of responsibility through division of labor. A child's shortcomings will be brought home to him much more vividly if he fails to contribute some essential assigned to him in the construction of a cooperative project, and thereby spoils the pleasure of the whole group, than when his failure affects only his individual effort in a group of duplicate projects.

These outlines are intended also to suggest a method of opening up to the children, in an attractive way, the great field of industry. Their deep interest in playing store leads easily to a study of the source, use, and value of various forms of merchandise and the essential features of various trades and occupations. Problems of this sort are fascinating to children in all the lower grades, are rich in valuable subject matter, and suggest things to do which are both interesting and worth while. Without attempting to exhaust any phase of the subject, they awaken an intelligent interest in the industrial world and tend to stimulate thoughtful observation. They help to give the children correct ideas about industrial processes as far as their knowledge goes, and to create a desire for further knowledge. This general information lays a good foundation for later and more serious study of the industries and the choice of a vocation.

These outlines are offered as a means of bridging the gap between the formal methods and outgrown courses of study still in use and the richer curriculum and more vital methods toward which we are working. Much time must be spent in study and experimentation before a satisfactory reorganization of the curriculum can be worked out. Without waiting until this work shall be wholly completed, it is possible at once to vitalize the most formal course of study through the use of freer methods, which permit and encourage self-directed activity on the part of the pupil. The use of such methods will not only tend to create a deeper interest in school work, but must also help toward the great problem of reorganization, by throwing into stronger relief the strength and weakness of our present common practice.



Paper and scissors form a fascinating combination to all children, and offer a very direct means of self-expression. In the language of a small boy who attempted to tell how to do it, "You just think about something and then cut out your think." The teacher is concerned chiefly with the "think" and the way in which it is expressed. The children are interested in paper cutting chiefly from the pleasure of the activity. Beyond the immediate pleasure in the process, the cuttings are valuable only as they indicate the clearness of the child's ideas and measure his ability to express them. The process is educative only in so far as it helps the small worker to "see with his mind's eye" and to give tangible shape to what he thus sees. It is important, therefore, that the work be done in a way that will emphasize the thinking rather than the finished product.

The first question arising is, To what extent shall a pattern be used? Shall the teacher cut out the object and bid the class follow her example? Shall she display a silhouette or outline drawing of the object she desires the children to cut, or shall they work without any external guide to justify or modify the mental picture? Shall they be given a pattern and be allowed to draw around it?

All of the above methods are used to a greater or less extent. Long experience seems to indicate that the first cutting of any object should be unassisted by any external representation of it whatever, in order that the attention of each child may be focused upon his own mental picture of the object. When he has put forth his best effort from this standpoint, he should compare his cutting with the real object or a good picture of it and be led to see the chief defects in his own production and then allowed to try again.

For example, after telling the story of Mother Hubbard, the children may be interested in cutting out dogs. No picture or other guide should be used at first, since every child knows something about dogs. The first cuttings are likely to be very poor, partly because the children have not sufficient control over the scissors and largely because their ideas are very vague. In a general comparison of work they will help each other with such criticisms as, "This dog's head is too big." "That dog's legs are too stiff." They are then ready to try again. Only when they have reached the limit of their power to see flaws in their work do they need to compare it with the real dog or its picture. Only after a child has attempted to express his idea and has become conscious in ever so small a degree of the imperfection of his expression will he really be able to see differences between the real object and his representation of it, and thereby clarify his mental picture.

The child's imagination is so strong that he is apt to see his productions not as they are but as he means them to be, and he is unable to distinguish between the original and his copy of it. If the picture or silhouette is presented at first, his work becomes to a large extent mere copying rather than self-expression. If the teacher cuts out a dog and displays it as a sample, the class will be apt to see that piece of paper only and not a real dog. If the children are permitted to draw the outline either freehand or around a pattern, still less mental effort is required, and in cutting they see only the bit of line just ahead of the scissors and not the object as a whole.

Such methods (i.e. the use of outlines, silhouettes, etc.) will produce better immediate results. It will be easier to distinguish dogs and cats from cows and horses if a pattern is provided, but it will not produce stronger children. Such methods only defeat the chief purpose of the work, which is to stimulate the mental effort required to hold the mental image of the object in the focus of attention during the time required to reproduce it in the material form.

It is also often asked whether the children shall always cut directly and without modification or whether they shall be permitted to trim off the imperfections of their first attempts. While any rule must always be interpreted in the light of immediate circumstances, it is generally best to cut directly, and after noting the defects, cut again. It is then possible to compare the several attempts and see if improvement has been made. Attention should be directed to the most glaring defect only, and an attempt made to correct it. For example, if the dog's head is too large, do not trim down, but cut another dog and try for better proportions. Compare the second attempt with the first, to measure improvement. Even little children can be taught to work in this thoughtful way, looking for the defects in their own work and making definite attempts to correct them. To this end much cutting from an unlimited supply of newspaper or scratch paper will accomplish more than a few exercises in better paper which must be trimmed and worked over for the sake of economy. If little children are allowed to trim off, they are apt, in the pure joy of cutting, to trim too much and lose the idea with which they started—a process which tends to vagueness rather than clearness. To prevent this it is often helpful to preserve both pieces of paper, i.e. the cutting and the hole. (See Fig. 4.)

Paper Tearing.—Paper tearing serves many of the same purposes sought in cutting, and has several strong points in its favor. Working directly with the finger tips tends to develop a desirable dexterity of manipulation. The nature of the process prevents the expression of small details and tends to emphasize bold outlines and big general proportions. Working directly with the fingers tends also to prevent a weak dependence upon certain tools and tends to develop power to express an idea by whatever means is at hand.

Posters.—The term "poster" as here used includes all mounted pictures made by children, such as cuttings, drawings, paintings, and scrap pictures.

A poster may be the work of one child or of a group. A single poster may tell the whole story, or a series of posters may be made to show a sequence of events. A series of posters may be bound together in book form. For poster making single sheets of paper, medium weight and of neutral tone, are needed. The sheets should be of uniform size for individual use so that they could be bound together if desired. For cooperative work and special problems larger sheets will be needed.


Cutting out Pictures.—This serves well for first effort with scissors. The interest in the picture furnishes a motive, while the outline serves as a guide and allows the attention to be given wholly to the control of the scissors.

Free cutting of single objects—such as animals, fruits, trees, furniture, utensils, etc.—intensifies and clarifies mental pictures and stimulates observation if the child is led to express his own ideas first and then to compare his expression with the original and note his deficiencies. As far as possible choose objects with strong bold outlines for the first attempts. There should be some marked feature, such as Bunny's long ears, which calls for emphasis. To cut a circular piece of paper which might be an apple or a peach, a walnut or a tomato, will not aid much in clarifying a mental picture, while Bunny's long ears, even though crudely cut, will be more deeply impressed on the child's mind.

Illustrations for Stories.Single Illustration.—After a story has been read aloud and the characters and events freely discussed by the class, each child may be encouraged to represent the part which has appealed to him—i.e. "cut what he wants to cut." After the cuttings are mounted they will probably form a series which will tell the whole story. When several children illustrate the same feature, it offers opportunity for comparison and judgment as to which ones have told the story most effectively. For example, in the story of the Three Bears, the cuttings may show the three bears in three relative sizes, the three chairs, the three beds, the table, and the three bowls of porridge. (See notes on Criticism.)

Series.—Let each child select the two or three most important events in a story and illustrate these in a single poster or series of posters.

Community Poster.—A long story such as the "Old Woman and the Silver Sixpence" may be illustrated by the class as a whole, each child cutting some one feature. This requires attention to relative proportions so that the parts may be in harmony when assembled. Such posters may be used for wall decoration.

Charts.—Poster making may also include the making of charts containing samples of manufactured articles in various stages of development. For example, a chart on cotton might show raw cotton, cord, thread, cloth of various sorts, lace, paper, and other materials made from cotton. Such a chart might also include pictures of cotton fields, spinning and weaving machinery, and other related features.

Materials.—Too much can scarcely be said in favor of much cutting from an unlimited supply of common wrapping paper, newspaper, or other waste paper, in which the children are entirely unhampered by such injunctions as, "Be careful and get it just right the first time, because you can't have another paper if you waste this piece." The possible danger of cultivating wastefulness is less serious and more easily overcome than the very probable danger of dwarfing and cramping the power of expression. Here, if anywhere, the rule holds good that we learn to do by doing, and abundant practice is essential to success.

Black silhouette or poster paper is most effective when mounted, but is too expensive for general use in large classes.

Brown kraft paper and tailor's pattern paper serve well for both cuttings and mounts. Both of these papers may be had by the roll at a low cost. The tailor's paper comes in several dull colors, which make good mounts for cuttings from white scratch paper or the fine print of newspaper.

Bogus paper makes an excellent mount and is very inexpensive.

The Pasting Process.—To a large number of teachers the pasting lesson is a time to be dreaded and its results a cause of discouragement. Especially is this true if the class is large and the teacher attempts to have all the class pasting at one time. In many phases of school work it is so much easier to control forty or fifty children if they all act in unison that we are prone to use the method too often and apply it to forms of work much better managed by groups. The process of teaching little folks to paste is greatly simplified by the use of the group method.

If the room affords a large table at which a small group may work, the teacher can easily supervise the work of the entire group. If there is no table, the teacher can work with one or two rows at a time or have very small groups come to her desk. The secret of the success of the group method lies in having the rest of the class busy with some occupation sufficiently interesting to prevent impatience while waiting for turns. The command to "fold hands and sit still till your turn comes" is sure to cause trouble, because children are physically unable to obey it.

The most important factor in successful pasting is a liberal supply of waste paper. Each child should be supplied with a number of single sheets of newspaper torn to convenient size, to paste on, each sheet to be discarded as soon as used. This decreases the danger of untidy work. With the cutting laid upon the waste paper, the paste may be spread with brush, thin wood, or thick paper, well out over the edges. As soon as the pasted cutting is lifted the waste paper should be folded over to cover all wet paste and lessen the possibility of accidents. After the cutting is placed upon the mount, a clean piece of waste paper should be laid over it and rubbed until the air is all pressed out and the cutting adheres firmly. The waste paper overlay may be rubbed vigorously without harm, whereas a light touch of sticky fingers directly upon the cutting will leave a soiled spot, if it does not tear the moist paper. If children are carefully taught in small groups to follow this method of pasting, in a fairly short time all but the weakest members of the class will be able to paste neatly without much supervision.



The making of booklets forms a valuable accompaniment to almost every phase of school work. Even simple exercises, when put into book form, take on a dignity otherwise impossible and seem more worth while. It is impossible to work with much enthusiasm and care on exercises which are destined only for the wastebasket.

The chief value in the making of booklets is lost when they are made for display purposes only. Many difficulties are sure to arise when the teacher, for the sake of her own reputation, sets an arbitrary standard and tries to force every member of the class to meet it. Because of these difficulties many teachers dread and avoid work of this sort, but the trouble lies in our false standards and poor methods rather than in the process itself. When the exhibit idea is uppermost, each page must be examined with great care, done over again and again if need be, until the standard is reached or the patience of both teacher and pupil exhausted. In such a case the work practically ceases to be the child's own. Instead of expressing an idea of his own in his own way, he tries to express the teacher's idea in the teacher's way, and it is not surprising that he fails so often.

The booklet serves its best purpose when it combines both value and need; that is, when it is something which seems worth while to the pupil and when he feels responsible for its success. He should feel something akin to the responsibility one feels in writing an important letter; that is, that it must be right the first time because there is no opportunity to try again and that he cannot afford to do less than his best because what is done will stand.

To "express his own idea in his own way" does not mean that his work is to be undirected or that poor results are to be accepted. It does mean that when an idea and a means of expressing it have been suggested to him, he shall be allowed to do the best he can by himself, and that when he has done his best, it shall be accepted even though imperfect. Under no circumstances should his work be "touched up" by the teacher. If he is not asked to do things which are too hard for him, he will not make many serious errors. If these are wisely pointed out, they will not often be repeated. If his attention is held to one or two important features at a time, each effort will mean some gain.

The making of a booklet in the primary grades should really consist in making a cover to preserve pages already made or to receive pages on certain topics as they are finished. The making of an animal book, for example, might be a continuous process. Whenever a new animal is studied and a cutting or drawing of it made, the new page may be added to the book.

The first books should be picture books only, collections of cuttings, drawings, and mounted pictures. As the children learn to write they may add first the name and then short descriptions of the pictures, the development proceeding by easy stages until their composition work takes the form of the illustrated story.

Books which are a collection of single sheets are, as a rule, most satisfactory in the primary school. The single sheet is much more convenient to use, and there is always an inspiration in beginning with a fresh sheet of paper. It is more difficult to paste cuttings into a book, and if pages are spoiled, the book is spoiled. If separate sheets are used, a poor one may be done over or discarded without affecting the rest.

The making of booklets and posters offers an excellent opportunity for developing artistic appreciation. It is not enough for the teacher to provide only good colors from which the children may choose, and to supervise the spacing of pictures and then flatter herself that because the results are good that the children are developing good taste. Unless they really want the good things, little real gain has been made. Unless they see some reason for the arrangement of a page, other than that the teacher wants it that way, little has been accomplished.

The first attempts will show little or no idea of balance or good spacing. The early color combinations are apt to be crude. If the best things they do are praised and their attention is constantly directed to the good points in things about them, they will begin to want those things. They will begin gradually to feel a greater pleasure in a well-balanced page than in one on which big and little pictures are stuck indiscriminately. If they are given all possible freedom in matters of choice, it will be possible to measure their real progress and to know what points need emphasis.

The more accustomed the children are to tasteful surroundings, the easier will be their progress, but whether they come from tasteful homes or the reverse, the process is the same. Real progress will undoubtedly be slow, but it should be upon a sure foundation.


Stories.—Series of illustrations either cut or drawn for any of the stories read by the class.

Animal Book.—Cuttings or sketches of animals. The name and short statement of some characteristic may be added by children who are able to write. Trees, flowers, fruits, etc., may be treated in the same way.

A. B. C. Book.—A page for each letter of the alphabet to be filled with pictures and names of objects having the same initial letter.

House Book.—A page for each room, upon which may be mounted pictures of things appropriate to the room. Newspaper advertisements and catalogs furnish abundant material for this problem. The work not only helps the children to classify present knowledge, but offers opportunity for judgment as to arrangement and relative proportions.

How People Live.—A book of pictures of houses in different countries.

Famous Houses.—Pictures of famous buildings and homes of famous people.

What we Wear.—Pictures showing materials from which clothing is made, the methods of production and manufacture.

What we Eat.—Vegetable foods may be grouped as roots, stalks, leaves, seeds, etc. Animal foods may be classified according to the animal from which they are obtained and the part of the animal from which they are cut. Suggestions for cooking may be added.

How we Travel.—Pictures showing vehicles and conveyances of all sorts, classified as ancient and modern, or according to the countries in which they are used, or the motive power, as horses, electricity, steam, etc.

In connection with elementary geography and history, booklets and posters may be made up from pictures cut from discarded papers, catalogs, and magazines, as well as original drawings. A great variety of topics may be profitably illustrated in this way. As, for example, land and water forms, famous mountains, lakes, rivers, etc., products and processes of cultivation and manufacture, famous people, costumes and customs of other times and places, utensils and weapons of earlier times.

Fastenings.—The simplest method of binding single sheets is by means of paper fasteners and eyelets. Though these are not expensive, some schools cannot afford to buy them. Cords may be used in several ways and serve as part of the decoration.

The Simple Tie.—Punch three holes in the margin, at least one half inch from the edge to prevent tearing out. Insert the cord in the middle hole, carry through one end hole, then through the other end hole, then back through the middle and tie. (See Fig. 7.)

Japanese Sewing.—Punch holes at regular intervals, as one inch apart. Sew through first hole twice, making a loop around the back,—repeat the process until a loop has been made for each hole,—carry the cord in and out through the holes back to the starting point, filling in the blank places and making a continuous line, and tie ends together with a small knot. (See Fig. 8.)

Decoration.—Only the simplest decoration should be attempted. A plain cover of good color tied with a cord of harmonious color will have elements of beauty without further decoration. A single border line well placed may be used and offers opportunity for developing a nice sense of proportion by studying the results to see which borders are neither too near the edge nor too far from it.

A well-printed, well-placed title is often the most satisfactory decoration. Printing should be introduced early, and the children encouraged to make good plain letters. In order to get the title in good proportion and well placed, it is helpful to cut a piece of paper the desired size and lay it on the cover, moving it about to see where it looks best. Until the children have learned to do fairly neat work it is often helpful to print the title on a separate piece and paste it in place. It is discouraging to spoil an otherwise good cover by a bad letter, and this process lessens that danger.

Before the children learn to print, a simple border or band across the cover may take the place of the title. The border may be drawn in crayons or be free-hand cuttings.

Too much emphasis cannot be laid upon the beauty of simplicity in decoration. Children are inclined to think beauty means fanciness and that beauty increases with the quantity of decoration. It is necessary to begin early to develop a taste for good design.



Criticism.—An important feature of all self-directed activity is the ability to judge one's efforts and intelligently measure one's success. This ability is a matter of slow growth and must be cultivated. It is not enough for the teacher to pass judgment upon a piece of work and grade its quality. The worker himself must learn to find his own mistakes and how to correct them. Class criticism offers the best means of developing this power, but must be tactfully conducted.

Little children are brutally frank in expressing their opinions and need to be taught how to be truthful and yet not unkind. They need to be taught what to look for and how to find it, and how to compare one thing with another and discover why one pleases and another displeases. The first essential in the training is emphasis on the good rather than the bad. It is a gospel of "do" rather than of "don't." The earliest efforts of the class may well be confined to comments upon the features they like and, if possible, the reason for the liking. This will forestall any tendency to call undue attention to the poor efforts of weak workers. At first many children will scarcely discriminate between their admiration for a piece of work and their love for the worker and will be apt to praise the work of their special friends. This tendency will gradually disappear through the development of a real basis of appreciation.

The second essential concerns the improvement of the things which are not good. Criticism which merely points out what is bad is of little value. Helpful criticism must point out what is good and why, and what is weak and how to make it stronger. If, for example, the class is considering the success of their efforts to illustrate the story of the Three Bears, they should be encouraged to make such comments as, "John's chairs look too small for his table," "Mary's bowls are all about the same size." The criticism should direct the thought to its possible remedy. It is generally better to pass over defects for which no immediate remedy can be suggested.

Standards of Workmanship.—The standard of excellence by which acceptable work is measured must always vary according to the ability of the class. The best the child can do, alone and unaided, should be the only standard of measurement, and his best efforts should always be accepted, no matter how crude. In no other way can real growth be observed and genuine progress made.

In schools where arbitrary standards are set either by supervisors or by the rivalry of teachers, the tendency to help the children by doing part of the work for them for the sake of the apparent results, offers the teacher's most serious temptation to selfishness. In a few cases it is helpful for the teacher to add a few strokes to a drawing or adjust some detail in construction, that the child may see the value of certain small changes in the place where they will mean most to him. Such work should not be exhibited as an example of the child's accomplishment, but should be treated as practice work. As a rule the teacher's demonstration should be made on other material and not on that used by the pupil. In no particular are primary schools open to greater criticism than in the too common habit of setting arbitrary standards of excellence and attempting to force all children to reach them. Such standards are usually too high for honest attainment and tempt or force the teacher to use methods which cannot be defended by any sound principle of pedagogy.

Values change with the purpose of the work. A thing is well made when it serves its purpose adequately. Toys must be strong enough to permit handling. Mechanical toys must work. Sewing must be strong as well as neat. In illustrative problems, in which effect is the chief consideration, technique needs little emphasis, and workmanship may be of a temporary character.

Each thing made should establish its own standard in a way to appeal to the child's common sense.



The making of a playhouse has long been an accepted feature of primary work, but we have not always made it yield all of which it is capable, either in the self-directed activity of the children or in correlated subject matter. It has, in many cases, been only a bit of recreation from the more serious work of the school. In a house prepared by the janitor or older pupils the children have been allowed to arrange and rearrange ready-made furniture contributed from their playthings at home, but little creative work has been attempted. In other cases an elaborate house, carefully planned by the teacher, has been built and furnished by the children, but, because of the detailed planning, the children's part in it became merely a mechanical following of directions. In some cases relative proportions in rooms and furnishings have received scant attention; in others, color harmonies have been all but ignored. These varying methods of carrying out the house-building idea are not without value and may often be justified by local conditions, but their results are meager compared with the possible richness of the problem.

Playing at house building and housekeeping appeals to an interest so universal that children of all times and nations yield to its power. It is therefore necessary to take account of its influence in their development and to dignify it with the approval of the school. We must refine and enrich it by our direction and suggestion without robbing it of its simplicity and charm.

In the suggestions which follow, an attempt is made to utilize this natural activity of children in an occupation which appeals to them as worth while. At the same time it may furnish ample opportunity for the general development and effective teaching of various phases of subject matter which are incident to the occupation, i.e. number in connection with measurements, art in the proportions and color combinations, language through discussions and descriptions.

The work is kept on the level of the children's experience by throwing them constantly on their own responsibility in every possible detail, the teacher never dictating the method of procedure and guiding the work with as few suggestions as possible. The work, being on the level of their experience, appeals to the children as very real and worth while. It is, therefore, intensely interesting, and they work without urging.

General Plan.—A house may be constructed from several empty goods boxes, each box forming one room of the house. The boxes or rooms are arranged in convenient order, but are not fastened together. Adjoining rooms are connected by doors carefully cut in both boxes so that the holes match. Windows are also sawed out where needed. The walls are papered, careful attention being given to color schemes, border designs, and relative proportions in spacing. Floors are provided with suitable coverings—woven rugs, mattings, linoleums, tiles, according to the purpose of the room.

Each step is discussed and more or less definitely outlined before the actual making is begun, furnishing opportunity for oral language of a vital sort. Completed parts are examined and criticized, furnishing further opportunity for exercise in oral language while directing attention to strong and weak points in the work.

The materials needed are easily obtainable and inexpensive, consisting chiefly of empty boxes and odds and ends of paper, cloth, and yarn, together with carpenters' scraps.

The tools needed are few, and in some cases may be brought from home by the children for a few days, as needed. The necessary time is found by making the incidental problems serve as subject matter for regular lessons. Making designs for tiling, linoleum, and borders for wall paper, planning relative proportions for doors, windows, and furnishings will supply material for very practical lessons in art. The problems incident to the measurement of doors and windows, tables and chairs, are number work of a vital sort and may be legitimately used as a regular number lesson. Discussions, descriptions, and definite statements of plans all form vital language exercises if rightly used.


Materials.Empty Store Boxes of Soft Wood.—Sizes may vary, but where several are grouped for a house, they should be near enough the same height to make a fairly level ceiling. About 10 x 12 x 18 in. is a convenient size.

Paper for Walls.—Scraps of ingrain wall papers may be had from dealers for little or nothing. Cover paper in good colors may be purchased by the sheet. Tailor's paper and brown wrapping paper serve well, and are sold by the roll at a low price.

Pasteboard (strawboard or juteboard) may be used for the roof.

Weaving Materials.—Rugs may be made from carpet rags, rug yarns, rovings, chenille, or jute; towels from crochet cotton; and hammocks from macrame cord or carpet warp.

Wood for Furniture.—Bass, white pine, poplar, or other soft wood. Box tops, if of soft wood, may be made to serve nearly all needs. If possible, provide thin wood (about 1/4 in. thick) in various widths, from one inch to six inches, so that only one dimension need be measured. Provide also thick pieces 1-1/2 in. or 2 in. square for beds and chairs; 1/2 in. square for table legs.

Nails of various sizes, chiefly inch brads, are needed.

Tools.—The tools actually necessary are few. A class can get along with one saw and still do good work, though there will be times when several saws will facilitate progress. Some tools are needed only for a short time and sometimes may be borrowed from the homes. It is more satisfactory to have the school provided with the essential tools whenever possible. The essential tools include:

Brace and auger bit, for boring holes in doors and windows. Needed for a short time only.

Compass saw, for sawing out doors and windows.

Crosscut saw, for sawing off lumber. School should own at least one.

Miter box, for holding lumber and guiding saw. An old one, good enough for children's use, will frequently be contributed by a carpenter. The miter box should be fastened firmly to a low table or box.

Hammers, several of medium size.

Try-square, a very valuable tool for setting right angles, provided the teacher and pupils know how to use it.

Arrangement of Rooms.—The sort of house a man can build is governed by his resources and his site. Considering the number of boxes as resources and the table or shelf on which they are to stand as the site, the same big factors which enter into any house-building problem control the size and style of the schoolroom playhouse. What sort of house is desired? What sort of house can be built from the materials at hand? What sort of house can be built in the space at our disposal?

The boxes may be arranged on a shelf with all the open sides toward the class, as in Fig. 9. This economizes space, and all of the rooms are visible at once. A two-story house is easily built on this plan. If economy of space is not necessary, the boxes may be placed on a table with the open sides of the boxes toward the edges of the table, as in Figs. 11, 12, and 13. This permits a more artistic grouping of the rooms. (See Fig. 14.)

The responsibility in grouping the boxes should be thrown as fully as possible upon the children, the teacher merely suggesting where necessary. It should be their house, not the teacher's. The planning should not be hurried but time allowed to discuss the advantages and disadvantages of different plans and reach an agreement. In trying to express individual opinions convincingly their ideas will become clearer—a factor in the development of the children which is much more important than any of the actual details of the house itself. Whether the class decides to have one or two bedrooms in the house is a matter of small consequence. Whether or not they are growing in power to appreciate conditions and make an intelligent decision is a matter of great consequence. Their decisions when made may not always reach the high standard at which the teacher is aiming, but if they have really made a decision, not merely followed the teacher's suggestion, and if their independent selections from time to time show a higher standard of appreciation and greater refinement of taste in ever so small a degree, it is evidence of genuine growth upon a sure foundation.

Doors and Windows.—The size and arrangement of doors and windows should be freely discussed. Various possible arrangements may be sketched upon the blackboard by the children. For example, see Fig. 15, a and b. When a plan is adopted, the doors and windows should be carefully drawn on the outside of each box, using the try-square to get right angles.

Bore holes in the corners of the doors and windows and saw out with keyhole or compass saw. In order to avoid mistakes it is well, after sawing out the opening for a door in one box, to place the two boxes together and test the measurements before sawing out the second opening. A mistake of this sort, however, is not fatal, but may prove the most effective way of impressing the workers with the necessity of careful measurement.

Walls.—The decoration of the walls will furnish material for several art lessons. The discussion should turn first to the suitability of different styles for different purposes, such as tiling for kitchen and bathroom walls, light papers for dark rooms, etc. The division of wall space will be the next point to be settled, i.e. the height of the tiling or wainscot, the width of a border, or the effect of horizontal and vertical lines in breaking up wall space. These questions may be discussed as far as the immediate circumstances and the development of the class suggest.

The question of color combinations demands special attention. Unless the children come from refined homes their ideas of color will be very crude, and if contributions of material have been asked for, some gaudy impossibilities in flowered paper are apt to be presented. If so, it may require considerable tact on the part of the teacher to secure a satisfactory selection without casting any reflections on the taste of somebody's mother. This difficulty may be avoided to a degree by providing all the materials necessary. It is not enough, however, to cause the children to select good combinations at the teacher's suggestion while in their hearts they are longing for the gaudy thing she has frowned upon. It is better to get an honest expression from them, even though it is very crude, and endeavor to educate their taste to a love for better things, so that each time they choose the choice may be on a higher level of appreciation. Immediate results may not be as beautiful by this plan, and apparent progress may be slow, but only by some such method can a real appreciation be developed which will prevent the return to the crude expression as soon as the teacher's influence is withdrawn.

Plain papers generally give the most pleasing effects. Attractive borders may be made by cutting simple units and repeating them at intervals. Almost any motif may be used for the unit. Animals, birds, trees, flowers, ships, etc., serve well. The process of making the border should be a serious lesson in design. A good border is not merely the repetition of a pretty figure. The units must not be too far apart nor too close together. The shape of the figure used must be such that each unit seems to need the next one. Little children will usually take greatest pleasure in working from some nature motif, as flower or animal, but interesting work can be done with simple geometric figures. Take, for example, the hollow square. Fold a square of paper on both diagonals. (See Fig. 16.) Cut on dotted line. Let each child cut several and lay them in order for a border or mount them on a paper of different color. Let the work of the class be put up for general criticism. (See notes on Criticism.) Several points which very small children are able to appreciate will be found to enter into the success or failure of their efforts. The hollow square itself may be cut too wide and look clumsy, or cut too narrow and look frail. In the arrangement they may be too close together and look crowded, or too far apart and look scattered. A sensitiveness to good proportions comes naturally to only a few people, but nearly all are capable of a higher degree of appreciation if their attention is directed to the essential elements which make things good or bad. The beginnings of this appreciation lie in simple things which are easily understood by first-grade children.

Floors.—Many of the considerations which enter into the selection of wall decorations are of equal importance in choosing floor coverings. What will be suitable to the purpose of each room? Why do we use linoleum in the kitchen and warm rugs in the bedroom? Shall we use small rugs or a carpet? What colors must we have on the floor to harmonize with the colors on the wall? What designs are possible and desirable for the materials we have to use?

Rug Weaving Materials.—The market offers a wide variety of materials prepared especially for school use. Among them the most satisfactory for use with small workers are cotton rovings, loose twisted jute, and cotton chenille. These, especially the first two, are coarse and work up rapidly, and may be had in very desirable colors. Even the cheapest of them, however, will prove an expensive item for the school with limited funds, and ordinary carpet rags may be made to serve every purpose. Often these will be contributed by members of the class. By a careful selection and combination of colors very artistic results can be produced which are in some respects more satisfactory than any obtained from the so-called weaving materials, and have the added advantage of costing practically nothing.

Looms.—The market also offers a great variety of looms for school use, many of them quite simple in construction and moderate in price. In schools where bench work is taught, the making of a loom is an excellent problem either for the weavers themselves or for an older class working for them. If the looms are made by the little weavers themselves, only the simplest possible construction should be used, that the work may be completed and the loom put to use before the worker loses sight of the fact that the purpose is to provide carpet for the house. Children lose interest in long-drawn-out processes, and for that reason it is better to provide them with the necessary tools as far as possible while interest in the house building is keen. Later, if considerable enthusiasm has been aroused for weaving, individual looms may be made for home use. For the school with scant funds a very satisfactory loom may be improvised by driving nails one fourth inch apart in the ends of a shallow box of convenient size and stretching the warp threads across the open top.

For very small rugs a cardboard loom will serve. This may be made by cutting notches or punching holes along opposite edges of a piece of cardboard into which the warp may be strung. If a knitting needle is inserted at each side, the cardboard will be stiffened and the edges of the rug kept straight. Weaving needles may be purchased from supply houses. Wooden needles cost 50 cents per dozen. Sack needles serve well for small rugs and may be had at any hardware store for 10 cents per dozen.

Weaves.—For first weaving the plain "over one, under one" on cotton warp with rags or other coarse woof is generally best. Variety may be introduced by weaving a stripe or border of a different tone near each end of the rug. Vertical stripes serve well as another easy method of variation and are produced by using two woof threads of different tones and weaving first with one and then with the other. This weave is very attractive as the body of the rug with a plain border at either end.

As soon as the children have mastered the plain weave and have a fairly clear idea of the possibilities in design through varying the colors in the woof only, they may be initiated into the mysteries of the "gingham weave" and allowed to experiment with the variations in warp as well as in woof. Cotton rovings is an excellent material for weaves of this sort. This weave may also be used with raffia to make matting for the dining-room floor.

Paper mats may also be used as carpets with good effect. Weaving paper strips is often an easier process to little children than weaving with textiles, except where very coarse textile materials are used. For paper mats select paper of suitable color and cut to the size desired for the mat. Fold on the short diameter. Cut slashes from the folded edge, not less than one half inch apart, to within one inch of edge of the paper (See Fig. 20), leaving a margin on all four sides of the mat. For weavers, cut from paper of harmonious tone, strips equal in width to the slashes in the mat.

Variations of the simple over one, under one weave add interest to the work and also give practice in number combinations such as over one, under two, etc. Work of this sort is used in many schools as a method of teaching number, the teacher dictating the combinations while the interest of the children centers in the new pattern which develops under their fingers. While such work has much to be said in its favor, it is open to criticism, especially in the matter of dictation. All the children in any one group will not work with equal speed. Some will undoubtedly "get behind" and others will lose time while waiting for the slow ones. Accidents are liable to happen in individual cases.

Many of these undesirable features may be eliminated while still retaining the valuable part of the work by writing the directions on the board instead of dictating them to the children. It then becomes a lesson in reading as well as in number. Each child is thrown more completely upon his own responsibility and can proceed as rapidly and as steadily as his capacity permits. His rate of progress will often be a fair measure of his ability for independent thought and action, which is the real measure for successful teaching.

As the hardest feature in this method is in keeping the right line and not repeating or omitting any direction, a social spirit may be encouraged by allowing the children to work in groups and take turns in keeping the place while the others work. In one first grade where this plan was in vogue the children discovered a book on the teacher's desk which contained numerous designs, many of them much more intricate than she would have attempted to use as classwork. Their instinct for exploration led them to struggle with the directions until they had worked out some designs which would have proved dismal failures had they been attempted as class lessons. In this instance those who belonged to the persevering group were happy in a new-found sense of strength and independence, while the others had accomplished as much as any would have done under the dictation method.

Furniture.—The problem of furniture for the school playhouse has been discussed in numerous publications, and nearly every writer on the subject of primary handwork offers suggestions on this topic. The suggestions include a range in materials and processes from very simple foldings in paper to quite complex processes in reeds and raffia and methodical construction in wood.

Among the various materials and styles in common use, folded paper furniture has the advantage of being quickly made. The process is of sufficient interest to little children to hold their attention, and in order to secure the desired result they must hear the directions intelligently and obey them promptly. These are desirable habits to form. It is quite possible, however, for the work to be done in a very formal, mechanical way, in which the children merely follow directions, often blindly, without any clear purpose and very little thought. Success or failure is due largely to chance; for, if by accident even a good worker "loses out" on a direction, his work is at a standstill until special help is given. He is unable to proceed because he does not know what to do next. There is very little opportunity in such a process for independent thought or action. It is not self-directed activity.

A second objection to paper furniture is its lack of stability. Paper which is pliable enough to fold readily will not hold its own weight long when made into furniture, and very soon becomes wobbly. To overcome this tendency to wobble, heavier papers are often used and new complications arise. Heavy papers do not fold readily without scoring. Scoring demands considerable accuracy of measurement—often to a degree beyond the power of a six-year-old. The stiff papers, being hard pressed, are harder to paste, and neat work is often an impossibility, unless considerable assistance is given.

It is possible to make satisfactory furniture in a great variety of styles from stiff paper, and the processes involve some excellent practice in measurement and design. The processes necessary to obtain these satisfactory results are, however, beyond the ability of children in the lower grades. Even fairly satisfactory results are impossible unless an undue amount of assistance is given by the teacher. In actual practice, where stiff paper is used a few of the best workers in the class are helped to make the few pieces needed in the playhouse and the unhappy failures of the rest of the class are promptly consigned to the wastebasket.

Very pretty furniture may be made from reeds and raffia, but the processes are too difficult to be successfully performed by small children. The reeds do not lend themselves readily to constructions small enough to suit the average playhouse, and the larger pieces are out of proportion to the other features of the house.

The use of wood overcomes the most serious of the objections to be made to other materials, besides being the material most commonly used in "real" furniture. Wooden furniture is stable, and a great variety of processes in construction are possible without introducing complications which prevent independent work on the part of the little people.

The processes necessary to the construction of very simple yet satisfactory wooden furniture may be reduced to measuring one dimension, sawing off, and nailing on. Measuring one dimension is quite within the powers of six-year-olds. Sawing off is not difficult if soft lumber is used, and it becomes very simple by the help of the miter box. Nailing on is difficult if the nails must be driven into the edges of thin boards, but if thin boards are nailed to thick boards, nails may "go crooked" without serious consequences, and the process becomes quite easy. These processes have the advantage of being particularly fascinating to small boys, in contrast to the girlish character of many forms of primary handwork. (See Figs. 21 and 22.)

Processes.—For the sake of convenience and clearness in these directions it will be assumed that the class is provided with pieces of wood two inches square which will be referred to as 2 x 2. Also with thin wood in a variety of widths from 1 in. to 6 in. Material of other dimensions would serve the purpose equally well, and for many of the parts odd pieces from the scrap box will answer every purpose. The directions are intended only to suggest how to proceed, and it is left to the teacher to adapt them to the material and conditions with which she works.

(1) To make a chair.

Use 2 x 2 for seat and thin wood 2 in. wide for back. Children should measure and decide how much to saw off from strip of 2 x 2 in order to make a square block or cube for the seat. They should estimate the length of the back of the chair, then measure and saw off the thin wood needed. Nail the back piece to the cube and finish with a coat of water-color paint or color with crayon. An armchair may be made by the addition of shorter pieces of thin wood to the sides of the chair.

(2) To make table with pedestal.

Use 2 x 2 for pedestal. Use thin wood 6 in. wide for top. Use thin wood 4 in. wide for base. Measure and saw off 3 in. of 2 x 2 for pedestal. Measure enough of the 6 in. wood to make a square top and enough of the 4 in. wood to make a square base. Do not tell the children what they can discover for themselves. They should decide how high the table ought to be and how large to suit the size of the room. Nail the square pieces to the two ends of the pedestal. Finish by same method used for chairs.

(3) For ordinary table.

Use thin wood for top. Use 1/2 x 1/2 for legs. Measure and saw off pieces needed. Measure places for legs about one inch from corner of top in order to allow an overhang. Children frequently put the legs flush with the edge of the table, which gives a clumsy appearance. Nail through the top with a comparatively long nail.

(4) To make a double bed.

Use wood 1/2 to 1 in. thick for body. Use thin wood of corresponding width for head and foot boards. Class or individual workers should decide on dimensions for different parts and height of body of bed from the floor.

(5) For single bed.

Proceed as for double bed, using narrow pieces of wood, or use six or seven inches of 2 x 2 for body of bed and make head and foot boards after the style of chair back.

(6) Dressing table.

Decide upon dimensions needed. Use 2 x 2 for body. Use thin wood of equal width for back. Use tinfoil for mirror. Indicate drawers with pencil lines.

(7) Couch.

Use piece of 2 x 2 of desired length and make couch cover of appropriate material, or add back and arms of thin wood to piece of 2 x 2 and finish to match other furniture.

(8) Piano.

Use wood 3/4 or 1 in. thick for body. Nail on piece 1/2 x 1/2 for keyboard. Draw keys on paper and paste on keyboard.

(9) Kitchen stove.

Use 2 x 4 or any scrap or empty box of appropriate size and shape. Color black with crayon. Add chalk marks or bits of tinfoil to indicate doors and lids. Make hot-water tank of paper. Pieces of reed, wire, or twigs covered with tinfoil make good water pipes. Macaroni sticks and lemonade straws have served this purpose.

Clay Furnishings.—For such articles as the kitchen sink, the bathtub, and other bathroom fittings clay is a satisfactory material. These articles may be modeled by the children, in as good an imitation of the real fittings as they are able to make. Various methods may be used for holding the kitchen sink and the bathroom basin in place, and it is much better for the children to evolve one of their own than to follow the teacher's dictation from the start. If they meet serious difficulties, a suggestion from her may help clear the way. Two long nails driven into the wall will give a satisfactory bracket on which the sink may rest. Two short nails may be driven through the back while the clay is moist and may serve also as a foundation for faucets. The basin, bathtub, and stool may each be built solid to the floor.

The teakettle and other stove furniture may be modeled in clay. Electric light bulbs of clay suspended by cords from the ceiling have a realistic air. Paper shades of appropriate color add to the general effect.

Miscellaneous furnishings.

Bedding.—Paper or cloth may be used for bedding, as circumstances suggest. If interest in real things is strong, the making of the sheets and pillow cases offers an opportunity for some practice with the needle. If time is limited, paper may be used.

Curtains.—Curtains also may be made from either paper or regular curtain material. If paper is used, it should be very soft, such as plain Japanese napkins. Scraps of plain net or scrim are most desirable. Some child is apt to contribute a piece of large-patterned lace curtain, but the tactful teacher will avoid using it if possible, and direct the children's thoughts toward a better taste in draperies.

Portieres may be made of cloth, of knotted cords, or chenille.

Couch pillows may be made from cloth or may be woven on a small card.

Towels for the bathroom may be woven from crochet cotton.

The fireplace may be made of cardboard marked off and colored to represent brick. A shallow box may be made to serve the purpose. Cut out the opening for the grate and lay real sticks on andirons made from soft wire; or draw a picture of blazing fire and put inside. The fireplace may also be made of clay. Pebbles may be pressed into the clay if a stone fireplace is desired. If clay is used, several small nails should be driven into the wall before the fireplace is built up, to hold the clay in place after it dries.

Bookcases may be made of cardboard, using a box construction, and glued to the wall. Or a block of wood about one inch thick may be used. In either case mark off the shelves and books with pencil lines, and color the backs of the books with crayon.

The Stairway.—In a two-story house the hardest problem will usually be the stairs. Some good work in number may be done while finding out how many steps will be needed and where the stairway must begin in order to reach the second floor in comfort. Even quite small children can deal with this problem if presented in a simple way. For example, if the box or room is ten inches high, how many steps 1 in. wide and 1 in. high will be needed, and how far out into the room will they come? The children can work out the plan on the blackboard. Measurements may be modified to suit the ability of the class and the needs of the room.

The variety of possible constructions in building the staircase corresponds to the varying ability of classes. A strip of paper may be folded back and forth and made to serve with least mature classes. This paper stair will sag unless it rests on a board or piece of stiff pasteboard. A substantial stairway may be made by sawing two thin boards for supports, as in Fig. 24, and nailing on steps of thin wood or cardboard. There is usually one boy in every first grade who is capable of as difficult a piece of handwork as this. He is apt, also, to be the boy who takes least interest in the general work of the class, and often it is possible to arouse him to special effort through some such problem. The stairway may be made of heavy cardboard with a construction similar to that just described, but this requires pasting instead of nailing and is much more difficult for little children.

The Roof.—The making of the roof is another part of the house building which may often be given into the special care of the two or three over-age pupils who need special problems. The plan which they evolve from their study of the needs of the case will usually be of greater value to them, even though it may not be the best that could be suggested.

The roof may be made of wood as a base, with either wood or cardboard shingles tacked on in proper fashion; or it may be made of cardboard with the shingles merely indicated by lines made with crayon. If the wood base is used, wood gables may be made for sides or ends of the house. To these, long boards may be nailed to form a solid roof. Shingles two inches long by about one inch wide may be cut from cardboard or very thin wood and tacked to the boards. The children should be spurred to study the roofs of houses and find out how the shingles are arranged, and discover for themselves, if possible, the secret of successful shingling.

A cardboard roof is in many ways easier to build. In a house similar to the one shown in Fig. 25 two gables are used, and the roof slopes to front and back. The framework can be very simply made. At the two gable ends place uprights made of two pieces of wood joined in the form of an inverted T. (See Fig. 26.) These should be nailed to the box. A ridgepole may then be nailed to the upper ends of the uprights. If the house is not large, no other framework will be necessary. If the slope of the roof is long enough to allow the cardboard to sag, light strips of wood extending from the ridgepole to the outer edge of the box may be added. If a single piece of cardboard of sufficient size is available, it may be scored[1] and bent at the proper place and laid over the ridgepole, with the edges extending beyond the box to form the eaves. Or, two pieces may be used, one for each slope of the roof, each piece being tacked to the ridgepole. Chimneys may be made from paper and colored to represent bricks or stone.

The outside of the house may be treated in several ways. It may be sided after the manner of frame houses by tacking on strips of paper or cardboard lapped in the proper fashion. It may be covered with paper marked in horizontal lines to represent siding, in irregular spaces to represent stone, or in regular spaces to represent brick, and finished in the appropriate color. Or, a coat of paint or stain may be applied directly to the box.


A playhouse for its own sake is a justifiable project for primary children and one which may be repeated several times without exhausting its possibilities. Each time it is repeated the emphasis will fall on some new feature, and the children will wish to do more accurate work.

In the lowest grades very simple houses of one or two rooms may be built for story-book friends, such as the "Three Bears" or "Little Red Riding Hood," with only such furniture as the story suggests. In intermediate grades the house may have an historical motive and illustrate home life in primitive times or in foreign countries, such as a colonial kitchen in New England, a pioneer cabin on the Western prairies, a Dutch home, a Japanese home, etc. In upper grades it may become a serious study in house decoration.

As the motive for making the house changes, the character and quality of its furnishings will change. The block furniture described above will give way to more accurate models in either wood or paper. Some excellent suggestions for paper furniture for advanced work may be found in the Manual Training Magazine.

As skill in construction increases, a wish for something more realistic than the box construction will arise, and the elements of house framing will be studied with great eagerness.

The House of the Three Bears. (See Fig. 28.)—This house was made early in the year by a class of first-grade children. The walls were papered in plain brown paper. The carpets were woven mats of paper. The chairs, table, and beds were made according to the methods already described in the playhouse outline. The stove and the doll were contributed. The bears were modeled in clay. The children played with the house and its contents throughout the year. The bears were broken and made over many times—a process which not only afforded great pleasure, but also developed considerable skill in modeling.

Another Bears' House.—This house, shown in Frontispiece, was made in the spring, near the end of the school year, by a class of first-grade children all of whom were under seven and many of whom were very immature.

The story of the Three Bears was taken up after Christmas, told and retold, read, and dramatized by the children. Teddy bears were brought to school. Many bears were modeled in clay, each child making the set of three many times.

The children laid off spaces on the table for individual Bears' houses and made furniture for these as their fancy prompted. The furniture was made of wood after the general style described above. Later, carpets were woven for these individual playhouses. Each carpet was woven to a given dimension, making it necessary to use the rule. This was their introduction to the rule as a tool for measuring. Every child in a class of forty made one or more pieces of furniture and wove one or more small carpets from rags. Nearly all made some bedding.

Later, four boxes were secured and arranged as a house. The openings for doors were marked off during school time, but were sawed out by a few children who remained during the noon intermission. This is the only part of the work which was not done during regular class time. The papering was done by two or three of the most capable children, while the rest were deeply absorbed in weaving. All made borders. Certain borders were selected for the house, and several children worked together to make enough of the same pattern for one room. Selections were then made from the carpets and furniture already made by the children.

The roof was made chiefly by one boy who "knew a good way to make it." The porches were also individual projects by pupils who had ideas on the subject and were allowed to work them out.

The children became very familiar with every phase of the story and attacked any expression of it with the feeling, "That's easy." They wrote stories, i.e. sentences about bears. Each child at the close of the year could write on the blackboard a story of two or more sentences. They made pictures of bears in all sorts of postures with colored crayon and from free-hand cuttings. They modeled the bears in clay over and over again, keeping up a large family in spite of many accidents.

Cooperative Building.—Figures 11, 12, and 13 show three rooms of a four-room house built by the first and second grades working together. The living room and bedroom were furnished by first-grade children. The dining room, kitchen, and bath were furnished by the second grade. Four boxes were used. (See diagram, page 35, Fig. 14.) Each room, except the bath, was a separate box. After a general plan had been agreed upon by the teachers, the boxes were carried to the several rooms and each class worked quite independently. When the rooms were finished, they were assembled on a table in the hall and the roof put on.

The Flour Mill.—The flour mill, shown in Fig. 30, was built in connection with a study of the general subject of milling by a fourth-grade class. The class visited a flour mill. They were shown the various machines, and the function of each was explained to them. They made hasty sketches of the machines and a rough diagram of their arrangement on the floors. They got the dimensions of the floors and height of the ceiling. An empty box was remodeled to approximate the dimensions of the building. Small representations of the machines were made and placed in the proper relation to each other. No attempt was made to show more than the external proportions in the small representation. The work served its best purpose in keeping the children thinking definitely about what they had seen. The attempt to express their thoughts in tangible form deepened the mental impression, even though the tangible results were crude and lacked many details.

The conveyer being of special interest, two boys worked out a larger model which illustrated the band-bucket process. This is shown in Fig. 30, at the right of the mill. Small cups were made of soft tin and fastened to a leather strap. The strap was fastened around two rods, placed one above the other. The lower rod was turned by a crank fastened on the outside of the box. Two or three brads driven into the lower rod caught into holes in the strap and prevented slipping. The machine successfully hoisted grain from the lower box to one fastened higher up, but not shown in the picture. The model was very crude in its workmanship, but it showed the ability of fourth-grade boys to successfully apply an important principle in mechanics, and it gave opportunity for their ingenuity to express itself. The work was done with such tools and materials as the boys could provide for themselves, and without assistance other than encouraging suggestions from the teacher. This bit of construction accompanied a broad study of the subject of milling, including the source and character of the raw materials, the processes involved, the finished products and their value.



Playing store is a game of universal interest. Making a play store is a fascinating occupation. These are factors which cannot be overlooked in any scheme of education which seeks to make use of the natural activities of children.

The downtown store stands to the children as the source of all good things which are to be bought with pennies. It is usually the first place outside the home with which they become familiar, and its processes are sure to be imitated in their play. In their play they not only repeat the processes of buying and selling, but try to reproduce in miniature what they regard as the essential features of the real store.

If they are allowed to play this fascinating game in school, it may, by the teacher's help, become at once more interesting and more worth while. Curiosity may be aroused through questions concerning what is in the store, where it came from, how it got there, what was done to make it usable, how it is measured, and what it is worth. In seeking answers to these questions, the fields of geography, history, and arithmetic may be explored as extensively as circumstances warrant and a whole curriculum is built up in a natural way. After such study, stores cease to be the source of the good things they offer for sale. The various kinds of merchandise take on a new interest when the purchaser knows something of their history, and a new value when he knows something of the labor which has gone into their manufacture.

Being a subject of universal interest, it may be adapted to the conditions of the various grades. It being also impossible to exhaust the possibilities of the subject in any single presentation, it may profitably be repeated with a change of emphasis to suit the development of the class. For example, in the second grade, the study of the street is chiefly a classification of the various commodities which are essential to our daily life, and a few of the main facts of interest concerning their origin. Those a little older are interested in the processes of manufacture and the geography of their sources. In playing store, weights and measures, the changing of money, and the making of bills take on an interest impossible in the old-fashioned method of presenting these phases of arithmetic. Discussions and narratives supply oral language work, and descriptions, letters, and notes provide material for written exercises.

The class may be divided into groups, each group contributing one store to the street, or the attention of the whole class may be centered on one store at a time, as the immediate conditions suggest. If the former method is used, as each store is finished it may be used as subject matter for the entire class, while the important facts concerning it are considered. The first permits a broader scope; the second a more exhaustive study. In either case visits to the real stores studied are important supplements to the work.

General Directions.—Discuss the stores on a village street. Which are most important? Why? Decide how many stores the class can build, and choose those most necessary to a community.

If self-organized groups[2] are allowed to choose the part they are to work out, both interest and harmony are promoted and leadership stimulated.

Use a box for each store. Each group is usually able to provide its own box. Paper inside of box with clean paper, or put on a coat of fresh paint. Make appropriate shelving and counters of thin wood.

Stock the store with samples of appropriate merchandise as far as possible. Supplement with the best representations the children can make. They should be left to work out the problem for themselves to a large extent, the teacher giving a suggestion only when they show a lack of ideas.

Suggestions for Details of Representation.Clay Modeling.—Clay may be used to model fruits and vegetables, bottles and jugs for the grocery; bread, cake, and pies for the bakery; different cuts of meat for the butcher shop; horses for the blacksmith shop and for delivery wagons. Clay representations may be made very realistic by coloring with crayon.

Canned Goods.—Paper cylinders on which labels are drawn before pasting serve well for canned goods. Cylindrical blocks may be cut from broom sticks or dowel rods and wrapped in appropriately labeled covers.

Cloth.—Rolls of various kinds of cloth should be collected for the dry goods store. Figures may be cut from fashion plates and mounted for the "Ready to Wear" department.

Hats.—Hats may be made for the millinery store from any of the materials commonly used. This is a good way for girls to develop their ingenuity and resourcefulness.

The Store Front.—The front of each store may be made of either wood or cardboard, the spaces for doors and windows being left open that the merchandise may be conveniently handled. Brick or stone fronts, second-story windows, offices, etc., may all be indicated as artistically as the capacity of the class permits by the use of colored crayons. The sign is an important feature and should stimulate an interest in well-made lettering.

Additional Projects.—In addition to representations of retail shops, various industries, such as the carpenter shop, blacksmith shop, flour mill, ice plant, and other familiar industries, may be represented. Cooperative institutions, such as the post office and fire department, should be included in the study.

Excursions.—Wherever possible, the plant should be visited by the class. Before making the visit, the class should discuss what they expect to see, and go prepared to find out definite things. Each child should have at least one question which he is to ask, or one item of information for which he is to be responsible to the class on the return. Often the visit is more worth while to the class after they have tried to make a representation from what they already know and from what they can read on the subject. They are then more conscious of their needs and more alive to the important elements than when they are merely seeing a new thing which is to a great extent foreign to their experience. If they make the visit first, they are apt to feel the need of another when they attempt to work out their representation. If they make a representation first, they are quite sure to be dissatisfied with it and want to make another after they have made the visit. In either case their consciousness of need is a measure of growth.

Correlation.—While the building of a store is in progress the study of the sources and processes of manufacture of the various articles of merchandise will supply valuable subject matter in several fields.

English.—Books containing information on the subject will be read with a definite purpose and more than ordinary interest. Especially if the group method is used, will the members of a group be proud to bring to the class interesting items concerning their particular part of the work. These narratives and descriptions may be made excellent practice in either oral or written English and will be of the sort Dewey characterizes as "having something to say rather than having to say something."

Geography.—This study may also enter as deeply into the field of geography as the development of the class warrants. It will be geography of a vital sort. How these things are brought to us touches the field of transportation, creating an interest in ships and railroad trains, pack mules and express wagons.

History.—The study of the process of manufacture opens up the field of industrial history, and in this, as in the geography, the study is limited only by the capacity of the class.

Number.—In the field of number the possibilities are also unlimited, in studying the weights and measures used for different commodities, the actual prices paid for these things, and the usual quantities purchased.

Playing store will involve the making of bills, the changing of money, and the measuring of merchandise. Different pupils may take turns acting as salesmen or cashier. The common practices of business life should be followed as closely as possible, only in this case each purchaser should make out his own bills. Actual purchase slips may be brought from home and used in number lessons.

An inventory of the stock may be taken and will supply excellent practice in addition and multiplication. After the example of real stores, a stock-taking sale at reduced rates may be advertised. The writer answered such an advertisement by a third grade and asked how much could be purchased for one dollar. Pencils were busy at once, and a variety of combinations suggested. One pupil was quickly called to account by his mates for offering only ninety-five cents' worth of merchandise for the dollar. By these and numerous other exercises which will suggest themselves to lively children and wide-awake teachers a vast amount of vital subject matter may be dealt with in a natural way, quite on the level of the child's experience and interest.

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