Last week we horsed around with making boats.
Our work bench was set up with craft sticks, corks, bamboo skewers, and glue guns. Off to the side was our magnificent sensory table filled with water for testing purposes.
I had an idea of what boats made from these materials would look like, but apparently I was wrong because no one shared my idea.
Some of our boats were little more than two corks stuck together.
While others were more rigorously engineered (although not necessarily more seaworthy).
This one (in hand) passed the still water test . . .
. . . so we had to try it under "real world" conditions.
"Why didn't it float in the river?"
We theorized that we would have to dig the water channel deeper if our boat was going to float in it, but never got around to testing that theory because digging was apparently a lower priority than continued boat building.
This is second time this summer that we've put hot glue guns into the hands of children as young as 2, and unlike last time several of the children reported getting "burned," mostly by virtue of accidentally touching the glue itself before it had sufficiently cooled. Only one had a visible mark, a small red dot that was forgotten almost the moment it occurred. I'm thinking that the increased number of burns over last time had to do with the smaller materials (craft sticks, skewers, corks) they were using for their constructions. Before, we used larger pieces of wood and there was only one reported burn. Having to concentrate on fine motor skills and the proper management of the glue gun, I think I've learned, is perhaps a little more than the littlest kids can manage. Or rather, they can clearly manage it, but at the higher cost of putting their skin into contact with the hot glue.
At the same time we also continue to learn about the incredible power of building with glue guns. These tools allow young children to bring their ideas into reality in a matter of minutes unlike any other building technique I've come across as a teacher. We can quickly create things, like seaworthy vessels, that would simply be impossible with the standard fare of white glue, tape or staples. The trade-off is that potential for a burn, a minor injury, it seems to me, on par with splinters and stubbed toes.
As has been the case when working with older children during the school year, not a single tear was shed in spite of the burns. I take that to mean that the children also feel the trade-off is worth it.
(Note: I should mention here that as a cooperative preschool, we have the luxury of assigning two adults to manage the 3 glue guns we had in operation. In fact, I could have easily put a third adult on the task, but two seemed to be sufficient. I love teaching in a co-op.)