Our son is about to finish up his second grade year in school. In these last few months, to get the students’ feet wet with larger things to come, the teachers have given three history projects. He has had to make his first poster (a calendar of patriotic holidays), write his first mini-report (at least five sentences about a pioneer), and most recently, create a craft from the Colonial period. There were many possibilities to consider–a log cabin, cross stitching, a broom, a quilt square, a corn husk doll, and quilling among them. True to form, our dear boy changed his mind three times over two weeks, finally settling on quilling when we discovered my old quilling tools from when I tried it as a grade-schooler.
For those who are unfamiliar with this craft, quilling involves twirling a long strip of skinny paper (about 1/4 inch wide and up to two feet long) around a little tool that is slightly bigger than a sewing needle. Once the paper is twirled tightly, you have to release it so the coils sit flat, and depending on the image you are trying to make with these little spirals of paper, you might leave it to be a circle shape, or press one end to make a tear-drop shape, or both ends to make an eye shape.
The image we were trying to create was that of a little green frog. I knew there were parts of the project our 7-year old would need help with, especially gluing down the coils of paper onto the cardstock. I agreed to handle the glue, considering the warning on the tube to avoid skin and eye contact. He traced the pattern onto the cardstock and twirled all 30+ pieces of colored paper. As he twirled, we agreed–with much giggling, of course–that the spirals of paper looked just like tiny rolls of toilet paper. That is his kind of humor these days, after all.
If this project is indicative of future endeavors where we work together, I would count it a success. There was minimal whining (from either of us), we were able to communicate well, and we were both pleased with the finished product. Doing projects like these with my son has made me realize what a control freak I can be. There were so many times when I just had to bite my tongue, step back, and let him just work. I could emphasize neatness and carefulness only so many times without having him lose his patience with me. I wanted to supervise and encourage, but not make it look like I had actually done the work.
The best part of this project was that since my parents were visiting at the time, they were able to keep my toddler occupied. I got to spend about an hour just with my boy. That is sadly so rare these days, with him being at school all day or with me having to divide my attention between him and his sister. I wouldn’t have pictured the two of us having such a good time doing this sort of craft together, as he’s more of a Legos and Monopoly kind of kid, but it ended up being a fantastic choice.