Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The Potential Efficacy of a Child's Assistance

On Monday, I made Jack-O-Lantern masks. This project is listed here. Basically, these were the steps of the project:

#1: Draw a circle on the back of a paper plate

#2: Draw the eyes such that they line up with the wearer's eyes and such that the wearer can see through them when the eyes of the mask are cut out.

#3: Draw the nose

#4: Draw the mouth.

#5 Decorate the pumpkin as desired.

#6 Give to Mr. Auto (aka: Yours truly) to hole punch sides that hold string. The string is tied together around the wearer's head in order for the mask to be worn. And, I also cut out the eyes.

This will give you an idea of the end result:

This is the project that I and the interested students worked on in the first hour of the after school program. I wasn't quite sure what to expect in terms of interest in the project. There is one thing that indicated that the project would fill up faster than usual. I put on my mask and I put my glasses over the mask, all of the kids were giggling, and then I had a bunch of kids that came up to me. "Can I do one?" was the constant question that a bunch of them were asking me. I probably elicit responses like those about half the time. So, I was very pleased with that result.

I only expected to do this project with about 9 students. That was my common maximum number of participants until Monday of this week. This week... I broke that record... I rounded up 19 students with this project. That... was... awesome... Unfortunately, I felt swamped. A lot of the students finished one after the other. And, they were waiting on me. I told them to come back after I cut out the eyes and put the string in the side holes. But, as you might be aware, some children don't listen very well. "Are you done yet?" is also a question that many students repeated over and over again. Or, some students play with the materials that I need to use in order to complete the project (e.g. one student was braiding the string I needed to put in the holes of the mask... :-( ). All of that is extremely distracting. I wanted to finish fast so that they could take their masks on that very day. I couldn't keep up with the rate at which they were finishing all of their masks and the rate at which they kept returning to distract me.

Of the 19 students, there were at least two students who seemed particularly intelligent for their age. There was a 5th and a 2nd grader. The 5th grader came into the project kind of late. So, step by step, I clearly explained the project to her. She was basically my proxy at another table. And for that, I was extremely thankful. She saved me the trouble of switching back and forth from one table to another. At the final stage of the project, I punched out holes in the sides of each mask and I poked a hole in the eyes of each mask. Then, I had the 2nd grader cut them all out for me. For that, I was also very thankful because she definitely saved me some time in completing the project. I expressed my gratitude directly to both of them for that. They were very pleased with my gratitude. So, we all came out feeling like winners.

In conclusion, if you ever feel like you have too much work on your shoulders, the children can truly assist you in carrying that load in a significant way (so long as you know specifically what you want them to help you with). But, remember to show them that you value their assistance. That's all some kids seem to want when they help you.

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