I’ve always thought learning was fun. I especially like it when there’s a project that involves creativity, finding things, and figuring out how to present them visually. I always liked doing posters, making an exhibit to accompany a book report, or making a model of something.
When I found out my younger son had this “state in a box” assignment, I was excited. I was actually somewhat disappointed to find out that he’d do most of the work in school. When his older brother had a similar assignment (Nebraska, for a “parade of states”) in fifth grade, it was a family project, and we all worked together, though we made sure that he did the bulk of it.
Since our son picked Michigan as his state to research and report on, I figured it would be easy to come up with information and artifacts – he was born there, and we lived there six years. The license plates I found in the garage were ruled out, however, as simply being from the state and not telling about the state. (Come on – they show how the state uses its many lakes as a tourist attraction!)
When he told us he wanted to take in a sample of Motown music, I had little idea what that was, but I went through our dusty stacks of CD’s in the basement. I found a name that meant little to me, but I knew it wasn’t either classical or Christian (as most of our CD’s are). I opened the Lionel Ritchie CD and saw the word “Motown” on the CD – bingo!
Since license plates were out, I looked through the toy cars in his room, searching for one with recognizable brand characteristics. I had never realized how many of them are just generic cars rather than models of real cars. Fortunately, someone gave him a remote control Corvette several years ago. I cleaned off the dust, replaced the batteries, and discovered that a remote control car drives Kyra (our almost-two-year-old black lab) into a frenzy of barking.
When I saw Al wearing his University of Michigan T-shirt (a hand-me-down picked up sometime during our six years in Michigan), I thought surely we could find a way to work it into his display. But the teacher said no to that too. Al wanted me to help him make a model of a wolverine, but my creativity failed me there. I did some research of my own at the library, then came home with a box of Kellogg’s Corn Flakes.
Friday my son did his presentation to his classmates (and some parents), though I missed it because I had forgotten and his text message to my cell phone somehow never arrived. So he did his own presentation to me at home. I had watched him painstakingly draw the state flag (and wish he had picked a state with an easier flag), but I hadn’t seen his hand-drawn license plate, or his clay representation of Michigan.
Somehow I need to find an outlet for my own creative interests, since my own job (auditing security access changes, approving software deployments, ordering new computers and accessories) does not lend itself to such pursuits. I like writing blog posts, but that’s not the same as scrounging around for materials to make things, mixing paints to get just the right color, or cutting, shaping, and gluing.