A box of craft materials is an unclaimed treasure for children. Last night we had to finish making the biography poster for Leah's project on Helen Keller. The poster is to look as much like the person as you can create. You have to cut a hole in the poster so that your face, the face of the presenter, can be the face of the person researched. Simple and easy. Once we created the basic dress body shape we need to find things to make it look neat, not pretty. I moved our work to the basement so that we could sort through the bin of glitter, buttons, markers and everything else crafty to embellish this poster. Unfortunately that was harder than I expected. The girls were so distracted by the mother load of fun things that getting Leah to focus on finding things for the poster was difficult.
They scolded me for hiding this wonderful bin full of fantastic things from them. They wanted to know why I had kept such perfect crafty supplies to myself. How can you explain to a 6 and 8 year old that you didn't want them to trash your stuff before you could? I neglected to give a direct answer and they forgot quickly as they were way too busy searching for things to make stuff. Any stuff. All stuff. In a matter of minutes they were busy creating. There were flowers made from pipe cleaners, then mummies, then people, then mobiles. After every pipe cleaner had been used it was on to the foam butterflies and glitter glue. While I hot glued hair on to Leah's project poster she dug through the bin finding things in between her crafting. Leah found some paper doilies, buttons, scrapbook paper and ribbon for the features of Helen's dress. We cut each piece to fit and moved them around to try and make the best period dress we could with our supplies. While the dress parts dried Leah worked on writing her note cards to place on the poster. This part she loathed. She really wanted to get back to making things and watching Olivia busily working on one project to the next was torture. This whole process took an hour but must have felt like days to Leah. Overall the poster looks great. She's happy with the way it looks and it suits her well. The most trying part is getting her to actually present the poster. She has such stage fright and is very upset about the idea of talking about this poster. I am slightly irritated if only for the fact that she has been a walking informational pamphlet on Helen Keller these last 2 weeks. I coached her to just begin by telling the story of Helen's life, beginning with her birth and what she did. That was a dead end. Another hurdle. She sat on the floor and cried. Daddy came home just in time to give her some lessons. I have decided to leave it at that, Dad's gentle words will be in her head, maybe by my not saying anything further I won't stress her nerves.
As I admired her poster I began to think about the others made by her classmates. I know that when I go to school next week to work in the library I'm going to see these posters. I'll know which posters were made solely by the kids and those that were made by the helicopter parents. I can't say that I didn't help her, there were things she needed me to show her how to make, but I made it a point to remind myself not to do too much. It's her project and she has to have her hands in making the poster. When I see those perfect posters I'll chuckle to myself, thinking of those frazzled parents cramming more and more things on the poster. Those poor kids missed out on all the fun of the creating. Too bad for them. And their parents gained that much more unneeded stress.
Editor's note: My younger child's same 3rd grade project can be seen in the post: Another 3rd Grade Biography Project