DIY Kids: Woodworking 101
Last week when it was my turn to host Camp Del Ray (our 5-day, 5-family summer camp co-op), I wanted one big activity that would take a lot of time and not require buying extra stuff. So when I found a pile of wood scraps at a friend’s house and in my basement, I thought a woodworking activity would be a lot of fun. After all, it was something I would have loved to do when I was a kid.
I explained to the campers that they would be making wood boxes or shapes that they could paint and use for whatever they wanted — a storage box for desk supplies, a house for a small stuffed toy, etc. However, when I told them they had to start from scratch, the blank stares I got made me realize they didn’t all have the advanced spacial reasoning skills needed for this project.
With a little help from me and my husband, they started to understand. I encouraged them to start with the bottom, figure out the size and shape they wanted, then measure to determine the size needed for the sides.
Then they marked on the scraps where they wanted the wood cut, which I did outside with a jigsaw.
After we cut the pieces, the kids sanded the rough edges left by the jigsaw.
Then they determined the final configuration of the boxes and used wood glue to attach the pieces. For boxes so small, I didn’t think we needed to bother with nails or screws.
We let the boxes rest for about an hour until the glue was dry and the boxes were sturdy.
After lunch it was time for the fun part — decorating! We painted the boxes and glued on “wallpaper” and other accoutrements.
For our Camp Del Ray closing ceremonies that evening, we arranged our “folk art” on the dining room table for all the parents and siblings to admire.
Ana staged her vase and pencil box with a felt flower.
In Bea’s house, she included furniture and accessories she made with sculpting clay, another craft activity from earlier in the day.
Isabella’s project will be a house for one of her dolls.
Overall, I think the project was a success. It took a couple of hours to completely finish and we used supplies and scraps we already had in the house. I was very impressed with the kids’ ability to design their boxes with minimal adult intervention. Originally I planned to pre-cut the wood and then it would just be a matter of finding wood the right sizes, but I’m glad I went the more challenging route.
For more about Camp Del Ray, read Leslie’s project, homemade bubbles and beaded bubblewands, Look for more Camp Del Ray activities in the next week or so.