Children nail DIY skills
"Saw? Check. Mask? Check. Ruler? Check. Pencil? Check". We are ready to start today's lesson and the children gather round for the demonstration of how to saw a piece of wood.
"You walk into nursery and you see children playing with hammers and nails. When they get to school there just aren't those opportunities," says Maureen Lewis, principal teacher at Hill of Beath Primary in Fife. But today the opposite is the case: her P23 children are all sanding, sawing and painting as part of a Job Done! lesson.
Job Done! is Bamp;Q's resource for schools which has been developed with the help of National Schools Partnership. Pupils aged 5 to 16 learn basic DIY skills in the classroom, with the idea of bringing "lost skills" back to children.
The programme of lessons includes Health amp; Safety, Decorate it!, Build it!, Fix it!, Grow it! and Re-think it! with lesson plans, activity sheets and interactive online games for children. Secondary pupils also have the opportunity to visit selected Bamp;Q stores to complete the Decorate it! unit for real.
At one table sit McCall Cowie and Cameron Bell, both 7. While McCall demonstrates what the mask is for and how to use the clamp, Cameron shows me the sander and relates his enthusiasm for cutting. "This is for when you want to make straight or squinty lines. I like to cut as many pieces as possible," he says.
Different groups are at various stages of making bird tables. In one corner the children are busy putting together the wood, while at another table they are a week ahead and have begun to paint theirs.
Fraser Brown, 7, suddenly appears with a minibeast resting on his hand. "The Primary 3s brought it in from outside. I've seen it move. It's alive," he announces as he walks around the class to show everyone.
Mrs Lewis says: "I decided that Grow It! would be suitable for any primary stage, especially in the summer. I thought that the balance of activity via planting and finding minibeasts, recording and looking closely at findings represented excellent coverage of skills and supported real-life learning."
Elsewhere, a group of girls are sitting going through wallpaper charts, copying the patterns. The next step is to design and make their own patterns. Another group are making their own colour charts by mixing paints.
"I've found this good for talking and listening lessons," says Mrs Lewis. "If a child was describing a dress (they have at) home saying it was pink, I could say "What kind of pink?' and get them to expand."
A lesson where the children had to make picture frames proved very good at developing their maths.
"It has been good for problem solving," says Mrs Lewis. When we did the first one, the picture didn't quite fit. We also did lots of measuring, so brought in the vocabulary of equal to, longer than etc and looked at right angles. For supervision purposes, Mrs Lewis decided to break set lessons into more manageable chunks, covering the use of hacksaws in one, and sanding and looking and feeling rough wood in another.
"Interestingly, I was more aware of the difference in rightleft-handed working than I have ever been in general class work," she says.
Extra supervision has come from parents and grandparents, with one granddad coming in to show the children how to saw, and parents joining the lessons to help children with activities.
"Obviously this is something parents feel they can help with," says Mrs Lewis. "If we had put on a science and technology evening, only a few would have come. This has had a much better response and there is a lot parents can do. Grandparents and electronic games don't always mix, so this is something they can share with them.
"We have still to try any of the Fix It! activities and I think they might be a little too tricky for the younger children to do in school. But having seen how inspired the children are by the work they have done, I know that parents will find a willing apprentice at home if they decide to tackle any DIY tasks," she explains.
"Looking at the levels of success and achievement our pupils have felt, and at the levels of interest at home, I would find a way of including parents at an earlier stage next time."
`IT GOES WAY BEYOND PRACTICAL DIY SKILLS'
A recent evaluation of the programme found it had a real impact on children who are less academic, providing them with an opportunity to shine and offering a potential avenue for progression in the longer term.
It showed that teachers chose the programme to inspire disaffected pupils; to engage those who learn better hands-on; as a life skill for academic high achievers, and as an optional extra club.
"We've been working with Bamp;Q on Job Done! since its inception three years ago," says Anna Brocklehurst of National Schools Partnership. "The programme has been providing a great range of activities and education resources for 3,000 schools across the UK.
"It has achieved hugely positive results that go way beyond practical DIY skills: teacher-pupil interaction, attendance, pupil self-esteem and confidence have all been shown to improve when pupils take part."
Schools can sign up to Job Done! at www.diyjobdone.com.