My cousin pointed out that I have yet to write about the joys of homework, when she called and I was in the middle of helping my first grader with his.  Joys, hmm.  In fact, I could write quite a lot about what I think of first grade homework, my problems and concerns with the quantity and type of work sent home, but I’m going to save it.  I have an on-running blog post in my head that I call “What Really Bends Me Out of Shape,” but I’ve decided to keep it in my head, and until I’m ready to unleash it on the world I promise spare you the rant unless further provoked.  Heh heh.  If you’re interested though, I’m happy to share as appropriate.

book report

Last week my first grader had to finish and turn in his first really fun homework project for the year, his very first book report and a diorama to go with it.  At school he chose an animal to learn about, sharks, and was excited to bring home a shark book for the project.  After poring over the book for a couple of days he made a pencil drawing, then added marker to color in the sharks, and paint to fill in the background.

shark infested waters

As it happens, L had gotten some of Crayola’s Model Magic for his birthday, a soft and foamy-feeling modeling substance that air dries in less than 24 hours, and just enough for a couple of diorama sharks.   He used the Model Magic to make a black Hammerhead shark, and a very bright blue to make a Blue shark.  At that point he still wanted to make some fish, a coral reef, and a Great White shark, so we made a run for more of the modeling stuff from the store.

Here are the sharks drying in my studio:

sharks resting on sculptures

It took some fishing line and a little ingenuity and direct help from mom to get these sharks in place, but we did it.

shark diorama

The diorama turned out so cool– it reminded me of a miniature art installation– I suppose because that is what it is.  The sharks and yellow fish swing and move on their fishing line, and look to be swimming blithely through the feeding frenzy behind them…

This homework was fun and creative in the making and artistic parts, and complex enough that  it was a number of days in the works.  The writing part probably took the most sweat and effort, with a long first draft for the report, and a careful copy for the final one to glue on the box.  From a parent’s perspective, seeing the apparent spark of excitement in our children while they build and put together something like a diorama, combined with a sincere interest in learning facts about a certain animal, is not only fun, but convinces me that our kids need the content of their education to be as well-rounded as such a project.  Too often, their education is flat...

it’s a good thing the world is not.

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