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Monday, April 23, 2007

Paper Bricks for the ANZAC Day Campfire.

I want to do something fun for schoolwork. Having heard that phrase too frequently last week, today we did something Boy considered fun: Paper bricks for our ANZAC Day campfire.

Desperate to instill some ANZAC Day learning into Boy, I made a desperate call to my military brother. “Help me,” I whined. “What sites are around for ANZAC Day web quests or sites to tell Boy how he can send a parcel off to a soldier in Iraq. Anything that will help Boy retain the link between current war and Australia’s involvement since WWI.”

My brother laughed. Apparently he has heard this request many times from well meaning parents wanting to war educate their children. After explaining our recent school refusal and constant meltdowns, brother suggested I leave it alone, concentrate on something Boy does find fun, and slip in a few teachable moments to create a cognitive link to the conditions soldiers survive in. Duh!!!! I know this at a cognitive level but I needed to hear it from someone else; a military educator who could confirm that I was doing okay with what I was trying to teach about ANZAC Day.

We are planning a camping trip and I decided that around the campfire would be a great place to relate war tales. We are also concentrating on recycling and sustainable living. Then the idea hit me like a brick: paper bricks. Making them would satisfy requirements of covering Australian history and sustainable living.

I want to do something fun for schoolwork,” Boy greeted me with this morning.

“Me too,” I manipulated. “I’m sick of all this book and internet stuff. Let’s make some paper bricks for our camping trip.

Worked like a charm. Boy and I cleared my office of scrap paper, tore, mulched, squeezed and molded paper bricks.

“You should sell this idea Mum,” he said.

This was my in, my teachable moment. “Paper bricks are not a new idea. During WWI and then the depression years, paper bricks were a standard source of fuel. In fact, many people in cold climates still use paper bricks as a cheaper and environmentally friendly way to keep those fires burning.” I told a story about ships carrying paper bricks to soldiers in far away lands where kindling was in short supply and soldiers were freezing.

“WWI? How about soldiers today? Can we send some of our bricks to Iraq?”

Oh, thank you the universe. To begin ANZAC learning, all I had to do was to use Blooms taxonomy and Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences to change the way I was reaching Boy. Today’s ANZAC teaching was reached by making paper bricks. Go figure!

Reading: As much as Boy protested, we also managed to do some sight words. Boy reached 100% of sight word correctness according to the Dolch Word List. When our paper bricks dry, I am going to see if he will paint the names of ANZACS onto the bricks.

Social interactions: Boy successfully achieved his voluntary work at the Gem Club open day yesterday. He sifted sand, showed kids how to hold their sifters over light to see the colour of their gem treasures, and spent long periods engrossed in conversation with champion gem cutters. It was a joy to watch him interact socially without rude behaviour or melt down. Most pleasing though, Boy played with other kids. He LOVED it. We so wanted to go home but while Boy was entrenched in fun kid stuff we stayed and helped.

Home education is reaching equilibrium again. A happy and well-adjusted child who learns naturally is of greater importance to us than having a stressed, cranky, academic child who memorizes facts that means nothing to him.

Now, lest we forget, I wonder if I can get another ANZAC Day fact in….

Photo courtesy of melodi2 at stock.xchng


Kaber said...

do you have the paper brick maker from the website or did you squeeze your own?

Megan Bayliss said...

Hi Kaber
I wish we had the brick press but alas, no. We squeezed the pulp and pressed it into rectangle shaped plastic take away containers.
In terms of OT, the squeezing appeared to be a fun thing for Boy to do, albeit, that he couldn't squeeze hard.
The bricks are out drying in the sun - lucky we're not short on sunshine. In cold climates I can only imagine that you would need the brick press to extract as much water as possible and aid the drying process.

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