Monday, February 28, 2011

School projects, kindergarten-style

Nothing makes me groan the way I do when I get that little note from school saying my kid has a project! With a poster! Or decorate something! Bleh. I hated those as a kid, mostly because I felt so artistically inept. I remember getting the assignment in fourth grade that we were supposed to design a cereal box. Everything from what the cereal was, down to the gimmicky game things and ingredient list. Most of the kids in my class knew how to wield a pencil and a pair of scissors with construction paper. I think I remember being surprisingly impressed with my finished product, though by no means proud. I'd like to know what the purpose of that was - to spotlight my inadequacies? Check. (on second thought - maybe it was to plant the seeds of appreciation for the world of packaging design - the very thing my future spouse would spend a lot of time doing. Huh, I never thought of that. Excuse me while I go ponder on this.)

Luckily, my kids do not have that same perfectionist anxiety. This is a blessing and a curse, really. They seem so dang proud of just about anything they churn out, and I suppose that's because Joel and I praise just about everything they create (messes not included). Then again, Joel has helped me to see that art short of museum pieces is still art. His responses to their projects show me that while I may not be raising the next Renoir, there are funny and wonderful creative details worth noticing.

So anytime they come home with those assignments and I groan, I also follow it with a shrug and a declaration, "It's your project. What do you want to do?" I'm not a scrapbooker or a stamper or a decoupager, and my children's projects do not look like I stayed up late putting the finishing touches on something my child may not actually have touched. These are THEIR projects. I almost challenge the teachers to criticize their minimalism.

Donovan's recent project was part of being the "Beary Important Person" for the week. Among other things, he had to make a poster about himself. We talked about a few ideas and basically came up with the timeless adjectives-with-the-letters-of-your-name approach. And then I just printed a bunch of pictures. He added some dinosaur stamps. And then we taped on a knight. Done. Had it been Ainsleigh's project, I'm sure glitter and flowers would have been incorporated. So here's his poster:

He wasn't excited about using the toilet seat picture, but after I explained how much cooler he was for laughing at it (come on - LAUGH AT IT. Though I hope his embarrassment will serve as a deterrent for future shenanigans), he was game.

That's the extent of his project. I only penciled the letters on for him to trace over since I wasn't confident in his spatial reasoning (or ANY reasoning). I both laugh at the simpleness and marvel at his ability. Seems like only yesterday I was trying to get him to draw a face.

And today I'm stifling my giggles as he walks out to the car with a baseball cap on sideways, challenging me, "What? It's COOL, Mom. You just don't know." Except that I kind of do. I mean, I know it's cool to wear your hat off-center. I also know that coolness is negated when your hat has Lightening McQueen on it. Or that you're wearing it pulled down low in the front so half of the back of your head is showing. But I let him walk off to school with his confident swagger. Because who am I make him second-guess himself? I can't even make a cereal box.


Radmall said...

See. I wonder if I should do stuff like pencil in the letters ;) Our teacher said, "it should be the student's work" and so we've never done a thing other than say stuff like--"babe, before you glue on your lovely art to the background, how about you do all of the pieces that are required so you can make sure you have enough space." or "Writing in black marker on dark blue paper tends not to be visible unless you're a martian".

So, fast forward to the sad day ;( She had her "state report" this past week on the same day as another kid (this never happens). Sara gets up and does her thing. Then the next kid opens her poster and one girl exclaims--that's the best poster I've seen for the state reports. I wasn't there, but Scott was and he said CLEARLY parental help was HEAVILY involved--and he watched Sara evaporate into a pile of sad goo.

These things make me crazy.

Becca said...

Considering that you have a wealth of adjectives at your disposal, I am both surprised and bewildered why you would use "BOY" as one of Dono's description. That's about as boring as you can get!!

I remember the cereal box project. I also remember making a commercial for said cereal box but I'm not sure if that was part of the project or if I just needed more material for my constant videotaping.