I helped out at Isobel's school today and ended up with Elmer's Glue all over my fingers. Can you remember the last time that happened to you?
At the kids' school the week before Spring Break is called IPW (Integrated Project Week), and groups of students and teachers (in our case ten and two) get together to explore a topic not usually covered in the curriculum for a week. Isobel chose Papermaking and Bookmaking, and I made the "mistake" of mentioning my years of book making experience (albeit on a larger scale, usually having pressmen do the dirty work) to Isobel's teachers, one of whom is leading Isobel's IPW. I said I would come for a morning to help out when they were putting together their books, since an extra pair of adult hands would be helpful when you've got ten first and second graders, glue, and sewing needles.
I ended up spending all day there and am going back tomorrow morning to help finish up their projects, which have to be done before the school Showcase begins at 1pm. Penelope is going to help, too. I'm already exhausted :)
But it's been a lot of fun. I've enjoyed spending time with the kids and seeing how they all (teachers and students) interact together in the classroom, albeit not during a typical day. First and second graders are still so squirmy. Some of them gnaw on their shirts (they are still teething, after all). Sometimes they are so excited about their ideas that they forget to raise their hands. And they all want my help. They love interacting with adults who are willing to sit down at their little tables. The teachers are patient and kind and fair yet also human and with high expectations for how the kids should handle themselves and faith in what these children can do. I'm always impressed with how great the teachers and staff at the school are, but this was a special treat for me. A day on the inside, if you will.
I helped out with accordion books for half the kids at the beginning of the day and ended up making my own, which I'm excited about*. And late in the afternoon we decided to "go for it" and make classic bound books, too, which the other half had made in the morning. We managed to get everyone's boards attached to book cloth spines and wrap the boards before the day was done. Tomorrow we'll sew signatures together and attach the book blocks and endpapers to the boards. So much fun. And it was so neat to see how excited the kids were about their books, especially after we copied/shrunk the stories they've been working on all week so they could paste them into their books.
I'll show you my work (and Isobel's) after we get to bring everything home tomorrow. Until then, go smear some Elmer's on your hands and then peel it off. It is still as fun as ever.
*Back in my publishing days when people still bought books at their local book store, the highlight of my job, much as I enjoyed the designing and directing and whatnot, was when I got to make little packaging models. The box manufacturers would send me files showing how the eventual box would be printed on a sheet of cardboard. I would print this out on a piece of letter paper, cut it out on the die-lines, fold it on the fold lines and put together a wee sample of what the box would be like. That way I could understand where to place the graphics on the big sheet that would eventually be cut and folded into a package. I always loved my little models, probably because it was a chance to get out the Exacto knife and tape. But it was also because you turned this simple sheet of paper, with a few folds and cuts, into something completely different. Guess I kind of do that now with sticks and string. See, fun!