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Missions, Seagulls, DNA Models and other "fun" projects

I am not a crafty mom.  My mom was not a crafty mom.  I don't own a glue gun, and I don't like Michael's.  The only C I got in middle school was in sewing, and in ceramics class my pots ended up on the ceiling!  Therefore, there is nothing that creates  more fear and dread for me as a parent than when one of my sons brings home five pages of instructions for a "fun" project.   In the past several years, we have built three missions out of sugar cubes, a paper mache, seagull, a DNA model out of plastic beads,  a cell made out of cake and candy , a clay village , a Lego diorama, and a variety of other projects,  NONE of these were FUN!  Pretty much all of them involved my kids crying  and me screaming at the top of my lungs ready to stab my eyes out with pipe cleaner or a  chopstick ( chopstick used for seagull's legs in seagull project)!

What really gets my goat is that teachers say to use things you have around the house for the aforementioned projects.  We have lots of dog hair, leftover lasagna, and dirty laundry around the house.  We do not have a Costco sized case of sugar cubes, we do not have pipe cleaners, we do not have clay, we do not have lion figurines.  You get the idea!

Most recently my 6th grader came home with a project on the Colosseum.  However, it is a group project with two boys I do not know.  One of the boys "worked" with my son on the last project and did absolutely nothing.  Josh built the entire thing himself, and I paid for it all.  Of course, the other boy received credit because Josh was too chicken to say anything to the teacher.  This project, like every other project, ended up in the garbage. So, why did my son choose to work with this boy again?  I have no idea, but I have a feeling that the boy sought out Josh like a heat seeking missile.  He knows a good thing when he sees one! 

Last Saturday night Josh came into my room crying.  It was 11:30, and I was just drifting off after  a Netflix binge.  He was crying.  He was really crying.  He was gasping for air and could barely get out a syllable.  Finally, he was able to communicate that he was stressed about his history project.  He was afraid his group wasn't going to pull through. He also said he had no idea how to make a model of the Colosseum.  I was furious-not at him-but at the ridiculousness of the situation!  My ELEVEN year old was stressed out....about a pointless project.  My eleven year old is pretty much the happiest kid I know.  His nickname on his baseball team is Smiley!  I basically decided at that moment that I didn't care if he failed the class, he was NOT wasting his time (or mine) to build this model.  

He and I discussed possible ways to handle the situation and finally decided that he would write an email to his teacher explaining how he was feeling and some possible  alternatives to building the Colosseum.  Of course, I warned him that she could tell him there were no other options and to be prepared.  Within twenty minutes, she responded.  She said it would be fine if he created a Google Presentation instead.  He could include information from his research, as well as pictures and videos of the Colosseum!  He literally jumped for joy, and so did I! 

On a side note, I love this teacher-and not just because she let my son do an alternative project.  This teacher is one of the most enthusiastic, creative teachers I know.  Her enthusiasm is incredible, and it's obvious that she loves her students and her job.  Perhaps some students might learn something by building a seagull or a mission. However, I think it's good to provide alternatives.  I also think parents should not have to be involved in their child's homework.  Homework should be something that can be completed independently, without a parent's time and money!

Thanks for reading!  I just had to get this out!

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