There is nothing I dread more than a notice about an upcoming DT (design and technology) day where it is expected that I must enter the classroom and “help” my child with a project that is beyond both our abilities, in the past I have had to make moving vehicles, pneumatic robots, instruments, and pop up books too many times I was left almost in tears whilst I had glued things in the wrong place, couldn’t get things to move or light up as needed all the time sat beside some calm parent who was happily creating a masterpiece FOR their child.
Despite what the letter you receive from school may say about the work should be the child’s DT days generally come down to a parents competition and I have learned to come prepared. While I do aim to let my children do as much as they can in said creation I enter the classroom armed with a plan and supplies.
No one respects the parent that blatantly does the project for the kids. The key is equipping your kids with a simple design and right materials and a plan of what will happen on the day (I have been known to do mocks with my child)
All you need for successful DT day is research and materials.
1. Research – as soon as topic is announced google with your child for ideas then pare the ideas down to the simplest ideas that your child can do most of on their own (to give the appearance that you have just pitched up on the day and have thrown something together out of bits and bobs like those Martha Stweart type mums) Often your child will be required to do a design plan in class it is crucial you and your child do your research before this stage so your child can design according to your plan.
My son has an upcoming DT morning where they are required to make an instrument that can change pitch and sound. He found this fantastic cardboard Guitar on www.makeit-loveit.com and while it looks fantastic there is no way he can make that on his own and a high probability that I would screw it up.
Instead I have convinced him to make a mini drum kit with packing tape and metal containers thanks to: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-COHNyFTOnc which he will be able to do on his own.
2. Materials: Never believe the school when they say the materials will be supplied, trust me you will not find what you are looking for on the day and improve is a DT nightmare. If your child is making a robot send them in with appropriate sized boxes (never mind searching your cupboards for approximate sizes hit a local baking supply shop and get the sizes which will be easier to work with and plain white boxes are much easier for your child to paint). Pre-cut any materials that would be tricky to do on the day, last year my son had to make a a character that he could light up with a circuit, he wanted to do a gingerbread man with light up eyes we cut out the shapes at home leaving him to only have to worry about getting the circuit working and assemble the ginger bread frame and decorate on the day.