Saturday, April 25, 2009

Boys and mud

I would have thought playing with mud would be a 10-year old boy's dream homework assignment. Guess not.

"The Mission project" is apparently a standard 4th grade project here in California. Kids may opt to build a replica of a mission, visit a mission and report about it, or make an adobe brick. Teddy opted for the latter.

Teddy's dad helped him make the form for the adobe brick, using a picture we got from this PDF from New Mexico State University I found online. The local hardware store didn't have the right size lumber, so we made do with 2x4s. It's going to be a small brick, as the "standard" sizes can weigh over 30 lbs!

Then we followed these instructions from eHow for testing the soil to make sure our clay soil was the right kind of clay soil. It was.

So, form built--check. Right type of clay soil?--check. Now, where to find straw? Couldn't locate any, so I raided a neighbor's yard trimmings pile for long thin leaves, and we just used that.

Put dirt in bucket, add water, mix, add vegetable matter, load form, let dry. Simple, right?

Well, Teddy was a-moaning and a-groaning once we added the water. The consistency was, well, disgusting, ok. But he was much more disturbed by it than I expected. Kept talking about which animals play in the mud (pigs) and what comes out the back end of said animals.

We got the task done, but really, I enjoyed the process more than Teddy did.

I remember spending HOURS digging mud channels in my neighbor's backyard under her swingset. We had cities and lagoons, and yes, sometimes even some mud pies. We would be covered by the end of the afternoon, and it was a GREAT time.

What are today's kids coming to?

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