Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Celtic Hill Fort, my daughter's school project. Or... How your nerdy hobby skills are awesome!


Hi everybody, this is a little break in my normal hobby routine. I just wanted to post about a little homework project I helped my youngest daughter Rhiannon (8 yrs) with over the last couple of days.

She has been studying the Roman Empire at school for some time and they moved on to some of the other peoples of the time period. The last term they have been looking closer at the Celts.

For the Easter break her class was given a project to complete and bring back with a log/journal of how they made it at the start of the new school term and she had been having some difficulty deciding what to do.

Rhiannon had been wanting to make a mask based on some they had studied with a visitor to the school, but she became despondent when children in her class started to bring their completed masks into school and she didn't think that hers would be good enough.

I took a look at her project book and pointed out it said she could make a model of a Celtic roundhouse or hill fort if she wished.

She looked at me with her sad puppy-dog eyes and said "But I don't know how to make models daddy..."

I smiled back and said "No, not right now. But I do and I can show you how."

And with that she brightened up and it was decided, we were making a hill fort. So with a bit of my hobby know-how and amateur blogging experience we made a start. We did a bit of research online and Rhiannon picked a couple of images she liked which I've posted below:


I'd like to note now that I'm not in the habit of giving my children the answers to any work they bring home. I'll guide and encourage them to find the answers on their own. The only time I step in is if it is something they are physically incapable of doing.

This normally gets me a response from my kids of "But what I make a mistake? What if I get it wrong?"
My response, "Good. Making mistakes is part of the learning process. You make a mistake, you correct it, you then find out why you were wrong..."

So with that thought I went and had a look through my hobby supplies in the basement. I wanted to find as much material and tools as possible that Rhiannon could do the majority of the work by herself with me mainly giving instruction and guidance. It also had to be fairly simple and robust to survive the prodding and rough handling it'll get once it is handed in at school.

And with the materials gathered we commenced work:


Angry cutting face! We drew the top hill layer and Rhiannon cut it out and used it as a template to cut the next larger layers.


She looked pleased when she realised she could see the shape of it coming together very quickly.


Angrier chopping face! Rhiannon used the matchstick cutting tool to chop the cocktail sticks we were going to use for the fort walls.


At this stage I did take over to use the hot glue gun, I thought it would be too dangerous for her. I was proved right when I burned myself several times. The layers were glued to the base and on top of each other and then the tiny logs glued around the edge to make the fort wall.


I used the hot glue to quickly create the smooth stepped edges of the hill, build the ramp roads up to the walls and dragged it around most of the model to add texture. Minutes later it was cooled down and I spray painted it with a flat brown colour and handed it back to Rhiannon to carry on the work.

We stopped here at this stage on the first evening, because bed-time beckoned for my little ones.

(We missed a picture at this step. Garden cane was used to make the tiny round houses, cut into small discs. The thatched roofs were made from plasticine textured by scratching at it with the point of a cocktail stick, then a drop of superglue was applied and spread around to instantly harden it.)


Rhiannon painted the model using sponges and craft paints. Starting with the roads in different shades of brown, then the rooftops in an off-white/yellow and finally all the grassy areas with different shades of green. 


I showed her how to apply PVA glue and some different shades of flock in small stages around the hill. And then it was left to dry properly.

And again by this point it was bed-time of the second evening.


While Rhiannon slept I knocked the loose flock from the model and I couldn't help myself, I added a few little bushes to the model. And then printed off all the above images for her to use in her project journal.

I don't think we did bad for about 4-5 hours of work between school, drying times, dinner preparation and bed-times.

This morning when she saw the completed model she gasped and said "Thank you daddy!"
I replied "What do you mean? You made this, I was just here to help."

She gave me a big smile, a big hug and a kiss and said "Thanks daddy. You're the best daddy in the world!"

It's moments like that, that make all the trials and tribulations of parenthood just worth it, you know?

And I just want to end this article with a little thought for you all:

We are all hobbyists, nerds, gamers. We have collected a wide variety of esoteric skills. If you haven't before, think about how elsewhere outside your hobby life that you can apply them.

Decorate your home with crafts and colours. Teach someone something that you know, pass the knowledge on.

You can even with a bit of imagination add them to your resume. Craft and Design Skills, Project Planning, Application of Knowledge, Constantly Learning New Skill-sets and Techniques, Working to a Deadline!

Or maybe... Just maybe... You can just use them to make a little kid smile...

I'll be back soon with more of my own hobby projects, until then, take care everyone.

6 comments:

  1. WOnderful post, it's that kind of well spent time that makes life and the whole world a little better. Thos emoment sshared are some of the best you can have with children so big Kudos to the pair of you really.
    I smiled not long ago while painting eggs for easter with my daughter admiring my gem technique (tried to teach here but it may have been a tad early).

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    1. It was a great experience, nothing beats good quality time with my kids to put a smile on my grumpy face too.

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  2. A really lovely post, well done you. I find it quite hard when working with my kids, not to drive projects too much and just let them discover, problem solve and learn from their mistakes. You seem to have achieved the right balance here. Well deserved praise from your daughter too!

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    1. Thank you very much. I know what you mean about it being difficult to hold off and let them go.

      There's a push-pull effect at play with my kids and the hobby. They want to get involved, I'd like to get them involved. But I have to gauge their abilities and how far their attention span is going to stretch.

      My two eldest were the same so I have that experience to draw on. They got into miniatures and roleplay eventually. My eldest has left home now for art college, so still being creative, my second eldest is now a member of my roleplaying group.

      Some day the two youngest will be able to get more involved, But like JB said in the comment above, it may be just a touch early for them just yet.

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  3. Looks awesome good work the both of you. Let's know what it goes down like at school

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    1. Her teacher thought it was amazing. Apparently everyone in her class kept looking at it throughout the day and other teachers came to have a look. she was riding high when I picked her up from school, very pleased with herself. She asked me when I was going to run an RPG for her lol.

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