Teachers at Peter Greer Elementary create trades-related projects that students can build at home

“Within half an hour, six kits had already been picked up,” says Clint. “They were all gone by the end of the day.”

When you’re an elementary school teacher trying to hold hands-on workshops during physical distancing, you have to get creative. And that’s what three teachers at Peter Greer Elementary school in Lake Country did to give students some creative learning time at home.

Clint Maltais, Matt Olson, and Sara Fletcher are Grade 5 and 6 teachers at Peter Greer Elementary in School District 23 who had been holding after school workshops for teachers in SD 23 before COVID-19 shut down schools.  Funded by the Industry Training Authority (ITA), the workshops, says Clint, give teachers basic trades skills that they can pass onto their own students, and hopefully, give them an early interest in trades careers.

Students at Peter Greer Elementary with their Bee Pollinator Hotel projects 

Unfortunately, in early March, as the Coronavirus forced school closures, Clint and his colleagues had to cancel their upcoming workshops, leaving a surplus of unused materials. 

“We anticipated three more sessions for the school district,” says Clint. “Unfortunately, we weren’t able to do that.”

Instead, they repurposed the unused materials and created fun and educational hands-on projects that their students could assemble at home. The first take-home project was a Bee Pollinator Hotel; a simple project that gives a home to pollinator bees. The teachers measured and pre-cut the wood, packaged the projects, and recorded a how-to video for students to follow along with at home. Then, they lined up the 35 projects outside their classroom door and sent a message out to parents letting them know they could pick them up.

“Within half an hour, six kits had already been picked up,” says Clint. “They were all gone by the end of the day.”

The take-home kits were a huge success. Within days, parents were sharing photos of their kids proudly standing next to their completed projects.

“There’s been really good feedback,” says Clint. “It's an opportunity for families to connect, even siblings were helping.”

Clint says that while the trades have often been often considered as a more male-oriented career, the girls in his class showed a big interest in the trades related take-home projects.  “When exposed early, a lot of the girls are interested in getting out there and using tools.”

Through continued support from ITA, the school has big plans to make more projects for their students, including a circuit maze, and a simple wooden birdhouse.

 “We’re hoping with the next project that they could start measuring and sawing,” says Clint.

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