Imagination at Work

Diorama of a Lenape Indian village

For the past few weeks, my kitchen table has become “Lenape Project Central.”

My son has been making a diorama of an American Indian village for school.

For us, school projects begin with a lot of procrastination, followed by a little bit of drama and then mounds of creativity.

The most difficult part for me is stepping back and watching my son work. When my son says he wants to make a bear, I’m thinking, “We’ll need something for fur and legs.” He’s thinking, “Let’s paint a stone black.” For deer antlers, I’m thinking, “Let’s use pipe cleaners.” He’s thinking, “Let’s cut up a straw and paint it brown.”

After I relax and watch him take control, the project starts to come together in ways I couldn’t have imagined.

For this project, he built the village with items he found around the house. He used my sewing machine and scraps of fabric to make people for the village. To make the figures stand up, he slipped them over clothespins from my laundry room. He gathered sticks from the yard to make a campfire, bows and arrows, and a harpoon. He found an old can in the basement and covered it with construction paper for the longhouse, and he put tinfoil covered with potting soil in the bottom of the box for the setting.

I was proud of the way my son took charge, let his imagination rule and completed the assignment.

The day he took the project to school, my kitchen table was still covered with paint brushes, drinking straws, pieces of mulch, boxes, feathers, fabric, yarn, a glue gun, markers, construction paper, stones and other items that had spilled out of our craft box.

I left the mess there, wondering when I should clean it up. To my amazement, my son cleared the table himself when he came home from school.

He paused and studied some of the items while he was putting things away.

“This would make a great animal leg,” he said, showing me a pipe cleaner.

I smiled and answered, “Yes it would.”

It’s good to see a child’s imagination at work.


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