Saturday, May 14, 2011


Two of the many projects that fifth graders have to complete are a musical instrument and an invention. Let me be the first to say that it would be nice if we could spread these projects out throughout the year…we’ve also done a life scrapbook (known as “The Penny Book”), a biographical report, and a research project/poster in the last month, and all the while, never slowing down on the regular homework, ie. math.

It gets to be about the first of May in 5th grade and most parents and students are SPENT. It doesn’t matter if you know all this stuff is coming if you’ve already had a fifth grader. The rules change. The requirements change. Any work you do ahead of time will probably be in vain. And as much as I TRY to be a laissez-faire parent in terms of homework, there are just some parts that parents HAVE to help with. It’s MEANT to be that way. Therefore, I am ready for 5th grade to be O.VER. I am tired of homework.

But, my 5th grader performed marvelously on her musical instrument and her invention, in spite of her mother’s doubts. She rose to the occasion, of course, and honestly and diligently set about completing her projects in fine fashion.

First off, the musical instrument. Last summer, we were drinking a lot of “Izze” juice. Bethany started blowing into one of the glass bottles. I said, “Hey, you want that to be your musical instrument next year?” She said, “YES!” So, we saved 6 glass bottles and then pulled them out this spring in order to create her instrument.


She actually figured out how much water had to be in the bottles in order to create certain notes. She used her tuner and adjusted until everything was just right. She decorated the bottles and we used my Silhouette to cut the vinyl letters to show which bottles played which notes. She could even play “Mary Had a Little Lamb” on the bottles.

Second, the invention. I wanted her to make a hand warmer for my “mouse hand”. It always gets cold when I’m editing pictures. But no, she had other ideas. Her teachers encouraged the students to think of some problem that they themselves have and invent something to fix that problem. Hence, you get things like “Doggie Does Work” mop pads that strap around your little dog’s belly and the “Miracle Tray” which has holes for glasses for waitresses to use so that they don’t spill drinks when they carry them out on a tray (this was actually pretty genius and was created by the daughter of a local restaurant-owner who is apparently applying for a patent!)

Bethany’s problems center around getting frustrated when things don’t come as easily as she thinks they should. So, she created “The Happy Box.” I’ll admit. I was dubious. I thought it would turn out silly. But she asked her teacher and her teacher said “Go for it.” So, who was I to stand in the way of genius?

Her Happy Box was great. She worked and worked to get a workable design, drew it out for grandpa to cut the wood, helped him assemble it, and worked very hard on her display board and on the items in the Happy Box. The essential idea is that it’s a box with a crank. When you are frustrated or sad, you turn the crank and look inside the box to see what would make you feel better. Then you reach in and grab it. She had stuffed animals, apple cider, a Bible, Scripture passages, hot tea, a journal, books, etc. All things that relieve stress and make one HAPPY!


Beautiful job, Bethany! I’m SO. Proud. of you!

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