So my boys have been spending their free time in front of the computer. On one hand, I reasoned to myself that they have their fair bit of outdoor time every week doing sports so I should let them continue with their screen time especially when they are doing considerably well in their studies.
On the other hand, it just can’t be good staring at the computer screen for long hours even if they are indeed learning something! It got me really upset and it struck me that I might be the one who needs to come to term with my own dilemma and manage my own expectation.
I finally sat them down one day and explained to them the importance of balance. I admit to them that it is not easy because even adults can’t get it right. Like most tools, technology is a double edged sword. They can kill or help to improve our lives if used wisely. I am glad we had the conversation, not so much because of miraculous change in their behaviour but because it helped me straighten out my thoughts and articulate my fear.
Since Teachers day is just round the corner, I decided to use the occasion to get the boys to do something useful with their screen time.
Every year, we would make something for the boys’ teachers. The boys usually aren’t particularly interested in making cards, so I was surprised by my teenager who happily announced that he had already made cards for ALL his teachers in school. I am not sure whose initiative it was but thought it was good that the school or someone reminded them to show appreciation for their teachers. This time, I tasked him to help his younger brother out and make good use of his screen time to search for ideas.
After spending some time searching and watching some YouTube videos, they hauled out their soldering iron, hot glue gun and saw. Dug out some wood scraps from our craft room and got these out.
The elder one did the more challenging job of sawing and soldering the wood pieces while his younger brother cut and hot glued the little air planes using popsicle sticks and cloth pegs.
I thought these hand-mades look pretty cute even though I am not sure what the teachers can do with them. A friend suggested using the wood burned pieces for signage, wall art, coaster or even bookmark. As for the air planes, we could actually stick a magnet and turn them into fridge magnets.
If you ever thought of trying out wood burning, all you need is a piece of wood (we get ours from Daiso) and a soldering iron. Here’s a couple of things we learned about wood burning,
- It is easier to solder along the grain of the wood. Maybe it might be better to get wood with smoother surface or sand down the wood before burning.
- From our experience, a soldering iron is not the perfect tool for wood burning. It takes a long time to heat up (and cool down) and it is difficult to control the stroke because we are holding the rod further from the tip (mainly because it is too hot to hold any nearer). The tip and the temperature also weren’t ideal for wood burning thus making it harder
- Sketch out the design on the wood before burning. You can even use a carbon paper to trace out the design you want on the wood!
There are tons of tips and tricks for wood burning on the internet. So yes, it is good to be internet savvy because ultimately, it was the internet that gave my boys the ideas and taught them how to make their Teacher’s Day gifts!