Making to Give

Term: 2 Year: 2016

Over the course of a semester Year 8 boys at Brighton Grammar School make wooden toys that they donate to charity.

As part of the subject, Creative Design and Technology, the boys spend time in the woodcraft room improving their woodworking skills. They are provided with a brief that outlines who they are making the toys for and then go through a process of researching and creating a working design to make out of wood. Considerations are made to the size, functionality and particularly the safety of the finished product. Students choose to make a diverse selection of toys ranging from simple jigsaw puzzles to Noughts and Crosses and more complex mind puzzles, marble runs and ball games. They consider the age groups and interests of the children that will be receiving the toys to ensure that the toys will be meaningful.

In the woodcraft room, they use the skills and processes that they have learnt throughout their time in Middle School to create their toy. The toys are made mostly of plywood and radiata pine and are constructed over the course of around five weeks. Hand tools such as coping saws, tenon saws and rasps are used to cut and shape the wood, while care is taken with gluing and attaching components to ensure that they are secure. The boys are also able to use a limited range of power tools such as the drill press as well as hot poker tools to decorate their designs. The sanding and finish of the toy is important as sharp edges could be dangerous for young children. Students enjoy the ability to choose and work on their own designs and are proud of their finished work.

Once a week, Mr Lyall Jarman, from Brighton Men’s Shed, comes to Brighton Grammar to help the students with their work. This voluntary work is rewarding for both Mr Jarman and the students as he is able to pass on his wide knowledge and skills in working with wood.

As part of engaging with the wider community we donate the toys to charity. In previous years, we have donated toys to children at the Monash Children’s Hospital. This year, with the aid of a student’s father, Mr Erling Sorenson, we were fortunate enough to make contact with a charity called ‘So They Can.’ In 2010, this charity helped to establish the Aberdare Ranges Primary School in Kenya. The school teaches the poorest children in the Nakuru district, educating around 840 students and also providing them with two hot meals a day. Mr Sorenson kindly assisted in shipping the toys to this school. From the photographs we received it’s easy to tell from the expression on the children’s faces how excited they were to receive the toys. We are looking forward to continuing to see this programme flourish this year.

Nick Weymouth    
Woodcraft Teacher
Brighton Grammar School

Supporting teachers in creative education