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Over 200 top tips and words of advice, to help you really get the most from the time you spend with your kids
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Searched for: 10/28/2021 - Found: 7/30/2008 to 8/5/2008
Cautionary Tales For Children
Wonderful witty poems great for reading to your children. The stories and rhymes will stay with them for the rest of their lives.

Research has shown how important YOU are to your children and how as a dad the things you do, and keep on doing, really count, whether you live with them, or you are a single dad and are only able see them once a month, once a week or more, what you do really matters. This site is dedicated to all dads but will be of special relevance to the single dad. Remember, you are half the reason your children exist and they need you whether you live with them or not. As their dad, you have what it takes to make their lives successful and fulfilling no matter how often you see them. This site is about all the positive things that we as parents have to offer our children.
Microblog Microblog

Dad… can we make something?

By Chris Barnardo

First published in The Guardian on the 19th June 2010.

The glue gun is heating up, the cutting mat is out and a tidal wave of empty cereal boxes, milk bottle lids and old shampoo bottles is already rolling its way towards me on the kitchen table – we are really going to make something.
. . . Often the kids will have very definite ideas of what they want to make, a film or computer game having inspired them. These days that tends towards some form of exotic weaponry; ray guns (of various extreme designs) or highly dangerous and implausible looking ninja throwing blades, straight off the pages of the latest Manga comic book. Research on the web provides excellent and easily accessible reference material and with a bit of help the result can be very satisfying. Sometimes they have no idea what they’re going to make before they launch into a new project, they just feel the urge to get creative and start rummaging around in the Junk Making Crate to see what curious combination of remnants take their fancy. Occasionally the inventive impetus is fueled by the straightforward and often urgent need to hand in a model making homework on time. This evening is just such an occasion; we have to make cross section of a plant cell. As a dad I know that this could be one of my greatest moments.
. . . When I was ten years old I had to make a model of “A Road Vehicle” for one of my homeworks. I was excited at such a brilliant assignment because I loved model making but I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to do anything good and definitely nothing half as good as I imagined was possible. My father was a very busy GP who practiced in the surgery that was an extension of our house. Couple this with the fact that I was the eldest of five children and it won’t come as much of a surprise to learn that one to one time with my dad was at a premium. So maybe that is why that evening, spent 30 something years ago with my dad planning, designing and then making a green articulated lorry, stands out as one of the strongest memories of my childhood. The black rubber wheels that really turned, made from some form of medical grommet raided from his consulting room cabinet; the bodywork painted in a proper dark green house-paint; the shape, though boxy, cut as it was from a cardboard net that my father designed right in front of my eyes, perfectly in proportion and the glorious fact that it was articulated, all piled up together to permanently glue that memory in its place as one of the almost heroic enterprises that my father and I had shared during my junior school days.
. . . “I think we’ll make the cell wall out of this old Tupperware ™ box”. I suggest, picking it out of the Junk Making Crate, while trying to remember if we have any green spray paint left over from the last project with which to give it a quick dry coating. William has already assembled a collection of likely candidates for all the cell organelles, it’s getting late but I think we might just do it.
. . . Dads are great that this sort of thing. As Erika Cosby (Bill’s daughter) famously said,
. . . “… fathers have a way of putting everything together”.
. . . It helps that as dads we have experience in planning, more confidence and finer motor control than our kids, as well as the ability to buy more materials or better equipment if and when necessary once a project gets started, just to make sure that it stays on track. On top of all that, dads are a child’s first port of call for learning how to assess and tolerate a certain amount of risk, an important life skill and essential in the creative process, allowing ideas to be developed to their conclusion, rather than challenged or even ruled out by apprehension of the unknown in the early stages of an endeavour. However, the benefits of spending such quality time with your children run deeper than just turning them into competent model makers. Long-term research has shown that a father’s role, and specifically the quality and sensitivity of play between a father and his children, is the most important factor in determining a growing child’s ability to form and maintain normal relationships and feel secure in themselves.
. . . As my kids grew past toddlerhood I realized I didn’t have to wait for that defining-homework-moment to give me an excuse to spend time with them making things. By the time they started infants school, like most homes we had our fair share of colouring pens, paper and glue, but it was the chance discovery of the glue gun during a bit of DIY that changed everything. The ability to permanently stick almost anything to just about anything else within a few seconds certainly opens up the model making experience to younger children who are too impatient to wait for traditional glues to set. Of course, small children can never use the glue gun themselves due to the fact that it gets very hot, but therein lies second beauty of the glue gun - dad now becomes an intrinsic part of the building process. I began to plan projects a little in advance. I started looking at the everyday packaging we threw away more like a child who prefers to play more with the box than the toy it wrapped. Here a wingtip, there a robot nose and these bottle tops… hmm, perfect for a pair of dragon hunter’s goggles.
. . . “How about this for the nucleus?” William holds up a dented table tennis ball, grinning from ear to ear.
. . . Once the children were old enough to wield the glue gun themselves (with supervision) my function evolved in to that of advisor. As much as this role allows me to teach the kids all that I know about making things, their barrage of questions tells me in a rich and diverse way about how they think. We chat about nothing in particular, we laugh when things turn out right and when they don’t, we learn how to find workarounds that get us where we want to be via a different route. In doing so, we learn a lot about each other, they come to respect my opinion, I am amazed by their creativity and inventiveness, but I also learn the names of their school friends, who is “in” this week, what their favourite things are and I get an early heads-ups on any problems they may be having.
. . . Some of the things they have made make it in to school some get played with more than others, a few get put up on window sills or hung on thread from bedroom ceilings, all hang around long enough to remind us what we did together.
. . . “Could we make the cytoplasm out of cling film.” I nod in agreement. I feel a defining homework moment coming on and I know exactly what my son is thinking as we put the finishing touches to what is going to be the best cross-section of a plant cell that a dad and his kid ever made.

MicroBlog Archive
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