Time to Build

Over the past month, we’ve checked out the various free workshops offered by our local Home Depot and Lowe’s hardware stores. The alternate title of this post is “Building Character” because there is something satisfying about having your children make and build their own toys — and hopefully having them appreciate them more. Time will tell if Theo has learned any character-building traits from these activities, but he did have a lot of fun making them.

Both stores have a same general concept: they set aside time (on Saturday mornings) to have a section of the store designated as the kids’ workshop area and supply a kit and the tools necessary to build the kit. After giving you these items (and a free kids apron to keep), you’re pretty much on your own. Even as non-handy as I am, we had no trouble navigating the instructions sheets — well, sort of.

The Home Depot activity this month was a small toy riding lawnmower. We needed to use a hammer, wood glue, and paint (to decorate the lawnmower after it was built). Pretty straightforward although the paint was a little messy and it was hard for an instant-gratification-er like Theo to realize that he had to wait for the paint to dry before he could apply the supplied decoration stickers. He actually plays with the mower at home and it’s found a nice place to live with the rest of his cars/trucks. Home Depot gives each child a pin of the activity upon completion to put on their apron, which is kind of a nice touch and gives a sense of accomplishment. I saw some older kids there with their aprons full of pins (like 20+) which seemed like this could be a fun ongoing activity.

The Lowe’s program (called “Build & Grow”) was similar to the Home Depot one, except that they had a much more restrictive registration policy. You definitely have to sign up in advance for the Lowe’s workshop (I actually missed the deadline for one of them and had to wait for the next one) and they fill up. (Whereas the Home Depot one says you can call ahead and register, but they seemed a lot more lenient on just walking in.) Lowe’s also gives you a free apron and throws in some kid goggles as well (which Theo took off after he realized the activity didn’t really warrant eye protection, but they sure look cute).

The Lowe’s activity was a “sheep drop” game which was merchandised in conjunction with the How to Train Your Dragon 2 movie. We haven’t seen the movie and had no idea what the tie-in was, but were still able to enjoy the construction and the game/toy. I mentioned how I sort-of had no problems with the instructions in general — in this kit they gave you two different lengths of tiny nails and I didn’t realize until we finished one of the steps that I had used the wrong size nail. It wasn’t a big deal but I kind of figure that these kits should at least be as easy as assembling something from Ikea. No matter, Theo still had a lot of fun pounding in all the microscopic nails. This kit just had decoration stickers to apply (we opted out of the movie-promoting-non-essential/functional one) and Theo could begin to play the game immediately. It is basically a box that you fling small wooden sheep into using a launcher, and you can conveniently carry all the pieces in the body of the box. Lowe’s gives each child an iron-on patch of completion for the activity similar to Home Depot’s pins. I definitely won’t be taking the time to iron on any patches but there is a handy pocket on the apron where you can accumulate the patches.

Given that these workshops are completely free, I think we will definitely be heading back to them depending on the kit and our schedule. You can look at the websites (links above) of each store in advance to check out what the activity will be (and register online), and remember to sign up for the Lowe’s one in advance if that is looking interesting to you. Happy building!

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