Every kiddo wants to be dad’s little helper when it comes to using saws and hammers to build. The Children’s Woodshop Bus takes the little construction worker outside the garage and into a bus powered by creativity and power tools (think The Magic School Bus for woodworking). This 1966 bus has been completely transformed into a woodworking haven where kids waste no time hammering, sanding, measuring, screwing, drilling and sawing.
How the Wheels on the Bus Go ‘Round
Sheila Dawson and her traveling woodworking business is the solution to every kid who has uttered the words, “I can do it myself!” Through her program is dubbed the same name, kids ages 4 ½ and up can put those banging noises and special skills they’ve perfected to good use in Sheila’s traveling woodworking bus.
This 72-year old retired secretary found her passion long ago when working in the garage with her late husband and their young son. Together they renovated and transformed an old bakery truck into a traveling workshop. Traveling around San Diego County, she has taught countless kids the art (and most importantly, safety) of wood working with little jingles such as “One, Two, Move the Tool,” “One, Two, Three, Wiggle In A Circle,” and “Tap, Tap, Tap, Get Your Fingers Back.” There are plenty of safety goggles, guidance, kid-sized tools, proper technique, and careful instruction that makes woodworking a safe and fun experience.
What to Build and Do
When they attend a class, kids ages 4 1/2 to 11 get real hands-on tool woodworking. The classes are one-hour long and take place at San Diego schools, YMCA locations, and other neighborhood facilities throughout San Diego. The cost is $15 per kiddo.
Little builders practice sawing, sanding, hammering, drilling, and turning screws at ten fully equipped, adjustable work stations, with every necessary piece of safety equipment and drawers-full of wooden items to choose from. Once class starts, parents are asked to step out of the bus so the kids focus their attention fully on Sheila and the class. But don’t worry: there’s time for you to snap photos of the fun at the beginning and end of each class. Every kiddo leaves class with a finished project to take home.
More Ways to Build
Woodworking birthday parties for young builders are held in October through May. They are best suited for kids ages 6-10, with a limit of ten party-goers. The mobile woodshop comes to the pre-arranged location (usually the your home or a if there’s parking for the bus, or a local park) and is available for a one-hour class. You can chose a party theme, or they can build from a variety of airplanes, boats, cars, and desktop projects.
The bus is also available to both Girl and Boy Scouts to do wood projects that meet the requirements for achievement badges. And don’t worry — the woodworking fun isn’t just for kids! Customized workshops can be arranged for preschool and kindergarten teachers who want to add woodworking skill development to their curriculum.
The Children’s Woodshop Bus
How do your kiddos play with wood and power tools? Tell us in the comments below!
— Rachelle Sparks (photography too)