Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Casualties: 1 ... and Counting

Boys dueling with their "shinai"

I'm a bit late in posting this, but it was too good to ignore. Two Fridays ago was the first week of our weekly cooperative, cleverly called "Friday Co-op," because, well, it's on Fridays. This semester I'm responsible for seven - yes, seven - 4 to 7 year old boys.

In a class called "Arms & Armor."

About weapons.

Weapons they make.

Weapons they beat each other up with.

Yes, you read that right. A class of seven boys, all between the ages of 4 and 7, all geared up to learn about and make weapons for the sole purpose of whacking each other with them. My challenge (let's just go ahead and call it Mission Impossible, shall we?) is to provide these little bundles of destructive energy with a safe learning experience, with the emphasis on safe and a side helping of learning.

To say that it's challenging to find a way to come up with a craft to make a replica of an ancient weapon that's possible for a 4 year old to make, that looks reasonably close, and that's safe is, well, challenging. Ha.

Gearing up to whack someone.

So the first week we visited Japan, talked about Kendo, made shinai (which you see in use here), made shurikens, and talked a bit about the samurai. And only one kid got injured. One out of seven. Pretty good, I'd say.

The boys showing off their handwork.

Last week we did blowdart guns and warrior shields from Borneo, and we talked a bit about the island and its indigenous people, but unfortunately I forgot my camera so didn't get pictures. No one got injured, and only one kid had a hysterical breakdown. Again, pretty good.

This week I'm planning on a quick jaunt to medieval Europe, with plans to make a mace (not to be confused with a flail) and a breastplate. One of our remarkable moms at Co-op lent me her chainmail to show the kids. It's amazing.

I'll post pictures of that after this Friday's class and give a casualty count. Stay tuned.
If you liked this post, you might enjoy Gearing up for School.


  1. And I thought my son using nunchuks in Taekwondo class was scary. This is WAY more daunting!!! It is also probably alot of fun. ;)

  2. I have been putting together various things on ancient India, for my son. I am working on vedic math, weapons (in mythology and Indian history), and Hindu mythology - and I feel so much like a home-schooler when I do this!! I'd love to learn more about how you do this!! In Hindu mythology many of these weapons are invoked by chanting mantras, and one of them sounds like a description of an atom bomb ("the ultimate weapon that comes out of the smallest unit etc..."). I thought if doing weapons based on your story about doing this weapons thing.What a brilliant idea to get a young boy interested in mythology/history!!!

  3. I wish I could send my son. It sounds like so much fun.

  4. Only the few, the bold, the brave ...
    And fortunately all the parents trust you not to let their kids decapitate each other, which is maybe the most impressive of all.