Hammer time

The kids did the free Lowe’s Build and Grow Clinic on Saturday and had a blast. The 11-year-old wasn’t thrilled at first, but when they handed him the kid-sized hammer, he was all over it.

They do a different project every time; this one was a miniature planter box with a see-through plastic window. When you first arrive, they hand you a little plastic bag with all the parts you need for the project: nails, wooden parts, even a bit of sanding paper to smooth out any rough edges. Then they give you a hammer (which you don’t get to keep), kid-sized safety goggles (these you get to keep) and a nifty red apron with Lowe’s on the front. You also get to keep the latter, and when you complete the project, the kids get a certificate and a patch that you sew onto the apron, which you bring back with you at future clinics. There’s a different patch for each project, so the kids can collect them on their aprons, sort of like Boy Scout badges.

I didn’t realize that the Lowe’s staff didn’t actually teach during these “clinics”; they just hand you the materials and tools, and parents help their kids do the project, which is better in my opinion. This way, I don’t have to worry about my kids not keeping still and paying attention to the lesson. The 11-year-old pounded out his project in less than 20 minutes; his younger siblings completed theirs in about a half hour, and because the wooden parts had pre-drilled holes, even the 4-year-old could do it with little difficulty.

We got there right at 10 a.m., so had a prime spot in the training room where this clinic took place (it usually takes place in the store itself, but they expected crowds on Memorial Day weekend). Other families straggled in the entire time, so you don’t have to get there on the dot apparently. And you don’t have to register online in advance; they have forms there for walk-ins. I asked if they limited participants, and they said they accepted families until they ran out of the packages, which wasn’t going to happen anytime soon as they had two big boxes’ worth, more than enough for the 20 or so families who showed up in the time we were there.   

Pleased with their morning’s work, they took the planters home, where the 4-year-old decided to spiffy up her project with some splashes of color…

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