Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Fun, Free Event for Kids: Lowe's Build and Grow Clinics

The end of a satisfying project
When Big E, my oldest daughter, was 2, I discovered a magical event at our local Lowe's Home Improvement store - Build and Grow clinics. These Build and Grow clinics occur about every two weeks or so and give kids the opportunities to build a wide variety of wood projects. The pieces are pre-cut and pre-drilled for nails, the picture instructions are easy for older kids to follow, and the wide variety of projects help keep the kids' interest. And did I mention that these clinics are FREE?!? That's right, the Lowe's clinics are FREE.

Each child gets a free apron, free safety goggles, the project, and an iron-on patch for their apron (I have used a variety of methods to attach the patches to the apron over the years, and I still find that, while the iron-on patches are great, nothing beats the speed of a hot glue gun). For each additional week, kids get the project and the patch.

Little E hammering away
As I was getting the kids ready to go to this week's clinic, I looked at Big E's apron (actually two aprons since we ran out
of space for the patches on the first one) and counted up the
projects that we have done together - 45. She and I have done
45 projects together. We regularly look at the apron and remember projects that she made as gifts: the pet leash holder for great-grandma, the planter trellis for mom for Mother's Day, the race for her little brother. And then as the number of kids have increased, we have added to the fun by taking brother and sister to the clinics.

So why the Build and Grow clinics? What is the point? Here are the things that I have learned and experienced through taking the kids to Lowe's:

Big A working her assembly skills
1). It is more important for the kids to have fun than for the project to be perfect. I have witnessed many parents at these clinics take over the project and hammer away while the kids sat on the floor. I admit that in the early years I was one of the parents who insisted on "helping" the kids put stickers on the projects so they "looked better." Eventually, however, I realized that the joy in the project is not in the finished
product, but in my kids finding satisfaction in completing a project. Be a help, but let your kids do the work.

2). This is a great opportunity for kids to learn to swing a hammer. Lowe's supplies little hammers for use during these clinics. As my kids have grown through the years, they have learned how to properly hold and swing a hammer. Having the pre-drilled holes helps alleviate any
frustration from bent nails.
Big E showing her independence

3). The projects make great gifts for parents and grandparents. Usually, around Mother's Day and Father's Day, Lowe's offers projects that would be appropriate gifts - picture frames, planters, keep sake boxes, etc. My kids have loved giving some of their projects to loved ones, and they can proudly tell them that they made it.

4). I love free interactive entertainment for kids. I love it even more when it is something that helps mold my kids into Renaissance Moms and Dads. The younger kids are getting great practice follow my verbal direction. My older daughter is gaining spacial reasoning skills that will help her assemble Ikea furniture all by herself someday. (I wish someone had taken my wife to Build and Grow clinics as a kid.)

Smiles and satisfaction for completed projects
If you haven't visited a Lowe's Build and Grow clinic with your kids, I highly recommend it. This is age appropriate for kids from 2 to 12 or so (I've seen parents with infants at these clinics, and that might be a bit young to learn to swing a hammer). If you don't have a Lowe's in your area, check with your local home improvement store and see if they have a similar program. I know that Lowe's also offers the kits to purchase through their website, so ordering some online is an additional possibility.
Four years of projects, 45 patches, and endless quality time

I can't tell you the number of times my hands have been hit with tiny hammers as I held pieces together for my kids to nail. Nor can I tell you the number of burns I have sustained hot gluing patches onto their aprons. And then there are the countless times I have tripped over small wooden toys laying around the house. And yet I smile as I'm writing this because I have even sweeter memories of time spent with my kids. The joy of my 2-year-old asking me, "Daddy, wanna go to Lowe's with ME?" The giggles as they hammer and put stickers on their projects. The smile on my wife's face when she receives the gift of two hours of solitude. These are the building blocks, figurative and literal, of what I love about Lowe's Build and Grow. This is why Lowe's is the place for a Renaissance Dad (Lowe's, if you're reading this and want to sponsor my blog, please let me know).

1 comment:

  1. Love this!! I'm going to bring my kids to the next one! I just know they will LOVE it! What a great Daddy & Me project!