Handicrafts & Life Skills // Minimalist Homeschooling

In our series of posts on minimalist homeschooling, I mentioned how handicrafts had taken the place of traditional junk crafts. I may have mentioned how "cut-and-paste" crafts make my eye twitch. I think they have their place but I have found they run rampant in most homeschooling curriculums or in schools as evidenced by the amount of um... "art" my kids came home with when they were in public school. 

You can call me mean, it's okay. It was mostly some form of cutting something and gluing it or marker scribbles. Nothing wrong with scribbles ... I just don't need 1,497 versions of the same scribble. Yeah, I threw a lot away. Sorry not sorry. With three kids, that's just way too much paper-craft. 

When I started reading about what Charlotte Mason teaches about handicrafts, I was intrigued and excited. Handicrafts and life skills go hand-in-hand. These are things like woodworking, sewing, knitting, carving, building, hand embroidery, weaving, pottery, ceramics, doll-making... and MUCH more. I find these all to be useful. Not that the paper-craft doesn't have use but we typically save that stuff for card making or wrapping paper decorating. 

These are all skills that could provide an income or could be used in daily life. They could produce some pretty impressive gifts as well. And then they could make a card that involves cutting and pasting. *eye twitch* So. Many. Bits. Of. Paper. 

I decided to get the kids involved in a family project recently to start using these skills : redoing our dining room table top. This poor table has been through it all. Three years ago I rescued it from the ReStore [Habitat for Humanity Shop] and then, since Annie Sloan Chalk Paint was all-the-rage, I covered that 1980s orangey oak with zero primer and lovely chalk paint. 

Then I got lazy with the wax sealer...so of course having three kids... well, you know. I sanded the tabletop, with its multitude of stains, right off. And by I, of course I mean my husband. He's so sweet. Then stained it with driftwood stain. Hubby did that, too, actually. It was lovely. I did seal it this time. But apparently not enough as it was no match for three kids and my clumsiness.

I may or may not have accidentally gotten grey spray primer all over a corner of the table while doing a DIY project I posted about here

Moving along... I let the kids just paint at the table, not caring whether it was stained further. Then it started annoying me and made me twitch so I started brainstorming with pinterest. Which is quite a dangerous combo.

I really really wanted to have a rustic, old looking, wood planked dining table. There are several amazing free plans for building one...except I live in a condo...and I only have minimal tools and a minimal budget. 

While my mom was in town recently she purchased the alternative option : pine wood planks that I could distress and stain. After that I could just screw them into the tabletop. Long story somewhat shorter : It wasn't looking like I pictured, so we covered our old dining table [the one that had been through it all] with a bohemian tapestry and moved it to the living room and called it a crafting table.

Then we turned our old art table [read : cheap white table/desk from ikea] into our new dining table. Problem solved. 

It made a great base. The table is now 6 feet long and 3'1" wide. It's perfect for the five of us. I ran into some fun [read : not fun] issues that turned out to be user error because I'm clearly not Bob the Builder. Or Handy Manny. I'm more Tim the Tool Man Taylor, to be honest. 

The kiddos helped me distress it with screwdrivers, hammers, nails and I used a torch thing to make burn marks. We rather enjoyed that part. Then we stained it in Minwax Early American. This bad boy is going to be getting four coats of matte poly this week. Until then I just bark at everyone like a crazy person to not mess up my table. 

Seems legit. 

The pine planks are 10" wide and 6' long. We like the look of the knots so we browsed to find just the right pieces to ding up intentionally. The screws are black 2" screws. Tools : A Drill.

Simple DIY is the only kind I can do.

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Aloha, Jane

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