During our study of musical instruments we followed the lead of the children seeking answers to their questions and wonderings about instruments. In order to do this we went on several field trips and had musicians come to our school as the primary interest of the class was to touch and see how various instruments worked. On one of our trips we saw a large gong and the children became enthralled with it. When writing our thank you notes and other drawings, the gong was the featured illustration from the children. This brought us to the idea for our big project.
A few years ago one of our teachers was presented with a gong to celebrate her ten years of service at our school. She is especially musical so this was a lovely tribute to her. She has since moved on from the school, but she left the gong to be used by the school. The only problem was the gong needed a stand. After several years the stand was not purchased or built as other priorities took precedent and the gong sat in our shed. This was the perfect time to bring it out!
We showed the gong to the class and they were thrilled. But, we had a problem. It could not be played without a stand. So we decided we were going to build one….thus the research of our big project began.
We developed the photos of the gong we had seen. This stand was made of metal in the shape of a hexagon. This was going to be too difficult for us to make. We had to come up with alternative plans. I didn’t have access to metal workers, but I thought I could get someone to help us build it out of wood. So while I tried to figure that piece out by contacting parents….the class got started trying to come up with the design.
We worked on this by putting materials in our block center: yarn, string, hole punchers, pie tins, tape and all of our wooden blocks. The children attempted to build various gong stands that they thought would work. As they worked we talked about the shape and structure of their buildings and how they could transfer to a real stand. For example, curved wood-although beautiful- is more difficult to accomplish than a straight design.
We also consulted the internet and looked at several designs built by others. This inspired a new round of building and sketching our designs. I was also able to share that we could purchase several large pieces of straight wood after an investigation at Home Depot. (This would have been another wonderful field trip, but we had just been on two and I didn’t want to ask too much of our already generous parent drivers.)
While some children worked on designing the stand, others chose to measure the gong and try and figure out how long the pieces of wood would need to be so we would know how much to buy.
As we were building the children noticed that their stands kept falling and we worked on various ways to support them. We then remembered that we have a hanging tire swing on our playground and we went and looked at that. Photographing it and looking at it again more closely we noticed the A frame built on the bottoms of the sides.
We decided to incorporate this in to our design as our gong was do heavy and we wanted it to have a lot of support. At the end of these work sessions, we shared our discoveries and ideas and came to a consensus on a design with which we were all happy.
Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to find a parent who could come in during our class time to help us with the build. Luckily, I have a very handy husband who is great with children and was willing to take a little time off to help us ….but that is the next post.