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Balsa wood?


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I have been given a load of lengths of balsa wood in various sizes and thicknesses. Do you know if it's ok for the children to use, to cut, stick and tape together to make aeroplanes, etc?

Any thoughts - are there any reasons why not ?



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  • 4 weeks later...

It really is a wonderful material with so much potential for realising the children's designs...it could provide the basis for a lot of motivation across the curriculum an raising aspirations/expectations. But they will need scaffolding/support to make the most of it...please don't treat it like the usual recycled materials or give it to them just to bang some nails into. The following and attached are a bit dated but some part might help...

Designing, Making and ‘Evaluating’

When we ‘design and make’ things we usually start off with some ideas about what it is that we want to achieve, and in the process of ‘making’ we evaluate our efforts and modify our designs as we go along. When we prepare food we ‘taste’ it, and we may add, reduce or change ingredients according to our evaluation of ‘how it is going’. Similarly, when we work with textiles, knitting or dressmaking, as long as we are not rigidly following someone else’s pattern or plan, we constantly evaluate the progress that we are making and modify our ideas until we are satisfied with the final result. Whatever we are making we sometimes elaborate our designs as a consequence of discovering some new material or technique, or purely for aesthetic purposes. When we are making things from more resistant materials we may choose to select a different material when the one we have been trying proves difficult to shape or fix. The Assessment and Performance Unit (APU, 1988), who were set the task of developing a model to describe this process, came up with the idea that all designing and making involved a process interaction between the ‘head’ and the ‘hand’: We picture or imagine what can be done in our ‘minds eye’, and act accordingly. The process is cyclical because as soon as we do something, the product is evaluated and our evaluations moderate or develop our designs further. The process can therefore be represented as one involving a designing - making - evaluating (dme) cycle (see attached). The cycle is closed because one could, of course, carry on elaborating a design forever. One of the key tasks for the early years educator who supports the child in their designing and making is therefore to determine the point at which a project should begin, and at what point it should be ended. The first of these has implications for the kind of support that the child will need; the latter usually determines the quality of the final product.


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