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In a rolling woodshop, San Diego schoolchildren learn and build.

"Have woodshop, will travel" is the slogan for this special classroom. It's a big white bus that rolls from school to school in the San Diego area, but instead of rows of seats, there are 10 pint-size work benches, each filled with tools. In this bus, Sheila Dawson teaches a program called "I Can Build It Myself" to children from about ages 3 through 8.

Although classes ae given primarily in the San Diego area, interested individuals, groups, or schools could duplicate this program, particularly worthwhile in this era of shrinking art and craft budgets. Periodically Dawson gives 8-hour workshops for adults and has written a book outlining her teaching program.

Young woodworkers learn how to use hand tools properly and safely, but once they have the basics down, they make projects on their own. "I beleive the hands are tied inseparably to self-image," says Dawson. Her goal is to give children the price and knowledge of making something all by themselves.

At the front of the bus, a chest contains 80 to 100 projects for the children to choose from. Most can be made in a 1-hour class, while a few might take two sessions. All the projects use clear pine because it's easy for the children to saw, nail, or drill. Children work at their own owrkbench, adjustable to their height. The tools at each bench include a vise, a 7-ounce hammer (with a cut-down handle), a sanding block, a 16-inch saw, a miter box, a C-clamp, a hand drill, a screwdriver, a square, and a selection of nails and screws.

As many girls as boys attend these learn-as-you-build classes. "I love to get the kids before they are aware of stereo-types," says Dawson, who was a professional cabinetmaker before starting her rolling workshop.

The cost for four 1-hour classes in $25 per child. For more information, write or telephone her at Box 178451, San Diego, Calif. 92117; (619) 272-5631.

A hand-lettered sign taped to the top step of her rolling workshop captures the spirit of the classes: "Every project that leaves this woodshop is absolutely perfect."
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Copyright 1984 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Date:Feb 1, 1984
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