My favorite gift for Father’s Day took a little time, but it didn’t cost anything! Each child dictated how to fix something, and drew a simple illustration. I compiled all of their ideas and made a Father’s Day Fix-It Book.
One year one of my student’s Dad was a DJ and read exerpts from our Fix It book on the radio all day on Father’s Day. Just like the cookbooks you might have made where children dictate how to cook something, these books are guaranteed to make any Dad smile!
I always began by talking about how things often get broken, and need to be fixed. I asked who does most of the “fixing” at their house, and we talk a little bit about different kinds of tools – just naming things people use to fix things. Then I told my class that most Dads need to fix a lot of things, and maybe we could help them by telling them what we know about how to fix things, and I would write it down and make a book on the computer. I told them it was just for fun, and they didn’t really need to know how to fix things, it was fine if they just made up how they thought you could fix something.
Some children were really confident and just sat down and spouted off their ideas. Other kids needed a little prompting, and I had no problem with that. I called each child individually to dictate his/her ideas, and I tried to keep them from repeating how to fix the same thing a lot. I used to write it out and then type it, but in recent years I always typed as they dictated.
Here a few of the questions I asked (I didn’t ask every child each question, I just used them to encourage more details or to get started.)
Have you ever seen someone fix something?
What do you know how to fix?
What has gotten broken at your house?
How did it get broken? (This often adds fun details to the story!)
What tools would you need to fix that?
Where would you buy that?
Where would you get that tool?
How much would it cost?
What would you have to do first?
How do you take it apart (or open it)?
How long would you have to do that? or How many times would you do that?
How do you know if it’s fixed?
What would you do then?
As soon as the child finished his/her dictation I gave them a very small square of paper – maybe 3 x 3 inches or less and asked them to draw a picture of the broken object using a pencil. I used to give them bigger paper but then I had to reduce them on the copy machine to fit next to their part of the fix-it book. Pencil shows up better than crayons to reproduce. Don’t forget to have them write their name on the back!! It is really hard to match up their illustrations with their dictation if they forget to write their name!! Another option would be to add the child’s photo next to their dictation instead of a drawing.
I made these Fix-It books small (1/2 page) to save paper. If that is not an issue for you it would be fine to use a larger font and bigger pictures. I tried to include every child, but occasionally a child was absent for quite a few days and I just wanted to get it done. When that happened I took dictation from that child and later included his in just one book for him to take home.
I had one Fix-It Book saved on my computer so you can see the layout and get an idea of how it came out. I taped on their illustrations next to their text before I copied it on the xerox machine. I would collate these pages, cut them in half and add the cover. I never worried about what order I put the pages in, but if several kids talked about fixing the same thing I tried to put those a few pages apart. I removed the last names for this post.
I have a couple more Father’s Day ideas to share – please check back soon!