The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

May 9, 2014

Gifts for mom

Project teaches South View students life skills

The Commercial-News

---- — The birdhouses Natalie Missaggia’s seventh-graders worked on Thursday morning at South View Middle School were more than just unique Mother’s Day gifts.

Hammering in nails, driving in screws and painting the wooden structures also introduced basic life skills to the students in the self-contained cross-categorical classroom.

“My students are working on life skills the rest of the school year. We’ve already planted a garden in the courtyard,” Missaggia said.

The birdhouse project originated with some South View eighth-graders who are in the Project Lead the Way program. Those students cut out the wood pieces and wrote the instructions on how to assemble and construct the birdhouses.

Missaggia recruited her father, Glen Missaggia, and Tim White to help the children to assemble the birdhouses Thursday and to teach them how to hammer a nail and drive in a screw — by hand — into the wood.

By following the instructions written by the eighth-graders and learning how to use hand tools, students also gained academic skills during the project.

“Reading has been involved, learning the sequencing of events and even math by learning perimeter and area,” she said. “They’ve also learned how to use a hammer and a screwdriver.”

Some of the girls in the class found out first hand it takes strength to drive a screw into a piece of wood.

“It’s easy when you’re hammering, but it was hard getting the screws in,” Jodi Nibbe said. “It’s fun, though.”

Fellow classmate Daleshia McKinney agreed, saying she enjoyed painting the birdhouses better.

Missaggia said the best part of the project, however, was that “they will get to take these birdhouses home for Mother’s Day.”