Holding a hammer, pounding nails, making a pile of wood pieces turn into a genuine toy… these are accomplishments a child will talk about for days.
I know this to be true, because I took my son to build a castle at one of Lowe’s free “Build and Grow” clinics recently. When we were done with the project, we had to call Grandpa to tell him the news. Great-Grandma had to come to our house to see it. Next week, it’s going to show-and-tell at daycare.
The clinics, typically offered the second and fourth Saturdays of every month, are geared for elementary school-aged children, but younger children do fine with the help of the adults who bring them. My son is three, and he was not the youngest child there by any means.
The Home Depot offers similar Saturday “Kids Workshops” free-of-charge. You can find out about both the upcoming Lowe’s and Home Depot programs in Mamamelia.com’s events calendar.
You register your child and sign a waiver when you arrive, then they give you a kit and let you get to work at a work table. I was pleasantly surprised that no one hovers over your shoulder or bosses you around. They just let you follow the instructions and work at your own pace. If it’s your first time, your child will get an adorable little Lowe’s apron and a patch matching the theme of that week’s clinic. Each time you attend another clinic, you’ll get a new patch to attach to the apron.
At the Fernandina Beach Lowe’s, this particular clinic was at the back of aisle 21. We took our kit to the nearest available table and got to work. The kit had cartoon-like, illustrated instructions; all the necessary wood pieces and nails; and stickers to decorate the toy with. The table had everything else we needed: hammers, goggles and extra nails.
My son and I rolled up our sleeves and got to work. We figured out there were two types of nails, and so each time we moved to a new step, I would have him gather up the appropriate number of short and tall nails. Then I’d get each nail started, he’d pound on them for a while, and then I’d give them a few more wacks to make sure they were secure. This system worked great, and the little guy felt he really was building this castle on his own.
“Mommy helped a little,” I heard him tell Grandpa on the phone later that night. But mostly he wanted to talk about all the cool features of his project, “There’s a drawbridge, a dragon, a princess… See?” he said, holding the phone up to the castle.
Each clinic is different: there are cars, games, a bird house, all kinds of toys. My son is very excited about returning for the “Build-a-saurus” dinosaur clinic. If you just can’t make it on a Saturday, they also sell the kits for you to put together at home — but when you attend the clinic, everything is free.
Whenever children finish their projects, they return to the registration table to get an “I Built It” certificate. At our clinic, the attendant, Deidra, was wonderful, carrying on and on about what a beautiful job each child had done. I know my own little guy left with a very proud smile on his face, and he insisted on keeping his apron on for the rest of the morning.
Tip: You can register your child for the clinics online and fill out and print the waiver. That way when you arrive, you can get right to work, and you’re ensured they’ll have a kit available for your child.
If you want to go:
When: 10 a.m. Saturdays, typically the second and fourth Saturdays of every month (See our events calendar for specifics.)
Where: All Lowe’s locations. In Nassau and Camden counties, they’re in Kingsland and Fernandina Beach.
- Fernandina Beach Location: 474283 State Road 200. Call 904-277-5000.
- Kingsland Location: 1410 East Boone Ave. Call 912-673-1610.
Cost: Always FREE
For more information and to register, go to www.lowesbuildandgrow.com