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PVC Students work together to Build Cob Bench

Students Building Bench - Handprints

At PVC, Students Have a Unique Way of Getting Dirty at Recess

In this age of computer screens and instant gratification, it may be surprising that one of the most popular activities for PVC students at recess was to roll up their sleeves and pant bottoms to create a clay, water and straw mixture with their hands and feet that, more than a year later, would take the form of a bench. But ask the more than 40 who participated under the guidance of Physical Education teacher Martin McDonald and you’ll quickly learn why this project was such a labor of love. They use words and phrases like energized, creating, teamwork, and making memories with friends.  

“This is my first experience really getting dirty and making a structure with (my) bare hands and primal elements,” said Spencer. “It’s just very fascinating.”

Mr. McDonald has taught the students about every aspect of this project - from the history and creation of the materials to creating the structure to the need to work together and be patient. “When I first suggested to my fifth grade students that we give this project a try, I really wasn’t sure what to expect. This was truly a learning process for all of us,” said Mr. McDonald. “But, very quickly, I had a variety of students showing up to work - and it can be hard work - and they kept coming back.”

He continued: “They have an enormous sense of accomplishment in the completed bench and are proud of themselves. Not as proud as I am of them, but very proud!”

Assistant Principal Lauren Scollins says that when sees students working on the bench they are ‘collaborative’ and ‘enthusiastic.’ “You see students working together who aren’t together all the time; it’s a mix of students between grades,” said Ms. Scollins.

Now complete, the bench is being signed by the students who have traced their handprint onto the bench and then painted their initials inside the handprint.  

“They really have been looking forward to finally being able to leave their "signature" on the bench and I think it’s a perfect way to symbolize their hands-on effort,” said Mr. McDonald.

The students’ experience was captured in this documentary.