Most mothers probably wouldn’t expect to stumble on their child making a weapon in their home. They probably wouldn’t imagine being excited about it either. But when I caught Miss Possum making a wooden spear, I’ll admit I was surprised, but I was genuinely thrilled that she was creating nature craft without any prompting from me.
I’ve always wanted to teach my children survival skills, not because I’m worried there’s a dooms day around the corner, I’m not that radical, but I do think it takes you back to the beginning, when our primal instincts were to protect, nourish and shelter ourselves. I think it’s important for children to know that humans used to be much more connected to the land.
Not long ago we learnt how to make our own shelter in the woods and this time we spent the entire afternoon learning about spears and tools along with testing her problem solving skills and building on her gross motor techniques.
I enjoyed watching Miss Possum try several tools to get the desired sharp point on her piece of wood. First, she tried scraping the wood on the cement to try and sharpen the end.
Next, she tried using a rock. At this stage I felt like I was watching a caveman trying to get the desired effect with a primitive tool.
Miss Possum was getting frustrated so I suggested a filing tool we had in the garage. This worked a treat and rubbing back and forth she filed the wood down to a point.
Next was painting. She wanted to add dots and lines, similar to the stunning Aboriginal art she had seen.
While she painted her spear, I made a shooting target. Now that she had a wooden spear, she needed to learn how to use it, and use it in a safe way.
I should mention here that the stick she used to make her spear wasn’t really suitable to make a genuine spear. She was working on wood that wasn’t very dense, and it was very light. It was quite safe to play with. Had it been more like a real spear, I would have been a lot more cautious.
We put the target up in the bush walk and all the girls had a go at hitting the target with the spear.
Problem solving and gross motor skills weren’t the only things she learnt either, we talked about:
- Tools people needed when they lived only on the land.
- What a spear might have been used for back then e.g. hunting animals and to protect themselves.
- How primitive people would have decorated their spears.
- What colours they would have used to help keep them camouflaged in the bush.
- How we use spears now e.g. in sport, spear fishing etc.
I didn’t expect to walk in on my eldest child making a wooden spear, I could have easily shut down the activity when I saw her making the weapon. I am so glad I didn’t. I never would have anticipated how much fun we would have and how much we would learn together. I can only hope that you too stumble on your child making a primitive weapon of their own.