MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — When other schools are quieting down for the summer, one school gets louder. Kids at Obama Elementary in St. Paul are building birdhouses as part of their Career Explorations class. On paper, they’re learning about architecture. In practice, they’re learning a whole lot more.

The second-and third-graders have been working on their birdhouses for weeks, starting with designs and prototypes, and on Thursday they were ready to put them together.

“Many of them have never held a hammer, they don’t know a screwdriver needs to go with a screw,” said teacher Sarah Sannes. “Some of them have, but for some of them, this is a brand new thing for them to build and create and make a birdhouse.”

Sannes got a grant from Ecolab to cover materials and help from the Home Depot in Inver Grove Heights to cut all the boards. But the kids had to do the rest of the work themselves.

“The students are working together,” she said. “One might finish and will turn to the next one and say, ‘Do you want me to hold it for you, do you want me to get it started?’ They’ve really worked well together.”

The kids will finish building and painting the birdhouses next week, but the teacher hopes these lessons last far into the future.

“I hope that when they look at their birdhouse they remember the things that we’ve learned and successes we’ve had this year,” Sannes said.

A total of nine classes are building birdhouses at the school, she said. It’s mostly second-and third-graders, but there are a couple classes of fourth-and fifth-graders, too.


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