Monday, November 15, 2010

Discover the Corps of Re-Discovery—Tomahawk Kit

The Corps of Discovery was the name President Thomas Jefferson gave to Lewis and Clark’s party as he commissioned them to find an east-west water passage to the Pacific Ocean over 200 years ago.  Their goal was to explore what lies around the next river bend, to seek out new life and new cultures, to boldly discover what had never been discovered before.

We are the Corps of Re-Discovery. 

We are husband and dad, John, wife and mother, Katie, and sons Eric, Nicholas and Joshua.  We have been home schooling our children all their lives and have thrived on adventures and exploration.  Although we did not coin the phrase we focused on “lighting the fire, not just filling the bucket” in our educational approach.
Working together as a family, we have found and created great project kits to enrich your studies of American Indians, Frontiersmen and Pioneer Americans so you, too can "re discover" America.  With John’s creative flair and Katie’s quality control and procedure writing training, we are proud to offer high-quality engaging products with directions children can understand.  We want to help you inspire imaginations and create memories!
PB154611                PB154612
Our family was chosen to review the Tomahawk Kit from the Corps of Re-Discovery. We were very excited because the little kids would finally be able to be included in one of our reviews. This is a picture of what came in the kit that we received in the mail: a stick with predrilled hole and precut slit, a leather thong, a die cut piece of hard leather shaped like a tomahawk head, and an instruction sheet.
PB154614               PB154618
I put Tex in charge of getting this project done. He is thirteen and I figured he was capable of supervising the work. Here are some of the tools the kids gathered to help them with their activity: a hammer and screwdrivers to “score” the leather to make it look older, scissors to cut the leather thong, permanent markers to decorate the tomahawk, and a pizza cutter, also for making lines on the leather.
PB154615               PB154616
According to the directions, you are supposed to decorate the handle first, so the little ones got started on that, while Tex worked on distressing the leather “tomahawk head” with the pizza cutter, screwdriver, and hammer.
PB154617                PB154620
The next step was to insert the head, which Tex let Cowboy help with. Cowboy was getting very excited by this point, since he had been told that the resulting tomahawk would be his. The boys chose to leave their tomahawk head natural, so it was more like stone, and would be more native. If you wanted it to be a tomahawk a frontiersman used, you could paint it black, like metal.
PB154621                PB154622
Then, Tex started wrapping the head with the leather string to secure it to the handle. This was fairly simple to do, although I think Tex wished that the instructions had more pictures (he’s very visual). This project did not require glue of any sort since the leather strap’s end was tucked up under the wrapped portion. It will be interesting to see if this method of fastening bears up under use…In fact, I think I may heap some glue on the ends anyway to avoid a disappointed Cowboy in a week or so.
Here is a picture of our finished product. I think the kids did a nice job on it, and it was encouraging to see them work so well together as a team. I did help when it came time to tuck the strap under the loops to secure it, as Tex didn’t want to risk it coming undone, but he (age 13) certainly could have done it himself, had I not been available. The little ones (ages 5 and 7) were a bit young to do the entire project without supervision, though I think Ladybug could have completed it passably well on her own, had the instructions been given to her verbally (they were at times complex, for all the simplicity of the project…I don’t think it is the product at fault, I think it is just that we are all very visual).
   PB154623               PB154624
As you can see, Cowboy is thrilled with his new toy. Ladybug and Firefly have Native American costumes in the dress up trunk, and now Cowboy has something along those lines, too. Maybe we can make him a vest out of a paper sack this week, and they can all pretend to be the Native Americans who participated in The First Thanksgiving. They have plenty of play food with which to act that out, and we can research which foods were actually there, so their knowledge of history can be based on source documents instead of story books. It certainly is a timely project, and one I think they enjoyed quite a bit.
In all, making the tomahawk only took about half an hour (it might have been faster had we not included the little ones). My kids elected to do it outside, because the leaves were so pretty and the atmosphere seemed to fit the project. The necessary tools were simple (you could have done it with only a few markers, or even without those, if you did not have time), and there are many possibilities for making the project more complex to suit more advanced learners (such as having them look up what markings and colors would actually have been on a tomahawk, finding out which tribes carried them and what were their primary uses, and discovering what materials would really have been used to make one). You could also have decorated more complexly, using paints and feathers instead of markers. It would make a good wrap-up to a study on certain tribes of Native Americans (or Frontiersmen, as tomahawks later became a part of their standard equipment), if you can’t find somewhere nearby to go on a field trip (or in addition to the field trip…as a souveneir).
For the cost of $7.99 (currently $5.50 on sale), you can purchase one of these Tomahawk kits for your own children to enjoy at the Corps of Re-Discovery website. Other project kits start as low as $3.49 and the variety is fantastic…they have kits for Colonial Studies, Native American Studies, Pioneer Studies, and Frontiersmen Studies. They sell items individually, as well as in kits grouped by time period, which would be perfect educational tools for the tactile and crafty child. I think this is the perfect time of year for a project such as this, because older children (I think ages 8 and up) could do the projects alone or even be in charge of helping their younger siblings complete them…all while you bake cookies, or address cards, or catch up on your cleaning. This company offers so many kits, your problem will not be deciding whether or not to get one, it will be deciding which one to get. Because we have been studying the United States this year, and have boys at the right ages to appreciate the hands-on activity, this was a perfect project for us. However, I would have loved to try any one of the other kits…maybe I will have to pick up a few more of them to use as Christmas gifts…I have a friend whose kids would love these, too. Hmmmmm.
I think the materials are simple enough that some folks could gather them and do this on their own, without ordering this kit, BUT you have to understand, that you will need many more tools, much more time, and it will require a lot more of the instructor’s own efforts. You will also have to gather all of the materials on your own, and for the reasonable price being asked, I think the value of one of these kits can’t be beat. I also think these kits would make fun stocking stuffers, if you do that sort of thing. I had Ladybug help on this project, but all the while, she had her eye on the clothespin doll project that I had bought when we were in Iowa this summer at the Living History Farm (which I had stored together with this kit…and paid more money than I would have if I had bought it from here! In fact, I was at a local historic facility recently and they had similar kits as what is available on this site and they were asking twice what is being asked here). In any case, most kids just LOVE to make things, and handmade items are so much more precious to them than most store bought toys.
If you would like to read more reviews about this product and others from this company from the TOS Review Crew, you can click HERE.


Disclaimer: I was given the Tomahawk Kit in exchange for posting an honest review here on my blog. The experiences you read above are our own, and I do not expect that yours will be exactly the same. Please know that I value my reputation and will always be as forthright as possible. I will not recommend a product I feel is a poor one, but I understand the truth of “different strokes for different folks,” as well. If you have further questions about MY experiences with this product, please feel free to contact me.

1 comment:

Sheri said...

Wow-a thorough review for sure! Very nice! Yes, for the effort to gather one's own goodies the price cannot be beat for a lovely tomahawk! My boy loved this project. Nice pics too!

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