1st Grade Guitar Maker

“Daddy? Can I use my scissors?” The question rolled down the stairs this weekend as I was working in the basement.

My daughter is a MAKER. She buzzes and hums with creative energy. Her favorite tool since she was three is her scissors. The result is usually a snowstorm of paper scraps and piles of projects on the dining room table.  She is old enough to use scissors on her own but she still has the habit of asking. I yelled up that she could use her scissors but then asked the important question. What are you working on?

DESIGN #1: She came downstairs and told me she was was going to make a guitar. She tried to explain with her hands what she was planning but then drew a design on a scrap of paper.


MAKE #1: She was gone for 20 minutes then came back upset. I asked her what was wrong and she told me her guitar didn’t work. I asked her to show me and she held up her paper guitar. It looked awesome. In the photo you can see how she layered the paper and built a real structure. It was a great model of a guitar.


I didn’t understand. She wanted to make a REAL guitar and the string wouldn’t stay tight. Oh, a REAL guitar! Well, the Make website has a tutorial on how to make your own cigar box guitar. I told her maybe we could get a cigar box at a local shop and make a simple guitar. She was still upset because she wanted to make a guitar today.

DESIGN #2: Well. How does a guitar work? You need a vibrating string and something to act as a resonator to amplify the sound. I took a piece of string and stretched it tight. She plucked it. Little bit of a hum. I then grabbed the closest tub of toys and stretched the string over the open top. She plucked the string and twang. Her eyes got sparkly. She had her design.

MAKE #2: A quick trip to the recycling bin and she came back with an aerosol can lid. We struggled a little bit with drilling holes and tying the knots so that the strings would be tight. Turns out my daughter had thought ahead and had 2 different types of string. In a few minutes, she had a two string guitar. It was just what she wanted. (I couldn’t help showing her how you could pull on the string to change the note.) She walked upstairs a happy musician.


SHARE: My daughter showed me how she could use a clothes pin to pluck the strings and clamp on a string to change the note. At bedtime, she gave a concert. It may not look like much but she loves her 2 string guitar.

P.S. Failure is part of the learning that happens during MAKING. Sharing your failures is just as important as sharing the successes.