Students, seniors work to create limberjacks

With dangling legs and twirling arms, the limberjack’s pushpin shoes tap on the wood held in place by eager fourth-graders.

David Davis (left) helps Leo Schmidt sand his limberjack pieces. Photo by Kelly Johnson

David Davis (left) helps Leo Schmidt sand his limberjack pieces. Photo by Kelly Johnson

Excitement is high as the Hamilton Elementary School, Coon Rapids, students test out their creations.

Over two days, Monday and Tuesday, Hamilton fourth-graders worked with volunteers from the Coon Rapids Senior Center to create the limberjacks, a wooden folk art toy.

In small groups, they sanded and assembled the limberjacks at the senior center. The students will take the limberjacks home and dress them in outfits before staging two performances, complete with folk dances and songs, with their limberjacks at the school May 20.

This is the 12th year the fourth-graders and seniors have built limberjacks.

Ross Sutter, a folk artist, is working with the students as an artist in residence at Hamilton, doing a week of special art, story telling and music with students.

Delyanah Mogeni checks her limberjack’s arm movement. Photo by Kelly Johnson

Delyanah Mogeni checks her limberjack’s arm movement. Photo by Kelly Johnson

The limberjack pieces are cut and sanded in advance by the senior center’s woodcarving club.

Together, the students and seniors sand a few rough edges, hammer in the shoes and hook together the arms and legs.

A stick stuck in the limberjack’s back gives the toy movement while the students make their creation dance on a piece of wood held in place while seated on a chair.

“It’s something they get to take home and keep,” Sutter said about the limberjacks.

Besides coming home with a folk art toy, the students and seniors forge a unique connection, chatting about lunch options and other activities while assembling the limberjacks.

“The connection with the seniors is fabulous,” said teacher Nyomi Davis. “How many times do they get to hammer and sand?”

“This is really fun,” said Grace Desjarlais, a fourth-grader. “I wanted to do this since first grade.”

Kelly Johnson is at kelly.johnson@ecm-inc.com

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