Finally, a delivery of Easy Builders building blocks!

Posted by Ryans Dad on 7th October 2009

Today was the day. Ryan finally got to make his first delivery. He was enthusiastic this morning and anxious to get going with the knowledge that in his backpack he would be carrying two complete sets of his “Easy Builder” blocks. One set was painted yellow and red, the other gold and copper metallic.

It is interesting to see how his enthusiasm for this continues to be strong. In most cases I would expect that his interest would fade and other things would take the place of this or any other project, and that may still happen. But so far, not yet.

I was a little anxious myself to see him and find out how his deliveries were received. So when I picked him up at the end of the day it was all I could do to keep from hammering him with questions. Piece by piece the details of his deliveries did come forth however.

He had to wait all day long to deliver the goods, and he seemed fine with that. Apparently both of the sets of blocks were well received although one with a bit less excitement than he might have hoped. But there was a reason for that which I soon learned.

The delivery to his friend was turned into a bit of a learning opportunity with the entire group of kids. Apparently the teacher asked Ryan to deliver his Easy Builders in front of the whole group. She then took that chance to open a discussion about what he was doing in creating a product then producing it and selling it. Cool. I wish I could have been there to see that. I got the sense that both Ryan and his friend were a bit shy with the limelight, but I would think it was a good lesson just the same.

I have to say that this project has certainly generated a lot of great discussions for Ryan and I which are packed with good learning opportunities. He’s had to prioritize how to spend his money for materials, consider his product safety, think about quantities and pricing. Heck, he’s even brought up the idea of giving some of his income to the poor.

So, the very first deliveries have been made and the Easy Builders have been a hit. It was a good day!

Categories: Easy Builders
7Oct

We need packaging, but that costs money. What do we do?

Posted by Ryans Dad on 6th October 2009

Now that we have two sets of Easy Builder building blocks ready for delivery, we need to figure out how to package them. It’d be a little tough to carry a dozen building blocks around without something to put them in. So, Ryan had some thinking to do. What would work best?

We discussed a variety of options and Ryan decided that some muslin tie top bags would work really well. They would be sturdy enough to hold the wood blocks while not adding a lot of weight or bulk. Plus it helped that we were able to find a resource online where they could be bought very inexpensively, less than a dollar a bag. But that also brought up the question of paying for them. You see, we haven’t actually sold anything yet, so there isn’t any money in the till for Ryan’s business endeavor.

From my perspective I was working on the assumption that I would take care of paying for these bags. It isn’t a heavy load to bear and it’s a small price to pay for this ongoing string of learning opportunities that Ryan’s Easy Builders business project is offering. Truth be told, I didn’t expect that Ryan would even be cognizant of the fact that there was a cost to bear. That is where I was wrong, again.

Just as we made a final choice on the muslin bags we thought would be perfect Ryan volunteered, “I think I have enough money Daddy”. That caught me by surprise, really, and tugged at my heartstrings to be honest. He’s six years old. Why would he even think of the costs much less try to take care of it?

After telling him he should not be concerned with it Ryan informed me that “This is MY project Daddy. I should pay for these.” He still had some money left from the lemonade stand he and his brother had done earlier this summer. So, he raided his stash and gave me the cash and wouldn’t be denied.

For what ever it’s worth, any money Ryan has given me throughout this project is being held for him. It just blows me away though, that he insists on paying costs. It’s not normal!

Categories: Easy Builders
6Oct

Production begins but is the paint safe?

Posted by Ryans Dad on 4th October 2009

Ryan sanding blocksSo now that Ryan has some orders in the till, it is time to begin some production. I did my part to help by going back to the old circular saw and cutting the blocks for him. From there it was teamwork starting with some sanding.

Attentive to details, Ryan noticed right away that the cut edges of these blocks were not going to be acceptable at all. They didn’t look good with tiny splinters hanging off of them and more importantly, those splinters would be dangerous for little hands. So with a couple of sanding blocks as our weapons, we went to work smoothing down those edges so there would be no worries of hurting little fingers.

With the subject of safety on his mind Ryan popped out with what I thought was an incredibly insightful question, “What about the paint Daddy? Does it have any of that lead in it?”

Ryan painting blocksExcellent question! So we inspected the cans of paint for an answer but the answer wasn’t there. I suppose by now it is just a foregone conclusion that paint no longer contains lead but when you are planning a product for toddlers or even babies you have got to be sure. Not finding any answers on the paint cans themselves Ryans next suggestion was, “Maybe the internet can tell us!” He loves Google searches.

So we tried the internet and went right to the source, the manufacturers Web site. In spite of finding some very detailed product safety documents there, I was surprised to find that again there was actually no mention of lead at all. Again, maybe this is such an old safety concern that it is assumed at this point. What their Web site did offer however was a contact form where I was able to ask our specific question. Now we’ll just wait a day or two to get their response. [We did hear back a few days later and learned that the paint was entirely safe from any concerns of lead]

I am impressed at Ryan’s attention to various safety concerns. Again, not what I might expect from a six year old. With those questions resolved, production moves on!

Categories: Easy Builders
4Oct

Let’s make more building blocks and make it a business!

Posted by Ryans Dad on 27th September 2009

After seeing how much his brother Collin was enjoying the wood blocks he had given him, Ryan decided that lots of kids would have fun playing with these blocks. Plus, we still have some more of that scrap wood in the garage. So…

Collin enjoying the blocks Ryan gave him.

Collin enjoying the blocks Ryan gave him.

What started as a present for his brother has now become a project for more kids. Over the course of maybe 24 hours Ryan decided that it would be fun to make more sets of blocks for other kids. Along with that he has decided he wants to sell them and start a business.

I honestly believe that his motivation for creating a business for himself isn’t really tied to making money. He has said more than once that the best part of this will be helping other kids have fun. He’s excited about making these blocks and seeing others play with them and have fun.

I think his interest in creating a business for himself stems from an experience from earlier this summer where he and Collin set up a lemonade stand at our house. They had a great time with that. We made and posted signs, set up the lemonade stand and took good care of customers. I think he really enjoyed that and sees this as another chance to have that kind of fun.

When new ideas such as this come flowing from either of our boys I try very hard to keep an open mind. Is this idea in any way unreasonable or even dangerous? If not, can we actually make it happen and could we learn from it? This one seems manageable, could be fun and could be a learning experience. So why not?

So with an affirmative response from Dad, Ryan could not get me to cut more wood blocks fast enough! Looks like it is back to the circular saw for me.

Categories: Easy Builders
27Sep