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Cob construction with children

 
pollinator
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Location: Green County, Kentucky
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It looks like I'm going to have a nine-year-old (my granddaughter) pretty much all summer, and possibly also a nine-year-old niece.  I've been thinking up things to do with them, and it occurred to me that we could have a great time building a cob structure!  But I wonder just how big of one we ought to try to tackle?  We can do anything up to 200 s.f. without getting a building permit, and I can find uses for whatever we build (guest room, studio, hen house, etc.).  Of course, the girls would probably like to build a play house, but that wouldn't be any use to us when they weren't here.  (Sorry, I'm very practical-minded!)  Has anyone done cob with children and have any advice on how much we should try to tackle?  I might have them help with the rocket stove I've been wanting to build, too, but ideally that should be a part of this structure.

Kathleen
 
pollinator
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Location: Central California
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You might start the size you want then poke holes all over the top for a good splice in case you end up finishing it later alone.  Cob likes semi-continuous progress and if dry some slip clay and holes makes the bond of the old dry or drier cob to the new a lot better.

I have found that kids generally love to play in cob.........even the bigger ones.
 
pollinator
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How about building an earthen oven

My limited experience is that kids like playing in the mud, but short attention spans can come into play.  I would start with something you can complete in a couple days, then gauge if there is desire for something bigger.
 
Kathleen Sanderson
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Thanks -- good ideas.  I had thought of the earthen oven, but since I do so little baking I'm not sure it would really be practical.  I think I'll do what Glenn suggested, and start out the size I want, and when we stop, just make sure that it's prepped for continuing on later (although I *would* like the children to have the sense of accomplishment that comes with finishing something!).

Kathleen
 
Glenn Kangiser
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I also did a frog from cob - about 2 foot or so in size and weighs about 400 lbs I'd guess.  Kids would like something like that for a quick finished something idea. 
 
gardener
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Location: Tonasket washington
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lol if you build an oven with the kids you soon will be doing baking and pizza

cob forts are good, garden walls, fairy houses, almost anything; the kids love it and really like the power it gives them to make anything they can imagine.

the part to be careful about is the roof and by the time you get there you can probably learn enough about it to make a good one that will be a great teacher for the kids. Erica and I work out all the details with the kids in our workshops so they learn the whole thing from drainage to inside plasters. it is wonderful to see the skills develop and the confidence break free.  suddenly your kids see the world from a vantage point that means they never have to worry about a place to live.
totally awe inspiring 
 
Kathleen Sanderson
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Ernie wrote:
lol if you build an oven with the kids you soon will be doing baking and pizza

cob forts are good, garden walls, fairy houses, almost anything; the kids love it and really like the power it gives them to make anything they can imagine.

the part to be careful about is the roof and by the time you get there you can probably learn enough about it to make a good one that will be a great teacher for the kids. Erica and I work out all the details with the kids in our workshops so they learn the whole thing from drainage to inside plasters. it is wonderful to see the skills develop and the confidence break free.  suddenly your kids see the world from a vantage point that means they never have to worry about a place to live.
totally awe inspiring 



Great ideas, Ernie -- I used to build forts as a child, and taught my daughters to build them, so I totally agree. 

The problem with the oven isn't that I don't like to bake -- I used to make all our bread from scratch, and loved doing it.  But my youngest DD and I have celiac disease (and I suspect that the granddaughter who is coming this summer also has it, so we will be all of us eating gluten-free); and I have border-line diabetes, so am eating low-carb.  If I can think of some other things to use the oven for, I'd love to have one, though.

Kathleen
 
Ernie Wisner
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send me an email i have some good recipes for gluten free And low carb diets. .

some of them take a little more time than gluten. I have a lovely young singer friend that is gluten free and we worked out a rice pizza crust she fell in love with. first time she has had pizza in 5 years she assures me that its worth every bit of the time.
 
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