by: TYLER FRANCKE | WOODBURN INDEPENDENT - Ishmael Avendano-Lopez hammers a nail during his Life Skills class's field trip to Long Bros. Building Supply in Woodburn.A hardware store may not necessarily seem like a fun place for elementary-age children, but Kelly Long, vice president of Long Bros. Building Supply in Woodburn, disagrees.

With her Little Hammers monthly workshops, she has been offering parents and children as young as 2 the opportunity to learn the skills necessary for basic craft and construction projects. And this past week, Long and her company took the workshops in a new direction, partnering with the Woodburn School District for the first time to host a group of Life Skills (special education) students from Heritage Elementary.

 - Life Skills teacher Karen Rael assists one of her students, Christopher Guerra-Trevino, with his project.Life Skills teacher Karen Rael, along with four assistants and several parents and volunteers, organized the field trip as part of a concerted effort to teach her students how to become more actively involved in their community.

“Our goal is to get them knowing more recreational activities in town,” she said. “They’re learning how to communicate with new people and becoming more aware of things that they can do.”

After the stop at Long Bros., in which each student — with the help of Kelly Long and an adult assigned to assist them — constructed a toolbox out of wood and nails, the group then made its way to the local post office, where they wrote and mailed thank-you cards.

by: TYLER FRANCKE | WOODBURN INDEPENDENT - Michelle Flores hammers a nail home during her Life Skills class's field trip at Long Bros. Building Supply in Woodburn last week.The project also afforded the students the opportunity to use a new augmented communication app on iPads provided by the school. With the press of a button, the tablet computer would speak for the students with pre-programmed phrases such as “Hammer, please,” or “Nail, please.”

“I think this was a good skill-building thing for them,” Long said. “They were so excited to build something. They just jumped right in.”

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