We spent a lot of today working on models that I bought online for a dollar to two dollars apiece. Each time we needed to remove the wooden pieces from the bag, identify the directions in the correct language (they were inexpensive!), identify the pieces and glue them together, then wait for things to dry before they were painted.
With kids ranging in age from 4 to almost 12, there was a variety of abilities and temperaments at work while we did this project. And only a couple of them (the ones created by the very oldest kids) have been painted so far. There were tantrums about being denied the set they wanted because it was already claimed by someone else, some creative problem solving when pieces kept sliding off or holes were not be enough for axles, and lots of unexpected cooperation as people realized that they had bitten off more than they could chew and should work with another person to complete the project or as they realized that someone else had the same set but was further along and could act as a guide.
What they learned
It's important to take your time and be careful when you're working toward a goal. Sometimes goals are further away than you had thought, as in thinking that you were going to have a completed ship in an hour, but now it's supper time and you've had to accept that you are not going to paint your project today. But if you can be patient with yourself and with the people around you, you will end up with lots of time spent on something that you really like, and you'll be proud of what you created.
What I learned
Kids come in a wide variety of ages and skills and personalities, and as a kid, your life is mostly about rules. So when someone hands you a project that is simultaneously free form (glue it however you like, frankly, and the colors are entirely up to you) and accompanied by a new set of rules (don't get glue on that, those aren't your pieces, you can't use that set because someone else is using it), it can be really frustrating. And explaining that you understand where they're coming from doesn't always help. Sometimes you just need to let them be in that frustration until they're done and can move on. It's hard enough to regulate your emotions as an adult, so don't put too much pressure on kids to get it right.