"Crazy" Charles asks a good question -- what are these wooden models I keep referring to? They're simple, cheap little kits -- popular as party favors as they're about $1 at Michael's -- that come with tiny pots of paint and one of glue, paintbrushes, a little square of sandpaper, and the wooden parts to make a little model.
The first time Gabriel got one as a party favor, he asked me to help him with it. A combination of being busy with remodeling stuff, dreading dealing with paint, and having no interest in building a model made me put him off. Well, he wasn't put off, and he found a "splat mat" and spread it out on the floor, and got to work on it himself. I either overestimated how hard the instructions were, or underestimated him, because he did the whole thing by himself. Then Julian got one as a party favor, which he also set about on his own with a little help from Bonne Maman, and this kicked off the fad.
This is the first one Gabriel did, which he has since given to Katrina and done a much better job on identical Race Car kits.
This is a sampling of the models both boys have done. The three on the left are Julian's, and the three on the right are Gabriel's. Julian also does his entirely without instruction or help, other than getting him bowls of water to dip the paintbrushes into.
I love these things, and so do they. And bonus, you get the instructions in French too!