I bought a friend’s three year old one of these for Christmas…
It’s a Micki Tool Belt from The Kids Depot with child sized versions of REAL tools. We gave it to him with a pack of balsa wood and some wood glue. I think my friends thought I was a bit cuckoo! And I admit, you don’t want a three year old running around the house with a real screwdriver! But children between the ages of three and five love to hammer (balsa wood is soft and easy to hammer) and they love to make things. By giving them real tools and real wood to work with, they feel a real sense of achievement. It is a lot like home corner play; children enjoy playing at cooking but truly LOVE it when you actually do cooking with them.
Opportunities for ‘Real Work’
One of the things the children at my child care centre loved was our wooden frame cubby house. A Dad, who was a builder, made it for us and it was literally just the wooden frame. Which was fantastic because we could make it into whatever we wanted. The children worked tirelessly to nail hessian all around the frame to make a pirates den. They hammered vinyl (the type used for window blinds) in place and painted on it when they wanted it to be more like a house. At other times it was a witches den, the Wiggles House and a dinosaur cave. You should have seen the determination of children as young as two years of age hammering away with real nails into real wood with real (but child sized) hammers.
The woodwork table was always a popular activity when I taught preschool and kindergarten as well. Talk about problem solving in action! There are few other activities which allow children to work with their hands to design, plan and make, which involve solving real problems along the way (as well as requiring the patience and perseverance to do so).
One of the activities I remember hearing about a million years ago when I trained at university was a kindergarten (4-5 year olds) “pull apart table.” A table where children had access to real, child sized tools and real (albeit no longer working) household objects to ‘pull apart.’ I never actually gave this one ago although I find the idea fascinating.
What do you think? Would you give your child real tools to use under supervision? I would love to hear about any woodworking activities readers have tried.