Last weekend, the kids made birdhouses. ‘Real’ birdhouses with hammers, nails, and saws. I have been holding on to that post to publish on a day when my skin is particularly thick, because I know I will receive some comments about letting my toddler use a hammer. But we do. We let our kids build with real tools. Hammers, nails, screwdrivers, all the good stuff. Of course we do not pop them in a room with the tools and let them go wild. We teach them how to use the tools properly and we supervise them closely.
Sam, who is 3.5, has a big interest in using tools. He has his own tool box and loves to fix things around the house. At this point, he can tighten screws, hammer in nails, use a manual hand drill, and a hand saw with some help. One area which is still tricky is using a wrench.
My husband was tinkering downstairs in the workshop with Sam and they proudly emerged with this:
A piece of wood with 3 bolts, washers, and nuts.
Wouldn’t you know that this piece of wood has provided both my 3.5 year old and 17 month old with hours of entertainment. So much so, that I thought I should share it with you! Activities like this are wonderful for hand-eye coordination and, is actually a fantastic pre-writing skill!
It strengthens little shoulders and arms and also practices a pincer grip. A wonderful, engaging activity for busy preschoolers.
My little ones have used this activity with wrenches, and with fingers too. They have practiced oral language and making comparisons (big, medium, small, thinner, thicker, taller, shorter). They have practiced sharing, team work, and cooperation. All hugely important skills for my little ones!
This activity would be so wonderful in a Kindergarten classroom or a preschool as well as in a home. Definitely worth the time to make!
Here are the Nuts and Bolts of making this activity
We used: a sturdy piece of wood and 3 different sized bolts. On each bolt we have a washer and 2 or 3 nuts. We also have wrenches for each.
First, pre-drill 3 holes in the wood. We spaced ours enough so the wrenches could spin all the way around without bumping into the neighboring bolt.
Then, screw your 3 bolts into the 3 holes from the bottom of the wood. On the top of the wood put on your washers and secure with one nut. Thread the second (and perhaps third) nut onto the bolts.
It took Sam and his Dad about 10 minutes to make.
This activity does have little parts. Whenever my kids are using tools I supervise them. Fingers could get pinched, wrenches are heavy if dropped. Of course we are all aware of the need for safety. But little ones also need the chance to explore and discover. This is a fairly safe way for little ones to explore ‘real tools’ and learn a heck of a lot as well!
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