How can I plan good woodworking activities for 3- to 5-year-olds in a child care program? How can I be sure woodworking is safe for young children?

Child Care February 08, 2010 Print Friendly and PDF
By age three, most children can learn how to use some basic hand tools, such as hammers, saws, and hand drills. Most young children can understand safety rules, but they need close adult supervision to help them remember to follow them. Good woodworking activities for 3- to 5-year-olds involve using woodworking tools to cut, hammer, and drill wood. Try giving the children short roofing nails with large heads to hammer into an old tree stump. Children also enjoy sanding wood. Give them a block of wood covered with sandpaper and let them sand wood scraps. Woodworking activities should include showing children how to use tools properly. Show how to hold a tool by the handle. Mark where to hold a handle by placing a piece of tape at the appropriate spot on the handle. Putting a piece of tape on a saw handle reminds children to hold the saw by the handle, not the blade. One of the most important things to remember about woodworking with 3-year-olds is that they will enjoy the hammering, sawing, drilling, and sanding. They don't need to make a finished product. It's the process of using the tools that is most important for them.

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This work is supported by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, New Technologies for Ag Extension project.