I've been looking for ways to extend Otis' woodworking, to increase his skill level and to take him past the basic hammering he's been doing to date. It's the perfect time to introduce some measuring and the use of a saw. Here are a few of my thoughts and ideas on woodworking with young children.
First, where do you find wood? I am no expert but I look for softer wood such as balsa or even pine. You don't want something that will split easily but some woods are so hard they are really difficult to hammer into. Some times it's best to experiment and see what works. Woodworking is a really good opportunity to explore wood and tree types and diversity. Here are a few places we've found wood for our woodworking projects:
- Recycling centres. We found a fabulous range of timber off cuts at Reverse Garbage in Brisbane.
- Tree stumps.
- Tree/branch off cuts.
- Hardware stores.
- Old/cheap/unused wooden chopping boards (we've used the small ones from Ikea here).
- Woodworking sets with precut wood - there are lots around, we've used and love Buildme (Australia).
Kids tools and materials to consider:
- Small lightweight child size tool box.
- Work belt.
- Safety glasses.
- Hand drill.
- Hand saw.
- Work gloves (these can be hard to find child size).
- Hammer and nails.
- Screwdriver and screws - you may want to predrill the holes for younger children.
- Wood glue.
- Tape measure.
- Spirit Level.
- Lead pencil, even better a carpenter's pencil.
- Carpenter's Square and/or metal ruler.
- Paint - my children often like to paint their creations.
- Dust mask.
- Sandpaper/sanding block.
- Wood polish, perhaps something natural like a beeswax polish.
- Potentially a vice and woodworking table - this is an awesome example.
There are lots of places to find real and quality children's tools including:
- Trades Tool Set, includes real child size hammer and level at Me2me2 (Australia), we have this set.
- Tool Belt and Accessories, includes real child size hammer and safety glasses at Montessori Services (US).
- Child's Safety Glasses at Absorbent Minds (UK).
- Carpentry Activity Set of Four at Montessori Design by Nuccia (UK), this is an amazing set (they can also be purchased individually) includes hammering and drilling. These are fantastic examples of what can be prepared (by teachers or parents) to build the child's woodworking skill base.
- Hand saws, hammers, hand drill and almost anything a child could dream of at Muddy Faces (UK) - this is the most awesome website, I haven't ordered from here yet but I am loving every single thing, it's really inspiring!
- Toolkits, and lots of tools at Mindstretchers (UK).
- Educational stores such as Educational Experience (Australia) often have a few items like hammers. Modern Teaching Aids (Australia) has this awesome real tool kit.
- Keep an eye out for tools at the hardware store but be aware of 'pretend', 'play' or poor quality children's tools.
Rather than overwhelming the child with a lot of tools they don't know how to use I suggest starting small and providing the tools and materials the child asks for, needs for what they are wanting to work on or generally just start small, I love the idea of giving a tool box or work belt and adding tools as the child's skills and confidence increase. Using woodworking tools is a little like cooking, there is risk involved. We empower the child and ensure they have the appropriate skills and always supervise!
We have always stored our woodworking tools and materials in our art area however they could also be well placed in the adult's woodworking area if you have one, or in a work area outdoors.
At six years of age Otis just likes to create and build as he goes along but I'd love to get to the stage where he would plan, perhaps sketch his creation and then build!