My eldest son loves to use real tools and he was given his first set of real tools for his birthday last year. There are many benefits of using tools – it is a great practical skill for your child to develop and it helps development of fine motor skills and fosters independence and creative problem solving. There are some safety issues with using tools. I don’t have a problem with this aspect, as long as my son uses them under supervision (as he would when working with scissors or doing kitchen tasks).
Here are some different activities that we have tried or are planning to try using tools and other materials you can get from your hardware store
- get an assortment of padlocks and keys. Your child can practise finding the right key and opening the lock.
- get a range of different-sized nuts and bolts for matching bolts to nuts
- practise measuring things with the tape measure
- practise hammering golf tees into foam (florist’s foam will work if you are worried about using styrofoam)
- hammering nails and attaching things to wood offcuts (for example, pieces of fabric or plastic bottle tops). Use nails with large heads.
- drill holes and put screws (flat heads, phillips heads and different sizes) into a piece of board so that you child can practise using the screwdriver
- give your child a torch and have them open it, put in the batteries and put it back together
- once they are good with the screwdriver your child can be responsible for unscrewing and replacing batteries in toys
- sanding pieces of wood
- basic woodwork projects, such as creating a bird or bat house
- deconstructing broken toys or electrical appliances. You can use what you have around home or pick some up from a recycling centre. Be sure to cut off cord and do not let you child take apart TVs or computer monitors.
- and last, but not least, helping with any projects around the house. For example, as you can see in the picture above, something my son enjoyed about Christmas was lots of toys that needed to be put together.