Tuesday, July 16, 2013
Creating a Woodworking Center
I have always tried to encourage creativity with my children by having creative materials available to them all the time. But while the paints, brushes, markers, crayons and paper were always within arm's reach, my children weren't all that interested in...well...creating. I spent some time in observation to see what the problem was. Maybe I didn't have the materials set out in a way that was inviting. Maybe they couldn't find what they wanted and therefor avoided the area. As a preschool teacher I learned that when an area of the class seems untouched some simple revamping can change the way the children use that area.
As I watched I found that coloring and painting were not holding their interest, but construction was. Birdie, my 6 year old, would spend forever carefully cutting shapes from paper, molding shapes from duct tape, or fitting shapes together from bits of cardboard. I decided that perhaps my art center should include some basic woodworking and tinkering tools.
I began by enlarging the work space. I found a salvaged length of kitchen counter top to serve as the work bench. It is 6 ft long and rests on a coffee table. It is low down enough for my 3 year old to have easy access to, but raised enough for my 6 year old to work comfortably. Next I went shopping. I came home with a four foot piece of peg board, some S hooks, and a variety of tools. In addition to basic tools the children each have a pair of safety goggles. Home Depot was kind enough to give me scraps of wood from their cutting section. The kids have been working away non stop.
Why Do Woodworking With Kids?
Creating a woodworking project with your kids is great fun for you and your child. But it also helps teach hand-eye coordination, problem solving, fine motor skills, and develops their self esteem. Children learn math skills such as measurement, sorting, comparing, matching, and conceptualization. It helps with cognitive development, motor development, and social development.
Tips to get started.
Start slow. Introduce tools a few at a time. Let your child get used to using them safely. Let them get familiar with each one before introducing more.
Be Safe. Talk with your child about the rules that are followed at the woodworking station. Remind them that these rules are so that every one has fun and no one gets hurt. My children were told that they needed to wear goggles, use tools only at the work station, and if they feel to angry or sad to use the tools safely, they have to walk away until they aren't angry or sad anymore. I stole that last one from Teacher Tom :)
Use nails with large heads to make hammering easier.
You can create pilot holes in the wood with a drill to make using the screwdriver easier.
Keep tools in a very visible place so that supervision is easier. Ours is in our playroom (dining room) which can be seen from the kitchen and living room.
Some tools to get started with.
Philips head screw driver
Flat head screw driver
Nuts and Bolts
Scraps of wood
Small logs or tree stumps
I cannot tell you how much fun my children have both been having with this station. Do your kids work with wood? Do you have a center like this in your classroom? I would love to hear about it. Leave a message in the comment section.