Woodworking For Kids

I teach young toddlers and in my wood-working area I set up on trays, or in my sensory table, plastic tools and wood pieces. The children explore these materials and have fun with them. I also add cars to the area.

Hello everyone, this is my first time submitting an idea. After reading the other ideas I felt compelled to share how wonderful it feels to know that other E.C.E.’s are encouraging children to explore the world of woodworking. Recently I started a new job in a terrific nursery school, the woodworking area consisted of the workshop from Little Tikes. The children seldom used it, I asked my husband to make a woodworking table that was child-sized, safe and durable. He spent several hours in the garage and when the masterpiece was finished I brought it into work. I purchased child sized hammers at the dollar store, a few small tape measures, sandpaper of various textures, some real paint brushes and swimming goggles. Well, the children gathered around as I introduced it and discussed the safety issues of course. For the last five weeks, the Little Tikes workbench was left standing alone. It is now in storage and the new workbench is busy and loud. We added a few pencils and pads of paper for pre-writing and pre-reading skills along with used yogurt containers with colored construction paper around the outside for imaginary paints. I brought in a few scraps from the local housing developments for the children to add on. When we explored insects the children used scraps of felt to hammer onto the wood pieces to create their own insects. The children, parents and I were thrilled. Now that the nursery school is closed for the summer I will have to pick up some magazines about woodworking as suggested by fellow E.C.E.’s. Thanks for your ideas everyone! Kids and Laughter, Marlene.

When introducing hammers and nails to your children keep their fingers safe! Use large plastic combs as holders for the nails. You can slide a nail in between the teeth, then use the comb to hold the nail at a safe distance from the hammer! Stick to the strictest rule- safety goggles must be worn while in the woodworking area!!


AGES: 3-5 years

AREA OF ROOM: Woodworking, Science, Math, Manipulatives, Outdoors

MATERIALS: 1. Hanging wood samples (you will find these at your local Home Depot/Builders Square in the kitchen area…they are the samples of Formica countertop colors…just take 2 each of a few different shades of wood) 2. Pine square board with nails or safe-type hooks spaced out approx. 2-3 inches.

PROCEDURE: 1. Show the children each sample, talk about the different colors…their names…etc. 2. Hang one of each color on each hook/nail, etc. 3. The children can hang the 2nd…to MATCH to the one hanging.

Woodworking My woodworking bench is always teacher supervised. I have wood, nails, plastic bottle caps from milk cartons, metal juice can lids kids love to make cars.) rug scraps taken from sample books (I cut them to a smaller size.) also pieces of leather. I then let the children paint their creations.

Pound some large nails halfway into a 4×4 chunk of lumber, or even a small chunk from a tree trunk, and give the children a small lightweight hammer so they can pound to their heart’s delight! Encourages accuracy, dexterity, and makes them feel very grown up to be using “real tools”……

Our preschool class of 4’s, took small square pieces of wood and made geo-boards. They then took their own board home to use with rubber bands. We also have the child write their initial or initials on the wood with a pencil, then hammer in nails to form those initials. Use the workbench as an opportunity to reinforce the letters or numbers you are covering in class.

I have used Styrofoam sheet packing material with “drywall” screws and 2 Phillips screwdrivers in the texture table. After the children become comfortable with the screwdrivers, I would add a pair of small saws.

After spring break, I place 2 or 3 tree rounds (sections of a log about 18 to 20″ tall and 10 to 12″ wide) in the block center, with hammers, roofing nails, goggles and a sign in sheet. The children must sign up for the activity and count out the specified number of nails they can pound into the log (saves setting a timer).

Some of the children quickly learn how to pull out the nails in order, to extend their turn. The fine motor skill, counting, and name writing practice are easily disguised.

Good resources for the materials include local lumber stores, hardware stores, building sites, etc.

For a cooperative approach to woodworking try making a class planter box. Have a parent set out the right lengths of wood and all the materials needed for each child to have a turn helping make a planter box. The parent helper or teacher then calls a small group of children over to build the box together to take turns hammering, gluing, or drilling holes. The Students can then review with the whole class the job they had, put the jobs in the order of construction and see how the box was put together piece by piece with help from all the students in the class. We then paint the box in a similar way letting each child have a turn putting a freehand decoration on the box. We have given our final projects to the principal, other parent helpers as thank you gifts and kept some for planting seeds during our life cycles unit.