Small Hands -Large tools – Amazing ideas
Our children may have future professions that do not yet exist, and our vision is to foster and develop their talents, abilities, skills and interests so that they will be able to take on the challenges that future life will bring. Every morning a bright young ‘engineer’ from our early years room arrives at nursery with a new construction that has been made at home with his father. The children are the heart of our nursery and the look of delight and pride on this little child’s face as he talked through the mechanisms created sparked our passion to introduce our children to some new skills. We decided to introduce woodwork to the whole Learner’s group based on this particular child’s interest.
There is something very special about the learning opportunities in woodwork that are very different from other activities. Many are surprised by the idea of young children working with real tools, but it is important not to deny young children the opportunity and experience of such activities in a controlled situation. Risk is a part of life, and it’s our responsibility at this stage of development to support and embrace risk in a positive sense rather than limiting valuable experiences. It is our responsibility to do the risk assessment and then reduce any potential risk posed by an activity.
Woodwork has much to offer children and it is so rich with countless, open ended learning opportunities, such as math’s, scientific investigation, problem solving, physical coordination, language and vocabulary development, the building of self -confidence and sense of achievement to name but a few. It invites connections between all aspects of learning and development and has many possibilities for creative and sensory exploration.
We spent time at the start of this experience talking to the children about the safe use of the tools. We showed them how to hold the tools and how to use them. They listened attentively in order to understand the instructions and self-care needed before starting. They demonstrated both their understanding and command of this new vocabulary and were heard saying “I need to drill a hole here” or “I need to hammer this nail in”. The children handled the tools with increasing control as they gained both fine and gross motor skills and confidence.
Natural conversation continued between us, and ‘What if?’ questions spontaneously arose enabling the children to independently come up with their own creative solutions to challenges such as “How can I join these pieces together?” and “How can I add the robots arm?” The children engaged in deep level problem solving skills throughout.
We had ample opportunities to extend children mathematical understanding where children estimated the best length nail to use, measured pieces of wood and experimented with shape before constructing their three- dimensional form. The children made their own choices and learnt through trial and error.
The outcome is not just about what the children make- but more so about the changes that are happening within a child while embracing this learning experience. Children are empowered by being respected and trusted, and this sense of responsibility has a significant impact on children’s self-esteem and confidence giving them a sense of achievement.
The children’s limitless imagination took off and amazing narratives evolved; and yet again, when provided with an inspiring learning experience, before our eyes the children became artist, designers, architects, builders and sculptors!!