Creativity has continued as we have delved into the world of wood once more, crafting and utilising a variety of tools during last week's Forest School.
The basis of the sessions involved using saws to cut rings of wood from Elder and some Blackthorn boughs. Then we would use a hand drill to make holes and turn them into rings. I had planned to use the rings to make necklaces or other jewellery pieces, but after last week's creative vibes I decided I would let the children decide what they wanted to make.
We haven't done any focussed tool work for a while, so I thought it would be good to tie in the creativity of the stick activity, with some tools and different varieties of wood. Before using the Tenon saw and hand-drill (double pinion hand-drill to be precise), we explored how we use the tools in a safe and respectful way. I am strong believer in installing a positive attitude to tools at an early age, as I had mentioned a few months ago when the children got a chance to use other tools too. It opens up many possibilities to them both in their creativity and their role-playing, but more importantly they can apply their use safely. We looked at how each of the tools moves, why we need gloves on the the non-tool hand, where our bodies should be in relationship with the tool in question, and where our friends should be when the tools are moving.
The children carefully cut slices of both Cherry and Elder on my mini saw-horse, letting the children explore the different smells and characteristics of each. The Elder has a soft pithy middle, easily pushed out with a stick or file, but the Cherry needed a drill to create the hollow. I usually opt for a wood drill bit (aka "lip and spur") but opted for a HSS (High Speed Steel) multi-purpose bit which have a more child-friendly rounded end (we obviously discussed about not touching this part first!), and leaves in its wake a much smoother aperture, allowing for easier threading. From there, I let the children do what ever they wanted. For some it was enough just experiencing the tools, and felt play was more important then continuing the crafting. Some already had the idea of a simple necklace, and we explored the different methodologies of getting the wool through the hole (blunt force vs the 'moisten' and carefully thread). But the children, as always, adapted the session and made it their own, creating watches, 'power belts', 'Frozen' necklaces, marshmallows on sticks, threading them on sticks for swords, as well as crafting a pair of glasses, although admittedly these turned in a slight personal challenge for myself...
The safe application of tools doesn't need to stop here at the Nursery. "Tools" are everywhere in the household too, from screwdrivers in "that drawer of random things", to the sharp knives and odd looking foreign gadgets in the kitchen drawers that Dad insisted on buying as it would "change the way they cook forever". Let your children help you in the kitchen with vegetable peelers, or to tinker with a screwdriver on an old toy (it's good idea to remove the batteries first if it has any). Allowing them to experience the tools on a supervised but experiential basis, will have much more lasting meaning to a child's educational, physical and indeed their emotional development then them just watching. Furthermore, I use tools with the children, I often let them have a decent go at it first, and then, if they seem to struggle, I ask first if they want me to help. Don't assume they do! It's a naughty habit that even I still find myself doing on occasion. Children can be just as proud as us adults, and the confidence boost from completing a task on their own is often very visible from the smile on their faces, as they announce to the world they "cut it all by themselves!"
Have a go. See what your child is capable of.