Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Real Tools

Recently I was reading an overview of educational theories. One of the repeated phrases I heard included kids doing real work with real tools.

So I began to review my photos to see if and how I may be following this idea. As I looked through photos for the past months, I saw examples of incorporating real tools in the children's work (play). Here are some of the things I found.

Using a sweeper
Using brush and dust pan
Using rulers and other measuring tools
Using a glue gun
Using an electronic scale
Using a magnifying glass
Using mixing bowl, whisk, cutting board, and recipe book
Using a laundry basket
Using measuring tapes and tool aprons
Using the camera
As you can see, I expanded the definition of "tools" beyond what we may normally think about. But all of these items were "real items," items that I purchased from the "grown up" parts of a store.

When I think of real work with real tools, I think of Teacher Tom. He gives kids tools for construction and creating in ways that I admire and hope to one day emulate. (There are lots of posts on Tom's blog; these are just a couple.)

Also Jenny at Let the Children Play has kids using tools outside. Sherry and Donna at Irresistible Ideas for Play Based Learning encourage kids to explore with real tools to take apart stuff. And so on among all my blogging friends.

I guess the important thing to think about - don't just look in the toy aisles and teacher resources sites for stuff to use in the classroom. Look at "real" stuff for kids to use.

What ways do you use real tools with kids?


  1. You're so right Scott. Real tools can be found in a wide range of real life experience, and we know that children LOVE to emulate the real life adult world.
    Donna :) :)

  2. During construction week awhile back in the school year, I allowed the students to hold and handle a cordless screwdriver. It was heavy for their hands but with teacher help and supervision, they were able to squeeze thetrigger and screw some screws into a scrap piece of wood.

  3. SPOT ON! I believe authenticity adds to any experience & provides so much more than 'pretend' toys. Last year my preschoolers used a hand saw, screwdriver, hammer & industrial adhesive to construct their own wooden marble maze. Some of them needed a little extra guidance, but most were surprisingly competent when given the opportunity to try something real. It also meant they had ownership of the maze as they had all played a part in making it. Empowering stuff.
    Greg :)

  4. Scott - thanks so much for the photos and articulating this important point that children should use real tools when we can offer them! This was a big discussion for my college level student-teachers - they couldn't believe that children could use hammers or staplers or glue guns :) Excellent post! Jeanne, http://zellasaidpurple.blogspot.com/