The Tools of the Trade

The Tools of the Trade


Toddlers and DIY aren’t words you’d likely find in the same sentence. Surprisingly, the two can go together to create some amazing learning opportunities that can do wonders for a child’s mental and motor skill development.

Interestingly, there is a wealth of knowledge and success stories on parenting blogs and thought tanks like Pinterest that show off the successful combination of pre-schoolers and DIY. As well as teaching them ‘how stuff works’, certain tailor-made DIY activities fall under what The Early Years Learning Framework of Australia calls ‘play based learning’. This is a process through which children organise and make sense of the world around them as they engage actively with objects, representations, and people.

Simple activities like tightening screws (plastic toy substitutes or parent-supervised real tools for older builders) are fantastic for developing and refining problem solving skills as well as fine motor skills. This leads on to assisting children in preparation for handwriting when they reach school-age.

Trial-and-error activities such as taking apart an inexpensive flashlight and allowing older children to see if they can put it back together works like a puzzle. Owing to its battery operation and small number of parts, the glowing light shines as the reward for the young constructor who manages to assemble the piece on their own.

Other supervised fine motor fun activities that children can have also includes allowing them to use some real and/or toy tools to imprint or “fix” blocks of play-dough. As previously seen in our August issue you can create your own no-cook play-dough which is a perfect activity for this kind of play-based learning. It allows children to concentrate as they set about their construction project.

DIY activities worked on together allow children to fulfil the Fourth and Fifth Learning outcome of the Early Years Learning Framework:

  • Children are Confident and Involved Learners
  • Children are Effective Communicators

Together they develop curiosity, cooperation, creativity, persistence, imagination and reflexivity as a result of play-based learning.

By showing children the parts that create a bigger product incites ideas of wonder, encouraging young learners to ponder what makes things work, to ask questions, and want to learn why things are the way they are.

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