As soon as they were mobile, anything with buttons or an on/off switch was fair game. Anything that could be tinkered with was given a thorough work out. Ok they did both push dolls in pushchairs at the toddler group, but I think it was the wheels and speed they were really drawn to- I didn't notice an awful lot of nuturing for the poor "baby" that was being rocketed around the hall; and they played with the toy cooker- buttons to press and turn.
They had various toy tools to play with when they were little, which they did enjoy (it is suprisingly satisfying to whack a wooden peg through a little hole!) and they still use little tools like spanners and allen keys for meccano-type construction toys; but with a DIY daddy in the house there was no doubt that they quickly knew they'd rather play with the real thing.
|Helping build the tree house.
|Oooh, a real hammer!
Zac "helped" him construct the tree house aged 18 months, and they both got involved in making the climbing frame. Hitting a nail with a hammer requires pretty good hand-eye coordination, and getting a screwdriver into the end of a screw and then keeping it there while you turn it is also a tough challenge for your fine motor skills!
|Investigating my new tools.
|Off to the shed.
For Danny's third birthday Martin gave him a real tool box with some real tools in, and an electric screwdriver! I wasn't sure, but of course Danny was thrilled. He had a plank of wood with a few screws knocked in, and spent ages screwing and unscrewing them with his brilliant new tool.
It's not only DIY tools they love, gardening tools are also very appealing. The boys both love being given a proper trowel or spade to dig with and they're now allowed to use the secateurs and even the fly-mo under supervision.
|You can dig much deeper with a real spade.
|Two men went to mow.
So I guess in our house, tools have been a great way to practise a range of motor skills by tapping into something they're genuinely interested in. Tools have also allowed us to give the boys a sense of responsibility- we've trusted them to do something quite grown-up and they've responded by being especially sensible whilst using them. And at the same time, the kids have learned some genuinely useful skills for the future so hopefully they'll be able to look after us, and their own families when the time comes!
I love this blog-post about children using real tools at their pre-school to make a water wall. What a fantastic opportunity:
Or how about Teacher Tom's arty take on power tools with young kids: