Using “real” tools with preschool aged children can seem like a big risk or safety hazard.  Did you know that there are many benefits to allowing preschool aged children the opportunity to explore and engage with tools?

Allowing your preschool aged child to use real tools provides many different opportunities for both learning, exploring and creating.

To start, look at a real tool box.  Make mention of each tool you see, allow your child to touch and try (with supervision of course) and explain and show what each tool is used for.

tools for preschoolers

Next, using children’s toy tools, explore what needs “fixing” either in your house or classroom.  Engaging in pretend play allows children to try and use the tools correctly, practice the language and names of each tool and build their creativity through their “fixing”.

children fixing computers with tools

Something we tried in Room 11, was using old wooden planks, nails and a small hammer for some “hands on tool” trying (with adult supervision of course).  The children were encouraged to put nails into pilot holes and hammer each nail until it was stuck.  This requires LOTS of concentration.  The children needed to do 3 tasks at once, to complete the skill of hammering.  First, they needed to pinch their nail and hold it in place in the pilot hole.  Next, they had to watch the nail in the pilot hole and (lastly) they had to use the hammer to hammer their nail into the hole.  This was tricky for the kids.  They needed to both watch and pinch their nail and then hammer at the same time, but with a lot of experimenting the children were all able to hammer properly!

child hammering nails
young boy using tools at preschool

Using “real” tools requires the use of many skills!

  • Fine Motor Skills: Children will be using their hands and fingers to grasp, twist, turn, pinch, bang and use hand-eye coordination with tools.
  • Speech and Language Skills: Children will be learning the proper names of each tool and remembering them during their play.
  • Cognitive Skills: Children will be using problem solving skills (how can I get this nail to stay in a piece of wood) in order to complete a skill.
  • Social Emotional Skills- Children will be “fixing” with play tools and using imagination through pretend play.
  • Independence Skills- Children will be completing tasks independently (such as hammering a nail into a piece of wood independent).  This allows children to build confidence through play.