Tag Archives: tools

Everyday Play with Tools

by Sukie Jackson

Everyday Play with Tools

While remodeling a bedroom in preparation for the arrival of our second child, I spent many afternoons in hardware stores with lists of tools and materials to buy. Often, my two-year-old son, Kenji, was with me. It was his fascination with nails, tools, pipes, wood, chains and just about everything else there that started me purchasing hardware toys.

Here are some examples:

  • plastic toolbox (even the latch is engaging)
  • adjustable wrench (experiment with “jaw” widths)
  • putty knife (works great with play dough)
  • tape measure (look for one that has a gentle retractor)
  • plastic plumbing pipe pieces (a puzzle for the many ways these can be screwed together)
  • paintbrushes and a paint can filled with water (great for large motor skills and learning about evaporation)
  • pliers (try having your child pick up/clean up with these)
  • flashlight (a night walk is such an adventure)
Older 3s using tools to work on bike

Older 3s using tools to work on bike

What I liked about these hardware-store toys is they helped us to make our son a part of our everyday life. Each tool has a real purpose, and he could see what we did with tools to fix, clean, change or build. Like all parents, I am concerned about the safety of toys. I made sure to be in the same room or outside area supervising Kenji when he used these tools. I appreciated their durability and the many creative uses my son found for each one.

Although Kenji is a boy, I heartily recommend hardware toys for girls as well. These toys help children of both sexes become comfortable with tools from an early age and help them feel confident and independent.

In the same way that including children in work projects at home provides learning opportunities, Ruth Washburn Maintenance Days offer children the chance to watch, work and play alongside adults using a  variety of tools for the real purpose of readying the school for classes. The learning has already begun when children can see their parents model volunteering, a caring for the school environment and skills as they clean, fix and build.

RW graduate Kenji is now twenty-six years old. Playing with tools as a child prepared him well for his current tools, an otoscope and stethoscope. In his training to become a pediatrician Kenji’s first year medical school  advisor just happened to be another RW graduate, Dr. Ben Scott.

Happy Hammering!


Sukie Jackson   Older 4s teacher.