Quick Takes Friday – An Independent Child’s Tool Box

So what does every five-year-old want to do?

Take over the world.

Providing them with the tools and training to do so is a parent’s duty.  In the spirit of spring, (It has to come sometime soon, right?) I submit this list.

By the way, our oldest received these for his birthday when he was 5.  Most items were located at the local hardware store.  He still uses the tools today and has added a few to the list.

One – Safety First!

Safety Goggles – although you can make functional ones out of  a 2 liter soda bottle. Download the PDF here HTgoggles.

What about Gloves? – In my experience, gloves are fun to put on but don’t stay on long and get in the way.  Most hardware stores in farming and more rural communities carry child-sized gloves.  If you can’t locate them, you can order online here.

Two – Storage

Tool box – needs to be able to be moved around by the child.

Three – The Tools

Hammer – find a nice sized light weight hammer.  Help may be found here.

Saw – we found that a hack saw was relatively easy to control.  We bought both – the regular saw and a hack saw. Other parents use key-hole saws.

Hand cranked drill with bits – this one is tricky.  We couldn’t find one at the local hardware store. and my dad had on he was willing to pass it on.  Traditional and Modern ones may be purchased on line.  A number of teachers I have worked with prefer the modern ones.  One found it in a crafts store with the scrap booking materials.

Screw driver – don’t go for the one with bits.  They get lost.  Go with a few sizes of screw drivers, too.

Regular pliers

Needle-nosed pliers

Adjustable wrench

Four – The Accessories

Vice – great for holding wood while the little guy is sawing.  If you don’t get one, you will be the vice.   It does require a permanent home. (see below)

Carpenter’s Apron – cute but pockets work, too.

Five – Other Stuff

Bag of Peas for missed hammer shots and band aids for other misses. Ouch.


  • Roofing nails (the ones with the orange plastic tab)  Really you want to go for these.  The collar helps protect the learning fingers from missed hammer blows and helps the child to locate them when they are pulled out of the log. (see below) Give the child or ten at a time in a tin cup.  You want to be able to see that your daughter remembered to pick-up all 10 so your tire doesn’t find the nail for you.
  • Ones with big heads – these are for real projects.

Screws – make sure it matches the screw driver type

Tape measure – cloth tape measures work wonderfully, and although they don’t make that cool noise when they retract, they don’t break or slice little hands.  The cranking motion is also a great way to work on pincher grip (finger strength for pencil control).

Log – no not the Ren and Stempy’s Log – this log is for practicing nailing the roofing nails into and pulling them out.  (Really recommended as a pre-present along with the hammer and roofing nails.)  The wood is soft.  Lay the log on its side and make sure goggles are attached to face. A tin cup with the nails set within arms reach. And away we go. There is a way to do it.  Try it yourself and think through all your tap, tap, hits.

Six – Now What?

Build – make something –  no, not with you child.  Build something yourself.  Fix something.  Be conscious of the way you do it and how you clean it up. You are modeling how it is done.

Educate – explain and show what each tool is used for.  I know you will discuss safety. Make sure you discuss rust.  Rust is one of the motivators for putting away tools.

Help don’t Do – she wants to do it herself.  If she doesn’t don’t help the first time by doing it.  Say something along the lines of, ” if you hold the screwdriver straight up and down instead of at an angle (and reach over and show her how to straighten her screw driver) then it will work better.”  You are providing skills not doing it.

Seven – Resources


1 Comment

Filed under Educational Philosophy, Montessori, Practical Life - 3 to 6 years, Quick Takes Friday, Woodworking

One response to “Quick Takes Friday – An Independent Child’s Tool Box

  1. Leah Crosby

    Home depot used to give away child sized carpenter aprons if you attended one of their Sat morning kids classes. The one we went to years ago 😉 was actually quite good. We used this for building, painting, and cooking too! You can’t beat free!

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