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Working With Wood

  • 1.  Working With Wood

    Posted 09-18-2019 08:17 AM
    Any good ideas on working with wood and/or planning a mini unit about wood with four year olds?

    Gina James
    Williston Pk NY

  • 2.  RE: Working With Wood

    Posted 09-19-2019 05:48 AM
    Hello Gina,
    Consider using magnifying glasses to let the children look at the characteristics of the cut up pieces of a tree limb and pine cones. They can also discuss texture rough, smooth, hard, etc. Let the children use sandpaper and make a rough surface smooth. You can also put nails in a piece of wood and using a small hammer, allow the children to beat them into the wood or screws and let them screw them into the wood. Finally, using small wooden blocks, let them predict what will happen; will it sink or float. Take a poll and let them explore! Good luck!

    J. Malone-Barnes
    Practicum Coordinator
    Children and Families Program
    Henry Ford College
    Dearborn, MI

  • 3.  RE: Working With Wood

    Posted 09-19-2019 12:30 PM
    The center I taught at for 21 years always had a workbench and activities available.  Hammering a slice of a large tree trunk was a favorite and we used the same slice of wood the whole time I was there!  Helping children develop tool usage skills is a process so we typically started with hammering golf tees into styrofoam pieces retrieved from packaging and into pumpkins - also super fun!  We taught children safety skills as we went along such as wearing safety goggles, how to hold tools, using clothespins to hold nails in place, etc.
    Additional activities could involve other tools like screwdrivers, hand drills..  ( keeping in mind need for adult supervision and the self-control skills of the children in your group).  These activities are great when done on the playground, too where the noise is less bothersome to the group.
    In recent years, we used a "maker" approach to our workbench and often placed bits of wood, string, bottle caps, along with tools to see what interesting constructions children would make.
    Asking parents to provide tree slices from branches (especially when they had storm damage to clean up) gave us really interesting bases to make wood collages with and could be used for hammering as well.
    A nature walk looking at trees and gathering branches would be interesting as well and then comparing it to manufactured wood products.  So many directions to go in - enjoy!

    Debora Jones
    Retired Master Teacher
    Burrier Child Development Center
    Eastern Kentucky University
    Berea KY

  • 4.  RE: Working With Wood

    Posted 09-21-2019 10:39 PM
    Hi Gina,

    You can do a lot of different activities with wood and twigs. 
    The round wood pieces are called 'wood cookies'. 
    1. You can pound nail half way in the wood all around and use colorful rubber bands, yarn, or loom loops as geo board. 
    2. Take four twigs, rocks, shells, and a medium size wood cookie and have the children play tic, tac, toe. 
    3. Use wood cookie as your base with loose parts i.e. pebbles, glass beads, bead necklaces,  etc....
    4. Woodworking with children can work with close supervision and discussion of safety. You can get bow saw and children work together to make more wood cookies.
    5. Take small to medium size twigs and let children wrap multicolored yarn around it and tie the end. Children can be creative with their twigs.
    6. Children can use potato peelers to peel the bark off the twigs. Again discussions about safety. Peel away from them.
    7. With a 'Y' shape twig, same concept as #5 but lace bells, bottle caps (drill holes ahead of time), etc to create musical instruments.
    8. Drill holes ahead of time on the twigs and have children lace beads in various lengths and tie them through the hole to hang it by the windows.
    9. Play games in the playground asking children to find various lengths of twigs. Afterwards use these inside to sort by sizes, use the twigs as pencils to write the letters or numbers in sand.
    10. Drill holes in wood cookies to have children lace through using pipe cleaners or yarn.

    Hope you never stop exploring with wood cookies and twigs!


    Molly Babu
    Membership Chairperson
    Rolling Mdws IL

  • 5.  RE: Working With Wood

    Posted 09-23-2019 12:12 PM
    I see a lot of suggestions already that I was going to make - I am loving this thread!

    One thing I would like to add is to hunt for items made of wood in your classroom. We often do this by getting a wood block, then examining it to get to really know the texture, patterns, and sounds associated with items made of wood. Often times with the first "knock" on a wood block, children will recognize that their doors might be made of wood. From there we start to look for other things in their everyday world that are made of wood - the toys, their pencils, the tables... they are always so proud to find something and make a new discovery! You can make a family connection/extension by challenging them to find things at home made of wood as well. In the simplest of terms, ethnobotany can be described as examining the human use of a plant - thank you for exploring ethnobotany with your young learners!

    Cheryl Potemkin
    Early Childhood and Family Programs Specialist
    BRIT - Botanical Research Institute of Texas
    Fort Worth TX