Thursday, August 14, 2014

Pre-School creations at St Marks Anglican Community School

Recently we did a woodworking incursion at St Mark's Anglican Community School, in Hillarys, here in Perth, Western Australia. This is the third year I have gone to the school to work with the Pre-primary students.

We had two classes of 30 kids - 5 year olds - and they had a ball! It was great to see the amazing things they created. It was our normal set-up for "Free Creative Play" in a school context. Across the 14 small benches we had 30 cross-pein hammers. On each of the benches were a pair of pincers, pencils, and nail containers with assorted nail sizes. The Sawing Station was set up with 8 assorted tenon/carcass saws at various heights appropriate to the size of the kids. There was a big pile of softwood pieces in various shapes and sizes for the kids to use, which we kept topping up.

After a briefing/demonstration about safe and efficient tool use, the kids get to make whatever they like from the material available.
One of the two tables of completed creations.
It was good to have a heap of parent helpers along to assist the kids, and they often get to learn a few tricks and techniques with hand tools too. Of course, the parents are asked to not "take over" (something Dads are notorious for) but to just hold things and generally help while the kids creativity goes wild. Thanks to those parents adn the wonderful staff for helping make it a great day.

What are the benefits for 5 year olds doing woodwork?
The benefits are numerous, but here are just a few:
  • Using any hand tools, but exsecially the saws, requires some body awareness. Sawing involves so many macro and micro muscle movements. Getting your body and body parts in the right position makes a big difference to the ease of sawing, When things "click into place" for a child using a saw, it is empowering and encouraging for them. They love it.
  • Skills for life. As kids we learn from experience, observation and reinforcement. Learning how to use a hammer or a saw is something you can take with you into the rest of yoru life. If a kid goes home from school that day and asks their parent(s) if there is a hammer in the house, that's a great thing. Hopefully the parent(s) will let their kid use it and give them a bunch of nails and a few peices of wood.
  • Working out how to put things together involves problem solving. So kids creating things with pieces of wood and a few hand tools will develop problem solving sklls - and problem solving builds resilience.   
  • Making things with pieces of wood helps the kids develop spatial relation skills, as they work out how to fit things together. Comparing pieces, cutting to size, choosing the right nail size, finding the right piece in the big bin of pieces - all these processes in the making of something help the brain develop spatial relation skills.
  • The encouragement and satisfaction derrived from completing the making of something is affirming and very positive. The resulting positive feedback the child receives from others around them helps to build self-confidence. Once again, self-confedence helps to build resilience.
  • In a press-button instant world, it's great for kids to experience the reality of something requireing some physical and mental effort, persistence and committment around a tangible, tactile medium and the creatiion of a real thing which can be played with, given as a gift, or displayed as a decorative item of momento. The creation which keeps on giving.
We do quite a lot of work with really young kids. They thrive on it, so it is always a pleasure to see them blossoming in the short period that they are at the bench creating something with their own hands.

Great to see this little guy using the small end of a cross-pein hammer, to get at a tricky nail position -  just as I had demonstrated at teh start of the class. Kids are often smarter than we adults give them credit for...

We are never too young or too old to benefit from the joy of woodworking!

1 comment:

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