Kids And The Importance of Tools in The Montessori Room!


Photo by the artists at Dollar Photo Club


Of the many Montessori activities I have set out over the years, the ones involving tools often end up staying in the environment all year long. They are used over and over everyday! One of the children's favorites has been this Clay Hammer Tray  pictured below that I got from Montessori Services a long time seems to last forever.

All photos in this post are by Carolyn at Magical Movement Company unless otherwise noted

I love how it is self-contained with compartments for the pegs (golf tees) and for the hammer. And, there are handles on either end for easy carrying from the shelf to the work table.

Another activity that is a big hit with the little children is this burlap covered foam hammering board that I found at Lakeshore Learning Store many years ago. 

This comes as a "Hammer Board Kit" with several plastic hammers and also an ample supply of plastic peg "nails". I have sometimes replaced the plastic hammer with a wooden one and I have also used wooden golf tees with this set-up as variations. The foam is dense, thick and fits inside a sturdy burlap cover that can be unzipped, removed, and then stretched to replenish the cloth. Then, you can replace the foam when it is finally completely covered with hammer holes and just zip the burlap cover back on the new foam. Lakeshore carries replacement parts!

I've even varied this activity by replacing the "hammer" and "nails" with actual screws and screw driver from the hardware store. Later, it's fun to set up 2 screw drivers: a Phillips head and also a regular screw driver with a variety of screws for each type of screw driver. 

The Montessori Outdoor Classroom is a great place for children to practice their skills with tools. The clay hammer set-up pictured below is DIY teacher-made! 

For this home-made clay hammer tray I used:

Another engaging hammer activity for the Outdoor Classroom is the Smashing Aluminum Cans Work pictured below.

For this activity I used:

  • A kid-height, sturdy, wide, and level tree stump
  • A rubber mallet
  • Child size work gloves (to prevent accidentally getting cut on the aluminum can)
  • Child size safety goggles
  • Empty aluminum cans for recycling (parents will gladly bring these in for your group to crush & recycle)
Another outdoor activity for a child to practice hammering with a rubber mallet is the Crushing Chalk Activity pictured below.

For this activity I used:

After the chalk is crushed into a fine powder, the children can mix the powder with water and voila!...SIDEWALK PAINTS! Just add a paint brush. 
Remember to separate the various colors of chalk into their own separate ziplocks so that the chalk can later be made into various colors of paint. (Sorting the colors of chalk is a great sorting activity for the child)
Provide a scoop, a paint pot, pitcher of water and a spoon for mixing the chalk paint. Lots of process here!

As children gain skills with hammering activities, you can introduce the beautiful "Tap-Tap" Art Activity pictured below.

To make this activity Montessori-style, I created and laminated design cards from the picture suggestions that are on the cover of the packaging box. The child chooses a design card and then recreates the design with the wooden pieces hammered onto the cork board that all comes with the kit.

I have also changed the hammer size depending on the age and skill level of the children. I usually start with a larger child-size hammer and later introduce the hammer that comes with the set, which has a much smaller head. (which can be challenging!)

Just about the most popular tool activity EVER (!) is the Grinding Coffee Beans Work pictured below.

I like to bring my favorite coffee beans for the children to grind for me. They carefully save the ground up coffee into its container and proudly present it to me for my coffee the next morning! 
For this activity I used:

  • 3 scoops of coffee beans in a bowl with a scooping tool
  • A hand-crank coffee grinder
  • A container for the ground coffee
First the child scoops the beans into the holding apparatus (bowl) on the top of the grinder. After the child cranks the grinder and the beans have disappeared from the holding apparatus on the grinder, the child opens the little drawer below and finds the coffee beans transformed into fragrant coffee grounds ready to brew! 

Operating the hand crank coffee grinder is a wonderful preparation for the hand to be ready to turn the crank on a woodworking drill.

For this Drilling Wood Activity I used:

You can also set up a Drilling Wood Shelf Work that is on a tray and has everything the child needs to practice drilling holes into a block of soft wood. This work can be carried to a table and worked that way.

The all-time favorite tool work in my Montessori Preschool classrooms has consistently been the Assembling a Flashlight Activity pictured below!

This beautiful wooden tray that houses the components of the flashlight is available at Montessori Services and it is well worth the initial cost. They even sell replacement flashlights! (I only needed to buy a replacement flashlight once in over ten years of daily use by the children!)
UNFORTUNATELY, when I looked up the Montessori Services link for this wonderful is NO LONGER AVAILABLE!
I guess you could substitute something like a simple wooden tray with five compartments (like for eating utensils) and purchase a sturdy child size flashlight whose components fit into the compartments. I was so disappointed and can find no other supplier of the Assembling A Flashlight tray! Please keep me posted if you happen to locate this wonderful activity.  

Whenever small parts of a Montessori material happened to fall and end up under a shelf or any other hard to see places, the children would rush to the flashlight activity, put it together, and then turn it on to search for the missing piece! 

Afterwards, the child/ren carefully dismantle the flashlight and place the components back in their places on its tray. That way the batteries last longer and the activity is all set up for the next child to do.

Here's a sweet Outdoor Classroom Woodworking Activity complete with its little tool carrier and leather apron pictured below.

In my very first Montessori Preschool in the 1980's, we set up our woodworking station on the back porch by hanging a sturdy shelf on the wall at the child's height. The materials for making a simple geo board were always available for the children and the noisy hammering was away from the classroom area.

Doesn't everyone need to learn how to use tools to make their homes and their lives much better?!

Photo by the artists at Dollar Photo Club

So glad you could stop by and check out this fun post! You might like to read some of my past posts about the Arts with young children by clicking here: ARTS.
And, more about the Outdoor Classroom by clicking here: OUTDOORS.

This post is part of the Montessori Mondays Link-up at Living Montessori Now where you'll find dozens of articles from Montessori bloggers around the world! Click this link to read more: Montessori Monday Link-up.

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