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Grandparents column: Fun with tools and stumps

1:41 PM, Jan. 23, 2013  |  Comments
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No matter what the season, children like to play outdoors. Sometimes no special plan is the best choice, but other times caregivers can foster curiosity and learning while playing outside together. While any person can help, grandfathers might especially enjoy helping children work with simple tools. For more activities and information see grandparentsteachtoo.org.

The authors' books "Learning through The Seasons" are available at museums, bookstores, and e-books at Smashwords.com.

Materials needed

Several hammers, a variety of nails in a box or sack, a ruler or tape measure, a tree stump, and a camera

What to do

Outside in your yard or woods nearby, find a tree stump at least the size of a dinner plate. Plan to pound in some nails on the top of a stump.

Take a moment to teach about safety when someone is using a hammer. Check out the different kinds and sizes of hammers and the various nails. Count out a variety of large nails and look for things that are the same and different. Use words like more, less, force, rough, smooth, pointy, sharp, hard, center, edge, and shiny, rusty, and lichen, moss, and tree rings.

Look at the tree stump. What happened to this tree? How does the stump smell? Is there still bark on the sides? Can you see any roots?

While taking turns, let the children choose a hammer and nail and pound away leaving enough of the nail exposed to pull out later. Sometimes an older person must start the nail. Whose nail went in the farthest? Are some of them crooked? Did children make any designs?

When everyone has had a few turns, count how many nails are in the stump and how many are left. Take pictures of the stump and workers to show and tell stories to others later. Then pull the nails back out and take them with you.

What else can we do?

Before or after the hammering activity, kids will like to stand up on the stump and jump down into leaves, grass, or snow. Pretend to be statues, animals, or stand tall and yell as loud as you can. Can you count the rings together? Measure the top of the stump or perhaps the height from the ground.

How will this help my child?

The activity helps children have fun and learn about nature while exercising and playing outside. Hammering helps develop eye-hand coordination and strength. Taking turns and waiting for others to finish are important social skills. Counting, measuring and using the special vocabulary serve as a foundation for learning later in school. Most important, working and playing with an adult who is giving children complete attention is valuable time for both.

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