misc #1: why kids hate toy tools

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Blog entry by kaaahl posted 03-26-2012 05:52 PM 1624 reads 0 times favorited 7 comments Add to Favorites Watch
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As a way to finish writing my thesis, I ran away to my parents empty house in Utah. I don’t know anyone here and am pretty much cut off from everyone. Except my older sister and her three kids. As I have been hanging out with them over the past few weeks, all I seem to hear are comments like “I don’t know how…”, “I can’t do that…”, etc. So this last weekend I decided to do something about it.

I’m a big fan of this guy. I don’t know if it is just that I am getting (relatively) older, but I remember pulling out my dad’s real tools since I was 5 or 6 and taking them into the sandbox or the back field or wherever. So at ages 9 and 11, I figured they should start a project that is hard for them.

They both thought of projects they wanted to do: a pencil holder and a nightstand for a doll. Seven hours later we emerged. All I did was cut wood on the table saw. I made the girls find wood from the scrap pile, lay out their project, figure out how they wanted to attach things, how to hold down a workpiece, drill the holes, screw things together, and sand everything. It took 6 hours. And a lot of patience. But as they were getting in the van to go home, I overheard one say “check it out, I MADE THIS!”

I turned my roubo-workbench-in-progress upside down and put it outside for the little one. He spent a lot of the time actually doing stuff. I’m convinced kids even as young as 2-3 can tell what is a real tool. Real tools do something—when you file the edge of the board, shavings come off.

Laying out the project. I was running short on safety glasses, so one looks like a pilot.

Cleaning up. The younger one was awesome. The older one kept disappearing.

Finished projects!

7 comments so far

View derosa's profile


1577 posts in 2886 days

#1 posted 03-26-2012 06:07 PM

Nice, I can’t wait to spend time in the shop with my children building something. I suspect from my sister’s and BIL’s abilities that my nephew will be joining us on occasion as well.

-- --Rev. Russ in NY-- A posse ad esse

View BTimmons's profile


2303 posts in 2535 days

#2 posted 03-26-2012 06:40 PM

I totally agree with where you’re coming from. As a kid I enjoyed tinkering, and any time I got to use tools was awesome. It’s no coincidence that my favorite toy by far was my huge Lego collection. Tool use is so ingrained in us as a species, for good reason. We love making things, and I think that encouraging kids along those lines isn’t just a nice thing to do for kids. I think it’s necessary for your development. It makes for good life lessons, it’s a skill builder, and it’s a reminder of our genetic legacy of what it means to be human.

-- Brian Timmons -

View canadianchips's profile


2602 posts in 3047 days

#3 posted 03-26-2012 06:56 PM

My grandkids are the same. Oldest disappears when there is serious work to do, youngest is right in there getting it DONE !
Good link to TED.

-- "My mission in life - make everyone smile !"

View Philip's profile


1277 posts in 2589 days

#4 posted 03-27-2012 04:10 AM

Well done! Great advice and great video. Taking things apart and getting my first pocketknife were life-defining moments.

-- I never finish anyth

View crashn's profile


528 posts in 2515 days

#5 posted 03-28-2012 02:18 AM

My son will be one in a couple of weeks. He loves coming out to the shop/garage with me. His face lights up and he giggles and his eyes are super wide. Of course, he is too young to do anything at this point, but I cannot wait until he is old enough to get some time with me in the shop! When I was young, I loved model building, taking toasters apart (so my mom tells me) and anything else I could get my hands on. I have already warned the wife that if the toaster disappears, you can bet the boy took it apart.

These kinds of activities are the best for kids, beats tv and computer games hands down!

Keep up the good work, your kids will cherish these memories for a life time.

-- Crashn - the only thing I make more of than sawdust is mistakes

View Mark Shymanski's profile

Mark Shymanski

5621 posts in 3762 days

#6 posted 04-12-2012 01:35 AM

I’ve had my kids in the shop since they were in diapers; there is always some ag e appropriate thing they can do. My little girl even reads LJs with me (like right now). So of the best times in my life is with the kids or Jen and I in the shop.

Hope the thesis writing is going well, been there done that and I feel for you. I wish you success on the paper and defense!

-- "Checking for square? What madness is this! The cabinet is square because I will it to be so!" Jeremy Greiner LJ Topic#20953 2011 Feb 2

View hjt's profile


871 posts in 3188 days

#7 posted 05-18-2012 02:36 AM

Very good – I remember working with my dad when I was a little boy. Now. many years later I have most of his tools

-- Harold

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