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The Merits of Carpenty

carpentry for everyoneDo you remember whacking away at a nail when you were a kid? Did you enjoy that satisfying “thunk” when you actually got it right and sunk one straight into the wood? Ah, the good old days of basic motor skills!

Well, I got to vicariously re-live that feeling again. Primary teacher Jordan started what was supposed to be a one time project that turned so popular as to become a permanent installation in the playground scene.

Under the roof of “Lisa’s House”, which at the moment is more of a multi-use pole barn, Jordan set up a grand selection of basic carpentry tools and materials for the kids to have a whack at. Starting with donated wood, some hammers, and some nails, students got to explore how different woods behave differently when a nail is driven into them (pine likes to split, for instance). Then pre-drilling with the hand drill came into play, although it turned out that taking the bit in and out of the drill was just as much fun as actually drilling! This was how I ended up being drawn over to the carpentry area in the first place – the Great, Lost Drill Bit Hunt!concentration

Carpentry with kids is great fun and is a perfect activity to develop hand-eye coordination. When using a hammer, for instance, students need to direct the muscles of the arm, wrist, and hand to perform with speed, force, and precision. Stamina and patience are also called for, as kids can seldomly drive a nail all the way in with a single blow.

The techniques and materials used are also all so wonderfully low-tech by modern standards. Wood and steel. Glue. Sand paper. Stuff you can really get your hands on for a rich sensory experience. Carpentry creates opportunities to discover creativity, problem solving, logic, and cooperation. And for mathematics humbugs, carpentry lets you discover pragmatic uses for math functions like line exploration and measurement, making math fun and practical instead of a grind.

So the next time you find yourself in the garage with about two point four seconds of spare time, grab a hammer and a block of wood and drive a nail home, just for old times sake ;)