Build on your child’s creativity and imagination with some carpenter activities. You can incorporate these into a community helper theme, sharpen your preschooler’s budding building skills or fill the afternoon with some good ol’ “hard work.” You never know, you may be training him to build your retirement home someday.
Carpenters need to practice their skills before the big jobs. You can let your child practice hammering like a real carpenter. No need to pull out the metal nails and wood scraps for your little one. Find a handful of golf tees, a foam block and a toy hammer. Explain the proper method of holding and using the hammer. Then you can let him practice his skills while strengthening his hand-eye coordination. If you don’t have a foam block or he wants to play outside in the sunshine, he can pound the golf tees into the grass. Just make sure one of you picks them up before Dad’s next golfing venture.
What’s a construction worker without his tool belt? Collect a box of construction dress up clothes for your preschooler. You’ll want a reflective vest, hardhat, tool belt, toolbox, lunch box, insulated drink holder, boots, clipboard, overall pants and maybe even a flannel shirt or two. Make sure there are some play tools, such as a hammer, saw, cloth measuring tape and screwdriver. Let your child go through the clothes and choose his carpenter outfit. He’ll probably end up changing outfits a few times. He can choose to be a regular carpenter or a foreman. You can play, too.
He can draw up the building plans and the two of you can “build” a project. He could construct a house, skyscraper or city with some wooden building blocks. He could also pull out his measuring tape and measure the different wooden blocks to make sure they're up to spec. You could also grab an empty refrigerator box and make it into a house. He can pretend to hammer in some nails as you cut random pieces of cardboard for the roof or windows. Allow him to tape the pieces into place and decorate the outside with washable markers. He may have to walk around the house to do some random repairs, too.
Get your little construction worker revved up for his first day on the job by reading him some construction and builder books. “The Walrus and the Carpenter” by Lewis Carroll, et al., “B is for Builder” by June Sobel, “Building Machines and What They Do” by Derek Radford, “Alphabet Under Construction” by Denise Fleming, “Get to Work Trucks” by Don Carter, “The Carpenter's Gift: A Christmas Tale About the Rockefeller Center Tree” by David Rubel or any of the “Bob the Builder” books work well for this. You could also let him do some of the activities in “Preschool Color and Activity Books Builder,” put out by Priddy Bicknell Books, to finish off the afternoon.