Hammering is one of Z’s favourite activities at home. When he turned 3, I upgraded him to a real hammer (child-sized) and real nails. I purchased 1″ nails from Home Depot as they had the biggest head. We stack 3 trivets from Ikea due to the length of the nails. I didn’t have any wooden pieces in hand, but found that cut-out foam pieces or even construction paper pieces works really well. I appreciate the flexibility of being able to cut out our own shapes.
In the beginning, I had to “pre-hammer” the nails in for him so that the nails wouldn’t wobble around as he was trying to hammer. We had lots of practice and his accuracy improved over time.
Now at 3.5 years old, and after being out of rotation for almost half a year, I’ve re-introduced it again. He is attracted to it right away but now he doesn’t need any help pre-hammering the nails in anymore. He is fully capable of holding a nail still while he hammers and he knows how to remove his fingers once the nail is stable.
What’s next? Perhaps learning how to use other woodworking tools. He’s already really good with a screwdriver from our past activity, so I’m thinking of drilling skills (manual using a crank drill available from Montessori Services or Amazon US). I have actually purchased a hacksaw for the boys, but I don’t quite right have the right (and safe) setup yet — maybe I’ll get around to it in the summer. All of our woodworking activities are done with supervision.
Living Montessori Now has compiled some simple woodworking projects for children. Also, if you live in the United States or Canada, Home Depot and Lowes offer a free kid’s woodworking workshop every month. The projects mostly involve gluing and hammering.
You can get child-sized hammering kits from Amazon, however Montessori Services seems to have the widest and most child-appropriate range of woodworking tools (individual or sets), from hammers to wooden mallets to safety glasses to tool belts.