Around here, when grandma calls to say here is some money, go get the kids a gift, I usually head to Lowe’s.
I know some of you might be horrified to hear that I let my kids play with screws and nails, and that’s fine. I don’t expect everyone to understand or support it, the simple fact is that around here, a hammer and a nail are as common as breakfast cereal might be at your house.
And the kids are in on the action. Always.
Not only they won’t agree to it any other way, we believe that it’s our duty as parents to teach them useful skills for life. Building, fixing, and breaking things apart is what we do on a daily basis, and those are very valuable lessons every child, no matter what age should learn.
Besides, it’s much more fun than a flashy, colorful, vibrating, plastic toy that assaults all your child’s senses at once and drives you mad with its annoying cheerful tune!
If you think that this kind of approach might be right with my kids but most definitely not yours, I challenge you to give it a try. You are underestimating how smart your child really is.
You might not be comfortable with giving your kids nails at the beginning, totally understandable. But the next time you want to buy them a toy I encourage you to get them a ‘real’ thing.
Maybe you can head to the thrift store and get some cheap pots and pans. A butter knife and a spatula. A few flat bed sheets they can make tents with.
Maybe you can head over to Micheal’s and get some sea shells (if you don’t live by the beach), or ribbons, or marbles.
Maybe you can go to Walgreens and get an elastic bandage, a cheap thermometer, a box of vinyl gloves, and a syringe so they can play doctor.
Or maybe you can head to the home improvement store and get a couple of cheap flashlights and a few hex bolts and nuts. They’ll go have a blast in a dark room with the flashlights and screw and unscrew the nuts on and off the bolts for hours.
A Real Tool Box for the Little Homesteader
So here is what I got for my kids (5, 3, 2) tool box…
Note – there are some rules to playing with this tool box. I don’t just place it in their room and let them go crazy… I’ll list the rules later in this post.
Flashlight – $1.97
Winch Hook – $1.79
Screws – $6.58
Nails – $3.47
I get large screws and nails so it’s easy to find them. I also don’t give my kids the whole box. See Play Rules bellow.
Clothesline supporter – $1.61
Screwdriver – $0.98
Clamp – $5.98
Rubber mallet – $4.73
Flat washers – 5 x 0.33 = $1.65
Hex nuts (small) – 13 x 0.38 = $4.94
Hex nuts (large) – 5 x 0.54 = $2.70
Hex bolts – 4 x 0.38 = $1.52
Tape measure – $3.98
Few shoe laces and bungee cords that I had laying around – free.
Kobalt tool bag – $9.99
Next, I went to the board cutting area in Lowe’s and ask the guy that was there if I can get a few pieces of wood from the dumpster. He didn’t have a problem with it so I grabbed a few. Then I came home and cut them so they are smaller and easier for the kids to handle.
Make sure to sand the ends so no one gets a splinter.
We drilled a few holes in the bigger pieces so it’s easier for the kids to hammer the nails and screw the screws.
Since I have three kids (and it’s grandma’s money ;-)), I added a couple more Rubber mallets, flashlights and tape measures.
However, for everything you see above the total was: $57.07 + $4.30 (sales tax) = $61.37
- Unless daddy is building something outside and they want to help, we play inside. A certain room in the house is good, or a garage will work too. The simple reason is because my kids are so young I want to be able to supervise and I can’t do that if each one of them is running in a different direction. Also, they tend to leave things laying around in the grass.
- Each child receives two screws and two nails from me and it is their responsibility to bring them back. Not because I don’t think they can handle more than two, but because I want to know how many we have out so we can make sure to find them all when we are done playing.
- No hitting, no fighting, no ‘fixing’ the furniture or damaging the house.
That’s it. Other than that they can do whatever they want and build whatever they want.
If someone is not listening to the rules they can’t play. They have to go and stay in a different room until the others are done playing. The good thing with these kinds of ‘toys’, is that usually they are much more interested in playing than messing with each other.
So tell me, how is it at your house? Do you let your kids participate in the daily ‘adult’ activities? Do they cook with you? Do they build with you?
How was it for you as a child? Did you ever play with tools? Do you have memories of working on a project with your dad or mom?