Tools for Tots
When it comes to activities with the kids at home, I’m more of an arts & crafts person. I have multiple boxes of craft supplies, and I use what’s inside all the time. Really, I’m not a hoarder – I need everything in those boxes.
On a cool rainy day, if I don’t feel up for an outdoor adventure, I make a big pot of coffee, cover the dining table with plastic – the kids know what’s coming next. They yell “Art project!!!” and grab their aprons. We pull out paper, paint, glue, glitter, feathers, scissors, paper plates, pom-poms, brushes and Q-tips (because sometimes even I am not up for finger painting), play dough, etc. We have a lot of messy fun, and proudly display our masterpieces afterwards.
If it were up to me, we would bake cookies, do crafts and read books all the time. But as much as my kids love doing crafts with Mommy, they are also drawn to hammers and nails. To the noisy, dusty and prone to injuries kind of fun. The best thing I might come up with is hammering a nail into a piece of scrap wood. And even then, I’ll be worried about hammering those busy little fingers instead, and spending the rest of our quality family time in the emergency room.
Home Depot Kids Workshop
When I found out about Home Depot Kids Workshop four years ago, and took my son there for the first time, I’m pretty sure I got some extra Mom points, and possibly became his favorite person on the planet. (That is, until Daddy came home.) When we showed up, my son got a bright orange apron, a building kit and – wait for it – a real hammer. A hammer for my 3-year-old?! I wasn’t sure that was such a great idea. It seemed he was just beginning to master a spoon. How was he suddenly ready for a finger-smashing grown-up tool? But others were doing it. There was no blood anywhere. So we decided to give it a try. The look on that three-year-old’s face was so worth my anxiety. Not only was he handed a heavy hammer and a nail, he was also required to hit that nail, as many times as he wanted. Without anyone telling him “Gentle”, “Not so loud” or “That’s enough”. He was a happy little boy!
This was exactly what son needed. We’ve tried to go to every single one of those workshops, and only missed a few due to sickness. Even being out of town was no reason to miss a scheduled workshop – because nearly every town in the country has a Home Depot!
When baby sister was out of her stroller and old enough to hold a hammer, she joined the fun too. Until then, she was observing and learning. Both of my children have special Home Depot aprons with their names on them. After every workshop, they get pins showing what they made. My daughter has fewer pins because she started collecting them a bit later. Just a few of the things we have in our collection are a fire station, a racecar, a pencil case, a military jet, a desk calendar, a picture frame, a bird feeder, a jeep and a whiteboard. And they are all functional toys, too! The pencil box slides open to store school supplies, the whiteboard comes with a marker, and all the cars and wagons are mobile with spinning wheels. Those are my children’s favorite toys. Making your toy with your own hands adds extra value to it. Knowing how it works inside out and using it properly means chances of breaking it are smaller. But really, everything is so sturdy it’s pretty hard to break anyway. The children also get to use screwdrivers of various sizes, sometimes pliers, wood glue. Most projects require a finishing touch of paint and stickers – also provided at the store. In the end, all participants get certificates of completion with their names on them.
When we have friends out of town visiting, it’s extra special when it falls on the first Saturday of the month. That’s when the workshops are. We always invite everyone to join. We have lots of wonderful memories and pictures from those workshops. It sort of became a family tradition, really. Since we started going to Home Depot workshops, we moved to a different state. Finding a local Home Depot, that was offering the same workshop, made us all feel a bit more at home. It was comforting to realize the tradition continues, and our collection of handmade toys will keep growing.
Know & Go
When: First Saturday of the month, 9 a.m. – 12 p.m.
Where: Your local Home Depot store
Cost: Free (register online to make sure you get your kit, and come early!)
This Saturday, March 3, we’re making a periscope! It’s worth going just to find out what a periscope is! My kids didn’t know, so they are excited to find out, and learn a few tips on how to be a good spy. Join the fun!