nuts, bolts, washers, oh my!

My kiddos have always loved playing with the plastic tools and accessories that accompanied our little play workbench, so when I was stuck at the hardware store a few days ago, I couldn’t resist grabbing a few bucks’ worth of nuts, bolts, washers, and other fun silvery-shiny things to bring back for Maddy, Owen, and Cora.

I’m always on the lookout for ways of honing the fine motor skills of my little ones, and I know they love to play with anything that is usually off-limits, like cell phones, remote controls, batteries, and their Dad’s tools. Now that Cora, at 2, is beyond the point of putting every little thing in her mouth, I thought it might be interesting and fun to see how they choose to play with these things, while they were secretly learning a bit along the way. . .

  • Nuts, Bolts, & Washer Fun: For the last few days, I’ve brought out a tray with several sizes of bolts (or are they screws? I’m not even really sure. . . ), several sizes of washers, and several sizes of nuts. I also picked up a bunch of ‘S’ shaped hooks. I put all of this shiny, silver, beautiful, tantalizing equipment on a tray along with the coveted tape measure, and I let Maddy, Owen, and Cora play freely. They looked nervous at first and wondered if I’d lost my mind or if their dad would be upset, but then they got rolling.

Maddy worked on patterns and then asked Owen or me to guess what they were; sometimes they included the S-hook, and sometimes they only involved nuts and washers. We would talk about the patterns, and then Owen and I together would try to copy them.

Owen used the tape measure to see which bolt was longer, which nut was the biggest, or whose foot was the shortest. Then he tried to take all of the nuts and put them on his bolt to make it the heaviest. And gosh, it got heavy.

Owen uses the tape measure.

Cora entertained herself by putting washers on bolts repeatedly. It was easiest for her to put the large washer on the most thin screw, and I wish I would have picked up some more large washers for her to use. She had a tough time putting the nuts on, but once I got them started and showed her how, she did fine.

After a good, long hand washing and some tired muscles, my three kiddos went off to play happily, bragging that Mommy let them play with Daddy’s tools.

Anything (pop-beads, regular beads, scissor work, crayon bits, or grip practice) that we can do to help improve our children’s fine motor skills is super-helpful in teaching them the tripod grip. It really is a skill that must be taught, and for some kiddos, it is far from natural. Sure, our children will probably be blogging their way through high school and typing assignments by grade three, but they’ll need to write their way through Kindergarten. And we want to make sure they’re ready to do it.

And that–on top of getting adjusted to swim team mornings and (finally!) some summer sun–is how we’ve passed just a teeny bit of time for the past few days.




  1. ONe PiNK FiSH says

    My boys would love this!! For mothers day my kindergarteners made washer necklaces for their mom's. I do not have a picture unfourtunaletly, but here is the jist of what we did.

    Cut a length of black ribbonlong enough to be tied and fit over your child's head. Place a small washer on top of the large washer. You only need two washers. Poke the ties ribbon through the center of both washers.When you can see that teh ribbon is making a small gap, thread the other end of the ribbon through that hole and tug. This should secure the washers to the ribbon. Now, you have a wonderful washer necklace to wear.

    google washer necklaces and you can find some really nice fancy ones as well.

    thanks for stopping by my site this morning. I linked you post to mine. Hope you don't mind. It's sends them right back to your originally posts. Thanks a bunch it was perfect.

  2. Smiling Mama says

    This is so great! I'm going to raid my husband's tool closet asap. Another idea for you (which if I can ever get my husband to prepare for us, I'll totally blog about) is to let your kids practice using a screwdriver. My idea is to have my husband drill a few big holes in a piece of scrap wood so Lucas can use a big screw and real screwdriver to actually screw them in. He's helped with a few minor projects like that and I'm amazed at the level of concentration he'll use to very slowly and carefully get the screw in tight.

  3. Katherine Marie! says

    What a fun learning experience~! We did a little tool time the other day and it was a BIG hit. We used a really heavy gift box and were able to practice with screws and nails. How come when I use tools in real life it's not THIS FUN!???

  4. teachmama says

    @smilingmama — super idea! I will add it to my husband's 'honey-do' list!

    @katherine marie — I'm going to search for a big box, too–I think Maddy and Owen would be okay with screws and nails, but I may wait for Cora. Love it!

  5. teachingyoungchildren says

    This looks like so much fun. I also like the previous commenter's idea of practicing with screws and screwdrivers. I think my daughter will really like it.

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