Kids love to use real tools, so as part of our preschool rock theme activities I decided to let the kids learn about the properties of rocks by smashing them with real tools. Keep reading. I haven’t lost it.
If you already let your young kids use tools, that’s awesome. But if you are like me, you may be very hesitant about the idea. I remember the first time I heard of giving kids real tools instead of small plastic (safe) versions. I was a kindergarten teacher, and our lovely science specialist wanted to give my 18 students hammers and nails. Well, I was beyond surprised and relieved at how excited the kids were, how safely they behaved, and how awesome their creations were. I was an instant believer. So go ahead, give it a try…with proper supervision and a little discussion of safety before getting started.
To get ready I chose a few rocks from our collection. I knew some would break apart more easily, so I picked more of those than anything else. However, I did grab a few rocks that would be more difficult to break so that we could discuss the different properties. Depending on the age of your kids and the learning goals you are working on, you could also introduce some of the names for the different types of rocks.
I didn’t have safety goggles for all of the kids, so we all put on sunglasses to protect our eyes from any pieces that flew into the air. We also talked about holding the hammer with two hands so that we could have more control of it and to keep them from hitting their hands.
Each child had an individual work surface, a tool, and rocks. I let them work on old plastic lids from storage bins because I wanted the lip around the edge to keep some of the pieces from scattering on the ground. It helped for the most part.
For tools I had some smaller hammers and a meat tenderizer. I know a meat tenderizer is not technically a tool, but it actually turned out to be the best one for breaking up rocks. The large surface helped keep the kids from missing the rocks.
They were eager to get started, and all three kids (Ages 2-4) had fun. Big Buddy enjoyed the project more than both of the girls, and he continued to break apart rocks long after they finished.
When we were done we scooped all of the pieces together and saved them for more of our R is for Rocks projects. I’ll share more about some of those activities with you next week.
So what do you think? Do you let your kids use real tools? Would you give this activity a try?
You can find more activities and ideas for teaching kids about rocks on my Pinterest boards.
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