New build

It seems like every year I make something new in the classroom, and this year it may be kind of small.  We’ll have more children than we have cubbies, so some old shelves in my basement were turned into this:


This is actually in the entryway of my house, but at school it will go by the other cubbies and each space will have a basket.  I only need three of the spaces for children, so the other two spaces will hold 1) extra mittens and 2) the ‘line-up’ tambourine we ring at the end of outside time.

Here’s why tools are cool.


Our class spent a couple of weeks exploring tools.  We practiced learning how to hammer, use a screwdriver, use a measuring tape, and how to safely use a miter saw and box.  (ALWAYS with teacher supervision!)  Anyway, look what they helped me do!  They measured and cut every piece of beadboard, helped find the studs to attach the baseboard, and assembled the pieces together.  Tools are great!

Get a digital camera!

If you have had any introduction to the Reggio Emilia approach, you will know that documenting children’s learning with photos is a valuable tool.  The beauty of having a digital camera is that you can instantly see the photo, you can store the images on a computer to retrieve at a later date, and you have many options for printing.  (Fine, medium, or ‘draft’ – to save on ink/toner.)

Find one that is easy to use, and sturdy.  They make a great ice-breaker for the child at home visits!  “Would you like to see your picture after I take it?”

We use a Sony FDMavica at school – the kind that can hold floppy disks.   It is nice when we share it between classrooms because teachers have their own supply of disks.

Messing up with tools.

Make no mistake, there are a lot of things you can wreck with tools.  I have built some ugly, ugly stuff in my time.  But the beauty of it is that you learn from your mistakes. Every crummy thing I’ve done has led to a better job next time.  (Just like in life, huh?)

Some things to think about:   * Know how to find a stud in a wall.  Heavy stuff needs to be drilled into a stud for maximum strength. * Know how to install a wall anchor.  These are for things that need to be installed where you can’t reach a stud.  *Know where your first aid kit is. * Measure, measure, measure.  There’s an old saying, “Measure twice, cut once.”  My personal motto is, “Measure twice, cut once.  Realize you cut wrong grumblegrumblegrumble.  Buy more wood and cut again.)


I LOVE tools!  I love watching HGTV, I loved watching Norm Abram in the New Yankee Workshop, I loved watching my dad build things in my garage.  I’m a handy sort – not a skilled handy sort, but I do love it.

If you are just starting out, familiarize yourself with tools.  If there is a community college that has construction classes, sign up!  (My husband and I took two semesters of Basement Remodeling.  I can’t count it for my post-college hours, but it’s one of the best classes I ever took.)  The main reason I think it’s important is that you’re not at the mercy of someone else to hang a shelf or build a little something.