Jul 7, 2015

#STEM Starts at Home: Tools for Toddlers

I recently got this question:
I'd like to get my 1-year old daughter some baby tools -- hammer, screwdriver, and wrench, and toy nails, screws, and bolts. She really liked imitating me with the screwdriver the other day when I was assembling one of her toys. I searched around on Amazon but only found things that (i) don't come with the nails, screws, and bolts, and a board to play with them on, (ii) have padded/squeaky hammer, screwdriver, and wrench that cannot actually be used, (iii) are large sets that take a ton of space, or (iv) are geared toward older kids. Any suggestions?
This is the part of my job that I love--giving advice on good resources out there.

One of the things I always ask in cases like this is: Where are your little one's motor skills? Does she wield a spoon pretty well? Does she feed herself? When she picks up other objects, do they all go in her mouth? Most children at this age still put things in their mouths so some tool kits are inappropriate. You want something that can handle the chewing and drooling without choking.

That being said, this tool box by Kidoozie is one that I got for a niece a while back when she was two (girls tend to be age appropriate for things like this a year later than the toy is listed). She loved using it. She would stand in the garage working with her father who is a carpenter.

When my son turned one, she gave it to him, and he has loved it at different stages. He first loved putting the tools in his mouth, but then he liked the shapes, turning the gears (they make music), etc. Then somewhere along with way he started hammering the nails (I think he and/or his dad broke it later) which would have one nail pop up when the other was hammered down. And he now likes putting the screwdriver in the screw heads and turning. A quarter turn is all that is needed to make a noise, and it works well with the first instinct of children to turn one way a bit and then back again. The drill trigger has broken, but that doesn't stop him from taking it and going to the doors and cabinets to apply the tool to "fix" them as he sees his dad do. So the short is, if your little one sees you using real tools, she can use these to imitate, and also build some motor skills, hand-eye coordination, shape sorting, etc.

Keep those questions coming!