Practical Life: Hammering Activity

Follow the child.

It is such a simple idea at the core of the Montessori Method, but has such profound implications. Placing importance and priority on what a child wants to learn, or is in a sensitive period to learn, allows for unheard of progress and satisfaction in their work.

However, sometimes it can be hard to figure out how to adequately meet your child’s interests when those interests seem a bit too mature, or even dangerous, for their age.

Today’s Montessori Practical Life Lesson provided one such conundrum.

Montessori Practical Life - Hammering Activity for Preschoolers, and practical lesson plan. Teach your child how to use a hammer and nail safely with this easy and fun set-up

Ella has been interested in using real tools for quite a while. I’m all for real materials, and giving her quite a bit of freedom in the kitchen, but I wasn’t really sure how to give her tools in a real way that also gave her the amount of freedom that I strive for in our Montessori activities.

When I discovered this hammering set from Haba, I immediately ordered it and was so excited to set up this work tray.

v536_1You could definitely DIY this hammering activity with a set of tessellation blocks and a very fine drill bit, but for me the cost of the nails, drill bit, and tessellation blocks would have been more than this set! (The bowls and tray are my own.)

I love that this tray allows children to practice designing and engages their visuo-spatial intelligence, while allowing them to have the very grown-up freedom to practice their hammering skills whenever they want. (We just have rules about where the tray is allowed to be, to ensure that the toddlers don’t get their hands on it.)

I’ve noticed such a reverence with these materials. Ella knows how much trust and responsibility has been given to her with this activity and has totally blown me away with how precise and careful she is with the little nails and wooden hammer.

Montessori Practical Life - Hammering Activity for Preschoolers, and practical lesson plan. Teach your child how to use a hammer and nail safely with this easy and fun set-up

I asked Beth Holley of A Montessori Lexicon to write up a formal lesson for this hammering activity, since one really doesn’t exist in any Montessori Manuals that I know of and I’m so excited to share it with you today.

Montessori Practical Life - Hammering Activity for Preschoolers, and practical lesson plan. Teach your child how to use a hammer and nail safely with this easy and fun set-up

Purpose:

Direct: to develop the movements needed for manipulating a hammer and nail;
Indirect: to develop fine motor skills in grasping the nails and to strengthen the hand in preparation for writing; independence and concentration.
 

Material:

  • a child-sized tray with a slight edge or lip for grasping
  • Haba Geo Shape Nail Game (includes geometric shapes with pre-drilled holes, cork board, wooden hammer, tack nails, and suggested design cards)
  • two small bowls , one containing the shapes and the other for nails
 
Age: 3+
 

Presentation:

1. Invite the child to carry the tray to the table.
 
2. Sit. Say, “Today I’m going to show you how to use a hammer.”
 
3. Introduce the design cards and say, “We can choose a picture and try to make it with our shapes.” Allow the child to choose a design.
 
Montessori Practical Life - Hammering Activity for Preschoolers, and practical lesson plan. Teach your child how to use a hammer and nail safely with this easy and fun set-up
 
4. Pick a shape from the design, remove it from the bowl, and place it in the appropriate area of the cork board. (You may remark, “I’m going to start with this yellow square.”)
 
5. With one hand, pick up one tack between your index finger and thumb, and place it in the hole of the shape.
 
Montessori Practical Life - Hammering Activity for Preschoolers, and practical lesson plan. Teach your child how to use a hammer and nail safely with this easy and fun set-up
 
6. With the other hand, grasp the handle of the hammer with the head oriented downward for hammering.
 
7. Tap the tack into the cork board. As the nail “takes,” remove your fingers and steady the shape, tapping the nail all the way in.
 
8. Repeat with another shape.
 
9. Invite the child to try.

 Montessori Practical Life - Hammering Activity for Preschoolers, and practical lesson plan. Teach your child how to use a hammer and nail safely with this easy and fun set-up

Points of Interest:

Does the child grasp the nail near its head?
Does she orient the hammer in the right direction?
Does she use enough but not too much force in driving the nail?
Can she hit the head of the nail?
Does she remove her fingers once the nail “takes”?
 
Note: For children not yet ready to copy a design, simply show securing the shapes to the board with the tack nail and hammer. Slightly older children may want to follow a design on the cards or create their own. It’s always fun to see how different one person’s creation is from another’s!
 
 
If you liked this Practical Life Lesson Plan, be sure to check out our other Practical Life posts, or subscribe to our free weekly newsletter – we publish a Practical Life Lesson every week!
 

We are joining a fun blog hop for the year, and this month everyone is sharing a fun practical life activity!

12 Months of Montessori Learning

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4 Comments

  1. I was just looking for something exactly like this. Thank you for the lesson too. I wan’t exactly sure how to present that to my son. 🙂

  2. I just want to thank Beth for making the proper Montessori description she wrote, it’s a great headstart to the slightly different hammering activity I have, I haven’t managed to think how properly it’s utilized – a shame her blog seems to be removed now.
    Thank you also for making the post!

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