I’ve been holding onto a manual drill for almost two years, waiting until I felt Ella was old enough to handle one as part of our Montessori Practical Life lessons. I finally think that time has come – and we found the perfect first drilling project: Pumpkin Drilling!
This is a fun and creative way to carve a pumpkin, and a safe first drilling project for a child who is ready for the responsibility of using real tools.
Ella has been cooking on the stove for over two years now, has been using child-appropriate knives and scissors for over a year, and has been very responsible with her hammering projects, so I felt confident that she would treat the drill with respect and focus on her work. I set her up outside so that the noise from the other children would not be overwhelming, and so that she wouldn’t have to worry about mess – allowing her to focus just on the work at hand.
Materials for Pumpkin Drilling
- Manual drill
- Cloth for cleaning drill afterward
- Plastic drop cloth for protecting surface, optional
- Safety glasses, optional
I will say that I wish I had a pair of safety goggles on hand for this activity – not because there is any risk with the pumpkin bits flying up, but just because I like to reinforce good (safe) habits when introducing a new activity.
(Ella probably enjoyed this activity more for not having to wear the safety glasses, though.)
We started off making sporadic, unplanned holes in the pumpkin, just practicing proper hand placement on the drill, not exerting pressure on the drill, and safely removing the drill at the end of each hole. (I kept the principals of teaching Montessori practical life lessons in mind – using small movements that a child could replicate, providing just the basic instructions, etc.)
After Ella had a chance to learn how to use the drill properly, I asked if she wanted to drill a design into her pumpkin. Of course, she picked a heart.
She carefully and precisely placed the drill bit along several points on her heart outline, and slowly turned the turning handle to make a hole, and then reversed her direction with the turning handle to safely remove the drill bit.
I love the focus that comes out of giving children work that is truly significant to them. Ella knew that a drill is a real tool, and she felt special for being trusted with one. There is also a reverence that comes over children when they know that what they are doing is important and has a purpose, which you can definitely see here.
We also tried our hand at hammering a few nails from our hammering kit into the pumpkin, which would be a great alternative if your child was ready for hammering but not yet drilling. (If hammering on the pumpkin again, I would use thumbtacks instead of the pin nails, as the round shape of the pumpkin was a bit tricky.)
What do you think? Would you trust your child with a drill?
What is the most creative way you have ever carved a pumpkin?
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