Anyone who knows me will have a keen sense that DIY or indeed pretty much anything that requires dexterity, manual skills or even the ability to do things straight, such as park or put up a shelf, is beyond me. I seem to have an innate inability when it comes to practicality. I’m happy to try of course but most commonly my attempts at craftsmanship end up with my wife doing the job ‘properly’ or having to call in a professional. This lack of skill extends to car maintenance, making white sauce and getting the bin bag out of the kitchen bin without its contexts spilling apocalyptically all over the kitchen floor.
I’m not shy of admitting my shortcomings and have been known to play up to them just to get out of having to do things - a kind of copping-out which has a strange warm feeling to it at the same time.
Although I don’t cop out in my professional life I do think there are times when I consider areas of continuous provision that I tend to go down a familiar path rather than explore a new one. One area where I’ve definitely been guilty of doing this is woodwork. With all my shortcomings in the practical side of life, small alarm bells begin to ring whenever I feel drawn to the box in my setting’s cupboard marked ‘Woodworking bits’. I begin to envisage my poor attempts at sawing in a straight line, my feeble twisting of the G-clamp and the bent nails in the wood that I seem to be an expert in every time I use a hammer.
What I’ve discovered is that in any situation that requires the use of tools I usually look for a ‘Dad-type’ figure to literally lend a hand or impart some wisdom. There are three options at home: my wife, a phone call to my brother who then sends me online videos of how to do things or recourse to one of the two DIY books published in 1983 that I somehow seem to possess.
When it comes to school however, none of these three options are available to me so it was with great delight that I stumbled across Pete Moorhouse’s unbelievably brilliant book ‘Learning Through Woodwork’. It’s a book that is not only comprehensive but is also reassuring and warm - wisdom seems to drip from every page.
Pete sets the historical context of woodwork in Early Years from the start, a fascinating overview of how successive pedagogies have incorporated it as a powerful tool. Using really engaging photos he also shows how the following skills are integral to woodworking and it’s hard to come up with a reason not to explore woodworking when you’re faced with them:
These are just a handful - we’d want these skills for our children and the book, page after page, walks you through exactly how to achieve this whether it from risk assessment, the adult role, curriculum links, tool maintenance and on. Every base is covered. Superbly written, with fabulous action photographs and thorough attention to detail it’s a manual that truly opens the door to enriching your setting and your children’s experience.
When we read a book we want to get to the end having changed somehow. ‘Learning Through Woodwork’ is one that has huge potential to change not only us as EY practioners but also EY practice as a whole. If you don’t currently utilise the immense power of woodworking in your setting then the book is an absolute must-read. If, like me, you use it but in a limited way then it’s also an absolute must-read to give you the confidence to explore woodwork further.
Book reviews don’t tend to thank authors but this one does: thank you Pete for being ‘Dad’ - not only has ‘Learning Through Woodwork’ been a great read over the holiday, it’s also given me the confidence to embrace woodworking and it’s scope to bring about extra magic for children.
Right, where’s that saw? Time to get things straight... :)
Can I Go Play Now..? is committed to widening the understanding of the magic of children's play as an educational tool. Child-centred, play-based learning is where it's truly at....