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Woodwork and Building Projects for Junior Builders

Ever since he was little, G2 has been quite fond of “building activities” like woodwork. He loved his wooden building toy set, complete with spanner and screw driver. Even to this day, he still pulls it out from time to time to create random objects.

Some time back, G2 decided it was time to step up his game. He wanted to build a house – using hammers and other special tools, he adds. DH suggested he put together a bookshelf from IKEA as a warm-up project and he readily agreed.

Easy Woodwork Project: IKEA Doll House

While looking for his bookshelf in IKEA, I stumbled on this Doll House. It seemed like an even better idea so we abandoned the bookshelf. Not only does he get to use a hammer and an allen key, he can also paint it.

Woodwork - IKEA Doll House ProjectJunior Builders - IKEA Doll House ProjectJunior Builders - IKEA Doll House Project

It’s not quite as cool as starting a woodwork project from scratch but we figured it was an easy “first” to help him get started. Nothing overwhelmingly complicated that he might give up in despair but something he could complete in one afternoon. Besides, we didn’t have all the proper equipment or space for a more complicated project anyway.

IKEA Toy Trolley

Project number two was a toy trolley – also from IKEA. It was an easier project than the doll house and probably should have been the first project but I wanted him to make something he would actually use.

IKEA toy trolleyIKEA toy trolley

Looks like our next step will be to help him plan a project from scratch.


Why Woodwork?

Teaching children to create things with their hands is just as important as teaching them to code programs on a screen.

“Up until the early 1900s, there was a widespread understanding that the use of the hands was essential to the development of character and intellect. More recently, we’ve had this idea that every child should go to college and that the preparation for careers in manual arts was no longer required. Somewhere along the way, we have forgotten all the other important things that manual training conveys.” – Doug Stowe, founder of Wisdom of the Hands.

Have you heard of Vygotsky’s approach to early child development? Or perhaps you are more familiar with the Tools of the Mind program which is based on his theories? If you subscribe to Vygotsky’s principles, then you’ll be interested to know that woodwork is a great way to support your child’s development in this area.

Woodwork is a most ideal way of supporting children to work in their ‘zone of proximal development’. What children can do and know is always being extended by the open-nature of woodworking requiring children to be problem-solvers. They often model what they see others doing and with guidance children get tremendous pleasure from being able to master new skills and achieve what they could not do previously. – My ECE

Benefits of Woodwork

Beyond the opportunity for young children to work in their “zone of proximal development” are the other benefits of woodwork. Woodwork offers all the same benefits that you get with other art activities – such as, building concentration, enhancing creativity, being therapeutic, increasing brain connectivity, and on it goes (you can read our other article to check out those benefits in detail). In addition, woodwork helps children:

  • Develop their problem solving skills
  • Build hand-eye coordination
  • Increase spatial awareness
  • Hone their sense of precision
  • Learn about the importance of safety practices and how to use potentially dangerous tools

If you’re struggling with the idea of little kids doing something as “dangerous” as woodwork, you should watch the video from The New York Times.

Update: Woodwork Classes for Kids

Image Source: Kevin Yeoh Build

Thanks to the recommendation of a friend, we now have a place to take the kids for woodwork classes: Kevin Build. At this workshop, the children get to build woodwork projects from scratch.

The workshop’s objective is to encourage kids to work with their own hands. At the end of the workshop, they will get to bring home what they make. Having the basic ability to build and fix things is a life skill every child can benefit from. The children are encouraged to learn from their mistakes and to work towards finding a solution. As they go along, they will develop their skills and technical understanding through practice.

What they will learn:

  • introduction of wood and tools
  • how to use tools correctly and safely
  • measuring and marking
  • wood joining & assembly
  • sanding and oiling finished built

In their first workshop, the boys built a wooden stool:

Woodwork classWoodwork class

For more information about Kevin Build woodwork classes, check out his facebook page. Workshops are held at The Hatchery Place in USJ.

Woodwork Projects for Junior Builders

Building Toys for Junior Builders

Woodwork Books for Junior Builders

  • Easy Carpentry Projects for Children – for boys and girls ages 8 and up with special sections on basic hand tools, squaring a block of wood, and wood finishing. This unique how-to book presents step-by-step instructions for making 15 popular wooden items, all scaled to the beginner’s capabilities: Sailboat, Clock Shelf, Bird Feeder, Candlesticks, Hot Dish Coaster, Towel Holder, Steamboat, Cart, Toy Sled, Birdhouse for a Wren, Book Rack, Shoeshine Kit, Table Lamp, Flower Box, and Tie Rack.
  • The All-New Woodworking for Kids – more projects children will love and more information in an expanded introductory section on tools, materials, techniques, and safety. Nearly 40 projects for kids to handmake a bench for their own workshop, create a DVD storage cube that spins, build a doggie diner, or craft adjustable stilts, a box with a secret drawer, and many other long-lasting items.


Published by Shen-Li

SHEN-LI LEE is the author of “Brainchild: Secrets to Unlocking Your Child’s Potential”. She is also the founder of (a website on parenting, education, child development) and (a website on Right Brain Education, cognitive development, and maximising potentials). In her spare time, she blogs on Forty, Fit & Fed, and Back to Basics.

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