Friday, July 18, 2008

Montessori Summer Activities: Woodworking- Teaching Montessori Students Respect and Responsibility

NAMC montessori summer activities woodworking boy in goggles
Summertime is the perfect time for outdoor projects. Maria Montessori believed that young children ought to be engaged in meaningful work using their hands. Woodworking is a great way to introduce and isolate skills one step at a time while creating meaningful work that will be enjoyed for years to come.

Using real, child-size tools and materials will engage your young child. Using real tools, not play or pretend ones, lets them know that they are working just as an adult. It doesn’t negate their experience by putting it into the realm of make-believe. Real tools also teach respect and responsibility. They are not to be handled carelessly, but cautiously and carefully.

Montessori Summer Activities: Woodworking- Teaching Montessori Students Respect and Responsibility

Here are some items you may need:
  • Child-size toolbox
  • Compact level
  • Small hand drill
  • Safety goggles
  • Construction aprons
  • Dust masks
  • Retractable measuring tape
  • Sanding blocks
  • Small carpenter’s square
  • Saw
  • Vice
  • Work gloves
  • Hammer
  • Screwdrivers (flat and Philips head)
  • Screws
  • Nails
  • Acrylic Paint (found at craft stores)
  • Paintbrushes
  • Wood glue
Model respect for the tools and the woodworking area by introducing one tool and one skill at a time. You may wish to trace, paint, or tape the outline of the tools on a pegboard so that the child can easily return the tools to their proper place. Remember, safety first! Goggles must be worn whenever working with the woodworking tools.

It is best to choose soft wood such as balsa, white pine, cedar, fir, and redwood. You may find that lumber companies, cabinetmakers, karate schools, and hardware stores, if asked, will donate scraps of wood. You could also combine this with a Montessori botany lesson: learn to identify the types of trees being used for wood and the different uses for wood. Have the children explore the wood – note the grain, the smell, the textures, the weight, differences in types, etc. Older children can create a chart or matching cards on the properties of different types of wood. (An excellent resource is

NAMC montessori summer activities woodworking boy with birdhouse
Woodworking is another way to develop fine motor skills and eye-hand coordination. It incorporates math skills such as matching, classification, shape, size, comparison and contrast, spatial relationships and problem-solving, time and project management. Children who work together learn to cooperate, share, and explain their ideas and plans, thus providing practice for emerging language skills. They develop an increased awareness of how things work in the world around them. It’s also a stress-reliever! I know a teacher who lets her students pound nails into an old stump if they need a break from their class work.

Woodworking also provides a way for children to connect with nature. Building bird feeders and bird or bat houses is a way for them to do their part in taking care of the earth and her creatures. Imagine how much fun it would be to build boats and float them in a nearby stream or pond! Children will delight in bringing in the mail and placing it in the letter box or filling the napkin holder that they made. Whatever projects you decide to do, woodworking can be done outside during the summer.
As much as possible, NAMC’s web blog reflects the Montessori curriculum as provided in its teacher training programs. We realize and respect that Montessori schools are unique and may vary their schedules and offerings in accordance with the needs of their individual communities. We hope that our readers will find our articles useful and inspiring as a contribution to the global Montessori community.
© North American Montessori Center - originally posted in its entirety at Montessori Teacher Training on Friday, July 18, 2008.


  1. I love your suggestions for using Montessori principles with woodworking! I linked to this post for the Activity of the Week at

  2. Thank you very much, Deb! Your activities are well worth sharing, too!


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