For These Kids, Making Toys is an Entryway to Woodworking

comments (2) November 17th, 2009 in blogs, videos

Tom Tom McKenna, Managing Editor
thumbs up 6 users recommend

Produced by: Laura Johnson, Doug Stowe

A few weeks ago I posted a video of Miguel Gomez Ibanez, president of North Bennet Street School, discussing the importance of hand skills in education. Doug Stowe, frequent contributor to Fine Woodworking and award-winning boxmaker and furniture maker, eagerly joined the discussion.

Doug is actively involved in spreading the gift of hand skills to children at the Clear Spring School in Eureka Springs, Arkansas. The program, called Wisdom of the Hands, was initiated by Doug, and its goal is to design woodworking projects that "integrate and support other areas of study, such as geography, economics, history, biology, ecology, literature, and math." Classroom teachers work with the woodworking instructors in coming up with projects.

This video shows students making toy horses. It's refreshing and energizing to hear the excitement in the kids' voices as they craft the toy pieces. And it's great to see woodworking being taught to such young kids. Rock on, Doug!


RESOURCES: Woodworking For Kids
Noted woodworker, author, and educator Doug Stowe produced a series of articles and woodworking project plans aimed at the youngest potential beneficiaries of this philosophy of woodworking as education. Read his article Woodworking for Kids for a comprehensive discussion of the sloyd system, and download his thoughtfully developed Kid's Woodworking Project Plans so you can introduce a young person to woodworking.


posted in: blogs, videos, toys, kids woodworking, Doug Stowe, clear spring school, wisdom of the hands

Comments (2)

woodworkernewbie woodworkernewbie writes: So cool :) What a great little family video
Posted: 8:10 am on December 16th

DougStowe DougStowe writes: Tom, Thank you for sharing my kids' video with a wider audience. Back in the days of educational sloyd, teachers knew that doing creative work with the hands was important for the development of character and intellect and that it also awakened the child's interest in learning.

We went down a long slippery slope of teaching to the test while in Finland where sloyd was first invented it is still a part of the national curriculum. While American kindergarten teachers are focused on getting kids to read, in Finland teachers and students are busy with crafts and woodworking. So while we start reading at 5 and they start reading at 8, by 8th grade (ages 13-14) they've left Americans in the dust, learning more in less time because they are ready for it. It is like the difference between pushing or pulling a rope.

While we have struggled to follow No Child Left Behind legislation, our children have been left behind in 15th place or worse in reading and math according to international PISA studies.

You learn some common sense stuff in the wood shop that all kids need. But since schools don't seem to get it quite yet, parents and grandchildren should take matters in their own hands. Limit your child's time with computer games and lead them to the wood shop. They will get the same hand eye coordination while doing something more tangible that can be shared with others. And their pride will be obvious. You might even get them hooked on an avocation that will last a lifetime.

At Clear Spring School this week we began our annual holiday toy making this week and our kids from pre-school through 12th grades will begin making toys for distribution through our local food bank. This will be our the 5th year of our toy making tradition.
Posted: 5:38 pm on November 17th

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