Friday Funny: Pre-Schoolers With Power Tools

Posted by Heidi Schwartz

Photo: ConstructionKids • Photography by Paul Takeuchi,

Even though New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has moved out of his Park Slope neighborhood to take up residence in Gracie Mansion, Brooklyn is still one of the hipster spots in the country. And hipster spots often have access to unconventional summer recreational options for kids growing up in the area.

Instead of making finger paintings, weaving pot holders, or sculpting paperweights from modeling clay (do kids even do these things anymore?), youngsters in and around Brooklyn can build real things with their very own hands—with real tools and materials. The program is called ConstructionKids, and Beth Fertig of NPR writes,

The Brooklyn-based program offers building classes throughout the year for kids as young as two years old. It’s one of a new and immensely popular wave of programs trying to shift kids away from computer screens toward actual, hands-on activities. Like building things from scratch.

In the hopes of spreading “the joy of building, revising, and repairing,” the goal of the program is to introduce youngsters—perhaps facility managers or engineers of the future—to materials and tools while learning the basics of individual work and teamwork.

Sample programs include:

Building and Cities, Iconic Buildings (Grades K-2)
This program offers studies of a variety of iconic buildings for younger children, including the Empire State Building, the Parthenon, a bank, a hospital, etc. It’s possible to create a workshop around a particular building or structure that the class is studying.

Grocery Store
Photo: ConstructionKids

Simple Machines (Grades 2-3)
After learning about levers, wheels, axles, and pulleys, kids work in small teams to solve a variety of large object motion challenges. They also construct a small project with hand tools tools, while identifying the simple machine properties of the tools.

Buildings and Cities, Community Study (Grades 2-4)
Children create a drawing of the building they are studying as part of Community Study. The staff then prepares wood pieces to their design which they assemble in a workshop. Everyone then discusses such building details as window sashes, cornices, and downspouts. The kids paint and color their projects back at school.

Adults can get in on the action too with programs especially designed for grown ups, but the primary target audience is kindergarteners through fourth graders. In addition to summer camps, there are after school programs, field trip offerings, party options, and much more.

Maybe you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, but you can teach a young dog how to use a plumb line.