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2 years and up

Time and Place

⚙ Any time of day

⚙ Any time of year

⚙ Indoors or outdoors


⚙ A hammer and nails
⚙ Scrap pieces of boards or other wood
⚙ Protective eyewear          


Optional Materials 

​⚙ Clothespins      



⚙ One to one supervision is required. Minor injuries are likely when using a hammer.
⚙ This learning experience should only be attempted
 if the child is unlikely to put the nails in their mouth. 


Play-based Context

Put protective eyewear on the children. Place a board on a flat surface. Gently hammer in a nail just until it stands on its own. Give the hammer to the children and let them hit (drive) the nail until the nail head is flush with the board. It is important to keep hands (and other body parts) out of the way while hammering. 

Older children may be able to do the entire process on their own, but remind them not to apply too much force while they  are first starting the nail. You can use a clothespin to hold the nail upright.

A group of toddlers were enjoying hitting a table with their hands. To build on their interest, the educators brought out a hammer and nails, keeping close supervision. Later in the week, some of the toddlers started to look for nails in furniture and other structures. 

Questions You May Ask 

⚙ What are nails used for?  

⚙ What objects can you find that have nails in them?                                    

⚙ What else can we hit the nail with?
⚙ How can we get the nail out of the board?

Related Children's Books

⚙ Mr. Nogginbody Gets a Hammer by David Shannon
⚙ What Does a Hammer Do? by Robin Nelson   

⚙ Hammer and Nails by Josh Bledsoe

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