Introduction of Tools

A toddler uses a stick as a travel tool while walking on a sidewalk.
A toddler uses a stick as a travel tool while walking on a sidewalk.

Once a child has the dexterity to utilize one object to act on another, tools should be introduced to facilitate constructive play. This is the last key element in constructive play.

Some early tools that children come in contact with are spoons, pacifiers, bottles, plates, toothbrushes, and washing clothes. Children learn to pull a blanket to get a toy resting on the blanket to come within reach. Children with special needs should be introduced to a variety of tools, but first they need to explore the tool just as they would any other object. The tool needs to be held, banged, pushed, pulled, dropped or manipulated in any way to identify its characteristics. Is it hard, soft, long, short, bumpy, or smooth? How does it taste when it’s placed in the mouth? What does it sound like when you drop it?

Once a child understands these qualities of a tool, the child can learn through imitation how to use the tool.

Jalen Making Sesame Street Puppets

Jalen is learning to use a glue stick as a tool to adhere construction paper to a brown bag. Notice how Jalen tastes the glue several times to discover what happens. Jalen also has emerging handwriting skills. He is encouraged to use a crayon as a tool to draw a cookie. The use of scissors is still very difficult for Jalen due to the effects of cerebral palsy, therefore most of the shapes have been precut, to ensure a positive outcome.

Introducing Tools pin for Pinterest shows a toddler using a stick as a travel can while walking on the sidewalk.