On Saturday 3rd June, we held our third Saturday Seminar which explored woodwork as a Froebelian occupation.
The seminar was led by Pete Moorhouse, an Artist Educator and Early Years Consultant who has extensive experience of working with young children on woodwork. Pete’s practice has been very much influenced by Froebel’s principles. He is passionate about hands and minds working together and encouraging creativity. He has been trying to get schools all over the country to reintroduce woodwork, and is always looking for opportunities to spread the word about the wonders of creative woodwork for early years children.
Pete talked to us about the history of woodwork with children which can certainly be traced at least as far back as Froebel. By the turn of the nineteenth century, almost all schools provided woodwork for children and it was an integral part of early years pedagogy. Both the Rachel McMillan Open Air Nursery School and Susan Isaac’s the Maltings House School incorporated woodwork areas. By the 1950’s and 60’s schools were turning away from woodwork and by the 1980’s and 90’s it was almost completely gone from nurseries due to a culture of litigation and fear of risk.
However, woodwork empowers children, it builds confidence and gives children a sense of agency. It covers most areas of the curriculum and supports children to think critically and solve problems.
Not having a woodwork area means that children miss out on important experiences including the opportunity to assess and manage risk.
Pete then introduced us to the tools that were most appropriate to use with children and we explored how to use them.
We had lots of opportunities to give it a go and create our own objects.
“A workshop not to be missed! So many tips and tricks to ensure working with wood and tools is a successful and fulfilling experience for children. Great to have the opportunity for the practical experience too – very therapeutic!”
“[I] now have more confidence in the use of tools and how to introduce these to the children. I was reminded of how many learning opportunities are supported through woodwork.”
“[It’s] given me a great insight into the possibilities at the woodwork bench and how we can extend what we are already doing.”
“Having attended this session with hardly any woodwork experience, I am leaving inspired, confident and excited to develop the skill, knowledge and practice of woodwork with the children, staff and families.”
“The light bulb moment has to be the sanding board, so simple yet so effective.”
“I can’t wait to set our woodwork bench set up and get going!”
Pete Moorhouse’s website can be found here.
Pete’s book Woodwork in the Early Years, can be found here as a downloadable pdf or ordered as a print copy.