Shaping our world through woodwork

Project author:

Project summary:

This project seeks to explore woodwork opportunities within our early years establishment.


The focus of this project was to explore woodwork opportunities for young children within the early years establishment. Through research around Froebelian approaches it was evident that woodwork opportunities were very much missing within the nursery. This enquiry project is important as it creates a starting point for facilitating woodwork within the nursery and seeks to develop staffs skills and confidence in facilitating these chances for our youngest learners.



When this project started there was a woodwork bench in the nursery but it was very rarely used, and only ever by the same members of staff. Numerous members of staff were reluctant to facilitate woodwork opportunities for the children. They stated that they were afraid of children hurting themselves, that they weren’t knowledgeable in the field, and some even stated they didn’t think woodwork was appropriate for a nursery environment.

When the bench was used it was only to hammer nails into wood and there was no intention of taking it any further. Staff were signed up to Pete Moorehouse woodwork training, this training was to be completed on a weekly basis and to tie in with this project.


This project was going to be carried out with children at the heart of it. It was designed to achieve a positive experience for both staff and children. We wanted to create a project that would be sustainable and would promote woodwork opportunities so that it become embedded with the nursery environment and was seen as another area of the curriculum.

We had to consider how woodwork opportunities could be facilitated for children by staff who were unwilling and reluctant to participate. This took a lot of thought, professional dialogue around the benefits and risks about woodwork and what resources were available or had to be purchased. We had to give consideration to the placement of the woodwork bench and if we were to get the best outcome was it in the most suitable place.

We gave thought to which staff and children should be involved. This needed to involve children who were interested and were physically able to use the tools and equipment. Staff had to be willing and be supportive to taking part.

Most of what children need to learn during their early childhood years cannot be taught: it’s discovered through play

Ruth Wilson


During the project we learnt that staffs’ mindsets could be changed, and anxieties could be alleviated. This was discovered by taking our time, ensuring there was adequate support and plenty of encouragement. We feel that by completing the woodwork training as a whole staff team we were able to have more conversations as a group which in turn helped to ease worries and concerns. This gave weekly opportunities for discussions around the dangers and the benefits of woodwork and it kept the project at the forefront of staffs’ minds.  Staff developed their confidence and showed more interest in the learning and creative opportunities that woodwork could provide. They began to realise it wasn’t just about noisy banging of nails into pieces of wood but that children were developing lots of different skills, such as hand / eye coordination, fine motor skills, and creativity opportunities.

We found that there were children who were extremely keen to take part and use the resources. There were children who were not part of the initial project, but consistently asked to be part of this group. This made staff aware that more children had an interest and the woodwork area become used more frequently. They enjoyed exploring the new wood that had been purchased, they investigated these resources before any sort of hammering, cutting or sawing took place. Children began to hatch plans and ideas, they became more engrossed in the area and it started to stand out as an area of interest that was keen to be used.


We were pleased that this research project was so successful, we learnt that change takes time and it can happen. The woodwork area continues to grow and has become more embedded with the curriculum and is beginning to be seen as worthwhile by staff. Parents have taken a keen interest and their comments on the children’s learning journals have been positive.

We are keen to continue this project and hope that it will grow and flourish within the nursery to enable woodwork to become a daily occurrence and opportunity for learning.

Research implications

To be completed

Practitioner enquiry

To be completed

Leadership learning

To be completed

Author and role

To be completed

Comments from other network members

What did you appreciate about this research? What forward-looking questions did it raise for you?

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