Hammering (real) Nails

Since my daughter (now almost 3 y.o.) practiced hammering with golf tees back in October, I’ve been waiting and waiting for just the right time to introduce her to REAL nails! After working really well at piercing gumdrops with toothpicks, I had a feeling that the time had come. So I dusted off an old scrap of wood, pulled out our jar of random nails, and threw in a bag of rubber bands just to make it more interesting (inspired by this post at Jojoebi).

We used the hammer from our Melissa and Doug Take Along Tool Kit, and it worked surprisingly well. I gave her a small safety lesson, where I demonstrated how to hold a nail low…right down next to the wood. She was so eager to get to her task, and was fiercely focused.

Once N decided that enough nails were hammered in, she began adding rubber bands. At first there seemed to be an unspoken rule that each nail would be surrounded by one rubber band layer.

And then the rubber bands kept on going around and around the nails. I love all of those colors!

For my friends out there who want to avoid a mess, this is as clean as projects get, and all of the materials can be reused when your child is all done with their nail and rubber band exploration.

If you have a rubber band project that you’d like to share with the TinkerLab community, you’re welcome to share a photo or a link here: Creative Experiment #4: Rubber Bands

What are you building today?

Hammering for Preschoolers

Hammering for Preschoolers - an easy introduction to making and tinkering for young children

Hammering for Preschoolers

This is a fun early building activity for toddlers and preschoolers. If you have a child who likes to bang a hammer, this project is for you. It’s economical, contributes to strong hand-eye coordination, and can give you hours of fun.

Hammering for Preschoolers

Our Introduction to this Project

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My neighbor Liz is an incredible parent and preschool teacher. She introduced us to this early carpintry & building activity this summer, and my daughter has asked me to buy her golf tees on numerous occasions since. We don’t play golf, so I finally got my act together and ordered this set of tees.

And now that we own a bag of 75 golf tees? It’s nice to have a bowl of tees in the yard in case the mood to hammer strikes. Ouch, no pun intended!

Hammering for Preschoolers

A handful of tees and a toy hammer is all it takes. This hammer is part of the Plan Toy Punch and Drop Set and the tees are from Amazon.

Hammering for Preschoolers

Hammering for Toddlers

When my daughter was younger, I would poke some tees into the earth to help her get started, but now she wants to do this step herself. For easier hammering, we like to work with soft or wet dirt.


  • Our favorite Golf Tees were found on Amazon. I like how this pack is multi-colored. Kids love this!
  • Wooden Hammer came from this toy.
  • Montessori Services sells a hammering set, but you can also order a hammer and tees separately.  I would recommend just the tees and hammer.
  • If you don’t have access to dirt or want to make this an indoor activity, a good alternative is to pick up or find a huge chunk of styrofoam.

Hammering and Building Extensions:

  • Older children may enjoy hammering real nails into a tree stump or piece of scrap wood.
  • Pre-hammer holes into a piece of wood. Using a screw driver and large screws, show the child how to screw into the hole left by the nail.  You could also practice screwing holes into a bar of soap.
  • Cut small pieces of sand paper of various grades, and set out some blocks for the child to sand. Discuss the different textures of the papers with words like rough, course, and smooth.

More Building + Tinkering for Kids

Hammering Real Nails

Why is Tinkering Important?

Build Gumdrop Sculptures

Make a Recycled Sculpture

Build a Fort from Milk Jugs

Make a Sugar Cube Sculpture