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It's Elementary: Teaching Kids to DIY

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When a pipe leaks or a door sticks, some people grab their toolbox. Others grab their phone and call a pro. For that second type of person, home ownership is frustrating and expensive. And I don't want my daughter to become one of them. So whenever there's a fix-it job around our house, I get her involved. With her "help," jobs take twice as long, and I know her 7-year-old brain probably won't retain the how-to information.

 

Teaching kids to DIY
Start some screws in a scrap of drywall and let the kids screw them in with a screwdriver or a kid-size cordless screwdriver.

But teaching her exactly how to do things isn't my goal. What I want her to learn is this: DIY isn't just expertise and experience. It's 90 percent attitude, a willingness to give it a try and figure it out. With a little guidance—from sources like this web site—you can fix almost anything. That's the lesson.

 

She doesn't know she's getting a lesson, of course. She just thinks it's big fun. Here's some of the fun we've had:

 

- Snaking out a plugged toilet. A dreaded job for most of us, but she loved it (see drawing) and is looking forward to the next plug-up.

 

- Soldering copper pipe. Some lessons, like letting a 7-year-old handle a torch, can only take place when Mommy isn't home.

 

- A simple plywood box with a hinged lid, hasp and padlock. I cut the parts; she screwed them together. It's crude and ugly, but she thinks it's high art and loves locking up her treasures.

 

- Changing car oil. Spills, greasy hand prints, lots of cleanup. We will not be trying this one again for a few years.

A kid's-eye view of snaking a toilet
To unplug a clogged toilet, feed the snake into the trap while cranking the handle. A helper makes the job slower and messier, but more fun.

 

More DIY tips and projects to do with kids:

DIY tips for kids

 

A bookcase you can build with a junior helper

 

How to Fix a Clogged Toilet

 

 

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  • Comments
    • by posted on

      I've had my 2.5 yr old help with various jobs - change oil in lawnmower, change air filters, remove battery from motorcycle, shovel deck, fill birdfeeders, and even painting.  His favorite is anything that involves the drill, and he is 'incharge of all light bulb changes' (it is so funny watching him march to where we need to do something and repeatedly tell me "We're doing work.")

    • by posted on

      When I was 11, more than a few decades ago, my dad gave me a toolbox with solid but child-sized tools. My mom, in hopes of my not continuing to be a tomboy, gave me a string of pearls. Still have the little used pearls, but the tools have long been replaced by adult sized ones and added to.  Now I've begun to teach my little granddaughter ( somewhat to her mom's dismay) how to handle simple

      tools. What fun! She can already apply spackle, bit of messy

      at 3 years old but  has the idea. Also hammers ok, knows how to sand, and learning to saw.

      Fun for all

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