Your children will love playing with nuts, bolts and washers. Sure they aren’t something you’d first think to offer your child to play with but they really are fun and great for developing fine motor skills and other important mathematical concepts.
One of Possum’s (aged 3.5 years) favourite places to visit is our local hardware store. She loves the trolleys that look like race cars and browsing the aisles for anything that might be good for our home. Lets be honest, who doesn’t love a good hardware store?
On our recent visit I came across a huge range of nuts, bolts and washers. I was keen to use them as a unique material for Possum to play with. I knew it would be a fabulous sensory experience and great for developing her fine motor skills.
Recommended age: 5 years +
(Strict and active supervision is required)
I know very little about anything to do with bolts and other what nots, so I insisted the help of hubby to find me the correct nuts that would go on the right bolts and washers that were also a good match. I didn’t want to go overboard either so I decided to collect three of each piece. It only cost me a few dollars so a super cheap and unique way of getting your child to play.
When we got home I gave Possum no explanation about the nuts, bolts and washers. Instead I gave her the raw opportunity to explore their texture, weight and share. I presented them to her just to play with and experiment. It was so interesting watching her play and learn from something she’d not really experienced before.
When the timing was right and she seemed to have exhausted all her play ideas, I explained that the bolts could be wound onto the nuts. That was met with a huge ‘AH’ and a whole new way of playing began. Of course it also included the washers.
It might seem like a simple task but when you ask a child to group objects they are analysing shape and learning to make comparisons. Here Possum was able to sort the nuts, bolts and washers even though they were different in sizes.
I also asked her to group all the large and small objects etc. Of course you can add other rules for grouping. Maybe you might like to ask your child to group the objects with flat surfaces or objects that include a hole. So many possibilities. 🙂
Fine Motor Skills
You can clearly see how giving your child an opportunity to play with nuts, bolts and washers is good for their fine motor development. Twisting, pinching and turning each of the objects is great for those smaller muscles in the hand, which of course helps with other activities such as writing.
Dividing or sharing out objects
Introducing Possum to the concept of division, without her really even knowing it, I talked to her about ‘sharing’. Some countries have different terminology for this, of course. As you can see above, Possum was able to share out the objects so that myself, her Daddy and herself were each able to have a pile that included one of each piece. Approaching it in this way is a great way for kids to visualise and complete basic division problems.
We had such a great time playing with nuts, bolts and washers from our local hardware store. It is such a cheap way of getting your children to play and explore and if you’re looking for a creative and artistic approach to follow up, I’d recommend Picklebum’s post on painting with nuts, bolts and screws.
Obviously this is an activity that requires supervision and not for those children likely to put things in their mouth, however, if your child is past that stage then give your child this unique way to play.
Do you think you’re child would have fun playing with nuts, bolts and washers?
Here are some more ideas you’ll love –
EBOOKS featuring activities from Laughing Kids Learn
Luke Yancey says
Awesome article! When I was growing up nuts, bolts, and washers were awesome to play with. True, it does amazing work for a child’s fine motor skills while also teaching them the concept of “righty tighty, lefty loosey.” Also, thanks for touching on the required safety and supervision that comes with a child playing with such objects- there’s definitely a choking hazard!
Thanks for your comment Luke. You’re totally right, safety is so important when it comes to activities like this one. I very much appreciate your kind comments and I’d forgotten about the whole “righty tighty, lefty loosey”. This activity would be a great way to teach children about that. 🙂