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Sam does woodwork

Four year old Sam is making a ninja sword. He is already competent at using some of the tools and is working out how to solve problems he encounters.

Good for looking at

  • COEL - Creating and thinking critically, having their own ideas
  • Woodwork
  • Creativity
  • Tool use
  • Physical development
  • Concentration
  • Effective practice

Four year old Sam is making a ninja sword. He is already competent at using some of the tools and is working out how to solve problems he encounters.


  • How is Sam learning? Which areas of development, engagement and characteristics of learning can you observe?
  • In what ways does the adult support Sam’s learning?
  • How does the environment support Sam’s learning?
  • What is valuable about the materials provided?


What are your thoughts about:

  • What areas of learning and development were covered during this activity?
  • How was he expressing himself creatively?
  • The role of the adult in this interaction – how did he support Sam?
  • The value of this type of adult initiated activity for Sam?
  • The effectiveness of the materials and resources provided for the activity?
  • How the environment supports this activity?


What would you do to:

  • Support Sam’s interest in how to create the ideas he has?
  • Encourage him to talk about how he is learning?
  • Encourage him to collaborate with other children and make something together?

What next:

  • Would you like to offer this kind of activity for the children in your setting? What would need to think about and provide before letting children have access to these kinds of tools and materials? See further reading for more information about how to set up wood working activities in your setting. 

Pete is an Artist Educator and Early Years Consultant. As an artist he is a professional sculptor undertaking prestigious commissions and public art projects throughout the UK and overseas. Pete has also worked in educational settings for over 20 years and is passionate about encouraging children’s creativity and critical thinking. He currently works two days a week directly with children in Early Years settings.

His practice is influenced by the approach of the pre-schools of Reggio Emilia.

Pete’s role as Artist Educator is focussed on encouraging the children’s creativity and supporting staff. His practice encourages children to construct their own learning following their own interests. He introduces different media with which children can express themselves, including photography, various “intelligent” materials and woodwork.

Pete is the UK specialist in creative woodwork in the Early Years and is the author of two books about woodwork in early years education and has had several journal articles published. He is an Honorary Research Fellow at the Graduate School of Education, University of Bristol and is currently researching creativity and critical thinking. Pete regularly delivers training and conference presentations throughout the country and overseas.


Pete Moorhouse - Online woodwork CPD Visit Link
Pete Moorhouse - Learning through Woodwork book Visit Link
Pete Moorhouse - Woodwork in the early years website Visit Link