We know that real, first hand experiences play an important role in all areas of children’s development and we know that real materials offer so much more to children than the average plastic version. For example, children are given real foods to play with in the home corner, real bricks for outside play and wooden bricks for indoor play (much better than the plastic equivalent) real wood is used to build with outside. Real hammers and screwdrivers are also used during closely supervised play. If we give children the real thing a plethora of thought and conversation can come from it. Plastic replicas are often weightless, off color or the wrong shape, thus giving children false perceptions of the items/objects in the real world. The aim is not to deprive children of toys but to challenge their play and learning experiences through open ended resources.
Allowing children to use real tools and resources gives them a great sense of responsibility. We are showing the children that we trust them with ‘grown up’ items, thus boosting their confidence and building their independence skills. When children use real life tools, they are learning how to control themselves. They must be able to think and create but use objects correctly and safely at the same time. This encourages them to risk assess and problem solve. There is no right and wrong when it comes to using real tools in nursery and actually this sort of play can promote development in all areas of the EYFS. Not to mention that it supports fine motor development, hand eye coordination and communication and language development. Many children find using these types of resources much more interesting, their attention spans are much higher because they want to be involved. Many children may not get these sort of opportunities at home so it’s super important that we are able to provide these experiences at nursery.
There are many, many benefits to using real tools in nursery but most importantly the children enjoy using the equipment and resources and often find them very exciting. That in itself is very important.