I asked on my Facebook page a while ago if anyone was interested in me posting kid's builds. The response was more than amazing, and left me wondering where to start! The big kid is 6, and has yet to really help more than just holding something for me while I screwed it together.
She's been asking me to teach her how to build.
For those of you that want your kids to become handy, but don't know where to start, I've already done a ton of research. And you're probably going to raise your hands in exasperation.... but the consensus seems to be...
"It depends on the kid."
I hated reading that.
I wanted a straight answer, dang it!
But the more "straight answers" I got, well, they didn't really work for me. They were telling me to have the kids start with measuring, or clamping, or something that wasn't my-kid-appropriate. The big kid gets frustrated easily if she messes up, and a measuring tape isn't something that's really easy to master. And clamping? Please, she's been doing that while talking to me as I work.
So I ran to Lowe's and found this.
It's a 10" junior hack saw, and it was under $4 (one blade included). The only blades that I found available for this were actually made for metal, but after talking the Lowe's associate's ear off, I determined that was probably a good thing. Metal blades have very small teeth, so they'll go very slowly through wood. If your kid hasn't ever used a saw of any kind before, it's probably better that you don't give them something that they can cut their pinky off with.
That's my take, anyway...
If your kid would be better with the measuring tape, go that route! I'd just make sure to buy one that doesn't go any smaller than 1/8" marks (1/16", if you can't find 1/8").
After lowering my saw horses to her height and giving probably waaaay too much advice ("Always clamp your boards down so you don't have to hold on to it." "Make sure to keep your hand out of the way of the blade." "It's best to stand to the side so if you lose control of it, it'll swing past you instead of into your stomach." "It's easier if you hold it at an angle."), we clamped down a piece of 1/4" plywood, drew some straight lines, and got to practicing!
And really, it's just something you have to figure out for yourself! (don't worry, I yelled at her for where her hand was placed right after I took this picture ;-))
If you do get this saw, note that you can't make really deep cuts (I think about 3-4" is as far in as you'll get before the back of the saw doesn't let you go any further), but the big kid couldn't keep the line straight any longer than that, so it's fine for us. She took about 20 minutes getting used to it, and then she started cutting strips off for me! Even woke up the next day and went straight out back to practice with her saw.
I figured she'd be ready to attempt a small project.
Printed out this star and traced it onto some scraps. Hey, it's nearly Independence Day, cutting out a star would be easy, right?
Yes. It was.
(I cut 9x9" squares and printed a 7 1/2" star, so the blade would be able to reach the full length of the cuts.)
After she cut out the stars, I gave her a sanding block (which she wasn't very good with), and let her decorate as she wished.
Baby Goats woke up from her nap while the big kid was painting, so she got to join in.
When all the stars were painted, the big kid told me how she wanted it all assembled, and now the finished piece is hanging on my screen door.
And it's perfect :-)