50 Dangerous Things: Drive a Nail

50 Dangerous Things: Drive a Nail

Posted by Mike

Task:  Master the art of hitting things with a hammer.



Nails (6d or two-inch)

Board (soft pine or fir)

Safety Goggles (oops, maybe we should invest in a pair)

Possible Hazards:

Lose an eye


Cuts and scrapes

How It All Went Down:

We are big fans of the Montessori teaching style, particularly the 3-6-year-old curriculum which includes development in “Practical Life”.  The purpose of Practical Life is to help the children gain control and coordination in their movement and to foster independence.  It also aids in the growth and development of the child’s intellect and concentration doing everyday tasks.

Some of the exercises in Practical Life include:  pouring, folding, carrying, washing hands, cleaning, setting the table, interaction with classmates, and coordination movement.  Since Practical Life excercises are meant to resemble everyday life, it’s important the materials are real, and in most cases, breakable.

We try to practice these same ideas in our home.  When our children move away from home, I intend to have them armed with even more “practical” life skills that are so important to know but rarely taught.  The biggest thing I have in mind is how to handle money, but others include doing laundry, fixing meals, and the use of tools for basic repairs.

I lit up when I saw the “Drive the Nail” task in Gever Tulley’s book.  It fit right in with the Practical Life curriculum and although they could have easily smashed a thumb, it’s definitely a task that’s not too dangerous for kids to learn.  Looking back, I almost wish that one of them would have missed the head.  It would be a good lesson for the control you need to accomplish the task.

I went away to write this post while the kids continued hammering.  Our sandbox is definitely not going to fall apart this year!  I noticed that after a little practice, the 4-year-olds had each pounded in more nails without supervision.

Sticking out your tongue helps

Sticking out your tongue helps.
Video Notes: Cal is Eli’s best buddy and lives right behind us.  We didn’t even have his parents sign a waiver form.  Sorry about the length … we continue to work on our vlogging skills.  At least this time the black bands of sadness are gone!

Want more?  Read about the rest of our experiences with 50 Dangerous Things. Inspired by Gever Tulley’s book 50 Dangerous Things (You Should Let Your Children Do).



  1. I love this! When I was younger, my grandpa used to give me a hammer and coffee can full of nails to play with on scrap wood. I know I was older than 4, since he died before my 5th birthday. My grandma kept that coffee can and let my brother and I continue honing our hammering skills until we emptied it altogether.

    I have also been trying to guide our oldest in some basic skills she’ll need one day (sooner than I want). She’s now in charge of dinner once per week. I’ve been teaching her simple meals, how to follow a recipe and next we move onto menu planning and grocery shopping.


  1. […] out the video and let me know what you think.  And definitely check out the kids (big and small!) hammering nails, jumping bike ramps, and conquering the […]