By: Michael Bentinck-Smith
Publisher: Martin and Lawrence Press
Publication Date: May 2010
Reviewed by: Deb Fowler
Review Date: June 15, 2010
Many children would love to be able to create something made of wood, but the opportunity to participate in a woodworking class may not always be available to them. With this book, It Wood Be Fun: Woodworking with Children, there is ample opportunity for any adult with basic woodworking skills to create learning modules and instruct children of varying ages how to express themselves creatively in a wood medium. Bentinck-Smith’s philosophy, garnered from many years of working with children, says “Let’s keep the kids in charge.” This unusual approach has made for many gratifying woodworking experiences for numerous children, some as young as five years of age.
Bentinck-Smith has great respect for children, yet acknowledges that they must “make choices and [take] responsibility for their own work.” The first thing on the agenda, even before considering which projects to work on, is to create a work and storage area. He recommends certain design considerations, including accommodations for the left-handed child. The author’s own interest began when he experimented with his grandfather’s tools, a pastime that “began a lifelong interest and affection for tools and putting them to creative use.” (pg. 20)
An in depth, careful discussion on each tool to purchase for a child’s toolbox makes it easy to prepare for a meaningful woodworking experience. A list of tools, materials, and a shopping list, (at times brand name specific) makes it easy for the beginning instructor who will need to go on a shopping excursion. Each recommended tool is carefully discussed with accompanying diagrams. For example, when discussing the block plane, we read about a price range, a description of its use, technique, and care of this tool.
Projects are arranged from the simplest to the more advanced. Projects include: fantasy projects, a platform, sign, boat, box, bookshelf, shield, bookends, shoes, lamp, rocking horse, table, airplane, dollhouse, chair, birdhouse, car, desk, robot, castle, and mailbox. Simply stated, “The best part about it: children have a wonderful time woodworking and don’t realize they are learning important life skills along the way.”
This is an excellent book to help anyone with basic woodworking skills to instruct and “work successfully with young children.” I like the fact that the author actually has worked with children for a number of years. Many books I see of this nature simply “think up” projects without regard to the feasibility of teaching them to young children. These projects, including a couple created by children, have a proven track record in an actual school setting.
Bentinck-Smith throws in much of his philosophy about the value of woodworking in a young person’s life, but also discusses behavioral issues he has encountered and gives advice on that as well. There were several typos in the book, but I was not overly concerned with them. The content was what I took a careful look at. This book was fun and will prove invaluable to many novice instructors. There are no templates, but the illustrations can easily be enlarged on a copier.
Quill says: This is one book that you might wish to consider if you have some eager youngsters who want to be creative and make something fun and useful!