Six unique ways to use scrap wood in preschool

I have it from a good source that you can visit most residential home building sites and ask nicely for some of their scrap wood and they will give it to you.  In fact, bring a box because often times there is a lot of scrap wood available….

But there are a few things to consider…

  • Some of the boards that we collected have been cut into smaller pieces by my husband so they would work better for our class.
  • If you ask really nice, you might be able to get the construction site workers to cut their scrap wood down for you too.
  • Ask the construction site workers to tell you the differences in the types of wood or explore with them on your own a bit to see how they will work for you.
  • Some wood on constructions sites (not all) is “treated wood” so you will want to see if they have wood that is not chemically treated for most things you do with the children.
  • You should plan to keep a set of sanding sponges or some sand paper handy so you can smooth up the rough edges where needed.

I taught my students how to sand their own boards for some of our projects and for other projects, I lightly sanded the boards myself. We spent time in my class talking about how to handle the rough boards, how to pull off splintered pieces from the board, and how to sand the boards.  My students are so capable when it comes to the scrap wood – I think it is because it is considered a special type of wood that they get to create with and explore…

Scrapwood sanding and painting

For this process, we set out scrap wood, sanding sponges, and Colorations Liquid Watercolor Paint.  You could probably use any kind of paint for painting wood but the watercolor paint lets the children still see the grain (lines) of the wood while still adding color.  The children sanded their rough edges (which really were not that rough) and then painted all over their boards any way they wished…

Scrapwood geoboards

I made these geoboards last year from scrap wood.  You can see how I made them by clicking on this title: “I made my very own Geoboards!”. My students play with the scrap wood geoboards almost daily. One of my goals this year is to let my students make their own geoboards from scrap wood.  As soon as I get enough boards collected in the right size and thickness, we will give it a try…

Outdoor play with scrapwood

Another way my students love to explore scrap wood is to take it outdoors and build with it.  We haven’t used hammer or nails for our building as of yet. Instead, we used the scrap wood kind of like over-sized and unusual-shaped building blocks to stack or arrange.  While exploring the scrap wood outdoors, my students have learned to think about what they are doing. They consider whether a boards is balanced or if it will hold their weight or if it will be sturdy enough to stay in place as they continue to design their structure.  Using scrap boards for “loose parts” play is a great process for building teamwork and collaboration…

Scrapwood drawing boards 

To promote writing and drawing, we set out scrap wood and markers and a few measuring tools.  The children in my class love to draw on scrap wood. Their imaginations will get them using the wood for the unexpected like making their own keyboard/piano and is a fun way to practice writing their names…

Weighing scrapwood

I like to blend the scrap wood with a variety of tools like these scales for a little scrap wood weighing…

Scrapwood Journals

In our outdoor classroom, I made a few scrap wood journals for the children to write on.  I used a staple gun to attach scrap paper to the boards and introduced leaf rubbings on this particular occasion.  If the children wished to tear their drawing or paper off the board to take home they were invited to do so.  Adding more paper to the board is simple to do as needed.

Of course there are many other ways to use scrap wood in preschool. Perhaps you have some ideas you have tried with your preschoolers or things you have made for your preschoolers using scrap wood.  If so, leave a comment below and share your scrapping ideas with us! We are always looking for more ways to explore our scrap wood!


By |2017-08-10T17:11:54+00:00October 8th, 2012|

About the Author:

Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. has been working and teaching in the field of early childhood education for over 30 years. Deborah currently owns and teaches in her own part-time, private preschool called The Children’s Studio. Deborah’s deep passion for teaching and working with young children is documented and then graciously shared with millions of readers around the world through her blog and other social networking communities. Deborah believes that young children learn best through play and exploration and embraces this belief in all that she does in her own classroom so that she can effectively and passionately share rewarding, real- life, tried-and-true practices with other teachers, parents, and leaders across the field of early childhood education.


  1. Brenna October 8, 2012 at 11:53 am - Reply

    My preschool students loved construction week and using real tools, with supervision, of course.

  2. School Sparks Renee October 8, 2012 at 5:08 pm - Reply

    These are fabulous ideas! I know my grandsons love to “do woodworking” with my husband in our basement when they come to visit. You really know how to extend learning with something so simple and natural as wood scraps. Love it!! 🙂 Renee

  3. Mary October 9, 2012 at 1:33 am - Reply

    I have used small squares of wood and had the children use their imagination and glue the pieces together. Next week I plan on introducing tools, by having the children pound golf tees into a pumpkin using “rubber mallets” . They have a great time doing this activity.

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