My 5-year old son likes doing his side work apart from the usual homework. I am trying to understand what's more interested in or good at, so I can support him with tools and apps.

In recent weeks, his works focus more on vehicle design (trucks & cars) as in the images below. I am not a teacher and don't have skills in impacting knowledge to kids. But I feel it is my responsibility to help him develop his skills.

What are the tools you could recommend to buy him to encourage his work?

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2 Answers 2


Your son is putting together things that seem to me pretty advanced for his age. I recommend the following:

  • Get construction kits for kids (physical kits, not apps) that your child can use without supervision.
  • Buy a set of real tools, preferably lightweight, and do real, fun projects with your child. Make sure to use proper protective equipment (e.g., goggles, gloves - if needed).
  • Find a tutor, a teacher or, better, a school that teaches kids to develop advanced "making" skills. The schools like this exist, but you have to work to find them. See, for example, Tinkering School, Brightworks School, Acera School, and Sudbury Valley School.
  • Find other like-minded parents through online and offline communities, maker meetups, etc.
  • Have your child take one of several available tests that determine whether the child is gifted. A child psychologist typically administers these. It is possible that your child is gifted in one or more areas. It is best to know this as early as possible, to find a school or program for the gifted. Otherwise, the child might get bored by typical preschool or K-12 education program and lose interest in preschool or school altogether.


Gever Tulley: 5 dangerous things you should let your kids do | TED Talk: https://www.ted.com/talks/gever_tulley_5_dangerous_things_you_should_let_your_kids_do

Dealing with a gifted child
Tests for gifted children

  • Wonderful, I really appreciate this.
    – arilwan
    Commented Oct 19, 2020 at 20:07
  • 1
    @arilwan I think you will get many more answers if you un-accept my answer. :) I am completely OK with it. In fact, I recommend it, because (a) I already have plenty of points and do not need more, (b) people are more likely to answer a question that does not have an accepted answer, (c) the meta.SE question ( meta.stackexchange.com/q/355553/578690 ) is getting some traction, and thus your original post is thus getting some extra views, (d) the meta.SE question is getting useful answers/comments, and (e) I am really interested in seeing other answers to your question. :) Commented Oct 19, 2020 at 20:18
  • 2
    On the construction kit: I'd suggest Lego as the place to start. Its an open-world toy that encourages and rewards creativity, and if he gets interested in the mechanical engineering side then its got lots of add-on kits of gears, motors and even computers, so it can grow with him for the next decade if he wants. Commented Oct 20, 2020 at 11:13

Premade Kits? Timur Shatatland's answer mentions "construction kits for kids". I like most of his answer, but disagree a bit with this point. At least if we are speaking about construction kits just aim at building one specific thing out of pre-made parts. Projects like on the photos you showed us will train his planing, understanding, selfreliance, skills and improvisation. However I do agree that a set of tools can be quite helpful. I would also add some raw-materials. Focus on things that are rather cheap - knowing how to use those well will save you (and, later, your son) a ton of money.

Instructions and danger You will need to instruct him in the save use of some of the tools, especially knives. There will be a few minor injures along the way, but 5-year olds can be tought to handle knives and hot things in a save way. For the first years you might want him to use those tools only when you are present, though. Make sure you researched the dangers of a given tool before giving instructions: a power-drill, for example might be used by most adults, but many did never think about what happens when long hair or a scarf gets cought in it ;-)

Concrete list of tools and things:

Basic indoor paper-work:

  • A stack of printer-paper.
  • A box of mixed pens (should have a few colors).
  • Leftover cardbord.
  • Ducttape,
  • scissors (different kinds are always helpful)

Acrylic Painting:

  • Acrylic colors: Can be as cheap as 1Euro/Dollar per piece. Do buy black, white, red, yelow, blue and perhaps green. No fancy colors needed, since kid can learn about mixing colors (this can be a project on its own).
  • A few brushes (the cheap ones made of plastic work great for me, while the cheap ones that look like wood and real hair usually loose hairs while painting, which is totally frustrating).
  • Some stiff stuff to paint on (cardboard, old wooden things, styrofoam, ect.)
  • Some old newspaper & instructions on how to avoid staining the carpet ;-)

Do show how to clean brushes imediatly after use.

Building stuff indoors (like floating ships and the like):

  • 2 of those retractable carpet knives (one big, one thin). Do teach how to use those!
  • Leftover styrofoam
  • String
  • a mixture of small sticks and wooden leftovers
  • a mixture of medium-sized or big nails or skrews (a hammer and similar tools might not be necessary at first, but will become useful sooner or later)
  • Rubber-bands
  • Wood-glue (relatively inexpensive when bought in a big bottle, relatively harmless in regards to toxins).
  • leftover bits of fabric.
  • perhaps a glue-gun.

About glue-guns: Many parents are nervous about those, but those are great for kids: Kids do not have to wait for hours until the glue dries (which is frustrating for them), the glue of a glue-gun is relatively non-toxic, it glues almost everything that can be found in nature. It is hot at the tip, and the kid will hurt itself sooner or later. But it will just be a harmless bit of pain and perhaps a red spot on the finger, which makes a great teaching moment before giving the more dangerous tools.


  • Boards,
  • Nails & Hammer,
  • Tools for digging,
  • Rope,
  • A place where he is actually allowed do these things
  • Instructions and constant supervision.

Where to go from there?

It really depends on the interests of your kid. I have seen seven-year old girls soldering stuff, but whatever it is, you might need to follow Timur Shtatland's advices regarding tutors and such :-)

Do also use youtube for inspiration on techniques: Watch videos of builders together and talk about how you could use their techniques at home.

How to teach? Seems like you are doing well: keep your kid motivated by helping when needed, but not setting the standard to high or intervening too often.

Have fun!

  • What an amazing piece, thank you so much for this. The list is helpful.
    – arilwan
    Commented Oct 19, 2020 at 19:40

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