The Handiest Things in the World, by Andrew Clements

Tools help make our jobs and lives easier.  This book shows how using our hands helped influence the invention of tools.


  • Several clothespins
  • A bowl full of puffballs or cotton ball


  • Tools (tools are things we use to make our work easier or our lives nicer)
  • Calculator (a tool that helps to add or subtract numbers)

Introducing the Story

Hold up your hands and ask the children what these are (hands). Ask the children if they can name the parts of their hands (fingers, thumbs, palms, and knuckles). Tell the children that our hands are also tools. Ask them if they know what you mean when you say hands are tools (our hands can do many things to make our work easier or life nicer). Ask the children what kinds of things they can do with their hands. Read the back cover of the book out loud to the children and then introduce the book.

Science/Scientific Knowledge; expands knowledge of and respect for their bodies and the environment

Reading the Story

As you read each page, say; “You can use your hands to do ______, or you can use this tool to make life easier/life nicer” Ask the children if they can name the tool on each page.

Science/Scientific Knowledge; shows increased awareness and beginning understanding of changes in materials and cause-effect relationships.

After Reading the Story

Ask the children if they can think of any other ways we use our hands as a tool. Are there tools to help your hands? (Rip paper-scissors, hold clothes together-buttons, write name-computer keyboard, and lock car doors by turning key-using key fob to lock).

Literacy/Book Knowledge & Appreciation; shows growing interest and involvement in listening to and discussing a variety of fiction and non-fiction books and poetry.

Music and Movement

Sing Rhyming Words Sound the Same (sung to Here We Go Loopty Loo)

Rhyming words sound the same (clap, clap)
Rhyming words sound the same (clap, clap)
Rhyming words sound the same (clap, clap)
Rhyming words sound the same.

Teacher singsongs a word (frog), children try to name words that rhyme with frog. Do simple rhymes such as cat, up, dot, top (children’s words do not have to be real, it is the effect of rhyming that you are looking for)

Literacy/Phonological Awareness; shows growing awareness of beginning and ending sounds of words.

Hand Movement poem, children do movements as poem suggests

Clap them, clap them, clap them so
Clap them high
Clap them low.
Clap them very fast and
Clap them very slow,
Clap them, clap them, out of sight.

Continue poem by rolling them, flapping them, wiggling them, and snapping them.

Language Development/Listening & Understanding; shows progress in understanding and following simple and multiple-step directions.


Stamp pads or small cups of paint to make fingerprints. Add a magnifying glass to look at each child’s individual fingerprints (see your curls and swirls)

Science/Scientific Knowledge; expands knowledge of and abilities to observe, describe, and discuss the natural world, materials, living things, and natural processes.


Put out any play tools that you have so the children can pretend to build or repair block structures. As they play, ask them if they can name the tool that they are using, show me how to use it.

Social & Emotional Development/Knowledge of Families & Communities; develops a growing awareness of jobs and what is required to perform them.


Put out several rulers, paper, and crayons. Encourage the children to experiment making lines and geometric shapes. Have them write their names on their paper. Crayons are tools to help us write and rulers are tools to help use make straight lines and to measure.

Literacy/Early Writing; experiments with growing number of writing tools and materials, such as pencils, crayons, and computers.

Sand and Water

Add watering cans to your water play today along pitchers and cups to pour and catch the water. Put lines on the cups so the children have to practice filling them just up to the line. You can also make water rainmakers by punching holes into the bottom of a plastic container, such as a clean cottage cheese container. If you have several containers punch a different number of holes in them so the children can experiment with how much water flows through.

Physical Health & Development/Fine Motor Skills; develops growing strength, dexterity, and control needed to use tools such as scissors, paper punch, stapler, and hammer.

Library and Writing

Help children to trace around their hand. Ask them to give you several ways they use their hands and write their responses under their handprint. (I eat, I feed the fish, I give my baby sister her toy when she drops it).

Literacy/Early Writing; begins to represent stories and experiences through pictures, dictation, and in play.

Dramatic Play

Put out gloves for the children to practice putting on. If you have clothing with snaps, buttons, and zippers, put these out also and encourage the children o use their hands to get dressed all by themselves.

Approaches to Learning/Engagement & Persistence; grows in abilities to persist in and complete a variety of tasks, activities, projects, and experiences.

Math and Manipulatives

Put two bowls on the table, one full of puffballs or cotton balls and the other empty. Challenge the children to use the clothespins to transfer the puffballs from one bowl to the other.

Physical Health & Development/Fine Motor Skills; develops growing strength, dexterity, and control needed to use tools such as scissors, paper punch, stapler, and hammer.

Outdoor Play

Encourage the children to use shovels today to dig in the dirt or sand.

Physical Health & Development/Fine Motor Skills; develops growing strength, dexterity, and control needed to use tools such as scissors, paper punch, stapler, and hammer.


Play, 1-2-3, How Many Do You See? Make two fists and knock them together saying, “1-2-3, how many do you see”? As you say “do you see?” hold up 1-10 fingers depending upon your children’s counting abilities. Have the children take turns counting your fingers and them moving on to the next activity.

Mathematics/Number & Operation; begins to associate number concepts, vocabulary, quantities, and written numerals in meaningful ways.

Dear Parent- today we read a book about how our hands and tools do work for us. As you go about your evening routine, make notes to your child about a tool that you are using to make your life easier or nicer. (I’m using the TV clicker to change the channels; I’m using the water knobs to fill your bath with hot water; I’m using my toothbrush to clean my teeth).

About Kerry CI am an Early Childhood Educator who has seen daily the value of shared book readings with my preschoolers. I use the book theme in my centers and can daily touch upon a variety of Early Childhood Domains which makes assessing the children easy and individualized.