The Handiest Things in the World, Andrew Clements

                  This book shows pictures of children using their hands for a variety of purposes and then the tools that were invented to do the same job.  This is an interesting book to use during a hand study and a useful book to introduce the concept of tools.


  • Several sets of chopsticks or unsharpened pencils to make chopsticks. See Dramatic Play.
  • Several calculators, the simpler the better.


  • Tool (something you use to do work or a job easier)

Before Reading the Story

                  Play Put Your Hands on Your… which is like Simon Says. (Put your hands on your elbows, put your hands on your thighs, etc).

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

Reading the Story

                  As you read the story, make sure to name the different tools on each page.  Give the children the opportunity to discuss the tools as you read.

Language Development/Speaking & Understanding; develops increasing abilities to understand and use language to communicate information, experiences, ideas, feelings, opinions, needs, questions; and for other varied purposes.

After Reading the Story

                  Ask the children if they can think of any other tools that they might use.  Talk about the importance of hands and how we need to take care of them by washing them and not putting them in our mouths.

Approaches to Learning/ Reasoning & problem Solving; develops increasing ability to find more than one solution to a question, task, or problem. AND Health & Development/Health Status & Practices; builds awareness and ability to follow basic health and safety rules.


                  Add magnifying glasses and encourage the children to look closely at their hands. (Do you see the little hairs?, watch the creases when you open and close your fingers slowly).  Help them to name the parts of the hands (palm, wrist, flanges, knuckles, cuticles, finger nails, vein under skin).

Language Development/Speaking & Communicating; uses an increasingly complex and varied vocabulary. AND Science/Scientific Knowledge; expands knowledge and respect for their bodies and the environment.

Music and Movement

                  Let the children experiment with instruments today.

Creative Arts/Music; experiments with a variety of musical instruments.

Do The Hand Chant.  Have the children do the actions to accompany words.

Wiggle them, wiggle them, wiggle them so.

Wiggle them high, wiggle them low.

Wiggle them fast and wiggle them slow.

Wiggle them wiggle them out of sight.

(Clap them, roll them shake them, snap them)

Language Development/Listening & Understanding; shows progress in understanding and following simple and multiple-step directions. AND Approaches to Learning/Initiative & Curiosity; chooses to participate in an increasing variety of tasks and activities.


                  Add several rulers to the center today.  As the children build, show them how to measure how tall or how long their structure is.

Mathematics/Patterns & Measurement; shows progress in using standard and non-standard measures for length and area of objects.


                  Trace around the childrens hands onto a piece of paper using a black marker. Trace their hands several times so that the hands overlap. Let the children use colored markers to fill in the spaces made by overlapping their hands.  For older children, encourage them to trace around their friends hand.

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

Sand and Water

                  Put out water today and containers to hold it and pour it.

Social & Emotional Development/Self-Control; demonstrates increasing capacity to follow rules and routines and use materials purposefully, safely, and respectfully.

Library and Writing

                  Use crayons, markers, and colored pencils to practice writing names today.

Literacy/Early Writing; experiments with a growing variety of writing tools and materials, such as pencils, crayons, and computers. AND Literacy/Early Writing; progresses from using scribbles, shapes, or pictures to represent ideas, to using letter-like symbols, to copying or writing familiar words such as their own name.

Dramatic Play

                  Add some chopsticks to the center.  Try rubber banding the tops about an inch down to make it easier for the children to manipulate. ENcourage the children to try to pick up plastic foods and small items.

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

Math and Manipulatives

                  Add calculators today and show the children how to punch in different numbers.  Can they punch in the numbers as you recite their phone number?  Can they name the different numbers correctly?

Mathematics/Numbers & Operation; begins to associate number concepts, vocabulary, quantities, and written numerals in meaningful ways. AND Physical Health & Development/Fine Motor Skills; grows in hand-eye coordination.

Outdoors Play

Put out lots of shovels for digging in the sandbox and also dirt. Give the children rakes to pull the dirt away from the hole. Talk about how shovels and rakes are handy tools. Talk about how by cooperating together the children can dig a really big hole.

Social & Emotional Development/Cooperation; increases abilities to sustain interactions with peers by helping, sharing , and discussion.


                  Have the children take turns picking a tool card and then see if they can act it out or tell it’s purpose.

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.