Both Lowe’s and Home Depot have great, completely FREE workshops where girls and boys build small wooden projects. Here’s the run down on what to expect at the workshop and some extra items that might be handy to bring. Keep in mind that while the target age group is elementary school kids, younger kids are allowed to participate with your help. I know several children under five that attend.
First, a quick summary of the two programs.
About Lowe’s Build and Grow Workshops:
Lowes Build and Grow Workshops are held every other weekend on Saturday at 10 am. Online registration is required to ensure that your child receives a kit. For the first 15 minutes of the event your child is guaranteed to get a project before any non-registered children who show up. At the end of 15 minutes Lowes opens the project to children who did not register. Child receives a project, apron, safety goggles, iron-on patch (specific to the project), and certificate of completion to take home. See the Lowes Build and Grow page to find out what the next project is.
About Home Depot Kid’s Workshops:
Home Depot Kid’s Workshops are held the first Saturday of every month, between 9 am and noon. No preregistration is required, but supplies are limited so it’s best to get there early if you think the project will be popular. Child receives a project, apron, pin (specific to the project), and certificate of completion to take home. See the Home Depot Workshop page to find out what the next kid’s project is.
When you show up at the designated area at the store, you may need to complete a waiver which releases the store from liability for injuries/accidents and also grants them permission to use photographs that they might take at the event. When you turn in the waiver at the registration table, you’ll be given your kit which you then take to any of the many tables set up for the workshop. Instructions are included with the kit. Tools are provided at the table. Painting is optional (and a big mess, so prepare your car for wet paint). When you are done with your project, you take it to the registration table where you can get your certificate of completion and badge (Lowe’s) or pin (Home Depot).
Tips for Attending a Home Depot or Lowe’s Kid’s Workshop
Technically, all the materials, supplies, and tools you need to complete your project are included, but I’ve found that bringing a few additional items can make things go more smoothly, especially with the really young kids.
- Sunscreen – During warm weather, the store may hold the workshop outside.
- Goggles (child and adult) – Lowe’s provides child-size goggles, for your child to keep, at the Build and Grow Workshops. To send a consistent safety message, we insist our child brings her goggles to Home Depot workshops, too. To reinforce the safety message, we bring safety goggles for the adults as well. Our rule is that anyone close enough to touch the project has to be wearing goggles whenever hammering is occurring.
- Small plastic bowl – Each kit is assembled with several small nails or screws. It’s easier to keep track of the fasteners if you have a small bowl in which to put them.
- Needle-nose pliers – The nails in these projects are tiny. Do your fingers a favor and use the pliers to hold the nails.
- Child-size tools (hammer and screwdrivers) – Hammers and screwdrivers are provided at the workshop, of course. However, we’ve been to some events where the tools were not usable for one reason or another such a) there weren’t enough to go around, b) the screwdrivers were encrusted with glue, and c) the hammers were too big for my child to use. If you bring your own tools, don’t forget to put your name and phone number on them so they don’t get confused with the workshop tools which remain at the store.
- Smock – Some of the workshops involve paint. Both Lowe’s and Home Depot provide an apron for the child, but I find a smock gives better coverage for messier painters. Even if your child is tidy, remember that there are other children wandering around with paint brushes who may not be.
- Damp cloth – If you get paint on anything undesirable, clean it up before it dries. Do not assume the paint is washable. The Home Depot Kids Workshop branded paint is not.
- Step stool – At the stores to which I’ve gone, the tables were approximately 30 inches tall. Shorter kids may need a little height boost.
- Knee cushion – With small children, you’re bound to wind up getting down on your knees to be at their level to help them. Neither the concrete floor inside the store nor the pavement outside is very comfortable.
- Piece of non-corrugated cardboard – We’ve had trouble hammering in the nails at some of the workshops because the folding tables absorbed too much of the force of impact. We’ve had success putting the project on the ground/floor while hammering. A piece of cardboard (e.g. an old cereal box) can be put between the project and the ground/floor to help keep the reverse side of the project clean.
- Garbage bag – Some projects are painted. If the paint isn’t dry by the time you want to go home, laying the project on a garbage bag in the trunk should minimize the mess.
- Camera – Snap some pictures while the kiddo is still in apron and goggles and maybe even covered in paint. The lumber department makes an especially cute backdrop.
My daughter was not yet three when we started going to the workshops, and she fell in love with them. We bought her her own toolbox in which she proudly carries her hammer and several of the other items listed above. These activities are something we look forward to as a family.
Each weekend you can have fun and frugal Weekend Family Fun with free activities across the nation. Be sure to check in each Friday to see what you and your family can do for free!
Many thanks to Penny for this awesome guest post! You can read more of Penny’s posts at Slightly Squirrely.
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