On Wednesday afternoon, DB ran outside, put on a helmet, picked a two wheel bike and began racing around the patio. Just a minute later he froze and said. “This bike is broken! Oh no!”
FC who was biking by stopped and said “Oh no! My wheels are broken!”
They both squatted down next to the bicycles and examined the spokes on their tires. DB pointed to FC’s back tire and said “I see what’s wrong! That spring is comin’ off!” FC touched the spring and exclaimed “We better fix it!”
They both dragged the bikes from the patio over to the bark chips and asked me to turn their bikes upside down. I offered to place their bikes on the table for repairs and get them some tools.
I grabbed a few wrenches, pliers, and screwdrivers and laid them on the table.
I told them they could use the real tools to pretend to fix the bikes.
FC asked “Are these kid tools?”
I said “No, these are real tools we use but you can use them to play bike repair if you want.”
FC’s eyes widened “These are real grown up tools? I can use them for real?”
I told FC and DB that they were welcome to use the real tools for their game. We made an agreement that we would share the tools and made sure
they stayed at the table.
FC saw a pair of pliers that I had offered to her and she said “No, I don’t know how to use those scissors!”
Amber: “These are called pliers, you can use them to grab and pinch parts of the bike.”
FC looked unsure until DB walked over and said “Here like this” He put the pliers on a bit of the brake cable and showed her how to open and close them.
DB: Just squeeze on. I’m having a hard time. It not workin’. It like a spring.
Soon a small crowd of children approached the table with their broken bikes and began passing tools around the repair shop. EP approached and watched FC and DB working with the pliers. FC was satisfied with the tutorial of plier usage that DB had provided and began using them to pinch the bolt of the wheel.
FC: I need it. Sorry EP, our bikes are broken. This is dangerous. This is a dangerous time.
DB: We are fixers. We are fixin’ our bikes.
After several minutes of intense ‘fixing’, DB announced that it was fixed!
Amber: Are you taking it on a test drive?
DB: Yeah I’m going to test drive it
He climbed onto the bike and raced away. He did a few laps around the patio and yelled “Amber, I broke it again!”
HE: I fixing it like the babies broke it. The babies at tulip tree broke it.
Amber: What broke on the bike?
HE: Everything. Everything is broken.
ST: Mine too
EP: Everything broke on my bike too
LG: Mine too
FC: Everything on my bike broke from the storm! I need some tweezers
LG: I’m using a tool.
Amber: What is the tool doing?
LG: It’s fixing my bike
There is a lot of power in giving children real tools and materials to use in their work. By giving children real tools we are telling them that their work is important and that we trust them. In that moment, their work was bike repair. Although it was play, play is their job and it is a very important one.