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Learning to Use Tools and Learning Through Tools: Brain Development and Tool Use

by Kirsten Haugen
September/October 2010
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Article Link: https://www.childcareexchange.com/article/learning-to-use-tools-and-learning-through-tools-brain-development-and-tool-use/5019550/

If I had a hammer,
I'd hammer in the morning,
I'd hammer in the evening,
all over this land!
Pete Seeger & Lee Hays, 1949

Consider the word 'tool.' The first thing to come to mind might be a hammer, like the one Pete Seeger sings about. But watch Seeger sing — you can, with a tool called YouTube — and the song itself also becomes a tool, for raising both consciousness and enthusiasm. Humans have tools for putting together, taking apart, making music, making pie, writing, drawing, taking photos, taking count, sending messages, getting messages, getting to work, getting exercise, and even getting organized! It is difficult to imagine getting through a day, or even a single task, without reaching for a tool of some kind.

Tools and brain development

Our day-to-day reliance on tools should be enough to convince us that learning to use tools is a key task of early childhood. The reverse is perhaps even more critical: the chance to explore, use, and even invent tools provides a wondrous opportunity to expand how we use our bodies and our minds. In fact, according to Doidge (2007), experience with tools helps develop critical structures in the brain:

Neuroplastic research has shown ...

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