Planning For Independence

 Industrial Arts / Woodworking


The goal of a woodworking program is to develop in students a sense of personal satisfaction, pride, and confidence in their abilities. Students are provided with a broad range of projects that allow for individual differences and that provide opportunities for creative expression.

In project-based woodworking programs in the elementary school, pupils may become involved in individual and group projects and participate in activitybased learning experiences that develop perceptual, finemotor, and cognitive abilities. In the secondary school, a woodworking program enables Senior students to prepare for the world of work, to learn homemaintenance skills, and to develop leisure interests.

Students are encouraged to suggest projects, to contribute design ideas that are simple enough for them to complete, and to create objects of beauty and utility.

Projects should yield products that are relevant to students' interests and useful in the real world. Community-based learning experiences, such as visits to plants, stores, galleries, and exhibitions, should be included to enrich students' lives.

Students should be provided with opportunities to develop safe woodworking practices and co-operative attitudes towards peers and supervisors, so that they will be able to integrate successfully into the work force. They should also be taught to identify woodworking tools and machinery and use them properly.

The Planning Cycle

Assessment and Development

In the first two phases of the planning cycle, educators need to:

  • plan projects that vary but that require similar skills;
  • take into consideration student interests and preferences;
  • take into consideration the ability of students to work independently at tasks;
  • within realistic limits, allow students to choose and structure their projects, so that they will be interested in completing them;
  • consider using a sequence of steps when teaching the skills required to complete projects;
  • take into consideration students' eye-hand coordination, finemotor control, range of motion, and hand dominance.

Implementation and Evaluation

In the last two phases of the planning cycle, educators need to:

  • identify consistent locations for storing tools and materials;
  • identify safety hazards;
  • offer relaxation exercises to students who are unable to relax voluntarily because of spasticity;
  • sensitize students who are new to a shop environment by gradually introducing them to the sights, sounds, and smells of a shop (e.g., provide headphones for students who are sensitive to machine sounds);
  • stress general shop safety and emphasize the overall safety of the individual and the group; emphasize safe work habits (e.g., safe handling of tools and equipment);
  • emphasize completion of projects by focusing on the finished project and the various stages required for its completion;
  • provide plenty of opportunities for students to use a variety of tools, machinery, and materials in order to develop their manual dexterity and mental acuity;
  • provide both individual and group projects; adapt tools and machinery to the abilities and limitations of students;
  • discuss the positive features of completed projects and make positive suggestions for improvement; communicate expectations for shop routines clearly at the outset so that students are aware of them;
  • collect photos of completed projects as part of the record of student progress;
  • observe students regularly to determine whether projects are appropriate and meet their needs.


Ontario. Ministry of Education. Technological Studies, Intermediate and Senior Divisions, Part A: Policy for Program Planning. Curriculum Guideline. Toronto: Ministry of Education, Ontario, 1985.

_____. Technological Studies, Intennediate and Senior Divisions, Part B: Construction Grouping. Curriculum Guideline. Toronto: Ministry of Education, Ontario, 1986.

Peterson, Franklynn. Children's Toys You Can Build Yourself. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1978.

Starr, Richard. Woodworking With Kids. Newton, Conn.: Taunton Press, 1982.

Case Study - Elementary Level

Student Profile Tracy, an attractive twelve-year-old, has cerebral palsy and depends on others for all her personal care. She likes to explore and manipulate objects by grasping and releasing items placed on her tray. Although she enjoys interacting with familiar people, Tracy has no communication system beyond smiling and gesturing.

Learning Environment Tracy has been placed in a special elementary school class and is integrated into other areas of the school during recess, lunch periods, and school assemblies.

Expected Learning Outcomes Tracy is expected to:

  • increase her tolerance of unfamiliar people;
  • reach for and grasp objects;
  • increase her attention to tasks.

Student Program Tracy is being provided with opportunities to:

  • develop object permanence by searching for and finding objects that she uses in simple constructions;
  • develop the finemotor skills of grasping and releasing objects that she uses in simple constructions;
  • develop her senses through such experiences as touching sandpaper, smelling wooden objects, and listening to the machines in the workshop;
  • participate in the making of simple constructions, using materials such as a hammer, nails, and glue.

Case Study - Secondary Level

Student Profile Sam, a shy nineteen-year-old, uses language effectively to communicate. He is developing skills in making decisions and solving problems. He participates in groups and is learning to initiate interaction with others. He is able to carry out written instructions and can follow three-step verbal directions. Sam uses a calculator to add and subtract.

Learning Environment Sam has been placed in a special secondary school class and is integrated into basic level woodworking and horticulture classes.

Expected Learning Outcomes Sam is expected to develop:

  • realistic vocational interests and skills;
  • a positive attitude towards work;
  • recognition of safety words such as DANGER, STOP, and POISON;
  • problem-solving skills.

Student Program Sam is being provided with opportunities to:

  • learn safe work habits that include accident-prevention rules, shop routines, following directions, and caring for tools and equipment;
  • become involved in group woodworking projects to develop social skills, such as co-operating with peers, initiating communication with peers, accepting group decisions, demonstrating sensitivity to the feelings of others, and sharing space, tools, supplies, and ideas with peers;
  • use cooperatively a variety of measurement instruments;
  • plan cooperatively woodworking projects that involve organizing his time, communicating his ideas, and selecting and properly using tools and equipment;
  • develop the skills of cutting, glueing, sanding, hammering, fastening, brushing, and working to lines;
  • learn to read signs in the shop area that give safety warnings and tool names.

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