Old Toy Tinkering

The first time I was given a project to take something apart (or at least the first time I remember) I was in year eight. It was fantastic, I chose a clothes peg because I thought it would be lame and I wanted to make it as easy as possible… but then… I found it was really interesting. I can’t remember the teachers name but he also did an incredibly interesting bridge project that I still think about now. Waiting till you’re thirteen to properly enjoy pulling something apart is a bit mad. I did it with Small we did as soon as we could. 

What you’ll need

  • An old or broken toy
  • Screw drivers
  • Possibly other tools depending on the toy



  1. Take any batteries out and store somewhere safe
  2. Grab some screwdrivers and see which one fits
  3. Show your small child how to safely use a screw driver
  4. Let them have a go, help as little as possible
  5. Look inside and pull it apart
  6. Ask sensory type questions, what does it sound, feel, smell like?
  7. Answer all questions as fully as you can but if you don’t know the answer just find out together.


I really don’t think you can beat this for an activity. For a start it’s just immeasurably interesting and as with Peeling Vegetables using tools feels very grown up. There’s just so much to learn. We loved exploring fiddly screw driver skills. We followed the wires and talked about energy. We noticed rust on the springs and then most exciting of all, we noticed the screws were sticking to the motor. That’s when the train came to play who also has a magnet. Which meant we started naming materials. It’s brilliant, I don’t think you can get an idea bigger and it connects together so much learning. I can’t wait for the next toy to break!


You can follow the Sprouting Sense Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/SproutingSense/ It’s packed full of easy activities, play ideas, recipes and book reviews.