“Don’t Put a Nail in My Board!”

This is a must do activity the first day of the school year.  I used to do this project when I was an elementary school teacher–I think I came up with it my first year of teaching after a lot of anger, cruelty, and bullying started mid-year with my students.

Although I wasn’t having any ‘stand-out’ issues with my own kiddos when I presented this lesson, I felt they were old enough to understand.  I plan on doing it again during the first week of our school year to hit the idea home.

The purpose is simple.  Show children how you can hurt others, and how long it can stick with them.  We need to watch our words and our actions, be kind to one another, and Love as HE first loved us.

Here are the step by step in photos:

You’ll need a 2×4, hammer, nails, marker or crayon or pencil, and some pieces of paper. Pretty basic.

Step 1.  You’ll want to guide your kiddos to come up with various ‘hurtful’ things that they might do to others, or others may have said/done to them.  I wrote them for my kids.  However, when they get older, THEY’LL be doing the writing 🙂

Here are the phrases the boys thought up (they’re 5 and 3, FYI)

I have a short conversation with them regarding what this activity represents, etc.  It’s a good time to talk about the warm and fuzzies of feelings and what nots 🙂

We drew a heart on our board to signify this is about someone’s feelings, not just stabbing nails into a board…which boys can EASILY get distracted by… :)


Next, they took turns hammering…

Let the hammering begin! This is a great hands on ‘feelings’ activity for boys!

Little brother’s turn. I held those nails with my own two shaky-skeered hands while they got the nail started. I only lost 2 nails :)

All done…


So, here is where we spoke about the hurt we cause others with our words and deeds.  Does God like this?…Altogether now…”NOOOOOO!”.  Do we like to be treated this way?  “NOOOOOO!”.  What should we do if we’re mean to someone?  “Say we’re sorry.” or “Share the toy.” Etc.

During this activity, we signify saying sorry by taking the nails and notes off the board:

No little boys were hurt during the photographing of this blog post :)


Here’s what our board looks like now….


Next.  We tried to make it better.  How can we do that?  Be a better friend, share more, say more nice things than mean things, pray for them, etc.

I now talked to them about how this person’s heart now has holes in it.  Holes we can PATCH….but it’ll never be the same.

We can try to puddy the holes…..


But….the board still isn’t the same….

We can sand it to try to make it smooth again….


But…it will never be the same.  Neither will that person’s heart.

Let’s remember to treat others the way you want to be treated, Love others as HE first loved us, and ‘Don’t Put a Nail in Their Board!”

I keep the board in our classroom at home as a reminder….

I hope this lesson is a blessing to you and your kiddos!  It’s make a lasting impression on mine.



  1. I have to do this at home with my kids and my Sunday School class. Great idea! Makes me want to pray “Lord keep a watch over my mouth”.

    • Elizabeth says:

      Thanks for stopping by Melissa! It’s a really a great activity for adults too–isn’t it? I should probably do it every 3 months with my kids!!!!

  2. This is an EXCELLENT project! I’m going to do this!!!

    • Elizabeth says:

      Thanks Michelle! Brings new light to the sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me to a new light! Thanks for stopping by and commenting! I appreciate it!

  3. this is a really great idea!

  4. What a great illustration. I’m sure your boys will remember this life lesson for quite some time. Here from the Hop.

    • Elizabeth says:

      Thanks for supporting Hip Homeschool Moms and me Jamie!!! I hope they remember! If we can teach this lesson, then they’ll be set for life!!!!

  5. This is a great visual for kids. Love it. Speaking of which, I would love it if you would consider posting this on Titus 2 Tuesday at Cornerstone Confessions. Hope to see you there.


  6. This is fantastic! I am working on some lessons about love and what that looks like to start my school year with my kiddos and this is a great activity! Looking forward to trying this–thanks so much for posting this!

  7. I just came across this (a bit late – I know), but I homeschool 2 high functioning autistic kids (7 yr old boy & 8 yr old girl). These two are having a hard time with understanding empathy, sympathy, feelings and how so hard it is to repair damage to someone after you’ve caused it. I’m going to give this a whirl as a very visual, concrete way to demonstrate those ideas. Thanks!

  8. natacha trammell says:

    I am so doing this with my coop gym class. Its high schoolers, but even they can learn from this. Thank you for this

  9. GREAT IDEA! I too am a teacher who is deciding to turn our basement into next years classroom… Although I never thought this would be the plan for my kids, it seems to be the best option and am excited about the adventure – and excited to “steal” great ideas from you and other homeschool families 🙂 I’ll be posting our ideas on my webpage http://www.MiFamilies.com and all our social media sites too (feel free to steal my ideas)

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