I had a realization yesterday that my Little People have truly passed a "Getting It Together" milestone. I had suspected this for a few days, but this act truly showed it: I let them work with the tools from the shed. This might not seem like such a big deal, but the truth is that these are real, scaled-down tools made of heavy metal. Misused, they are capable of giving any Little Person a plethora of stitches at any given time. (I do feel like I must insert a disclaimer that they are not the tools shown above. I'm a brave teacher, but I refuse to let them loose with pitchforks and saws.)
However, they didn't get the tools without a long lesson on the rules of Tool Usage. The number one rule is to Keep All Tools Close to the Ground. They aren't pick axes, intended to be lifted high above one's head and crashed down into the earth. Hoes are made to carefully chop at the ground from a short range. Rakes are made to scoot the earth over - not pound the earth. Shovels are made to be stepped on, not rammed into the ground. And the brooms - well, they're for the concrete, not the wood chips.
Thankfully, they did pretty well with the tools. They did have a blast digging in the wood chips. They didn't even fuss when we made them fill in the holes when we left, fearful that some of the other students using the playground might fall and hurt themselves. And only one person got whacked in the head with a tool. That sadly was a teacher who was sitting on the ground, looking for worms in the digging site. The site of the injury is still sore today, but I have to admit that my head was pretty close to the ground at the time of the accidental assault.
So there you go. If permission to use real metal tools is not a sign of accomplishment for Little People, I don't know what is.