Four Ways to Bond with Your Child at a Pinewood Derby



The annual Pinewood Derby attracts over a million participants nation-wide. The Pinewood Derby is intended to be a fun activity that promotes creativity, teamwork, problem solving, and healthy competition. As a Dad, Mom, Uncle, Aunt, or Grandparent, It’s also a chance to build memories of time spent with your son, nephew, and grandson as the two of you build a car together.  

Spending time with your child is one of the most rewarding aspects of participating in the Pinewood Derby. The following are a few simple principles will help make the Pinewood Derby a truly rewarding experience for everyone involved. 

Work as a team. 

Find a way for your child to participate in every step of the process. The best way to accomplish this is to let him perform as many steps as possible. Teach by example whenever you can. For instance, you might show your child how to complete a step of the process on one side of the car and then allow him to do the same step on the other side of the car. If he is unable to complete the step by himself, assist him but be sure he participates as much as possible. Some steps must be performed by an adult for safety reasons. Even in these situations, try to find some way to safely involve your child in the work you do.

Let your child pick the color and detail options. 

If she wants to add detail, such as stickers or decals, encourage her to express her creativity in this area. Allow her to place them on the car. Putting your child in charge of different aspects of the project shows her that you value her judgment.

Teach skills and techniques as you work.  

Building a Pinewood Derby car with your child is a great way to develop woodworking, math, and science skills. Go over all of the tools and their uses with your child and help him understand how they work. When it’s time to actually build the car, remember to teach by example and to allow your child to learn at his own pace. You might show him how to hold the coping saw and then let him make the cuts on the car by imitating the position and techniques you’ve demonstrated. Always encourage your child: be quick with praise and downplay small mistakes. 

Make it fun. 

The Pinewood Derby is a great opportunity for you and your child to create a special bond as you work together to build the car. Give yourself enough time so you and your child don’t feel rushed or overwhelmed. Remember, building a Pinewood Derby car should be a fun experience for both of you. 

For more Pinewood Derby tips check out Building the Fastest Pinewood Derby Car: Speed Secrets for Crossing the Finish Line First!

The author is Troy Thorne, a woodworker, artist and derby-winning dad.  He shares his expert tips, techniques and amazing patterns so parents and scouts of any skill can build a jaw-dropping, prize-winning car that's quick out of the gate.