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Sharp Tool Use and Safety

Earth Education Sharp Tool Use and Safety

In Terra Schools’ Earth Education department, K-8 students will be learning how to safely and effectively use knives and other sharp, non-electric hand-tools. These tools include the list below and may be updated to include new tools or discontinue use of certain tools no longer incorporated into our curriculum (i.e. if a better tool comes out).

These tools will be provided by Terra Schools. Any other sharp tools are not to be brought by individual students without permission.

Terra Schools’ Earth Education department has strict standards and qualifications by which tools are deemed appropriate for use during Earth Education. If your child wishes to bring their own tool(s) to show and use during class, we ask that the parent and child please receive permission from the Earth Education Site Director prior to bringing the tool to the school. If the tool is deemed appropriate to bring, a "Request to Bring Knife Form" will be given to the parent and child to be read thoroughly, signed and returned to the Earth Education Site Director. A copy will also be given to the parent.

The tools we will be currently using are among the best quality, easiest to handle and are used by a large number of Earth Education programs worldwide. They are as follows:

Morakniv Companion

Morakniv Rookie

Silky F180 Folding Saw

Ace Bow-Saw

Estwing Sportsman's Axe (Hatchet) 

These will be used only during specific activities that demand use of these tools (i.e. whittling, wood-splitting etc.) and will be distributed to students during the activities. Upon conclusion of a given activity, the tools will be returned to their respective places.

Tool Rules 

Each tool has its own set of rules that will be followed and introduced to the students at the beginning of a given activity. These rules are to be followed at all times during use. However, we recognize that accidents do happen. Any rule broken will result in the child being asked to temporarily pause said activity and review the rules with the earth educator. This review will determine whether the child is ready to continue using the tool. If rules are continuously broken, the student will be asked to return the tool to the earth educator and there will be further conversation with the student to determine how they can partake in the activity without using the tools.

Knife Rules

- Always establish a knife-safety circle before unsheathing your knife

- Always remain stationary with an open knife

- Always remove the sheath from the knife, not the knife from the sheath

- Always carve away from yourself

- Always sheath your knife before relocating

- Always return your knife to its respective container when done or taking a break

- Always keep your knife clean and sharp

Hatchet Rules

- Always establish a hatchet-safety circle before unsheathing your hatchet

- Always remain stationary with an open hatchet

- Always keep the hatchet sheath with you when unsheathed

- Always maintain proper hatchet form 

- Always sheath your hatchet before relocating

- Always return your hatchet to its respective location when done or taking a break

- Always keep your hatchet clean and sharp

Bow/Folding-Saw Rules

- Always establish a saw-safety circle before unfolding/unsheathing your saw

- Always remain stationary with an open saw

- Always make sure folding-saw is locked ("clicks") upon opening and closing

- Always maintain proper saw form

- Always keep body parts out of harm's way when sawing

- Always keep saw clean and sharp

- Always close/sheath saw and return to its respective location when finished or taking a break

Note: "proper form" will be elaborated upon to students prior to tool use.


Sharp Tool-related Injuries

If a student sustains a sharp tool-related injury, the student will be addressed by the instructor with the highest level of first aid training and the injury will be assessed and tended to appropriately. If the injury is deemed necessary of further attention beyond the capabilities of a given instructor, the instructor will tend to the student’s wound to the best of their abilities and the student will be transported by the instructor and an assistant to the nearest medical facility for further treatment.


A Tool vs. a Weapon

Above all else, we use these tools as just that, tools. Not weapons. On the first day of tool use, we preface this to the students by asking and discussing with them the difference between a tool and a weapon. This is often helpful in adding the necessary context to how the tools will be used, and students often take this context into their personal lives and apply it to social-emotional real-world scenarios (i.e. "am I using my voice as a tool or a weapon?").

We look forward to helping your child establish a healthy relationship with these incredible human inventions that have carried us through the generations!

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