I got the idea for this from a book about engineering activities intended for older children. I adapted it to a preschool level but it can be tailored to any age.
Take some stamps, put them on aluminum foil, and pound them with a hammer. It will imprint on the foil the image of the stamp!
To make it stamp better, put a soft towel under the foil. This is actually the engineering lesson. The original lesson was for a child to do this with a hard, semi-hard, and soft surface under the foil. An engineer would have to deal with this very issue of what kind of surface to put under the metal as they punch designs onto metal.
The process is called “chasing.” It is using a blunt end to put a pattern on metal.
You could try it with a paper towel or other material, not foil, to show how it does not imprint it. Point out that this is because the foil is “malleable.”
I found that this was a *great* hammering activity for my preschooler. It is perfectly safe and how fun is it to see a design appear after you used the hammer? It is easier and more appropriate for a preschooler than pounding golf tees into Styrofoam. I find golf tees in Styrofoam tend to tear up the Styrofoam and it’s easy to lose control.
If you had stamps that had letter shapes, you could practice making words. What else could you do? This was very fun!