String | Creative Challenge for Kids

Creative Challenge for Kids | String | TinkerLab.com

Welcome to our 11th Creative Challenge for Kids! The key supply for this challenge is string: children are invited to make, build, experiment with, and tinker with string.

While adults are welcome to facilitate and play along, the process and results are up to the child.

Creative Challenge for Kids | String  | TinkerLab.com

Welcome to everyone who is joining our Creative Challenge this month!

What is the Creative Challenge for Kids Project?

These bi-monthly challenges invite kids to create, make, and invent whatever they can imagine using a common material as inspiration. While Creative Challenge projects should be child-driven, adults are welcome to join the fun as helpful side-kicks.

The objective of these challenges is to encourage children to explore a material’s potential, build creative confidence, act like inventors, and envision new purposes for common objects…. skills that are at the heart of innovation.

Who is this for?

This challenge is open to anyone who wants to play! While we invite bloggers and anyone with access to a photo-sharing site to share a link to their entry, you don’t have to be a blogger to join us. If you want to run this challenge in your home or school, the entries shared at the bottom of this post might serve as inspiration to you.

Grab a Button

TinkerLab Creative ChallengeIf you’d like to add a Creative Challenge button to your post or sidebar, simply drag this image to your desktop and place it anywhere on your site. If you want to connect it back to our site, you could link it to this page: http://tinkerlab.com/string-creative-challenge-kids/ This 200 x 200 pixel button should show up as you see it here.

Share your Challenge Entry

Once you’ve read all the rules and details (these are for the last challenge — eggs — same general rules apply), you can enter a link to your project here. This challenge will run from June 1 – June 30, 2014. Of course, you can still run this experiment after this window closes, but we won’t be able to accept further entries after June 30. After you link up your post, we’d like to encourage you to be a supportive participant by popping around to a few of the other posts to leave some comments. Tag your image with #creativekidschallenge

Okay, I’m in! What do I need to do?

  1. Gather your materials
  2. Talk to your child about his or her plan
  3. The project should be child-led, although adults are quite welcome to join in
  4. Run the project
  5. Document it
  6. Share it between June 1 and June 30, 2014. We’ll post a Linky below.
  7. If you have a blog, grab a button and share it in your post!

Process Trumps Product

Keep in mind that these posts might not show super-glossy Pinterest-worthy projects because they celebrate the process of working through personal ideas more than the end result. These projects are sure to be packed with meaning and intent, in some instances more than perfection. I wish I could personally congratulate each participating child for devising their own plan and executing on it. Bravo!

Next Creative Challenge

We’ll see you in August for Creative Challenge #12. The material is TBD. Please leave a comment on this post with your suggestion for the next material. To see all the past materials, click here. 

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Family Visit to Tara Donovan

tara donovan

We had the great pleasure of visiting the Pace Gallery pop-up in Menlo Park, CA to see Tara Donovan: Untitled. If PACE sounds familiar to you, PACE is a well-established NYC gallery that represents work by artists such as Alexander Calder, Sol LeWitt, Maya Lin, Pablo Picasso, James Turrell, and Kiki Smith. In short, they’re not messing around.

While Silicon Valley is a hotbed for tech innovations, it’s not exactly a contemporary art scene, which I bemoan. But this show gives hope that this is about to change! Enter:

Tara Donovan…

tara donovan text

The gallery is housed in the former Tesla car showroom, and the make-shift space added an element of spectacle to the exhibition. My three-year old took this afternoon as a chance to practice her tour guide skills, and we were off!

Family Vist to Tara Donovan | TinkerLab

First up, these incredible orbs made from rolled mylar. One of the more striking things about Tara Donovan’s work is how she repurposes manmade objects into organic forms.

tara donovan mylar

Donovan’s sculptural installations were just the thing to help us practice perspective-taking.

We spent a lot of time looking at works of art up close and then far away. Because we had most of the galleries to ourselves, my kids took many opportunities to get up close and personal with the art.

Can you tell what this installation (below) is made of?

tara donovan pencils

How about with a closer look?

tara donovan pencils 2

While it doesn’t photograph as well as it looks in person, this piece (below) was spectacular. It was a wall of clear straws, layered one on top of the other. The straws were then formed into rounded waves that popped from the wall at different distances. Walking back and forth along the wall created implied movement in the piece, and it was mesmerizing.

tara donovan straws

My little one continued to tour us around…

tara donovan

And the guards, I almost forgot them! As you may know, I used to work in museums. The San Jose Museum of Art, where I last worked, had the most incredible guards who were all trained to be…friendly (gasp!) and talk with visitors about the art. I’m seeing more and more of this now, and was so impressed with the warmth of the PACE guards. They were lovely!

Can you tell what this next piece is made from? Take a good look!

Family Visit to Tara Donovan | TinkerLab

How about now? Isn’t that great?!

tara donovan nails

 Visit Tara Donovan

If you live in the San Francisco Bay Area, this show is worth a visit. It’s free, interesting for kids, and the art is beyond spectacular. More things you should know:

  • There’s a comprehensive reading area with catalogues from most (if not all) of the PACE artists represented.
  • May 22, 2014 - June 30, 2014
  • 300 El Camino Real.  Menlo Park CA 94025. 650-462-1368
  • Hours: Mon – Sat 1 – 9 pm
  • More about this show: Elusive Silicon Valley Buyers Come Out for an Arty Party 
  • If you’re on the East Coast, PACE is also showing Tara Donovan in their 25th street space through June 28, 2014

Hands-on Tara Donovan for Kids

Tara Donovan started working with materials such as toothpicks and buttons out of a need to make art on a very tight budget. She’s since become a master at using inexpensive, everyday materials to build organic forms. A few days after visiting the show I brought out some mini cupcake liners and white school glue, and we got busy upcycling these materials into new objects. So fun!

Turn cupcake liners into Art, inspired by Tara Donovan | TinkerLab

Turn cupcake liners into Art, inspired by Tara Donovan | TinkerLab

A question for you…

What was the last gallery or museum that you visited? Can you remember the last show that you were inspired by? This show takes the cake for me!

 

Art Tips: Recycle Boxes into Art Panels

Art tip: Save cardboard pieces for art making | TinkerLab

Art Tips on Tinkerlab.comWe love art tips. Click here for more tips from this series.

This is a favorite tip for the economical folks in the room: recycle your cardboard boxes and turn them into art panels.

How did this all start? Well, we had a yard sale this past week. Can you hear my sigh of relief? I used to love having yard sales, but since having kids it’s always been easier to take our long-loved belongings directly to the thrift store. My kiddos have been eager to have a sale, however, so that’s what we did. And you know something? Not only did I survive, but we cleared out a walkable path in our garage and I also uncovered my trusty old-fashioned paper chopper that was previously covered with boxes and cushions.

Along with getting reacquainted with my old paper-cutting pal, I uncovered a bunch of cardboard boxes. And with that, I spent a jolly twenty minutes chopping those boxes up into panels that my kids and I can paint, collage, and otherwise attack with our art.

Art tip: Save cardboard pieces for art making | TinkerLab

Cardboard boxes are wonderful for so many reasons. When I have them in the house they often get recycled as…cardboard boxes. I’ll use them again to ship things to friends and loved ones. But when I have a few piled up, I like to chop them into smaller pieces that we can later use as art panels.

Throw that box on the guillotine and create some incredibly enticing art substrates.

Art tip: Save cardboard pieces for art making | TinkerLab

There are a few ways to cut cardboard into panels

  1. Cut the box with heavy duty scissors. Don’t cut yourself. Obvious, I know, but I did this the other day.
  2. Cut panels with a box cutter on a cutting mat
  3. The quickest way is most likely an art-grade chopper like this Guillotine Paper Trimmer.

Art tip: Save cardboard pieces for art making | TinkerLab

And now we’re ready to use these as bases for painting, collage, gluing, etc. Here are some examples:

Art tip: Save cardboard pieces for art making | TinkerLab

Two questions for you

How do you like to recycle or upcycle cardboard? What are your favorite art tips?

More Art Tips:

Clean up (and reuse) your paper scraps

Low-cost Stamps made from Cosmetic Wedges

Set up a “Bits and Pieces Box”

Tips on how to clean up after a creative session

Camp Mom Summer Activities Pack | Sale

camp mom discount

With the beginning of summer just a few weeks away, we’re excited to share that 20 Moms is bringing back the popular Camp Mom: Summer Activities Pack. TinkerLab contributed activities to this jam-packed book that is sure to give you lots of inspiration for the summer ahead. And with this early summer launch, we bring you a big Memorial Day Weekend Sale discount!

camp mom discount

 


memorial day sale image


Camp mom fun summer activities pack

What’s Inside:

  • Jam-packed 84-page downloadable PDF
  • 45  simple and FUN activities with FULL instructions and supplies
  • Plus, 40+ MORE ideas and links
  • Printable summer planning pages
  • Includes a host of activities for ages 2-8
  • Adventure ideas and tips – you can have adventures without leaving your backyard!
  • Tips for success: How to manage sibling conflict, how to enjoy a museum with your kids, how to talk with children about art
  • Book recommendations

Not sure if it’s for you. Check out some of the sample pages…

Camp Mom SummerActivities Pack. 84 pages filled with over 45 activities that have you covered for nature discovery, water play, and art exploration. Camp Mom SummerActivities Pack. 84 pages filled with over 45 activities that have you covered for nature discovery, water play, and art exploration.


order today


 

 

camp mom click

Make a Milk Jug Shovel

Make a Milk Jug Shovel | TinkerLab.com

I spotted a milk jug shovel online. Gasp! Given that I adore all things DIY, especially if they involve my recycling bin, I had to try this.

I dug and dug (pun intended…I love puns) for the original source of this spiffy idea, and nothing came up. So, as a public service to my amazing readers, I pulled this very simple tutorial together for you, with the help of my trusty 3-year old assistant.

Make a Milk Jug Shovel | TinkerLab.com

Thank you, little R!

Supplies

  • Milk Jug
  • Sharpie (or other permanent marker)
  • Scissors

Make a Milk Jug Shovel | TinkerLab.com

Draw a shovel shape onto the milk jug with the permanent marker. Use the photo (above) as a basic guide.

Make a Milk Jug Shovel | TinkerLab.com

Cut along the marker lines (simple, right?) until the shovel comes out of the jug.

Make a Milk Jug Shovel | TinkerLab.com

Take the shovel outside for some digging fun.

Shovel Tips

  • As you might imagine, the shovel is somewhat flimsy, which makes it a better tool for dry sand. The shovel will have more trouble digging up soil and wet sand.
  • Following up on the last tip, this shovel is great for emergency digging but I wouldn’t recommend this in lieu of a regular shovel since it’s not super-sturdy. Like, if you’re on vacation at the beach and you forgot a shovel at home, you might want to visit a local coffee shop and ask them for a milk jug.
  • Although it’s not the greatest shovel in the world, making one of these is still a fun exercise and introduces children to recycling cast-off objects into something new.
  • Try making shovels from different kinds of plastic bottles. How will they vary from one another?

Make an Easy Milk Jug Shovel | TinkerLab.com

Easy Crafts for Kids | Flower Bouquet

Simple Pipe Cleaner Flower Bouquet | Easy Craft for Kids

This flower bouquet project is part of our new series of easy crafts for kids, and takes about 5 minutes to set up and encourages children to make aesthetic choices. We also love this flower bouquet because it’s…

  • Mess-free
  • Supports fine-motor skills
  • Turns into a one-of-a-kind bouquet for gifting

Simple Pipe Cleaner Flower Bouquet | Easy Crafts for Kids

This project was actually born out of my daughter’s own cure for boredom, and it’s since become one of our favorite easy crafts for kids. A stack of pipe cleaners (or chenille stems — which word do you prefer?) sat out on our art table for a week, They were turned into all sorts of projects, and then one day she decided to stick buttons and jingle bells on the ends of them. After making a small handful, it became apparent that she has created a bouquet.

It’s easy enough to make, and occupied my pre-schooler for a long while. I hope you’ll enjoy it too!

Flower Bouquet Supplies: Easy Crafts for Kids

Note: This supply list includes Amazon affiliate links for your convenience

Simple Pipe Cleaner Flower Bouquet | Easy Crafts for Kids

How to this up

  1. Set up a small stack of pipe cleaners, a bowl of buttons, and a bowl of jingle bells
  2. Offer your child the materials and invite him or her to push the buttons and bells onto the end of the pipe cleaners
  3. Add a few baubles to each pipe cleaner and then place a bouquet of them in a jar.

Simple Pipe Cleaner Flower Bouquet | Easy Crafts for Kids

More pipe cleaner projects

More Easy Crafts for Kids

11 Classic Summer Camp Crafts for Kids

60 Egg Activities for Kids

Fall Crafts: Glycerin Leaves

Salt Dough Magnets: A Childhood Classic

Doily and Watercolor Art for Preschoolers

Easy Watercolor and Doily Art | TinkerLab

This simple doily and watercolor art for preschoolers uses basic art materials and encourages children to explore the medium of watercolors through process-based creating.

Easy Watercolor and Doily Art for Preschoolers | Tinkerlab

This project, like so many others that you’ll find on TinkerLab, is process-based. It’s set up as a Creative Invitation, meaning that the materials are laid out in an inviting way, and then the child is invited to interpret and use them however he or she likes. With creative invitations like this, I’ll sometimes give my kids a little prompt, but usually I sit back and see what they come up with…and I’m often surprised by their ingenuity.

Around here, these creative set-ups are part of the Creative Table series, and you can find more of these ideas here.

Supplies: Watercolor Art for Preschoolers

Note: I’ve included Amazon affiliate links for your convenience.

Easy Watercolor and Doily Art | TinkerLab

The Creative Table Set-up

Line a tray with paper: Set up a big tray, and line it with paper. We have big sheets of 18″ x 24″ paper that I cut to fit. You could also use butcher paper, a brown paper bag, or smaller papers that are taped together. This step isn’t mandatory, but it’s helpful to have a absorbent trough to catch all the extra liquid.

Squeeze liquid watercolors into an ice cube tray. We have a mini tray that’s reserved for just this purpose. I often add a little bit of water to the watercolors to extend the life of our paints just a bit.

Doilies and paintbrush. Set up some doilies and a paintbrush and/or pipette nearby.

Easy Watercolor and Doily Art | TinkerLab

My three-year old enjoys the challenge of pulling doilies apart. Oh, and she’s also wearing an apron and has rolled-up sleeves. Both recommended for this potentially messy project.

Easy Watercolor and Doily Art | TinkerLab

Here’s the pipette in action. Pipette’s are fun for little kids, and a good challenge as they figure out how to squeeze the paint up, and then squeeze it out again.

Easy Watercolor and Doily Art | TinkerLab

We set up another tray nearby to absorb our drying, colorful doilies. Once she made a small handful of these, my daughter thought it would be fun to dip clean doilies in the pool of murky paint. What a fun experiment!! It’s moments like this that make this a Creative Table!

soaking doily

She loved seeing the paper soak the paint right up. Once we had a healthy collection of doilies, my kids remembered that we recently picked up laundry hanger at the dollar store. So we carried our trays full of doilies outside where we hung them to dry in a tree.

They’re still there, actually, decorating the neighborhood.

Easy Watercolor and Doily Art | TinkerLab

And here’s a bit of the aftermath. I love before and after photos!

Easy Watercolor and Doily Art | TinkerLab

If you enjoyed this activity, be sure to check out our new book, TinkerLab: A Handbook for Little Inventors (June 2014, Roost). You might also enjoy these creative invitations:

Creative Table Highlights via Instagram

Creative Table: Tape and Paper Bags

Creative Table: Paint and Looping Lines

Creative Table: Doilies and Scissors

Creative Table: Leaves and Glue

Creative Table: Stickers and Frames

Science Fair Project Ideas

Science Fair Project Ideas | TinkerLab

Are you in the market for some science fair project ideas? Well, hopefully this post will have you covered.

These twelve science experiments encourage children to test, tinker with, experiment, hypothesize, and evaluate various properties and phenomena.

Science Fair Project Supplies

Most of our favorite science experiments involve everyday, household supplies because they’re easy to come by and relatively safe for children to use. You’ll see that these science fair project ideas use materials like gummy bears, dish soap, food coloring, chocolate syrup, sand, lemons, eggs, celery, oil, Alka Seltzer, vinegar, plastic bags, pencils, salt, cotton balls, seeds, and candy.

Links to each of the science fair projects can be found below the block of photos.

Science Fair Project Ideas | TinkerLab

Growing Gummy Bear Experiment, TinkerLab

Elephant Toothpaste, Preschool Powel Packets

Kitchen Science: What Will Freeze First?, No Time for Flash Cards

Make Magic Sand, Paging Fun Mums

science fair project ideas for kids

Sink or Float Lemons, One Perfect Day

Crystal Egg Geodes, TinkerLab

Make a Lava Lamp, Hands on as we Grow

Colorful Celery Experiment and Capillary Action, TinkerLab

science fair project ideas

Melting Ice Experiment, The Chaos and the Clutter

Magical Plastic Bag Experiment, TinkerLab

Grow Beans on Cotton Balls, The Imagination Tree

Dissolving Peeps Experiment, Mom to 2 Posh Lil Divas

Bonus: 10 Tips for a Fab Science Fair Board

10 Tips for a Great Science Fair Board | TinkerLab

Thanks to Handmade Kids Art for the excellent article on how to create a successful science fair board: 10 Tips for a Rockstar Science Fair Board

Which of these have you tried?

If you’ve tried any of these science fair project ideas, would you leave a quick comment? I know that our other readers would love hear about your experiences.

And, if you have a favorite science fair project that’s not listed here, will you share it in a comment? We’d love to make this a valuable resource for our readers like you!

12 Science Fair Project Ideas | TinkerLab