What is TinkerLab?

TinkerLab® is a place where children are encouraged to follow their curiosities, test how materials work, experiment, and ultimately combine materials and ideas together in new, inventive ways.

Welcome to Tinkerlab, where you’ll find creative experiments for young makers and rule breakers.

About TinkerLab

The word TinkerLab® describes both the physical space of the art studio/science lab where a family or class builds, paints, experiments, and tinkers, and it’s also the experimental state of mind that manifests what happens in this space.

Tinkering as the process of taking something apart in order to understand how it works, and then rebuilding with a better solution in mind. Not only is tinkering as a hands-on activity rewarding and useful, but the process of following one’s curiosities, understanding how something works, and then redesigning a better outcome is a metaphor for life! I love that we can give our children these skills to chip away at how the world works and then help them create pathways to design a better future.

To read more about tinkering click here.

If you don’t already have a designated TinkerLab®, or space for creating, it’s easy to get started. Your space doesn’t have to be fancy, and it can be set up in a playroom just as easily as at the dining table. In my tiny house, we converted our living room space into a maker space, and it serves us well.

TinkerLab has been celebrated as one of the top 25 Creative Mom Blogs  by Circle of Moms and was named most awesome local blog by Red Tricycle and Rachelle was named a Top 25 Creative Mom at Circle of Moms. Rachelle, who started this messy maker zone, is one of the 20 Must Follow Moms on Pinterest, and TinkerLab is just an all-around rad resource for anyone interested in kids and creativity.

TinkerLab has been featured in these places:

Tinkerlab featured on

Who is Rachelle Doorley?

Rachelle DoorleyAs a university lecturer, museum educator, and classroom art teacher, Rachelle has established herself as an authority in the world of arts education. Before founding TinkerLab, Rachelle was the Director of Education at the San Jose Museum of Art where she oversaw training for a over 100 docents, managed school programs, and created content that supported visitor learning for all ages. Rachelle lectures on Visual Thinking Strategies at Stanford University, designed a hands-on art curriculum for the San Francisco Children’s Creativity Museum, and is an advisor to Kiwi Crate. Rachelle holds a BA in Theater from UCLA and a Masters in Arts Education from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

She’s also the founder of Bay Area Bloggers, a founding member of 20 Moms, host of the Instagram parties #creativetable and #tinkersketch, and mom to two creative kids.

Questions or comments? Drop me a line directly at rachelle at tinkerlab.com

TEACHING PHILOSOPHY

If you start to poke around my blog, you’ll notice that a theme of open-ended discovery and experimentation runs through a lot of my posts.

Here’s why I think experiments and a fail-forward mindset are important in childhood (and grownup-hood, for that matter).

1. Experiments teach children that there are multiple ways to approach a problem.

2. When children solve self-designed problems, they think for themselves and  build confidence.

3. Experiments remind me, as a parent, that I’m a co-learner and that I don’t hold all the answers.

4. The spirit of experimentation, exploration, and boundary-pushing is at the root of innovative thinking.

4. Experiments are fun and playful.

If you believe that there’s more than one way to do things, you’re attracted to the DIY culture, and you want to raise children who are confident thinkers, then TinkerLab is for YOU! I love the community that’s grown around these ideas and I hope you’ll feel welcome to join in at any time.

Thanks for visiting! For more about TinkerLab, head over here.

FIVE THINGS ABOUT ME

  1. I love the beach, but can’t stand cold water. This is a problem in Northern California where the beach is mostly foggy and the water is shockingly cold. My blood isn’t made for it, but my kids and husband flock to our ocean like seals.
  2. I planted the first geocache in Indonesia. Do you geocache? It’s super fun
  3. I’m originally from Los Angeles and used to have an art studio in the former practice garage for the band, Weezer. That city is a great place to be an artist!
  4. I lived in NYC for a summer. In a closet. It was a life-changing summer and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
  5. I studied costume design in college and worked on big Hollywood movies. The hours were crazy and while I miss the excitement of it all, I’m happy for to have a quieter life.

INTERVIEWS + ARTICLES

Process over Product: Building Creative Thinkers in Art, Americans for the Arts

Bay Area People, A Natural Way to Dye Easter Eggs, KTVU Fox 2

Rachelle from TinkerLab on Museum Education, The Artful Parent,

TinkerLab Book Blog Tour, Q + A with Rachelle Doorley, Not Just Cute

First Person VTS: Rachelle Doorley, Visual Thinking Strategies

A Peek into Rachelle Doorley’s Kitchen, La Food Sitter

To find more interesting and creative activities and experiments for kids, check out the Tinkerlab Facebook page and Pinterest boards.

FAVORITE ESSAYS

By making “creating” a fixture in your home or classroom, you’ll give your child or students permission to invent on a whim and honor the makers inside of them.

For more on this topic, I’ve also written a popular book: TinkerLab: A Hands-on Guide for Little Inventors, which you can find on Amazon and wherever great books are sold. This blog is an amazing resource, and you’re sure to find more of my best stuff in that book.

POPULAR PROJECTS…

LITERARY REPRESENTATION

I am represented by Erica Silverman of Sterling Lord Literistic (NYC). Contact: erica at sll dot com

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