TinkerLab Book Launch Party

TinkerLab book launch party at Helix by the Exploratorium

Thank you, thank you to all of my friends, both old and new, who came out to the launch party for TinkerLab: A Hands-on Guide for Little Inventors last weekend at Helix Los Altos. In case you’ve never heard of it, Helix is the Peninsula arm of San Francisco’s famed Exploratorium.

As soon as I stepped foot into Helix earlier this year I knew that this was the spot for my book launch. Helix celebrates the intersection of science and art, and experiments and exploration are at the heart of their mission.

TinkerLab book launch party at Helix by the Exploratorium

Big, big thanks to the education specialists at Helix, and especially to Kerrick, Anne, and Amisha for bringing my tinkering vision to life. I’d also like to send a shout-out to Kendra and Ching-Yee from Sprogs for feeding everyone delicious rice scooters. Yum yum.

TinkerLab Launch Party at Helix, sponsored by Sprogs | TinkerLab.com

*Thanks to Chrissy from Bloggy Law for sharing this photo collage with me!

After the guests arrived, we kicked the party off with a short talk and some hands-on oozy, gooey slime. The full recipe is in the book on page 152. In case you don’t have the book, you can download a free copy of the DIY Slime here.

TinkerLab book launch party at Helix by the Exploratorium

If you have seen the book, you might recognize my daughter’s strawberry dress!

TinkerLab book launch party at Helix by the Exploratorium

After making up a couple batches of slime, the museum was open for exploring and more hands-on fun. Helix and the Exploratorium are well-known for their interactive exhibits that demonstrate scientific phenomena in a hands-on way, and families were free to explore all of the thoughtful exhibits.

TinkerLab book launch party at Helix by the Exploratorium

We also set up the workshop room with a long table where kids and adults were invited to make Marker Explosion bags (page 146 of the book).

TinkerLab book launch party at Helix by the Exploratorium

TinkerLab book launch party at Helix by the Exploratorium

TinkerLab book launch party at Helix by the Exploratorium

TinkerLab book launch party at Helix by the Exploratorium

And then, of course, there was a book signing! It was so much fun to talk with everyone who came the event and I especially treasure those of you who braved the line to meet with me.  Thank you again for coming out to play.

For more photos from the fun day, Sally at Little Hiccups captured it all so perfectly.

TinkerLab book launch party at Helix by the Exploratorium

Special Thanks to my Sponsors!

cropped-logo  logo

Helix by the Exploratorium, a community science center in Los Altos, CA provided the perfect setting for the event. Their staff is incredibly knowledgeable and everyone raved about the engaging hands-on science exhibits.

Sprogs provided everyone with delicious Rice Scooters. My family loves these healthy, gluten free snacks. If you’re in the San Francisco Bay Area, they deliver, and you can also find them in many local markets!

Join me next time!

If you couldn’t make it to the book launch, my next event will be on October 5 at the San Jose Museum of Art! You can find all of my past and upcoming events here.

If you’d like to check out TinkerLab: A Hands-on Guide for Little Inventors, there’s more info here.

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In case you blinked and missed it, TinkerLab rounds up all the great stuff on the internets on keeping you and your critters creative and wraps it up for you in a tidy newsletter! (And throws in some secret giveaways for good measure!)  – Yuliya P., San Francisco, CA

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TinkerLab Book Blog Tour Highlights

TinkerLab Book Review

Did you get a chance to catch the TinkerLab Blog Book Tour? Twenty-three incredible blogs shared reviews, projects from the book, giveaways, and cool tinkering insights with their readers.

I’m so grateful for all that they shared and thought a recap would be helpful for those who might be thinking about picking up a copy of the book for themselves, or as a gift.

TinkerLab Book Review

Jean from The Artful Parent, which happens to be one of the very first blogs I ever read, shares some great photos of her marked up book and a peek at a bunch of the pages.

TinkerLab Book Review

Toddler Approved shares how her kids made one of the activities from the book, straw rockets.

TinkerLab Book Review

Ten Powerful Lessons Life Lessons from TinkerLab, written by Stacy at Kids Stuff World, just blows me away.  She shares some great nuggets of inspiration from the book. Here’s an example…

10 Powerful Lessons from TinkerLab

I invited a handful of Creativity and Education experts to write pieces for the TinkerLab book, and one was Parul Chandra, Head Teacher at Bing Nursery School at Stanford University. Christie at Childhood 101 took inspiration from Chandra’s interview on Discovery Areas and set up a Discovery Area in her home. This post is wonderful, and Christie shares a lot of Chandra’s interview so we can all learn from her words of wisdom.

Set up a Discovery Table, inspired by the TinkerLab Book | Childhood 101

Aligned with the book’s philosophy to encourage experimentation and curiosity in childhood, Creative with Kids shares a list of 15 “I wonder what would happen if…?” questions that invite play and experimentation. So good!

Questions that encourage experimentation and curiosity | TinkerLab.com

Maggy at Red Ted Art shares a whole bunch of ways that the book has inspired tinkering and open-ended exploration in her artistic home, including the set-up of their very own art trolly.

Art Trolly from Red Ted Art | TinkerLab.com

Amanda Morgan, mom to four boys and author of Not Just Cute, shared her kids’ DrawBots. Click over to her page and you can see videos of how they work.

Make a Draw Bot with Kids | from the TinkerLab book

The photos of the Naked Egg Experiment over at Let’s Lasso the Moon are beyond gorgeous. If Zina didn’t live 2000 miles away from me I would probably beg her to photograph images for my next book. Go on and check it out…

Naked Egg Experiment | Lets Lasso the Moon

Inspired by how the book encourages experimentation, Rachel of Kids Activities Blog made up a batch of Edible Pantry Paint with her kids.

Edible Pantry Paint from Kids Activities Blog | TinkerLab.com

Whitney from Rookie Moms (pass this site along to new moms!) talks about our Creative Table invitations, and shares this quick summary of the book:

  • Make space in your kids’ lives for creativity
  • Present them with opportunities to experiment, and try not to interfere too much
  • Introduce tools and materials they can test and play with
  • Accept that boredom is a jumping off point, not a problem for parents to solve

Whitney then offered her kids a selection of materials and stepped back to see what they would come up with. More here.

Creative Invitation for Kids | from Rookie Moms 

Tiffany from (the awesome spot for planning a Disney trip) Peanut Blossom, shares her kids straw rocket activity. 

Make Straw Rockets | TinkerLab.com

Steph from Modern Parents Messy Kids, is an advocate for STEM and STEAM, and has this to say about the book, “If you’re at all interested in the growing STEM and STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math) movements – this is the book for you! The “Take Thinks Apart” activity we tried (see below) is from the Build category.”


 The Imagination Tree is one of my very favorite spots for Early Childhood Education ideas, and Anna shares a peek into the pages of the book with us.

TinkerLab book review

Ana from Babble Dabble Do shares her new art cart, inspired by the pages on How to Organize your TinkerLab. This is one of my favorite eye-candy sites, and it’s full of great ideas for little builders and inventors.

How to Organize art supplies | Babble Dabble Do | TinkerLab.com

MaryLea from Pink and Green Mama has a beautiful creative space in her home, and shares how the ideas in the book align with how she’s created her home studio.

How to set up a creative space | TinkerLab.com


Shana, the talented engineer – mom – fashionista at The Mom Edit, are Instagram buddies. She inspires me to dress better and I inspire her to set up creative invitations like this with her kids…

Setting up a Creative Invitation  | The Mom Edit | TinkerLab.com

Make and Takes features the Straw Rocket activity and shares full instructions on how to make straw rockets. Fun!

How to make a straw rocket

Playful Learning makes the Lava Lamp activity from the book, and shares full instructions on how to make them. This is a really fun activity and will wow both kids and adults.

DIY Lava Lamp from Playful Learning | TinkerLab.com


Imagine Childhood tests out the Pounding Flowers project from the TinkerLab book. I recently ran this project at my daughter’s preschool and it was a huge hit with the kids, as they came up with lots of ways to experiment with creating colors and textures.

Pounding Flowers project | TinkerLab: A Hands-on Guide for Little Inventors

A Mom with a Lesson Plan shares all the info and directions you’ll need to create your very own straw rockets. I love how her kids invented their own rocket shapes and designs. I led this activity at the Stanford Play Symposium a few weeks ago and it was a huge hit with the grown-up crowd, too!

Straw Rockets | A Mom with a Lesson Plan | TinkerLab.com

The color of this egg is spectacular. Cathy at Nurture Store ran the naked bouncing egg experiment with her kids. This project teaches patience, with a really big payoff at the end!

Naked Egg Experiment | NurtureStore | TinkerLab.com

Kara at Simple Kids is the creative mom of four kids. And her blog is a wondrous place for keeping things simple as a parent. I subscribe to this philosophy — how about you?

In Kara’s review she shares her thoughts on the book, and she has a lot of really nice things to say.

Says Kara, “Tinkerlab takes the kids craft book to the next level:  beyond just amazing projects (and there are some truly unique ideas here), Rachelle goes into the hows and whys of tinkering, encouraging parents to embrace the mess (one of my personal mottos) and to see mistakes as gifts. Sprinkled throughout the book, like little gems, are some thought-provoking essays by various authors that this artist/mama/maker found really inspiring and helpful.  My favorite, as a parent who also strives to live simply, is the essay on the benefits of basic materials by Jennifer Winters, the director of Bing Nursery School at Stanford University.” Read her review for more.TinkerLab Book Review | Simple Kids


Asia at Fun at Home with Kids is a natural inventor and creates recipes for all sorts of slime, dough, and other kid-friendly supplies on her blog. She and her kids built a drawing machine, inspired by the book’s Draw Bot, and…she’s giving away a copy of the book. Hurry on over because the giveaway ends in just a few hours!


I’m honored to share that TinkerLab: A Hands-on Guide for Little Inventors (affiliate link) has been the #1 Best Seller in Crafts for Children on Amazon. I’m so happy to know that this labor of love is reaching out to families and educators in search of some creativity inspiration.

If you’ve reviewed the book or have a tinkering activity to share, leave a note in the comments. I’d love to see it!

Warmly, Rachelle

Book Launch Celebration

Book launch giveaways | TinkerLab.com

I can’t believe that June 10 has finally arrived! Maybe you’ve heard that writing a book is a whole lot of sweat and tears (yep – true) and now I can add that marketing a book is not for the faint of heart. Holy cow! I loved writing TinkerLab: A Hands-on Guide for Little Inventors, but it wasn’t without work and sacrifice. My in-laws, who put me and the kids up for five weeks so that I could write while they entertained my children, may attest to that!

Although I wouldn’t go quite this far, perhaps George Orwell says it best (this is George Orwell, after all):

Screen Shot 2014-06-09 at 10.32.01 PM

The good news is that this part of the struggle adventure is now behind me (until the next book – wink). Because I think it’s a pretty good story, and maybe you’ve wondered what kind of demon overtakes someone to write a book, I’ll give you a peek into my writing journey…

Before having children I was a director of education at a progressive contemporary art museum. To say that I loved my job is a huge understatement. I lived for that job and had so much love and respect for my co-workers and incredible volunteers.

But unexpectedly, when my daughter was born, I had so much trouble getting myself back to work. I kept putting off my return date because I didn’t want to walk away from either my job or my child. Conundrum! After a few months of my shenanigans, they graciously found a way for me to stay on part time to write curriculum and train docents, and it was the perfect marriage of family and work for me.

When my daughter was almost two, I picked up a copy of  The Creative Family by Amanda Blake Soule. This kind of book — a parenting book that talked about how to set up a creative family lifestyle — was new to me, and I loved it!

In an AH-HA! moment I came to the conclusion that I wanted to write a book that would inspire families to nurture creativity in childhood through experiments and open-ended questions. Amanda Blake Soule had a blog, and this seemed like a good place for me to begin.

I had just finished training my last group of docents and it felt like a natural breaking point in my job. I could always come back to the work, I thought, and would test this new blogging thing out. Well, low and behold, that was almost four years ago to the day! The poetry in all of this is that Roost Books, publisher of The Creative Family, is now my publisher too. I get chills every time I think about this. The world works in funny ways.

To celebrate creativity, an experimenting mindset, and goals achieved, I’m co-hosting a fun giveaway today with some of my favorite bloggers…

Book launch giveaways | TinkerLab.com

This is a Facebook giveaway, so you’ll have to pop over there to enter.

Contest Details

Click over to Facebook to enter!


To celebrate the book launch of the Tinkerlab book and the newest book from quirkymomma.com, we’re co-hosting a round robin of wonderful giveaways. 9 Facebook pages have come together to offer books and other goodies to some lucky winners.

TINKERLAB GIVEAWAY: We’re giving away two separate prizes: one copy of TinkerLab: A Hands-on Guide for Little Inventors (http://amzn.to/1kULIMC) and one copy of 101 Kids Activities that are the Bestest, Funnest Ever (http://amzn.to/1kULIMC) *affiliate links

Share your TinkerLab book on Instagram

If you have (or plan to get) a copy of my book, I’d like to invite you to share a photo of the book, your child doing an activity from the book, or something that the book inspired.

Upload your photo to Instagram and tag it with #tinkerlabbook and tag me at @tinkerlab, and I’ll do my best to add your image to this roundup of photos.

More details here.



TinkerLab Blog Tour 2014

TinkerLab Blog Tour 2014 | Sneak Peeks and Giveaways!

I’m so excited to announce the TinkerLab Book Blog Tour! If you’ve never followed one of these before, here’s how it works: each day for a little over a month, you can find cool insights into TinkerLab: A Hands-on Guide for Little Inventors (affiliate link) on a different blog, with candid reviews, giveaways, projects from the book, and more!

Such an Amazing Line-up! TinkerLab Blog Tour 2014

While I’ve known about the blog line-up for while, I just typed it up for the blog tour graphic (above) and I’m giddy all over again about the talent in this list. First of all, I want to thank all of these busy bloggers for volunteering to share my book. They’re parents and educators who have kids to care for, other life responsibilities (just like the rest of us!), and of course their own blogs to write. I’m hip to the fact that it’s remarkable to see all these stellar bloggers in one spot, and I’m so grateful!

Related to that, many of these bloggers focus on kids activities, mindful parenting, crafting with kids, and education. If any of these blogs are new-to-you, you might want to start a Pinterest board or some other way to collect them all in one place. They’re that good!

In addition to the blog tour, we have a few other book launch tricks up our sleeve! Stay tuned for info about a Pinterest Party (with a big ol’ prize to make it extra fun) and Facebook giveaways. Be sure to click the Pinterest and Facebook links so you don’t miss out! We also have a real-life Book Tour in the works. Click over to the Events page for up-to-date info on how you can join us!

TinkerLab Blog Tour 2014 – Clickable List

June 10      The Artful Parent

June 11     Toddler Approved

June 12     Creative with Kids

June 13     Red Ted Art

June 16     Not Just Cute

June 17     Kids Activities Blog

June 18     Rookie Moms

June 19     Peanut Blossom

June 20     Modern Parents, Messy Kids

June 23     The Imagination Tree

June 24     Babble Dabble Do

June 25     Pink and Green Mama

June 26     Make and Takes

June 30     Playful Learning

July 3     Imagine Childhood

July  4     A Mom with a Lesson Plan

July 7     Nurture Store

July 9     Simple Kids

July 10     Kids Stuff World

July 11     Let’s Lasso the Moon

July 14     Ain’t No Mom Jeans

July 15     Fun at Home with Kids

TBD     Childhood 101

And finally, if you’d like to order your own copy of the book, pop on over to Amazon and secure your copy today. If you order before June 10, you can lock in the pre-order rate and your book will ship out on June 10! Thanks, friends!

November News and an Announcement

kiwi crate stamp

Hi friends! Yesterday I shared that I would have some news for you today. Since, apparently, I’m terrible about keeping secrets across social media you may have already heard: I’m working on a Tinkerlab book (!!) to be published by Roost Books (2014). Holy Cow!

I’m sharing this, in part, to explain why I haven’t been able to post as much lately. I’ve been pulling the night shift in some of my favorite coffee houses around town in an effort to collect my favorite experiments and experiences into one tidy, welcoming place.

tinkerlab late night book writing

I started blogging about two and a half years ago after reading Amanda Blake-Soule’s The Creative Family. Amanda blogged before becoming an author, which planted the blog-to-book seed in my head. Shortly thereafter, I discovered Jean Van’t Hul’s welcoming blog,  The Artful Parent, and the rest is history. These two bright and authentic women enabled me to forge my path as a writer and blogger, and I’ll be forever grateful for their inspiration.

Because of these extra writing responsibilities, I won’t be able to keep up the frequency of blog posts for the next few months, but I want to keep the quality high with fun projects like the round-up of 50 Simple {Last Minute} Halloween Ideas that I shared yesterday. So, you may notice a slight shift in the Tinkerlab air, but I hope it’s a welcome change that’s full of good and interesting things.

Sneak peak at exciting things to come in November

A giveaway from these folks…

A review and giveaway of this book…

Imagine Childhood Book

And I’ll be a Guest Pinner for The Organized Parent…

I hope you’ll stick with me through this, let me know if I’m slipping too much, and please continue to share your inspiration with me.

Thanks for listening!

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