Inspired by Nature: Four Easy Steps to Follow a Child’s Interests

Inspired by Nature: wasp nest and bumble bee art

Do you have bees, birds, squirrels, deer, possum, or other creatures milling around your neighborhood? It's been wild animal week here at Casa Tinkerlab. We had two big discoveries at our house: a wasp nest in the eaves by our back door and a bird nest tucked into a hole along the siding of our house. Sad story, we found the bird nest on the ground today, and all of the … [Read more...]

Homemade {Easy, Low-cost} Light Table

Easy low cost homemade light box

My 2-year old came down with a fever last week and we've been more or less house-bound. It's no fun at all, but it's made me pretty resourceful around the house. One big win was pulling out our homemade light table. My 4-year old, who used to love this box, seems to have grown out of it (sniff -- maybe it's a phase?), but my 2-year old was right at home sorting and designing … [Read more...]

Looking at Art with Kids: Norman Rockwell

How to look at art with kids :: Tinkerlab.com

Have you spent any time looking at art -- in a MUSEUM -- with your child? Even though I'm an arts educator who spent years leading gallery tours and training docents, we don't spend as much time in art museums as I'd like because, you know, my children look at everything as a potential playground. I have an arsenal of gallery games and tricks up my sleeve, but they're no match … [Read more...]

We only think when confronted with a problem

we only think when confronted with a problem :: tinkerlab.com

"We only think when confronted with a problem." -- John Dewey, American philosopher and educator What do you think about this quote by John Dewey?  I spend a lot of my time considering how to set the stage for open-ended discovery as a way to foster a child's confidence and independence. If you caught my last post, Organizing a Self-serve Creativity Zone, you'll see a … [Read more...]

Organize a Self-Serve Creativity Zone

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"The drive to master our environment is a basic human characteristic from the beginning -- from birth." --Jack P. Shonkoff, Harvard University (From Mind in the Making, Ellen Galinsky. New York: Harper Collins, 2010). Do you have self-serve spaces in your home that are dedicated to creativity, art, science, and tinkering? Today I'm sharing our creative zone, the space … [Read more...]

Diet Coke Mentos Experiment

diet coke and mentos explosion

My 4-year old and our neighbor enjoyed witnessing this explosive soda and Minty Mentos experiment. Have you tried it? It doen't require a huge set-up, and the show is pretty awesome. I have to warn you that the explosion itself goes by quickly, so you might want to have an arsenal of soda containers on hand so you can conduct multiple experiments. Ingredients for Diet Coke … [Read more...]

DIY Baby Fabric Bucket Toy

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The following post is from the archives. It originally appeared in April, 2011. If you're looking for ways to mix up your baby play time routine, you might enjoy trying this simple activity with materials you may already have in the closet and recycling can. I often wax poetic about my preschooler's creative pursuits while my little one makes the occasional appearance … [Read more...]

Creative Adventures: Tidepooling

tidepool

 Creativity involves breaking out of established patterns in order to look at things in a different way. - Edward de Bono, psychologist and writer This post is something new for me. I usually write about our hands-on projects, but I thought it would be fun to take our creative thinking out into the great wide world. In reference to the quote above, not only am I breaking out … [Read more...]

Cooking with Kids: Butter and Rosemary

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Do you like to cook with your kids? It's not always the easiest thing for me to do; we have a tiny kitchen and limited counter space, but I try to find ways to integrate my kids into the kitchen routines when I can. Why? Because cooking, experimenting, and learning about the interaction of ingredients builds creative thinkers, gives my kids a solid footing  and confidence in … [Read more...]