Bird Seed Sensory Box

Birdseed Sensory Box Activity for Toddlers and Preschoolers

I'm always happy to have cheap, simple, educational, and entertaining activities for my kids, and I know a lot of teachers who feel the same way. How about you? I learned this bird seed trick from one of my daughter's first preschool teachers, and I'm happy to pass it along to you. Bird Seed Sensory Box Step 1: Pour in the bird seed. Tip #1: Do this outside. Bird … [Read more...]

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...]

Paint with glue, and how to make your own colored glue

How to color and paint with glue | Tinkerlab

My 2-year old is going through the phase of wanting to squeeze all the life out of any tube of paint, toothpaste, or glue that crosses her path. Have you had, or do you have, a child in that phase as well? I remember this phase well. When my older daughter hit it, I made up a big batch of flour + water paint so that she could squeeze all she wanted. It was an economical … [Read more...]

Marbled Paper Suminagashi

suminagashi prints

Are you looking for a last-minute hands-on gift, or maybe an idea to bookmark for a cold winter day? I've been saving this Suminagashi kit for a quiet morning and it was a true winner with both my 2-year old and 4-year old. The process of marbleizing paper encourages creative thinking, open-ended exploration with ink and water, and experimentation. But first, maybe … [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

slime

"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...]

Make Your Own Birthday Cake

kids bake in the kitchen

If you know a little bit about me and my parenting philosophy, you'll know that I welcome opportunities to get my children into DIY mode. The only way they're going to learn how to do something is by getting involved, so I may give them a few pointers and then I'll step back and let them take the lead. My youngest, R, who I sometimes refer to here as Baby Rainbow, is no … [Read more...]

Messy Art: Splat Paint Olympics

splat paint olympic rings kids

Today I'm over on the Melissa and Doug blog, writing about our experience making Splat Paint Olympic Rings with household sponges. Painting with non-traditional materials does wonders for helping children look at the world with fresh eyes. And throwing paint-soaked sponges? Well, that's just silly fun.   While we did this with the end-game of the Olympics in … [Read more...]