The Curious Kids’ Science Book

The curious kids' science book creative hands-on activities | TinkerLab

Note: This post contains affiliate links

My friend, Asia Citro, author of 150+ Screen-Free Activities for Kids, has released a new book: The Curious Kids’ Science Book: 100+ Creative Hands-on Activities for Ages 4-8.

And it’s wonderful!

The book is filled with all sorts of science projects that cover topics from environmental science to living things, and then there’s my favorite section that gets into making and tinkering: Engineering.

When I opened the book I was tickled to see that her daughter set up her ramp-building project on a pile of books, and the TinkerLab Book is smack-dab in the middle of the pile!

Who the Book is For

If you’re a parent who’s looking for hands-on creative activities, have a young child who’s curious about how the world works, or want to raise your child to think like a scientist, this book is for you!

The curious kids' science book creative hands-on activities

When I opened the book I was tickled to see that her daughter set up her ramp-building project on a pile of books, and the TinkerLab Book is smack-dab in the middle of the pile!

The Curious Kids’ Science Book does a wonderful job encouraging children to really think like scientists through the processes of making guesses, testing hypothesis, iteration, and experimentation.


I was lucky enough to see it ahead of its release when Asia asked me if I would write a blurb about. It’s so well executed and I couldn’t refuse. Here are my thoughts:

“Asia Citro is a welcome new voice in the world of science education. As an educator and mother of two young children, she has a deep understanding that children are naturally curious, ask good questions, and freely investigate the world around them when given the chance. What The Curious Kid’s Science Book does so well, which so many science books for kids tend to miss, is the celebration of this innate curiosity and penchant for experimentation. With this understanding in hand, this book encourages children not to replicate tried and true science projects, but to ask their own questions and think like real scientists! From building a hypothesis to testing out theories, The Curious Kid’s Science Book will harness the scientist inside children and their adult counterparts. Bravo!”

I loved reading this endorsement from a former NASA astronaut:

“Perhaps children are the best scientists and explorers because they aren’t afraid to ask the question ‘Why?’ I encourage you to use the easy-to-do hands-on activities in this book to fuel your children’s innate creativity and problem-solving skills. Plus, without knowing it, they’ll have fun learning science and math!”

—Captain Wendy Lawrence
Former NASA astronaut

To learn more about this 5-star book (it’s killing it on Amazon), click here.

Try an Activity from the Book

There’s a meaty engineering chapter in The Curious Kids’ Science Book, and we tried the project on page 123: Design a Straw Plane and Change the Parts to Change How it Flies.

If you’d like to see how you, too can make straw and paper airplanes, click here.

How to make a straw airplane | TinkerLab

More from author, Asia Citro

And if you’d like to see my review of 150+ Screen-free Activities for Kids, click here.150 screen free book shot



Kiwi Crate for Busy Families

Koala Crate is one of the newest products from the Kiwi Crate brand, and I’m delighted to share our experience here with you today. I’ve been involved with Kiwi Crate since its early days, and man-o-man, this company keeps getting better and better.

Note: This post contains affiliate links

Kiwi Crate is offering a VERY generous Black Friday sale that continues through Friday, but more on that in a sec.

Koala Crate Review (and a 60% discount code!)|

For the uninitiated, Kiwi Crate sends thoughtfully curated projects to your mailbox each month. Their products are perfect for busy families, as you don’t have to drive all over creation to find all the supplies you need to pull of these creativity-boosting projects. I’m keen on visiting the art and crafts stores on a weekly basis, but the convenience of having everything organized in one spot even appeals to me.

The full suite of Kiwi Crate kits includes:

Koala Crate: ages 3-4

Kiwi Crate: ages 4-8

Tinker Crate: ages 9 – 14+

Doodle Crate: ages 9-16+

As we’ve already tested Kiwi Crate here and here, today I’m sharing a peek at the other three crates. Aren’t they gorgeous?

Kiwi Crate Kits Peek Inside |

As I have a 4-year old, we were very excited to try our hand at the Koala Crate, and it didn’t disappoint. The theme of the crate was color, and we first dove into the color toss activity. My little on knows all of her colors, and I especially loved how the physicality of this project gave her a new perspective on color.

She place the transparent color blocks on the ground, tossed the dice to see which color was up for investigating, and then collected objects from the studio to match the colors. So much fun!

Of course, I could probably do something like this on my own by cutting out colored paper and making a paper dice, but the high quality materials from Koala Crate really brought this activity to life.

This also segued nicely into the next activity…

Koala Crate Review |

Following that, we set up the watercolor bunting project. The kit provided us with heavy watercolor paper precut into triangles, a new set of watercolors (always welcome, as we race through these pretty quickly), fat crayons for little hands, and string for hanging the bunting.

Miss 4 drew on the triangles, and then washed over them with watercolors. We then hung the bunting up as one of our first decorations in the new studio. Hooray!

Koala Crate Bunting Project |

Tinker Crate is a little advanced for my kids, but as I looked over the provided materials, I know that older children would love the opportunity to build the machines and other engineering marvels that are included with each crate. And while she’s not in the recommended age group for Doodle Crate, my 6-year old is VERY excited to dive into that crate (and frankly, I am too!).

Kiwi Crate Black Friday Sale

If you’d like to get an amazing deal on any of the Kiwi Crate products, they’re offering 60% off the first month with the code: MERRYSUB

This Book Was a Tree | Book Review

When my friend Marcie Chambers Cuff, author of This Book Was a Tree (Perigree, 2014) asked us if we’d like to join her virtual book tour we jumped at the chance. I’ve had her inspiring book for a few weeks now, and every time I flip through it I’m struck with a new slice of inspiration.

The book is packed with ideas on how to reconnect our digital, nature-deprived selves with the earth through hands-on making, journalling, adventuring, and playing outdoors.

this book was a tree review

“Marcie Cuff makes nature even more fun than the way you find it. This is a book about imagination and creativity — and getting dirty.”

– David Yarnold, President and CEO of the National Audubon Society


One of the first projects that caught my attention involved upcycling wool sweaters into felted flowers. Felting old sweaters has long been on my to-do list, so when my friend Danielle recently gifted me the most gorgeous handmade felted cuff and belt I knew this would be the project to dive into first and learn how to do this myself.

I’ll share all the details on how to felt a wool sweater tomorrow, but for now I’ll share a little preview…

This Book was a Tree - Book Review on TinkerLab

Somewhere, in a book of advice on aging, I read a fine adage: Do something real every day. That’s good advice for people of every age. From the title of the book, through all of its pages of ideas and adventures, Marcie Chambers Cuff helps us remember what’s real and what makes kids and their families feel fully alive in a virtual age.”

-Richard Louv, author of Last Child in the Woods


What’s Inside?

The book is packed with so many ideas that I know will keep my family busy for a long, long time. Here are just a few of the thoughtful and novel projects inside this humble book:

  • Make a junk journal
  • DIY Pinhole Camera (including the science behind the art)
  • Upcycled Terrarium
  • Tree Stump Sundial
  • A list full of ideas for decompressing and slowing down
  • Make an Ecological Calendar
  • Make all-natural bug lotion

This Book Was a Tree Blog Tour

This book tour started on April 1, so if you’re on the fence about purchasing a copy today, scoot around and see what these amazing bloggers have to say about it.

4/2    Mindful Momma
4/4    Maya Made
4/7    Rebecca Sower
4/10 Tinkerlab


You didn’t really think we’d share this book without giving one away, did you? Be sure to subscribe to our newsletter and we’ll announce the giveaway in the next couple days.

See Marcie Cuff in Real Life

If you’re in NY, CT, TX, or PA, Marcie has some cool in-person events where you can learn how to felt wool, make seed bombs, and more.

Snap Circuits Review and a DIY Spin Art Machine

Snap Circuits and DIY Spin Art | Tinkerlab

Snap Circuits Review

If you’re in the market for a toy for a child who likes to build things, tinker, or is curious about how things work, Snap Circuits SC-300 tops my list. We’ve had this toy for a year and I just bought a BUNCH of them for friends because I like it so much. This is not a sponsored post — i’m just a happy customer who wants to spread the word. (Note: This post does contain affiliate links)

With Snap Circuits, those of us with no electronics background or understanding can easily build a light switch that works or a doorbell that rings. With a clever system of snaps that safely connect electronic components together, children will learn the basics of electricity and how to build all kinds of circuits.

The instruction manual is easy to understand, and I noticed that after we were halfway through our first project together, my five-year old figured out how to finish the assembly on her own. While it’s designed for children ages eight and up, my three and five year olds enjoy using it with adult collaboration, and I know it’s a toy that they’ll grow with.

What kind of toys should I buy?

When it comes to buying toys for my children, there are three questions that I like to ask:

  1. Is it a learning tool?  With Snap Circuits, children will learn about electronics and how to build a variety of circuits.
  2. Is it engaging and fun?  If children are curious about making things and how things work, the process and rewards will be fun and motivating.
  3. Is it open-ended? While many of the projects have a specific outcome in mind, many of them have multiple end-points. The example I’ll share today is an example of this.

In case you’re wondering, here are some curiosity and creativity-building toys that we’re also crazy about:

  1. Blocks. We love this set from Melissa and Doug
  2. Obstacles Game
  3. Marble Runs
  4. Spielgaben
  5. Stomp Rocket

And now, on to the project…

Build a DIY Spin Art Machine with Snap Circuits

Snap Circuit Spin Art Machine 2

Making their own spin art machine captured my kids imaginations, and we assembled it in about ten minutes. The toy comes with a grid that’s fitted with little prongs. The electronic pieces then snap right onto those prongs, which hold them in place. Putting these together will remind you of playing with Legos. In fact, if your child enjoys Legos, these might be a natural extension for you.

Snap Circuits doesn’t come with batteries, so if you buy this as a gift it’s something to keep in mind. If you don’t want to mess with replacing batteries over time, there’s a battery eliminator that people seem to be very satisfied with.

Snap Circuit Spin Art Machine

One of the components in this circuit is a small motor, and we were instructed to attach a stiff, circular paper base to the motor with some tape. Next, with a piece of double-stick tape we added a second circle of paper on top of the first one.

Snap Circuit Spin Art Machine 1

There a small on/off button on one side, so while one of us pushed the button, someone else got to use markers to add color to the spin art.

Snap Circuit Spin Art Machine 4

We struggled a bit with centering our circle, but no one seemed to mind our off-center designs. My 3-year old is obsessed with rainbows at the moment, and she enjoyed documenting her rainbow colors in just the right order.

I think they came out beautifully!

DIY spin art machine with Snap Circuits | Tinkerlab

After we played with it for a full hour, I was ready to disassemble it and store it away. But my kids saw this as a new toy, and wanted to keep it out. I complied, of course, and we made spin art for days! After two weeks we just broke it apart, and we’re now ready for another electronics challenge.

What’s your favorite toy for inspiring creativity and curiosity?

Exploralab by the Exploratorium, Book Review

We were sent a free copy of Exploralab to review, but all ideas shared here are our own. This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Exploralab Book Review

We were thrilled to get an advance copy of Exploralab by The Exploratorium (Weldon Owen, September 2013) to review for our readers. Do you know about the Exploratorium in San Francisco, or have you ever been? In a nutshell, the Exploratorium a wonder-filled interactive science and creativity center with ground-breaking exhibits that set the bar for many science museums around the world. If you’re an educator or homeschooler, the Exploratorium’s Educator pages are full of ideas that are sure to inspire, regardless of where you live.

Related to that, if you’re a fan of the Exploratorium or would love to grab a piece of its magic, this new book, Exploralab: 150+ Ways to Investigate the Amazing Science All Around Youwill transport you to San Francisco’s Pier 15 with its hands-on projects that encourage children explore science in their everyday world. 

So what’s inside?

The book is full of fun, easy-to-read science activities for parents, caregivers, and teachers to share with young children. You’ll be happy to sit down, like we did, and flip through the pages with your child to select activities together. If you have an older child, you might like to gift them a copy to browse through when that “I’m bored” feeling settles in.

The projects are a delight in the way that they break down complex science into bite-size, digestible chunks. Something else about this book that I know a lot of our readers will appreciate is that the materials and tools are generally things you can easily find in your pantry: paper, pencils, glue, scissors, measuring spoons, etc.

Still interested? Let’s take a peek inside…

The Inside Cover

Inside cover Exploralab Review

See that little window on the left? it has a clear envelope that you can open, and then pull out a cool plastic lens that does this…

Exploralab Review Inside Cover

Cool! We’re off to a fun start! The inside of the cover really sets the tone for the rest of the book, as more interactive elements follow.

Exploralab Review Lab 3 closet flaps

Engaging Labs

The book is full of “150+ ways to investigate the amazing science all around you,” that are contained within fourteen “Labs” that encompass topics such as school, nature, the city, and games. For example…

Game Hour Exploralab

Roller Coaster Exploralab

Lab #05: The Street Underneath Your Feet

My five-year old and I flipped through the pages and I asked her to pick a project that looked like fun. You can probably see that she tabbed more than one page. We decided to start with “Lab #05: The Street Underneath Your Feet.” Zoom in and you’ll see that this spread is full of ideas for engaging children in the science of the street. Ideas like using your feet as rulers to measure distance, studying shadows to understand more about how the earth spins, and making rubbings from found textures.

Rubbing Lab Instructions Exploralab review

This last idea is what we dug into.

Exploralab review rubbing directions

I really enjoyed the relief that’s set right into the book! Take a look at the bottom of this next picture and you’ll see what I’m talking about. What a clever idea.

Exploralab how to make rubbings

We ran our crayon right over the page to understand the project before hitting the streets.

Exploralab rubbing in book

Our Experience

We made a simple book from four sheets of paper, stapled three times along the edge, and then took it outside to gather some manmade and natural textures.

Rubbing Water Grate

Leaf rubbing Exploralab Review

The next project my daughter plans to tackles is the Juice-Tasting Challenge, where you change the color of familiar drinks with food coloring and challenge people to guess what they’re drinking. The eyes and tongue send off conflicting flavor messages and we’re excited to see what will happen.

Exploralab Breakfast Lab

If this looks like it could be a good addition to your library, you can find your own copy of Exploralab through Amazon. We’re an affiliate, and your purchase helps keep our Tinker-engine running, so thank you!

Exploralab BookLearn More

Visit the Exploratorium

See our review of another book from the Exploratorium, The Art of Tinkering

I was fortunate to hold my book launch party at Helix, a temporary outpost of The Exploratorium in Los Altos, CA.

The Exploratorium’s Education page has a host of valuable resources for home tinkerers and educators.

You can search part of their site for videos that explore all sorts of science + art phenomena.