TinkerLab http://tinkerlab.com for Mini Makers and Inventors Mon, 29 Jun 2015 11:50:36 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.1.5 The Best White Pens for Black Paper http://tinkerlab.com/the-best-white-pens-for-black-paper/ http://tinkerlab.com/the-best-white-pens-for-black-paper/#comments Sun, 28 Jun 2015 21:02:12 +0000 http://tinkerlab.com/?p=19751 Writing and drawing with white pens on black paper is a fun way to add some pizzaz to a drawing practice. In our traditional black on white world of mark-making we’re accustomed to putting dark marks on white paper, and perhaps it’s the tonal reversal that’s compelling and unique about white on black drawings. However, finding a […]

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The Best White Pen for Writing and Drawing on Black Paper

Writing and drawing with white pens on black paper is a fun way to add some pizzaz to a drawing practice. In our traditional black on white world of mark-making we’re accustomed to putting dark marks on white paper, and perhaps it’s the tonal reversal that’s compelling and unique about white on black drawings. However, finding a good white pen that will show up on black paper can be a challenge. At least it was for me, and I wanted to spare you the hours and expense of trying and testing a ton of pens that might prove disappointing.

A few months ago we invested in a big roll of black paper to cover our art tables. This paper is fantastic. It’s heavier than wrapping paper and thinner than Kraft paper, so it does a nice job covering the table without being too difficult to secure with tape.  With the tables covered, we were itching to draw on it with opaque pens, and white ones in particular. Check out White Drawings on Black Paper to see the drawing prompt that kicked off our search for the best white pens.

After a few false starts with pens that faded against the bold black backdrop, I picked up some white pens at the local craft store. Unfortunately, these pens didn’t cover the paper well and one skipped spots as I wrote. Hmmm. There must be a better pen out there!

It turns out that not all white pens are created the equal.

This prompted to me to do a little digging to find the best white pen for black paper.

The best white pens for black paper

The Best White Pens: The Testing Pool

Here’s what we worked with:

Craftsmart White Paint Pen (Michael’s Craft Store)

Recollections Signature Broad (Michael’s Craft Store)

Sakura Pen-Touch 1 mm Fine Point (Amazon)

Ranger White Opaque Pen (Amazon)

Signo Uni-ball (Amazon)

I brought my 4-year old into the decision-making process since she’s the one who actively uses the table as her own personal scribble zone.

white pen on black paper drawing

Signo Uni-ball (Amazon)
Our hands-down favorite. Since doing this test I have since ordered three more, and frequently travel with one in my bag. There’s a reason this pen gets 5-stars on Amazon. The ink runs consistently and it’s thick and opaque. It also writes like a regular pen, meaning that it’s not bulky like a paint pen. (3 for $7.50)

Ranger White Opaque Pen (Amazon)

This was our least favorite of the group. With the ball-point system, the ink came out in chunks and wasn’t smooth at all. Pass. (2 for $5.89)

Sakura Pen-Touch 1 mm Fine Point (Amazon)

This pen has to be primed by pumping the nib and up and down, to get it going. Not as bright as the Recollections pen (below), but it works. ($6.49)

Recollections Signature Broad (Michael’s Craft Store)

This pen was a favorite. It’s easy to write with the color is opaque. It’s perfect if you’re looking for something broad and thick. ($1.99)

Craftsmart White Paint Pen (Michael’s Craft Store)

This is one of the first pens we used. The ink flowed well and it was easy for my daughter to use. The only complaint is that the color wasn’t hyper-opaque. ($0.99)

the best white pen

child drawing white pen

If you come across a particularly fantastic pen or have an opinion on this topic, I would love to know about it. Share a link in the comments below.

Happy drawing!

the best white pens for drawing and writing

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Phonebook Art: A Painting Meditation http://tinkerlab.com/phonebookart/ http://tinkerlab.com/phonebookart/#comments Sat, 13 Jun 2015 00:58:50 +0000 http://tinkerlab.com/?p=19793 “When there are thoughts, it is distraction: when there are no thoughts, it is meditation.” -Ramana Maharshi When I was cleaning out my studio last week I came across a few phonebooks. I occasionally use them as scrap paper or throwaway sheets for printmaking, and decided that my 4-year old and I could have some fun […]

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“When there are thoughts, it is distraction: when there are no thoughts, it is meditation.”

-Ramana Maharshi

Lovely idea for relaxation through art! Paint on phonebook pages. They're free, plentiful, and free you up to experiment.

When I was cleaning out my studio last week I came across a few phonebooks. I occasionally use them as scrap paper or throwaway sheets for printmaking, and decided that my 4-year old and I could have some fun painting on them.

We cleared some room on the table, took out our watercolors, and got busy.

Why Phonebooks are Great for Painting

  1. They are free! Woop!
  2. Because they’re free, they aren’t precious. And that’s great because it frees us up to go hog-wild and not worry one iota about ruining expensive paper.

Why this is a Meditation

I’m trying to get into the practice of waking up early and taking in some quiet time to reflect, journal, and exercise. Today’s phonebook art project is an extension of that practice. Why? Meditation is the act or process of spending time in quiet thought (source). If you can turn off the inner critic, get into the zone of making, and have fun, this phonebook painting project can serve as a meditative act.

I’m a fan of Lou Reed, and I really like how he describes it:

Meditation doesn’t have to be complicated. What I do is about as simple as you can get. You could just count the beads, one, two, three, with your eyes closed or open, whatever makes you happy.”

Using phonebooks, a free, disposable medium, gives us the freedom to create without adding too much value to the end product. This allows us to consider the process more deeply and get into the moment of creating.

How to set this up

  1. Clear a large work space: a table, the floor, whatever works
  2. Rip a bunch of pages out of your phonebook and spread them around the table.
  3. Set up your materials: watercolors, a water jar, a rag (for cleaning/drying the brushes), brushes
  4. Turn on music (optional)
  5. Surround yourself with inspiration. Place inspiring photos or images nearby that can act as inspiration
  6. Paint! Be free, be quick, don’t worry about perfection

Recommended Paints

Pelikan Paints OpaqueWe used our Pelikan watercolor set (affliate). It’s a double-decker box with 24 colors. The colors are bright and the variety of hues is thrilling to me. And, bonus!, it’s currently 31% off.

See it in Action

Lovely idea for relaxation through art! Paint on phonebook pages. They're free, plentiful, and free you up to experiment.

Phonebook Painting Video.

Did you know that I’m trying out this new-to-me media? I love it. For more videos like this, be sure to subscribe to the TinkerLab channel. I try to upload at least one new video each week.

Join me!

Do phonebooks still get delivered to your address? It surprises me that we get them, but I’m seeing it as a bonus. If you get phonebooks, join me by setting aside a few minutes to make some Phonebook Art.

Ideas:

  • Paint on it
  • Collage with it
  • Use it for paper making
  • Cut it up and sculpt with it
  • Use it for papier mache
  • Fold it into paper airplanes that go far.
  • Look on Instagram for #phonebookart and you’ll get some ideas

Other Things you can Make with Phonebooks

Make a beautiful garland with your kids, as seen on Art Bar Blog

Turn them into sculptures as Jonathan Callan did

Take a cue from Alex Queral and draw portraits on them

Make a wreath out of the pages, as seen on A Little Tipsy

Turn it into a Pencil Caddy, as seen on Chica and Jo

Make Paper Bows, as seen on How About Orange

After you make your phonebook art, post it to Instagram with the hashtag #phonebookart.

Join the TinkerLab Community

If you enjoyed this post, sign up for the weekly TinkerLab newsletter. It’s free and we often send exclusive content and opportunities that are only available to our subscribers.

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

Join our community and you’ll learn:

  • How to simplify your life and make more room for creativity
  • How to make hands-on making a part of your everyday life
  • Easy, actionable ways to raise creative kids

TinkerLab Newsletter

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Art Tips and Tricks: Paint Brush Deal http://tinkerlab.com/art-tips-and-tricks-nail-brushes-painting/ http://tinkerlab.com/art-tips-and-tricks-nail-brushes-painting/#respond Sun, 31 May 2015 07:21:26 +0000 http://tinkerlab.com/?p=19765 This is the first of a new TinkerLab Video series called Art Tips and Tricks. In this episode I share my favorite deal for detailed paintbrushes – you won’t believe how inexpensive these are and what they were originally intended for! Art Tips and Tricks I’ve been sharing art tips and tricks on my blog […]

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This is the first of a new TinkerLab Video series called Art Tips and Tricks. In this episode I share my favorite deal for detailed paintbrushes – you won’t believe how inexpensive these are and what they were originally intended for!

Art Tips and Tricks: Amazing Deal for Detail Paintbrushes (plus, the source of these brushes may surprise you)

Art Tips and Tricks

I’ve been sharing art tips and tricks on my blog for some time, such as 24 Ideas for Cleaning up Art Messes with Children and How to Recycle Boxes into Art Panels. After a bit of brainstorming, I thought it would be fun to turn these art tips and tricks into a new video series.

You might know that I’m messing around with video. It’s been an enormous leap into the unknown, with an even bigger learning curve, but I’m having fun with it.

And isn’t having fun the point?

If you haven’t already subscribed to my YouTube channel, you can follow me here where you’ll get at least one new, inspiring video each week.

Paint Brushes from a Surprising Source

Grab this DEAL on Amazon (affiliate) here.
*Note, at the time of filming, these brushes are $3.78, which includes free shipping. These brushes ship from China and may take a week or longer to arrive.

MORE ART TIPS AND TRICKS:

7 Tips for Setting up an Impromptu Garden Art Studio

Art Tips: The Bits and Pieces Box

Art Tips: What to do with Leftover Paper Scraps

Tips on How to Clean Up After a Creative Session with Kids

Catch the next Episode

Check back next week for the next episode in the Art Tips and Tricks series: How to Store Tempera Paint

Art Tips and Tricks: How to Store Tempera Paint to Save Paint

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June TinkerSketch Sketchbook Challenge http://tinkerlab.com/june-tinkersketch-sketchbook-challenge/ http://tinkerlab.com/june-tinkersketch-sketchbook-challenge/#comments Wed, 27 May 2015 18:03:47 +0000 http://tinkerlab.com/?p=19734 After taking a short break from the TinkerSketch Sketchbook Challenge, I’m ready to try another round in the month of June. Are you with me? After the last Sketchbook Challenge, I received so much encouraging feedback. Here’s a sampling of what people like you had to say about their experience: I can’t thank you enough for the challenge. I quit […]

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After taking a short break from the TinkerSketch Sketchbook Challenge, I’m ready to try another round in the month of June.

Are you with me?

TinkerSketch Drawing Challenge

After the last Sketchbook Challenge, I received so much encouraging feedback.

Here’s a sampling of what people like you had to say about their experience:

  • I can’t thank you enough for the challenge. I quit my job as a designer to be a SAHM and even when I love it, I realized I needed to have a project for myself, something that the kids could see me working on, and this has been a perfect “excuse” to set some time aside for myself to do that. I like doing it alongside my oldest, sometimes he is painting with me, sometimes h is just playing – but he sees me being creative, and I fell it’s very important. Thanks again!
  • I’ve really enjoyed the discipline of finding time everyday for bits of creative time. Some of the hardest prompts have been the most interesting. Quite often I’ve started the day with one thought and by the end of the day I’ve arrived at something quite different. It has made me much more observant too.
  • My favorite part was connecting with people around the world and trying to think of creative ways to execute the prompt of the day. Thank you!!!
  • My favorite thing is connecting with others. My second favorite was thinking about each prompt every day. I like to turn ideas around in my mind. Also, I have added drawing prompts for my upper level high school art students as a result of this – with good success. Thank you.
  • Thank you Rachelle. I certainly sketched and painted more than usual thanks to your great prompts.
  • Loved the challenges for ideas to stretch my mind and try new things. I can no longer say, “I can’t draw” because now I know I can! Thanks for encouraging a safe place for a non-artist to get artistic. I also loved the idea that it was just supposed to be a quick project each day. That really took the pressure off.

And this makes me feel great!

I firmly believe that we all have creative ideas inside of us, and that drawing skills are not a requisite for creativity. Challenges such as TinkerSketch celebrate processes of creativity and a spirit of trying new things.

It’s not the product, but the process that’s important.

Here’s an example of my interpretation of the one-minute drawing prompt from the very first TinkerSketch Challenge. I set the timer for one minute, and created one drawing – this set of nine drawings took nine minutes.

For more on how to do this, you can see my post about it here. Fun bonus, day 19 of the upcoming June challenge poses a similar prompt and you can give this a try.

 

One minute drawing on TinkerLab

So here we go… Let’s tackle June gloom (that’s a weather phenomena in Southern California) with our brushes, pencils, and notebooks.

Are you in?

June 2015 Sketchbook Challenge

TinkerSketch Sketchbook Challenge for drawing experimnets. Join Anytime!  This is such a fun drawing challenge. All welcome.

Share it!

If you know anyone who might like to join, feel free to screen shot any of these images, pin it, tweet it, and pass it along.

Print it!

For anyone who wants to print this in Black and White, here’s a list for your convenience:

instagram tinkersketch challenge june 2015

 

Get the Sketchbook Challenge FAQ’s

Next, you’ll want all the details. Read here for more.

Sketchbook Drawing Technique | White Pen on Painter's Tape

Won’t You Join Me on Instagram?

If you’re new to the TinkerSketch Sketchbook Challenge, this challenge takes place on Instagram, so you’ll want to start by following TinkerLab over there.

If you’re not on Instagram, but like to call Facebook home, join our closed Facebook group, Club TinkerLab, where you can also play.

If you want to jump-start your creativity and start your art journal practice, join us for the FREE TinkerSketch Sketchbook Challenge in February 2015 at TinkerLab.com

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You’ve Asked me About the Next Book http://tinkerlab.com/youve-asked-me-about-the-next-book/ http://tinkerlab.com/youve-asked-me-about-the-next-book/#comments Sat, 16 May 2015 00:35:20 +0000 http://tinkerlab.com/?p=19655 I have some big news that I’ve been holding on to for a week or so. Deep breath…I have a new book deal!! The book will be published with Roost Books, the publisher of my first book, TinkerLab: A Hands-on Guide for Little Inventors. I’m thrilled to work again with my very favorite editor, Jenn Urban-Brown […]

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I have some big news that I’ve been holding on to for a week or so. Deep breath…I have a new book deal!!

egg painting

The book will be published with Roost Books, the publisher of my first book, TinkerLab: A Hands-on Guide for Little Inventors. I’m thrilled to work again with my very favorite editor, Jenn Urban-Brown and of course my amazing agent, Erica Silverman. These two women have been the most patient of friends and the best hand-holders as I built up enough energy to write another book.

Writing that first book was a huge learning experience, and one of the things I came to understand is that it’s no small undertaking. I drafted a proposal for book #2 almost as soon as the last one was released, and then I held off for fear that I’d actually have to write the book! Ha.

In any case, I’m now ready for it. My younger daughter will be in a few more hours of school this fall, which should give me more time to flesh it all out.

I can’t say too much about the book just yet, but I’ll share a few photos from my proposal to give you a sense of where it’s heading.

leaves and paint plate and yarn 2

Wishing you all a wonderful weekend!

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The Best YouTube Channels to Follow for Creative Kids Activities http://tinkerlab.com/best-creative-kids-youtube-channel-to-follow/ http://tinkerlab.com/best-creative-kids-youtube-channel-to-follow/#comments Fri, 15 May 2015 21:14:55 +0000 http://tinkerlab.com/?p=19632 As you might know, I recently launched a new YouTube channel for TinkerLab: TinkerLab®TV. The idea behind this channel is to share videos that celebrate hands-on making that encourage creative and critical thinking skills. On my channel, you’ll find project ideas that focus on the intersection of art, science, and technology, interviews, answers to your […]

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As you might know, I recently launched a new YouTube channel for TinkerLab: TinkerLab®TV. The idea behind this channel is to share videos that celebrate hands-on making that encourage creative and critical thinking skills. On my channel, you’ll find project ideas that focus on the intersection of art, science, and technology, interviews, answers to your burning creative questions, and more!

Check out my YouTube Welcome Video!

The Best YouTube Channels to Follow for Creative Kids Activities

To celebrate this launch, I’m sharing 8 YouTube Channels to Follow for Creative Kids Activities. While these are not necessarily the hugest channels out there, I’ve chosen these as places that are sure to inspire and that show great promise for growth. Shall we take a look?

TinkerLab Youtube Channel

TinkerLab TV from Rachelle Doorley is my new happy place where you’ll find videos that encourage creative thinking for kids of all ages: art activities, crafts, science projects, and tinkering ideas. The thread that runs through these is experimentation and exploration.

RedTedArt Youtube Channel

Red Ted Art from Maggy Woodley shares all sorts of crafts for kids. Cute, easy, and lots of cardboard roll ideas! So many simple ideas for repurposing natural materials and recyclables.

Babble Dabble Do YouTube Channel

Babble Dabble Do from Ana Dziengel shares imaginative handmade games with links to free printables. Her videos are some of the most gorgeous things I’ve seen on YouTube — ever!

Inner Child Fun Youtube Channel

Inner Child Fun from Valerie Deneen is full of PLAY ideas. Make your own bubble solution, how to make sidewalk chalk paint, and how to make an outdoor obstacle course. LOTS of ideas for summer fun.

Meri Cherry Youtube Channel

Meri Cherry from Meri Cherry is one of the newer pages, and I love everything I’ve seen so far. Meri is an art teacher and mom to two small girls. Her glowing tutu and waterbead videos are fantastic and beautifully shot.

Coffee Cups and Crayons YouTube Channel

Coffee Cups and Crayons from Megan Sheakoski is full of ideas that focus on learning, play, reading, and kindness! She is actually the queen of the kindness challenge, and I look forward to seeing more ideas on how we can make a difference in the world from this channel.

Kids Activities Blog on YouTube

Kids Activities Blog from Holly Homer and Rachel Miller is chock-full of easy projects that keep kids busy. And this active channel will keep you busy, too!

The Artful Parent YouTube Channel

The Artful Parent from Jean Van’t Hul is one of the newer ones on this list, but if you know The Artful Parent, you’ll understand why I’ve included it here. This channel is already sharing hands-on kids’ art activities that are simple and process-based. This is one to keep an eye on.

What an Inspiring List! 8 YouTube Channels to Follow for Creative Kids Ideas and Activities | TinkerLab

What Would You Like to See on TinkerLab TV?

If you have a chance to leave a comment on the video or here on the blog, I’ve love your honest feedback and I’d also like to know what you’d like to see me share on this channel. Thanks!

Want more?

If you enjoyed this post, you might like to subscribe to our weekly newsletter…

TinkerLab Newsletter

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

Join our community and you’ll learn:

  • How to simplify your life and make more room for creativity
  • How to make hands-on making a part of your everyday life
  • Easy, actionable ways to raise creative kids

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Drawing Prompt | Design Your Own Characters http://tinkerlab.com/drawing-prompt-design-your-own-characters/ http://tinkerlab.com/drawing-prompt-design-your-own-characters/#comments Thu, 07 May 2015 21:13:37 +0000 http://tinkerlab.com/?p=19538 If you’re looking for a fun drawing prompt that encourages imaginative thinking, this Creative Table drawing prompt is sure to please. My four-year old found it enthralling, and soon after completing these, she invented her own prompts for her dad to work on. The idea is simple: Set up a sheet of paper with basic […]

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If you’re looking for a fun drawing prompt that encourages imaginative thinking, this Creative Table drawing prompt is sure to please. My four-year old found it enthralling, and soon after completing these, she invented her own prompts for her dad to work on.

Fun Drawing Prompt Printable: Design your own character

The idea is simple:

Set up a sheet of paper with basic animal or people parts, and then invite your child to fill in the missing parts of the bodies with their own ideas. So, for example, draw bunny ears and a tail, and leave the rest of the image blank. I’ll share some ideas in the photos below.

See This Drawing Prompt in Action:

Fun Drawing Prompt Printable: Design your own character

You can easily draw your own prompts with a few quick strokes of pen.

But if you’d like some that are ready to go, with instructions and ideas to further this exercise in creativity, I pulled together a downloadable PDF – FREE for a limited time if you PROMISE to write a review for this product.

You can print it right away, as many times as you like, and have a creative drawing session in just a few moments. Click here to download a copy today.

TinkerLab Creative Drawing Prompts

What is the Creative Table Series?

 

Setting up a Creative Table Invitation to Create like this is one of my very favorite ways to encourage children to explore new ideas and develop a visual language. Here’s the basic premise:

  • Clear the table of anything that won’t be used in the invitation
  • Artfully arrange the materials to provoke ideas
  • Limit the choice of materials to just a few items
  • Provide clues about how to use the materials, but keep the project open-ended so that original ideas can flourish.

More Creative Table Ideas

You can read more about the Creative Table Series and grab at least ten more easy and fun ideas here.

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Paper Plate Weaving | Make a Doll Hammock http://tinkerlab.com/paper-plate-weaving-doll-hammock/ http://tinkerlab.com/paper-plate-weaving-doll-hammock/#comments Tue, 28 Apr 2015 06:35:40 +0000 http://tinkerlab.com/?p=19507 Have you ever tried circle weaving on a paper plate? Today, I’ll both share how to make a paper plate weaving, and also how to turn that weaving into a sweet little hammock for a small doll. My girls, ages 4 and 6, adore these hammocks, and my older daughter quickly adopted the one you see […]

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Make a paper plate weaving into a doll hammock | Easy Weaving project for kids

Have you ever tried circle weaving on a paper plate? Today, I’ll both share how to make a paper plate weaving, and also how to turn that weaving into a sweet little hammock for a small doll.

My girls, ages 4 and 6, adore these hammocks, and my older daughter quickly adopted the one you see here. Check out this video of the entire process — I’ll share more a more detailed tutorial below.

Supplies for Paper Plate Weaving

Paper Plate

Yarn

Scissors

Popsicle Stick or Choptick

Kids Weaving Project | Circle Weaving Hammock for Dolls

Paper Plate Weaving Steps

Step 1: Cut notches in around the edges of the plate. This has to be an ODD number.  9 or 11 notches seems to work well.

Step 2: Wrap yarn around the paper plate. See demonstration in the video (above). Tie a knot so this doesn’t come loose.

Kids Weaving Project | Circle Weaving Hammock for Dolls

Step 3: Wrap yarn around the popsicle stick.

Step 4: Tie one end of the yarn to the center of the criss-crossed plate yarn.

Step 5: Weave the popsicle stick yarn over and under the plate yarn. Continue until you are done. You can change colors along the way by tying yarns together.

Kids Weaving Project | Circle Weaving Hammock for Dolls

Step 6: Cut the yarn from the plate

Step 7: Tie the ends of the yarn to each other so that the weaving doesn’t come undone. Add more yarn to create the long, hanging strings. (See an alternative way to tie this off in the video).

Step 8: Add a toy!

Kids Weaving Project | Circle Weaving Hammock for Dolls

Another idea!

My 4-year old noticed that turning one of these creations upside down transformed it into a jelly fish. These ends weren’t tied off, so it’s bound to fall apart eventually, but we could have easily tied them off.

Kids Weaving Project | Circle Weaving Jelly Fish

This project is part of Kids Crafts 101, a collection of crafts that are made from materials you most likely have lying around your home. Things like paper bags, cardboard rolls, string, paper plates, and cardboard. Click here to see all of the ideas in this series.

Kids Crafts 101

Yesterday’s clever idea from Anna at The Imagination Tree is to make colorful Egg Carton Flower Necklaces, and tomorrow, Jeanette of Tiny Rotten Peanuts will share how to make these delightful String Nests.

11156744_10152948700585805_575613773_n jeanette

Join the TinkerLab Community

If you were inspired by this post, you might like to sign up for the weekly TinkerLab newsletter. It’s free and we often send exclusive content and opportunities that are only available to our subscribers.

TinkerLab Newsletter

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

Join our community and you’ll learn:

  • How to simplify your life and make more room for creativity
  • How to make hands-on making a part of your everyday life
  • Easy, actionable ways to raise creative kids

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Spaghetti Tower Marshmallow Challenge http://tinkerlab.com/spaghetti-tower-marshmallow-challenge/ http://tinkerlab.com/spaghetti-tower-marshmallow-challenge/#comments Mon, 27 Apr 2015 23:41:31 +0000 http://tinkerlab.com/?p=19488 Do you know about the Spaghetti Tower Marshmallow Challenge? This is one of those legendary team-building challenges that I’ve been hearing about for ages and have never tried. It encourages the design mindset and supports basic engineering principles.  The basic idea is that a team is given a handful of supplies to work with — […]

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Spaghetti Marshmallow Challenge

Do you know about the Spaghetti Tower Marshmallow Challenge?

This is one of those legendary team-building challenges that I’ve been hearing about for ages and have never tried.

It encourages the design mindset and supports basic engineering principles. 

The basic idea is that a team is given a handful of supplies to work with — spaghetti, tape, and string — and given 18 minutes to build the tallest possible tower that can SUPPORT a marshmallow.

And the point of it? The team will practice the design process that includes thinking, doing, prototyping, and iteration. This last point, iteration, may be the most important. Watch the video at the end of this post for more on that.

Oh, and what group historically performs the BEST in the marshmallow challenge? The answer to that question is also in the video, and you will LOVE it.

Spaghetti Tower Supplies:

Each team gets the same set of supplies…

20 sticks of dry spaghetti

one yard of string

one yard of tape

one marshmallow

The objective

To build the tallest tower possible in 18 minutes that will support the marshmallow.

My two daughters, ages 4 and 6, and I set our timer for 18 minutes, and started to build. It was exciting, frustrating (spaghetti is nimble and brittle!), and fun. My little one lost interest quickly, but my older daughter stuck with it, pushing me with her novel ideas and keeping me going, right up until the timer ran out.

And, go!

Spaghetti Marshmallow STEM Challenge

We talked about how triangles build strong structures, so we started there. Our original idea was to build two structures – one that could support the other, to make our tower twice as tall.

As we got towards the end of our time, the bottom towner couldn’t support the weight of the second tower, so we chose just one of the towers to use as a support for the marshmallow. In the end, we measured our marshmallow’s height and it clocked in at 10.5 inches. Not earth-shattering, but at least we had a supporting structure!

I love my daughter’s idea to suspend the marshmallow from a string…

Spaghetti Marshmallow STEM Challenge

What we learned?

  • Triangles are good shapes for these structures
  • We probably should have built the second tower directly on the first one, rather than wait to add it at the end
  • We worked well together
  • Prototyping and iteration are important to the process
  • This challenge could lose a 4-year old’s attention ;)

More on the Marshmallow Tower Challenge

You’ll want to watch this video of Tom Wujec’s TED talk on the Marshmallow Challenge.

Marshmallow Challenge Home Page

What’s next?

I would love to try this out with our Girl Scout troop or with my older daughter’s friends. After watching Wujec’s video (above), I’m eager to see this in action with a group of young children.

More Pasta! Pasta Art Projects for Kids

Pasta art projects

Macaroni Challenge

Join the Macaroni Challenge!

Experiment with pasta, make your own pasta art project, or try one of the Marshmallow Challenge from this post (or a project from those linked above). Post a picture in one or both of these two places ::

1. The Rockin’ Art for Kids Facebook Page

2.  Instagram with the hashtag #TheMacaroniChallenge 

The challenge ends on May 10th, 2015.

Win a Prize!

Everyone who joins us in the challenge will be entered in an amazing Rockin’ Art Moms Gift Basket giveaway. The winner will be selected at random from the entries and announced on Instagram and the Rockin’ Art for Kids Facebook page on Sunday May 10th, 2015.

Prize basket giveaway will include books from the Rockin’ Art Moms ::

The Artful Parent and The Artful Year from The Artful Parent // Playful from Mer Mag //Tinkerlab from Tinkerlab //150 Screen Free Activities for Kids from Fun at Home with Kids // Happy Handmade (ebook) from MollyMoo

Join the TinkerLab Community

If you were inspired by this post, you might like to sign up for the weekly TinkerLab newsletter. It’s free and we often send exclusive content and opportunities that are only available to our subscribers.

TinkerLab Newsletter

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

Join our community and you’ll learn:

  • How to simplify your life and make more room for creativity
  • How to make hands-on making a part of your everyday life
  • Easy, actionable ways to raise creative kids

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The Art of Tinkering – Book Review http://tinkerlab.com/art-of-tinkering-book-review/ http://tinkerlab.com/art-of-tinkering-book-review/#comments Tue, 21 Apr 2015 04:11:43 +0000 http://tinkerlab.com/?p=19449 We were sent a free copy of The Art of Tinkering to review, but all ideas shared here are our own. This post contains Amazon affiliate links. Last year I had the good fortune of getting my hands on a copy of The Art of Tinkering by Karen Wilkinson and Mike Petrich. Karen and I went to the […]

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Art of Tinkering - Book Review

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

Last year I had the good fortune of getting my hands on a copy of The Art of Tinkering by Karen Wilkinson and Mike Petrich. Karen and I went to the same grad school (different years), and she invited me to join her in a virtual hangout last year, Engaging Children with Making and Tinkering, but it wasn’t until last month that we finally met. And I was lucky enough to have her and Mike sign my book!

Art of Tinkering - Book Review

Karen and Mike work at The Tinkering Studio at San Francisco’s Exploratorium, where Karen is The Tinkering Studio’s Director and Mike is the Director of the Making Collaborative. In this capacity the two of them interact with countless artists, designers, and tinkerers who invent, build, and construct wondrous things.

The book includes behind-the-scenes peeks at the creations and inventions of 150+ makers who work at the intersection of art, science, and technology.

It’s laid out beautifully and artistically, just as you would hope a book like this would be. Each turn of the page presents the eyes with a feast of tools, textures, and materials that make you want to reach right into the book and play.

The project ideas are introduced with examples of artworks that exemplify the technique, and then followed up with a how-to, so you’re not left wondering how on earth you can tap into what seems like magic.

Take a look:

Art of Tinkering Inside Pages - Book Review

Putting it into Practice

While this book caters to an adults audience, grownups with kids in their lives will find plenty of useful takeaways. So, I sat down with my older daughter (then 5-years old) and after MUCH looking she was most inspired by the toothpick sculptures of artist Scott Weaver.

Weaver creates elaborate sculptures made of thousands of toothpicks, and you can learn more about him on the Exploratorium website.

We learned that his mega-artwork, Rolling Through the Bay (see below), a model of San Francisco itself, is made up of roughly 100,000 toothpicks, the only glue that’s holding it together is Elmer’s, and it took the artist about 3,000 hours to make…over a period of 34 years!

One more thing. Do you see those tiny balls at the bottom of the sculpture? To give you a sense of scale, those are ping pong balls that run through pathways in the sculpture.

Art of Tinkering Toothpick Sculpture - Book Review

Fully inspired, we pulled out our collection of colorful toothpicks, our trusty low-heat glue gun (neither of us had the patience for Elmer’s on this day), and started to build. My daughter was thinking more geometrically, and we started gluing squares together, which soon turned into pyramids.

Toothpick Sculpture - Art of Tinkering

And then, what began as a series of squares and triangles somehow turned into a crown! My daughter added some ribbon to tie it around her head, and voila!

Toothpick Sculpture - Art of Tinkering

The toothpick sculpture is just one idea of many that has sparked dialogue and ideas in our home. The marble run page is wild and wonderful, and will give you a feeling for the Exploratorium itself.

Every few pages highlights a different tinkerer and his or her craft, along with plenty of inspiration and ideas for diving right in, material lists included! It’s not a how-to book in the traditional sense, but for anyone who likes to borrow ideas from the makers themselves, this book is a treasure and will not disappoint!

Order The Art of Tinkering

The Art of Tinkering on Amazon

More about the Exploratorium

Visit the Exploratorium

See our review of the book Exploralab, 150+ Ways to Investigate the Amazing Science All Around You

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.

Recommended Supplies

Our favorite low-heat glue gun

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