Idea Roundup: Tinkering

Do you think children should learn how to use hammers and nails? Power tools? Glue guns? And how do you feel about open-ended exploration of art materials? This week’s roundup brings you some big ideas on tinkering, creating opportunities for child-directed art, and free exploration at the art table. And as a bonus, I found an inspiring journaling idea that I think you’ll love.

Co-op nursery school teacher and blogger extraordinaire Teacher Tom writes countless thoughtful articles on play-based learning and childhood exploration. And I believe he’s a philosopher at heart. I love this post: Let them teach themselves

idea roundup: tinkering
In a similar spirit, often the best activities are those with the least amount of direction. Kindergarten teacher Sally Haughey of Fairy Dust Teaching documented a day at the invention table in her class: Creation Station
idea roundup: tinkering
Early childhood educator Jenny at Let The Children Play invited her kids to take apart old video recorders with plyers, scissors, and screw drivers. Real tools! There’s a huge public sculpture of dissected computers in our neighborhood that has grabbed ahold of my daughter. This is definitely something we’ll be trying soon. Tinkering at Preschool: Let the Children Play
idea roundup: tinkering
Preschool teacher and educational consultant Amanda Morgan of Not Just Cute writes about providing children with art experiences with the spectrum of preschool arts and crafts in mind. There’s a place in the preschool world for crafts, but crafts are often parent or teacher-directed while art is child-directed.  The Spectrum of Preschool Arts and Crafts
idea roundup: tinkering
And, as a bonus, Rachel Meeks at Alphamom came across this inspiring illustrated way to document the passage of time with children. It turns the scrapbook on its head with the parent making simple drawings of “a day in the life.” What a fabulous keepsake. And wouldn’t this be a great activity to do WITH a child once they could draw too? Draw Your Story: The Illustrated Journal
idea roundup: tinkering

What good ideas have you come across lately?


  1. Thrilled to be a part of your round up amongst such illustrious company 🙂

    • It was hard to pick just one of your posts!

  2. What a great collection! It is so true that children respond to that concept of creation, that I think gets lost in crafts but is always present in art, which is in art because you can have that chaos that allows growth and knowledge to be gained while remaining within a fixed structure. That is how I roll with my son and his constant exploration of the world through his finger tips. Thank you for such a wonderful lists of people to check out. Happy weekend!

    • Well said, Julia. Just like us grown-ups, children have ideas and are motivated by their imaginations and the potential of the things in front of them. Your son is so lucky to have you guiding the way!

  3. Racheal’s journal reminds me of an idea that revolves in my life. I LOVE sketchbooks. they are where ideas grow. So with the kids I make personal sketchbooks. I filll it with drawings they can add to, questions like “what do you see?”, I randomly stick post-it notes through the pages, paper clip interesting paper to the pages, glue envelopes to the pages………the ideas are endless. and of course i left plenty of empty pages for personal exploration. I just gave two to our neighbors who went on a 36 hour train ride to Seattle. We’ll see if they were a success??????

    • Now this is a brilliant idea! So much like the honeymoon sketchbook you gave us. I bet your neighbors loved it, and what a super gift to give children. Like most things, if they get into the habit of keeping a sketchbook as a child, it will become part of their inner fabric.

  4. loved this post, rachelle! thank you!! such inspiration. what a fun week we will have…

    • Thanks so much, Lesley! I’ll pop right over and see what you’re doing 🙂

  5. Whenever the kids see our bottles of paint, they ask to take them out, quite like the fashion of If You Give A Mouse A Cookie. One morning, we had all the time in the world to follow through on all their painty impulses. Turned out, they loved to dump every color and mix the paint using the caps of the bottles and their little digits. When they’re interest started to wain, I took out a large piece of paper and some brayers and the kids made lots of prints of their painty finger marks. Then we spent another hour playing at the sink cleaning hands, paint bottles, brushes and brayers. We’re lucky to have a space in our basement where we can get really messy.

    • You are RAD!! Look at that fabulous mess!!!!! The other day N was squeezing paint out of the bottle and I had to stop myself from curbing her enthusiasm. I was worried that she would use all the paint, and then reminded myself that this is exactly what the paint is for. Squeeze away!

  6. Thanks for including me in your round-up, Rachelle! I’m proud to be in that great company! =)

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