Prepping the DIY Drop-in Studio {GIVEAWAY}

While I’m lucky to stay at home with my super-rad kids, I’m also lucky enough to squeeze some extra fun “work” into the nooks and crannies of my life. No small task (did you see my In Search of Life Balance post?), but completely worth it. One of my big projects is about to come to fruition and I’m so excited to share it with you. I’ve been helping the newly-branded Children’s Creativity Museum in San Francisco design a 12-month curriculum for their DIY art space. Yay!

We’re kicking the series of projects off with BUILD: Critter Habitats. Each of the projects has the TinkerLab stamp of approval for being open-ended, valuing process over product, and including found and raw materials. My kids and I spent the better part of today unpacking supplies and helping the staff with set-up, and I couldn’t believe how helpful and good my little ones were. The Museum officially opens this Saturday, October 15, with FREE admission and free rides on the 1906 Playland-at-the-Beach carousel. Please come on down and visit if you’re in the area.

If you can’t make it this weekend, I have a VIP Family Pass to give away to one of my readers at the end of this post. Woop!

chalkboard wallIsn’t this a fab setting? It doesn’t hurt that the weather was beyond gorgeous today. It is fall, right?

ccmThese are the fun little critters, made in animation clay, that greet you as you walk through the front door.

crittersN was a hard worker today and took the task of building a model critter habitat very seriously with some of the wonderful materials we picked up at RAFT. The space is so close to completion, but you can see that there’s still lots to be done.

Prepping the DIY Drop-in StudioWhile I talked shop, N and R “helped” sort stickers and scissors. Please don’t judge me for allowing my one year old to handle scissors…she was looked after very closely and she couldn’t be pulled away from this activity.

Prepping the DIY Drop-in StudioThe space is gorgeous — big, bright windows, handmade furniture, and creative surprises at every turn. If you have children between the ages of 3 and 12, I hope you’ll stop by and tell me what you think. We’ve tested this project on my 3-year old and handful of interns, so I’m naturally curious to see how it goes when hundreds of kids come through the doors this weekend. Eeek.


Also, I’ve been nominated for the Most Awesome Local Blog award over at Red Tricycle. I’m in the running with some stellar Bay Area blogs, and totally humbled by the nomination. If you have a chance, would you pop over there for one sec to vote for me before coming back here to enter the giveaway?


If you live in the San Francisco Bay Area or plan to visit one day soon, the Children’s Creativity Museum has offered to give away a VIP Family Pass that’s good for admission for up to four people ($40 value). Shipping address must be in the U.S. (sorry to all my International friends).

To enter:

  • Leave a comment here with a story about your favorite children’s museum experience
  • Extra entry: Tweet about it. Tag me, tinkerlabtweets, so that I can see it
Submissions accepted until 5 pm PST on Tuesday, October 18. Winner will be chosen by Random Number Generator
Good luck! Anne’s name was chosen by Random Number Generator and the Contest is now closed.
enroll main

Online Art Classes for Kids

Engaging kids art classes - from the comfort of home! You set up the space, we'll provide the instruction.

tinkerlab studio art classes for kids learn more


  1. Don’t enter me in the giveaway, since I live 3000 miles away, but I wanted to say Congratulations! What fun to be involved in something big like that. Also, on the scissors–no judgment here. First, I’ve just been reading articles on how this country is so crazy-risk-averse when it comes to kids that the kids are suffering from it, and second, try having a toddler around when you have *really* big kids, too. There is no such thing as child-proofing the house at that point, and yet somehow, those younger siblings do just fine. Better, even, than if they were overprotected.

    • I know you won’t judge me, Amy 🙂 Can’t even imagine what my 1 year old would get into if I had even bigger kids in the house. Hydrogenated oil? Swiss Army Knives? Beer?

      • Welllll, I had to have many stern talking-tos with my oldest about his habit of taking things apart–including watches–and then leaving the little pieces within his younger sister’s reach (but hidden, so I didn’t know it was, say, on his floor under a blanket). I described to him graphically exactly what would happen if his baby sister found that tiny watch battery & put it into her mouth and swallowed it. He adores her, and he was in tears. He has such a thoughtful soul. But I felt it had to be done–and of course I told him he was welcome to take things apart, but on the table, where we could keep track of the pieces! Sigh.

        Otherwise, Legos. Buttons. My youngest was never a big mouther, but my middle swallowed a button once. The small ones, we assume, come out pretty easily…I didn’t really go looking for it. 🙂

  2. Awesome!!!!!! That is so amazing. The world is lucky to have you and your guidance in creating spaces for children to explore and discover through art!!!!! WOW WOW! I wanna go!

    • Wow Wow! I’m lucky lucky to have you for a friend. xx

  3. i have a photo booth photo hanging right over my laptop right now of me and N at the children’s museum in richmond, virginia (http://www.c-mor.org) when she was almost 2, and i could not pull her out of this ‘chinese new year’ interactive play area. all she was into reading at the time were tons of grace lin books – fortune cookie fortunes, dim sum for everyone, etc. since her 2nd bday fell exactly on the chinese new year that year, it was naturally her bday theme a couple months later.

    ooo, i wish i could be there with you all this saturday, but we have a birthday party to attend… but we soooo want to go sometime and check out what you have created! please do enter us in the giveaway!

    • Sorry we missed you today, but totally understand…birthdays come just once a year. Thanks for sharing the story. It sounds like an amazingly rich exhibit.

      • honestly, it’s not the best exhibit ever (and their DIY arts area is much more fun) but N would not be pulled from that section. it was just really memorable for me. 🙂 hope yesterday went great! was thinking of you.

  4. What a wonderful place and a wonderful job! Congrats! We live in Los Angeles, but my 3 yr old just loves plane trips so a quick flight to SF to check it out is on the horizon. The first Children’s museum my son and I fell in love with was Kidspace Museum in Pasadena, CA. It has a room tailored for the really young ones, so we started going there early. And in the warm weather, they have a lot of water play, including an arroyo to walk in. Super fun. Another one we stumbled across was the Zimmer Museum – my son loves playing in the real ambulance and small airplane they have set up, along with some really cool musical computer games. A recent out of town trip landed us at Adventure Science Center in Nashville – another really wonderful place for kids (and adults!). Keep up the good work!

    • Oh, and had to snicker about the scissors comment…because you know someone would have said something! Only you know your kids and what they can handle (with your watchful eye). I know some 40 year olds that shouldn’t be around sharp objects!

      • Hee hee. I guess I’ve learned to preempt those comments. Blogging can be a tough sport!

        I know both of these museums well!! I’m from LA, and adored Kidspace when I was there. And I understand from my best friend that it’s even better now. Lucky you! And the Zimmer is rad — while they’re small, they have the best interactive imagination stations. I led a workshop there back in the day, and must make a point to visit it with my kids!

  5. We live in San Carlos and would love to be part of the giveaway! My favorite museum experience was a recent experience at the Bay Area Discovery Museum over in Sausalito. We’d never been in the art studio before and this last trip cold and wind drove us in there. My 3 year old loved attaching lots of rolls of tape to a house-the whole roll. He would just peel off the end and stick the whole thing wherever he wanted. We eventually had to stop him so other kids could have some tape, but I loved how he was using the tape as an object in and of itself.

    • Hello to my San Carlos neighbor! Ah, I adore the Bay Area Discovery Museum. Adore! The view of the golden gate bridge, magical outdoor spaces, cozy infant play area. It’s a dream. Thanks for sharing your funny tape story — don’t you just love those moments when children see the world through their own lens without adult constraints and limitations.

  6. We’re so excited to have a new museum to explore! Thanks for offering up a family pass! One of our favorite children’s art museum experiences was at Oakland’s MOCHA. They have such a small room but it’s set up so that my 2-year-old was able to paint, tape, build, cut, mold and explore and create so many different things. She was quite pleased with herself and had so much fun.

    • Another neighbor! I can’t believe I have yet to visit MOCHA. It sounds like I need to add it to my must-visit-soon list. Thanks, Selina.

  7. I volunteered at RAFT before I had a kid and had so much fun just looking at all the stuff they have there. My favorite children’s museum experience was with my son almost a year ago at what was then the Coyote Point Museum (it has some new name I can’t remember now). They had these air tubes and pool noodle slices that you could put in and watch them fly up. My then 2 year old was so, so amazed by it. He did his super-excited giggle that sounds like a bird every time ae piece took off, then chased it down wherever it fell to do it again… and again… and again….

    • Kimberly — you must be my kindred DIY crafty spirit! I think Coyote Point rebranded themselves to CuriOdyssey. I know the exhibit you’re talking about — it’s fab. Did you see the colored water filled bottles that looked like a Lite Brite? And the bee hive? I’ve only been there once, but now I’m thinking it might be worth another visit soon. Thanks!

  8. This is pretty awesome. Thank you. Our favorite museum experience is at Sausalito Bay Discovery Museum. Eiya totally enjoyed the outdoor play areas that are so open, nature-oriented and unstructured. Eiya enjoyed playing with the fish and water at the water stream area that is at her level. Also, she enjoyed digging in the pebbles area in the back section of the museum.

    • I love, love, love that museum too. It’s so special.

  9. Oh, we are going to be in SF today, we will have to see if it is not too busy over there.

    • Boo. Too bad we missed you. It was busy, but still a great time.

  10. I’ve got to carve out some time to get up there, but was at work all day today. It looks like such fun! Please put my name in the hat for the giveaway! We used to spend loads of time at the CDM in San Jose, back when the kids were still young enough to love the “wonder cabinet” area upstairs. It was the first place where I got to see how very differently these twins played; J could stand at the sand table for an hour, just as he is content to dig and pour in the sandpit at preschool, but A was busy, busy, checking absolutely everything out, over and over again, in love with the letters as she is today. Time to go tweet!

    • CDM’s Wonder Cabinet is one of my all-time favorite Children’s museum exhibits. The dim lights and natural colors make it a calm place to spend time (when it’s not a mob scene). I love your story about how the space enabled you to see the differences in your twins. We visited CDM a couple months ago, and sadly N outgrew the Wonder Cabinet too. Your hat is officially in the giveaway!

  11. Hi Rachelle,

    The exhibit looks amazing! I can’t wait to take the kids over to see it. Congrats on finishing it!
    xo, Susan

    • Thanks for all the support along the way, Susan 🙂 Look forward to hearing what your little ones think of it. xx

  12. Whoa! Imagining self and little ones at the Children’s creativity museum was distracting enough but to follow it with a walk through comments ‘tour’ of awesome places for kids has seen my BIG list completely fall by the wayside tonight…thanks! (i think!)..I wish the plane ride from Perth, Australia was as quick as MM’s hop, skip and jump…sigh.
    And on the scissors, my second son has been contribting to the cutting of his hair (I know!) since he was 3 (uber cool berlin-stlye short fringe) too funny. snip snip snip.

  13. Firstly congratulation for nomination, your experience are amazing, thanks to share with us. If I get chance to go their ,I will visit definitely

Comments are closed.