What could TinkerLab be?

I’m moving things around today and promise you a spiffy, new site in no time:) Why, you ask? As pretty as my previous design was, I received questions every week about searching for specific activities or for projects by age group. And wouldn’t you know…the site didn’t have a search function! I felt trapped in 2001, and struggled with the whole form vs. function riddle. Ultimately function won, thank goodness. While I think this will be a good thing in the long run, for now I’m sorting out the nuances of my new site design.

Sooooo, if there’s anything that you lurve about TinkerLab, or anything that you hope I might change or add, I invite you to share your ideas with me. Is anything missing? Can I add anything to make your experience here more fun? I love to hear from you, and I want this site to be wicked awesome.

Oh, and do you see that empty space over there on the right, just below the subscribe button? If you can think of anything that would be useful or nice to look at, I’m trying to figure out what kinds of goodies to put over there.

Back Camera


  1. Hi Rachelle, I love the creative challenges so you have to keep those 🙂 The most common question/comment I get is activities for under 2s. I know you’ll have to search your archives but I find that there seems to be an abundance of activities for 3-4+ out there and not so much for under 2s. This could be wrong of course but this is the feedback I get.
    So great you’re getting a search function – I was just trying to search for something the other day that I thought you had done 🙂 (Do you remember when you had little lady painting on a big clear freestanding window??)


    PS The site already is wicked awesome 🙂 But I like where your heads at 🙂

    • Thanks for the thoughtful feedback and kind words, Kate! I will definitely keep the creative challenges 🙂 That’s a great suggestion about highlighting activities for under 2’s. Now that you mention it, I often get the same request. Activities change dramatically once children reach 2.5/3, so I can see why there’s so much out there for this age group. And I hope you found the “dry erase on windows” link: I’m so glad to finally have a search function!!

  2. Seeing the comments before was clunky, so this is better. (Because you reply in the comments sometimes I’d check back to see if there were more, and it took a lot of clicking to see–it didn’t show # of comments, just always the “leave a comment” option.)

    I have four age categories: toddler/preschool, preschool & up, elementary & up, and all ages. Last night I went through and made sure each was clicked where relevant, because some people just search by “elementary & up,” for instance, and wouldn’t think to search by “all ages” as well. Funny what Kate said, I think there’s an overload of activities for toddlers/ preschoolers in general and nothing but crafts for older kids…

    • Hi Amy 🙂 I felt the same way about the comments — they were driving me crazy too, which is why I started replying in the comments as a stop-gap. Do you prefer this kind of reply or replies within the comment itself? Thanks for the helpful guidelines for age groups. I currently have “toddler”, “preschool”, and “school age,” and perhaps I need to revisit this piece of the puzzle too! Thank YOU!!!

      • I love nesting comments. It’s so orderly. It makes my OCD Virgo side happy. 😉

        • Oh, I know the Virgo mindset well! I could use a splash of Virgo in my chart 🙂

  3. When I saw the question on facebook I ran over to tell you about the search. When I want to find something specific on your site (um often) I use google, type the activity + tinkerlab. I’m really glad I won’t have to that anymore.

    I really liked the lay out you just put together. So I wouldn’t change much. (I like the header now. . . but I loved your header before!)

    I don’t have a little baby anymore, but a couple of my friends have babies about the same age as your youngest. I think you could really bring a lot to them if you added more baby posts like the yogurt container / fabric activity.

    Have fun playing with the new design!

    • Haha!! I often typed my searches in Google too, which was so ridiculous!! I’m torn on what the header should look like, and pulled this one in because it fit better size-wise. And thanks for the baby-project suggestion, Jill — two votes for that so far!

  4. I really like how you put a photo of the projects next to the name so we can get a good idea on what it is before clicking on it.
    I do miss the photo of your little girl at the top.
    Otherwise we love what you do and look forward to all your new projects.

    • Hi Sarah! I’m glad you noticed (and like) the photos by the project names. I was hoping that it would be helpful, as I find it helps me. (I’m such a visual learner…surprise, surprise!). Hmmmm, I miss the photo too. Something to think about. Thanks for the great feedback.

  5. I like your new header! Your blog has always looked good, but your right about the search box! TO find things before I would just go to Google dashboard and look at all your posts and I could see them in order easily. The search box is a great addition!

    I’m sure TinkerLab will be better than ever!

    It is crazy—your blog still switches between the name Flour and Water and Tinkerlab in my favorite blog list? I always have to change the name!

    I would like to add a task bar on the top, but I haven’t figured it out? I don’t know if Blogger has an option or if I have to add or buy something separately? It will stay as is for a while until I figure it out!

    • Yikes! I’m so sorry I was inadvertently sending you off on wild Google searches, Melissa! What’s going on with my blog title?? Man, I’m creating a lot of extra work for you! I’ll have my tech guru take a look at things and see if he can figure it out — thanks for letting me know. Have you looked at any other Blogger themes that might have a taskbar?

  6. So happy to stumble across your blog. I have been reading your blog for a few months now. Very inspiring. Did not know that we live so close. I am from San Jose. Anyway, the search feature is wonderful. I like to share this site with you that I also love. It is a online magazine focus on creative play. http://rhythmofthehome.com/

    Maybe you can add some links or articles for the bottom right space or favorite posts.

    • Hi Sheau! Yes, we’re neighbors! I used to work at the San Jose Museum of Art, and find myself in SJ every now and then to see friends or visit the children’s museum. I love the look of YOUR blog! Thanks for sharing the link to Rhythm of the Home. And I like the idea of adding favorite posts. Thanks! So glad we’re connected.

  7. My wish for a search function has been granted, hooray! I think that you could fill that right side with links to your colleagues in the creative-kid-blogging world (Chocolate Muffin Tree, Crafty Crow, etc). I also think you could list out favorite supplies and sources over there, books that have inspired you, and your favorite posts, perhaps?

    • nevermind — just saw “bloglove” in your header. 🙂

      • Thanks for circling back, Chelsea 🙂 Yes, a list of art supplies and sources is perfect! I get questions about this all the time, and definitely see the value in it. I knew I could count on you!

  8. I’d love to see a link of some sort to your challenges in the sidebar. Adding the search option is a great idea. If you have more photos than you can post (which I know I do, so I suspect others do too), then maybe you can set up a Flickr gallery? that’d be great ’cause your photos are very inspiring.

    • I like these ideas, Yelena! And that’s the second vote for challenges.Thank you 🙂

  9. Hi!! What I don’t like about the new design is that I can only see a couple blog posts, and then you “archived” them into the lists. Sometimes I don’t visit every day….I know, I know, I’m sorry! ;)….. and then I have to click through back and forth in order to view them. I liked it better when I could just scroll and see what you had posted!

    I do however REALLY like the age-specific categories. I have a 18-mo and so not all of what you do fits with her, but it’s great for the future!

    • Hi Christina 😉 Thanks for the helpful suggestion. I just changed it to show the last 5 posts, and hope that helps. I don’t expect anyone to visit my blog daily, and really appreciate that you stop by whenever you can!!!!

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