Book Review: TinkerLab: A Hands-On Guide for Little Inventors
One of our core values is creativity, but I have a little confession.
This book is designed for parents, teachers, and caregivers of young children who want to raise creative, independent thinkers. It is full of simple projects that foster creative thinking through hands-on experiences and provides an easy-to-follow guid to small habits, conversation points, and other tools to inspire a journey toward raising creative children.
Doorley started out by talking about spaces, tools and attitudes. How can you create your own tinker lab? What tools should you have accessible to your children? What is a creative invitation? What should you as a parent or educator keep in mind as you guide your child?
We live in a fairly small space, so Jake and I are always trying to reimagine what’s best for our family at any given point. For example, we recently moved our TV out of our living room because we wanted more space and didn’t want it to be the focal point of the room in which we tend to spend the most time.
Our current conundrum: We have created a really fantastic art/craft closet upstairs in the kids’ playroom, but have found that we do all of our arts and crafts downstairs at the kitchen table. It’s annoying to have to go upstairs, downstairs, upstairs, downstairs to get supplies, and then realize that we forgot to get something but now Anaya is sleeping in there and we can’t sneak in or she’ll wake up and craft time will be over. Sad faces all around. We got to thinking outside the box (woot for that, right?!) and decided that we can just move a lot of our everyday craft and art supplies into our oddly-large downstairs half-bathroom. We’re still working on the organization and set-up. Will we put up shelves? Use the cabinets that are already in there? Will we create an art cart that we can “park” in the bathroom but wheel out next to the table when in use? Not sure! But this book has really got us thinking about the importance of accessible supplies.
Rachelle divided up the 55 “playful experiments” into 4 categories…not distinct categories, but think more like a Venn Diagram with some activities in one category overlapping with one or more of the other categories. The four categories she uses are Design, Build, Concoct, and Discover. In each category, she starts out super simple (something that you can do with a young toddler!) and then moves on to more complex activities/experiments as the child grows.
The Design and Discover categories come more easily to me than the Build and Concoct. It’s no surprise that I tend to steer the kids away from those things because I’m out of my element. Doorley gives some straightforward ways to invite my kids into these kind of categories without making me feel like I’m in over my head. Perhaps I’m not awesome at constructing a bridge out of straws and straight pins (my friend Robyn and I worked together on this project in 8th grade, I think, and she was absolutely the reason I didn’t fail that assignment), but I can offer supplies (gumdrops, toothpicks, etc.) to make simple structures and play around with my kids while they discover strong ways to build. I think I can even help them make a robot!
The one big question I’m left with for Doorley is WHAT DO I DO WITH ALL THE STUFF WE MAKE?! Of course a million blog posts exist on that subject, and while I’ve read many, I still haven’t found a good way to display/store/etc what we make. My kids love to keep things for forever, and I really like uncluttered spaces. I sometimes will recycle some project they did a few months back. only for them to ask a few days later where that certain project is. Of course I will look at them sheepishly and they’ll respond with, “Mom! You threw it away didn’t you? Why do you love throwing things away?” Ideas about how to store projects and tinkering objects in small spaces would be a great next book! 🙂
If you haven’t been, head on over to Rochelle’s blog, Tinkerlab, to get to know her better as well as some of the super fun projects that she works on with her two littles. Thanks so much to Rachelle and Roost Books for providing a free book in exchange for an honest review! Tinkerlab is released TODAY so don’t forget to buy your own copy or request your local library to purchase one for the community!