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  • Tinkerlab
  • Written by Rachelle Doorley
  • Format: Trade Paperback | ISBN: 9781611800654
  • Our Price: $21.95
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A Hands-On Guide for Little Inventors

Written by Rachelle DoorleyAuthor Alerts:  Random House will alert you to new works by Rachelle Doorley

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Synopsis|Table of Contents


55 playful experiments that encourage tinkering, curiosity, and creative thinking from the creator of Tinkerlab.com—hands-on activities that explore art, science, and more.  For children two and up.

Kids are natural tinkerers. They experiment, explore, test, and play, and they learn a great deal about problem-solving through questions and hands-on experiments. They don't see lines between disciplines; rather, they notice interesting materials and ideas that are worth exploring. This book is about creative experiments, in all fields, that help kids explore the world.

Children gravitate toward sensory experiences (playing with slime), figuring out how things work (taking toys apart), and testing the limits of materials (mixing a tray of paint together until it makes a solid mass of brown). They're not limited by their imaginations, and a wooden spoon can become a magic wand as quickly as a bag of pom-poms can become a hot bowl of soup. This book is about helping parents and teachers of babies, toddlers, and preschoolers understand and tap into this natural energy with engaging, kid-tested, easy-to-implement projects that value process over product. The creative experiments shared in this book foster curiosity, promote creative and critical thinking, and encourage tinkering--mindsets that are important to children growing up in a world that values independent thinking.

In addition to offering a host of activities that parents and teachers can put to use right away, this book also includes a buffet of recipes (magic potions, different kinds of play dough, silly putty, and homemade butter) and a detailed list of materials to include in the art pantry.

Table of Contents

1. Creating Your Tinkerlab                                                        
Tips for Clearing Children’s Clutter by Jillian Maxim                       
What Nursery Schools Can Teach Us about Creative Invitations: An Interview with Nancy Howe                                                                           
2. Tools for Tinkering                                                                              
3. Ten Tinkerlab Habits of Mind                                                                          
4. Design                                                                                                    
Oh No, That’s Not Creative! by Jessica Hoffmann Davis                      
Experience #1: Circle Games                                           
Experience #2: Peel and Stick                                                                  
Experience #3: Glue, Glue, Glue                                                                        
Experience #4: Mark Outside the Box                                                       
Experience #5: Watercolor Exploration                                                         
Experience #6: Yes, You Can Paint on That!                                                 
Experience #7: Monoprints                                                                            
Experience #8: Bubble Prints                                                                            
Experience #9: Drawing Games                                                                
Experience #10: Draw What You See                                                                 
Experience #11: Art Dice                                                                        
Experience #12: Paint Experiments                                                    
Experience #13: Paste Paper                                                                              
10 Lessons the Arts Teach by Elliot Eisner                                         
Experience #14: Marbleized Paper with Paint and Oil                                              
Experience #15: Plexiglas Painting                                                               
Experience #16: Foam Plate Relief Prints                                                        
Experience #17: Collage Painting                                                                     
Finding Your Five-Year-Old Self in the Art Museum by Margie Maynard   
5. Build
The Value of Loose Parts: An Interview with Susan Harris MacKay           
Project #1: Gumdrop Structures                                                                       
Project #2: Hanging Structures                                                                            
Project #3: Straw Rockets                                                         
Project #4: Marble Runs: Ramps and Gravity                                               
Project #5: Paper Houses                                                                                
Project #6: Scrap Building
Project #7: Ropes and Pulleys                                                                           
Project #8: CD Spinner                                                  
Project #9: Does It Float?
Project #10: Pounding Nails                                                                            
Project #11: Take Things Apart                                                                        
Project #12: Drawing Machine                                                             
Project #13: DIY Robot                                                                            
DIY Kids: Building Tomorrow’s Innovators through Hands-on Making by Grace Hawthorne                                                                                                       
6. Concoct
Yes, and . . . How to Improvise with Children: An Interview with Dan Klein        
Experiment #1: Potion Station                      
Experiment #2: Goop                                                                            
Experiment #3: Marker Explosions                                                   
Experiment #4: Make Your Own (Semiedible) Paint                                                 
Experiment #5: Slime                                                                              
Experiment #6: Ice and Salt Exploration                                                            
Experiment #7: Ice Cream in a Jar: An Edible Investigation                                     
Experiment #8: Frozen Carbon Dioxide                                                               
Experiment #9: Yeast and Sugar Expansion                                   
Experiment #10: Naked Egg Experiment                                                           
Experiment #11: G-Ma’s Butter: An Edible Investigation                                        
Experiment #12: Lemon Invisible Ink                                                                   
Experiment #13: Glittery Egg Geodes      
Experiment #14: Natural Dyes                                                                      
Experiment #15: Kitchen Challenge: An Edible Investigation                                  
Concoctions in a Michelin-Starred Kitchen: An Interview with Bruno Chemel 
7. Discover
How to Set Up a Discovery Area that Honors the Child: An Interview with Parul Chandra                                                                                                           
Exploration #1: Playdough Building 
Exploration #2: Cloud Dough                                                              
Exploration #3: Pounding Flowers                                                 
Exploration #4: Scavenger Hunts                                                                  
Exploration #5: DIY Light Box                                                                  
Exploration #6: Photograms                                                                      
Exploration #7: Ephemeral Installation                                          
Exploration #8: Shadow Investigations                                                 
Exploration #9: DIY Lava Lamp                                                             
Exploration #10: Mystery Bag                                                                  
The Benefits of Basic Materials by Jennifer Winters                                     
The Busy Parent’s Planner                                                                                  
About the Contributors                                                                                       About the Author                                                                                               

Author Q&A

Author Q&A

1. Your new book chronicles how you, a self-proclaimed geek mom, get through the challenges of parenting by turning to the logic of science. What do you hope parents take away from your stories?
That we're all doing our best and things come up. Parenting is a great challenge. Laugh if you can and let it change you. Let it tweak the lens a little bit. But look into the hard stuff--the stuff that makes you squirm and look deep. There are goodies in the muck!
2. The subjects of science and parenting seem really far apart. Do they really mix?
To me they are enthusiastically yoked together. It's such a lovely perspective to glance through and stare through. Parenting is all about science. Because honestly, science is about observing, asking questions, solving problems, making mistakes and trying again and again. How is that NOT being a parent?
3. You describe a lot of ways you bring science into family traditions, from making quicksand for Halloween play to creating paper snowflakes every Christmas. Do you have a favorite science tradition?
The game is always changing and one thing I learn over and over is be open and roll with it. So traditions meld over time. I do love the 6-sided paper snowflakes storm that my husband and I make every year for the boys on Christmas Eve so they'll have snow when they wake up. My kids love the fire-and-ice play at camp-outs where they can melt the dickens out of a marshmallow and then turn around and make ice cream in a baggie. New traditions pop up-recently they've been loving exploding water balloons. The trick is to always be open to new ideas!
4. You obviously LOVE science. What do you say to adults who don't share your zeal? What do you say to kids?
People who don't like science probably don't like how they were taught science when they were little. The world is such an amazing place and everything around us is dazzling if you really look at it. How a cut heals is magical! Optical illusions are amazing. When you add heat, why does chocolate melt and eggs harden? For anyone who has ever wondered "Why? and "How?" there is science zeal to be discovered!
5. Has being a parent changed your relationship to science?
Being a parent has changed everything! Anything that gets you out of your own head and your own perspective solely is life changing. Has it changed how I see science? Yes. I have leaned on science like you do an old friend who never lets you down. It astounds me and makes me wonder more and more.



“I highly recommend Tinkerlab to any parent with young children! I read the book in one sitting (it was that well written) but know I will be referring back to it for years as I encourage my own daughters’ tinkering, experimenting, and creative development.”—Jean V’ant Hul, author of The Artful Parent
“I love Tinkerlab! This book is a glorious invitation for wonder and delight. The teacher in me respects the approach to creativity, process, and self-directed exploration. The mom in me is charmed by the easy-access of materials and projects. Fun! Fun! Fun!”—Lynn Brunelle, author of Pop Bottle Science

“Being playful and creative is such a vital necessity in today’s world!  As an arts educator and parent of a curious four-year-old, I greatly value and embrace the ‘tinkering mindset’ at the core of Doorley’s Tinkerlab.  What an exceptional resource for all ages as we work to include more creative experiences and explorations in our lives.”—Michael Murawski, PhD, Director of Education & Public Programs at the Portland Art Museum and Founder and Editor at ArtMuseumTeaching.com

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