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
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
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
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
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
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