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Dennis the Menace? Or Future Scientist?
They used to call it simple “curiosity” and even “mischievous-ness.” I am sure we all know of kids (or were ones ourselves) that were fascinated with taking apart household items (like toasters, blenders and an occasional lawn mower). Back in the day, kids like that were often labeled unruly or destructive….these days we all know better. They are Tinker Kids and Tinker Babies.
What’s a Tinker Kid/Baby? They are the next generation of scientists, artists, and makers; the ones who are attracted and inspired by anything STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and math). They thrive on projects and activities and are kinetic learners who learn by “doing.” They love wheels, gears, bells, wires, latches, tools and electrodes. They “need” to see “what makes it works” and are determined to find the answer even if it means using a BFH (Big Freakin’ Hammer).
From a parent’s perspective, these Tinker-friendly activities also build children’s creative confidence and problem-solving skills. And who doesn’t want that for their kids?
In a nutshell, a Tinker Kid or Tinker Baby are Littles that don’t typically play with conventional toys and prefers to spend time taking things apart and putting them back to together again. So how do you keep these “tinkering” minds busy without sacrificing the alarm clock or the family radio? Recognition of these kinetic learners is becoming a more supported gift and several companies have stepped forward to meet the challenge. Here are Tinker-friendly toys, companies and activities to keep young minds (and parents) tinkering.
Lakeshore Learning in White Bear Lake MN has many wonderful Tinker Kid Toys
Create-A-Chain Reaction STEM (PrK-2nd) Kit.
Create-A-Chain Reaction STEM Kit! (3rd-5th)Kit
Gadgets & Gizmos Invention Kit
Other Cool Tinker Stuff
DIY Tinker Table from Susie’s Home Education Ideas
Tinker Boards (note: you can get tons of the gadgets for this board at Habitat for Humanity Restores for pennies.
Other Great Tinker Resources
Tinkergarten provides high-quality early childhood learning in the healthiest classroom of all—the outdoors. Families connect with trained leaders in their local community for play-based kids classes that help develop core life skills, all while having fun!
TinkerCrate and Kiwi Crate: An at home, subscription model that sends member high quality tinker projects, crafts and activities every month. In each crate, young makers will find an educational magazine, project supplies, and detailed instructions. KiwiCo lines cover themes in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math), art and design, imaginative play, and fine motor skills.
Local Places Designed to Inspire Older Tinker Kids: Belle’s Tool Box is in Minneapolis, but check your local listing for awesome initiatives that are similar to this one.
Tinker Friendly Toys (click the image to view at Amazon)
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So how can you “tinker” with your kids? Marnie at Carrots are Orange has a great blog post on that very topic.
Teacher Tom is another hella-cool guy, teacher and innovator that has tons of awesome info on his site (he’s been blogging for as long as I have!)
I love this post on Deconstructing Appliances.
So go forth and TINKER!
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***Some of these links may be affiliate links.