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Tinkerlab: A Hands-On Guide for Little Inventors

4.23  ·  Rating details ·  564 ratings  ·  74 reviews
55 playful experiments that encourage tinkering, curiosity, and creative thinking from the creator of—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 se
Paperback, 224 pages
Published June 10th 2014 by Roost Books
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 ·  564 ratings  ·  74 reviews

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Justin Liew
Sep 03, 2014 rated it liked it
This book's purpose is to provide different ways to experiment, discover and explore different materials with kids. It has a number of sections that touch on different aspects such as drawing, colouring, building, concocting and cooking. Throughout are scattered small interviews/Q&As from other parents, as well as longer essays about specific topics about learning and playing. It also starts with ways to set up a household for discovery and invitations to play.

The general sections are fairly in
Jun 05, 2014 rated it really liked it
This book is amazing.
May 28, 2014 rated it really liked it
Received a free copy from NetGalley.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The photos were lovely and added just the right touch to the book. I loved how it included kids in the set up, determining supplies, and encouraged them to look at boredom as a way of discovery. It also provides lists and ideas on how to turn a space in your home to a creative zone for your kids and great ideas and experiences that can be done outdoors. The activities are doable, kid friendly, and not expensive.
Sahar Pirmoradian
May 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: education
I got a lot of ideas how to make my time with my toddler more fun. I learned to dedicate a corner of our place to her art projects. I bought a small shelf to organise her art materials and got inspired to buy some art supplies and use ordinary materials, which I may want to recycle, for her art projects. I also learned some scientific ideas to practice with her when she shows some interest. Overall the book was very inspiring. I just wish there were more pictures instead of a lot of text.
This book would be a great resource for home childcare providers, home schoolers, unschoolers and nannies. Great tips and ideas to encourage creativity and exploration with children from 2 through primary school.
Jun 19, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This a fun book with lots of ideas for "tinkering"-- not necessarily proscribed projects but good ideas for creative play. ...more
Dec 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is really great idea for a book, it just wasn't exactly what I was looking for. For new parents or anyone new to setting up creative spaces for kids, this would be a great book. ...more
Jul 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
I got this from the library and didn't actually finish the whole thing because I had to return it before we left for vacation. I teach child development and early childhood education, plus run a preschool in my high school classroom. I am also the parent of two children (8 & 9 years old). I picked up this book to read mainly for ideas to use in my classroom. I found a lot of good suggestions and inspiration for changes to make at school. I am a firm believer in play-based learning and providing ...more
Deuce Naftel
Nov 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I love this book. I shelve at our library and came across it when it was on my cart. I have one granddaughter who is nearly two. I am so excited to implement the ideas in this book! I read a review from someone who was hoping more for ready to go ideas and not so much theory. I adore theory. But there are a lot of ideas that are ready to go, or those that need minimal planning. I find it helpful to understand the educational and developmental reasons behind the ideas. And it is so easy to expand ...more
Jun 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Lots of great ideas for experiments to do with your kids and a couple that sounded interesting enough I wanted to try them myself (draw on a banana, paint with string and marker explosions)! I thought at first that the experiments leaned heavily on different types of painting experiments before I realized that the book was divided into sections with the first one being devoted just to art. There were lots of ideas for older kids that won't work yet for my son, but there were plenty of ideas I co ...more
Feb 19, 2019 rated it liked it
This had some good ideas but it was a lot of reading and I much prefer a visual example. It also if for parents at home where as I was looking for examples to use in the classroom.

I will definitely be putting paper on the slide and sending the kids down the ramp with colours and paint cars etc.

I will also be setting up some water runs.
Sep 29, 2019 rated it liked it
Very good if you haven't started doing much crafting yet, or set up a dedicated crafting area, however my eldest is seven and we've already done everything in the first section (or something very similar). I expected more ideas related to 'tinkering' with hammers, nails, saws, timber etc. rather than arts and crafts. Some great ideas, and lovely presentation, just not for us. ...more
Andrea Lorenz
This is FANTASTIC. Anyone who does art or activities with young children should check this out. The text is very accessible and there is so much practical information in it. I like how Doorley combined her expertise with info from early childhood and art experts. I hope there are more books like this coming from Doorley.
Dec 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
Lots of very fun experiences laid out in a way guaranteed to foster creativity, yet structured enough that I’m not afraid to give them a try!
Jul 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: crafts, nonfiction
Lots of great ideas!!
Briana Cho
Oct 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Needing this one for home!
Nov 16, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
A great read for parents and caregivers of littles. Many fun ideas to do with them.
Aaron Maurer
Feb 12, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2015
I have been doing some extensive reading and researching to plan for some new things in 2015. I have read or I should say attempted to read many books that fit into the categories of STEM, Art, and the Maker world. Some are not very good because people just want the quick buck.

But, there are some mandatory reading and one of those is Tinkerlab by Rachelle Doorley. This book takes a look at play, experiments, tinkering, and creative thinking for young kids. However, what I found was a book that w
Feb 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Reading this reminded me of childhood rainy afternoons curled up with the Childcraft "Made and Do" book, except Tinkerlab contains a lot more in-depth explanation behind the different crafts and mediums (blocks, sand, play-doh, glue) and how they help children develop artistic and mental abilities. The book encourages care-givers to set up "invitations" to play, discover and learn: setting up a simple work space complete with everything needed for a specific project.

The book encourages you to l
Jul 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This is a great book full of research and inspiration regarding creative activities to help children explore art and science. Each section includes practical information about logistics and supplies for art and exploration activities that children can complete alone or with adult guidance. Doorley also includes many tutorials for specific projects, such as bubble printing and deconstruction, as well as ways to extend the activity for enthusiastic explorers. Also, each chapter builds from very si ...more
Jun 07, 2014 added it
Lots of great ideas all contained together in one place.
It's all real. The ideas presented ... the need to encourage creativity and the ability for kids to be OK with the unknown and experimentation. They are real, real needs I see everyday that standardized tests and prescribed curriculums do not address.

Well, I'm going to admit it. MESS. I'm not a parent so I was reading this with the library classroom in mind. And the potential for MESS if you had more than two or three kiddos tryin
Penny McGill
Aug 30, 2014 rated it really liked it
A book that is pleasant to read and just plain pleasant to look at. You could just leave it on your kitchen table and flip through it a few times in the week and find something inspiring to do on the weekend. Some of the specific projects require a bit more prep and scavenging than others but the overall beauty of the projects makes it all worth it.

Oh, it would make a sweet gift for a new family or young parents. Our girls are a little too old for some of the things in this book but we all had a
Carolyn Wilhelm
Jan 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing
You’ve probably seen the pictures on Pinterest and maybe other social media, but perhaps didn’t realize the activities were Tinkerlab. What is Tinkerlab? Maybe you have heard about Tinkerlab classes or activity events in your area. What is the difference between Tinkerlab and loose parts? Minnesota even has Teen Tinker Lab events, and I’m sure events and classes are available in many states. If you want to know more, this book will make it easy to set up this kind of learning in your own home or ...more
Oct 01, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I love the blog so I had to get the book. Once I received the book my first impression was that this book might not be something for older kids. Most of the kids pictured are preschoolers or younger so I was a bit afraid that the book's suggested activities wouldn't be appropriate for older kids. I was so wrong! Lots of activities appropriate for my 7-8 year old Girl Scouts and my tween son too. Perfect combination of art and science--I can't wait to do some of these activities with my scout tro ...more
Krista Plucinski
This book is AMAZING! My book is highlighted and full of post its! I am a mom and a nanny and I thought I have done every art/science project I could think of. This collection of ideas and tips is so unique and different! As a former preschool teacher, I am in love with her ideas about "loose parts" and the integration of nature and curiosity in these projects. The science experiments are awesome and even I can't wait to try them. The kids I watch are older now but I think they will still enjoy ...more
Mar 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: parenting
I love this book. It really embodies the way I try to parent and the experiences I want to give my kids. I've read her blog for years and the book is a great resource with a lot of ideas and inspiration in one place. There are lots of great ideas plus a lot of food for thought on why tinkering and creativity in general are so beneficial to kids. There are lots of types of activities in the book, from art to inventing to cooking and they are appealing to all ages. I like this because it offers so ...more
Jul 29, 2016 rated it really liked it
Good simple useful information. It does stress a working full time mom out. And my lo is 7 now so has outgrown this a bit. I'm
Thankful that her preschool offered some of these. Some came natural to us. We have paper and mark makers (her term for crayons markers pens etc) available all the time. And some I can still do! Slime, market explosion and foam relief all looked fun.

My fave quote: give yourself permission to be engaged in an activity where there's no goal. As a crafter, this is usually o
Oct 21, 2014 rated it it was ok
I was hoping that the book would have included more engineering-type project ideas, but the majority of the ideas in the book were for art projects. I was also disappointed with the length of time that philosophies behind creativity was discussed. As a parent who was purely looking for new ideas of projects to do with my kids, this really turned me off as I was not expecting half of the book to be about child development theories.
Kid activity books are just so much a dime-a-dozen, and they have that in common with kid activity blogs. There are just so many repetitive activities. I enjoyed this collection in that it seemed really thought out. It wasn't just stuffed with a ton of activities that are just variations on a theme. The one I took from it was the city or town idea. I heavily modified it, but I used that activity with my preschoolers, and it was awesome. ...more
Oct 26, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, steam
This is an excellent collection of projects for young children. I'm using it for inspiration for a STEM based after-school program, but I can't wait to try projects with my own children.

Each project contains enough information to help you feel comfortable getting started, but is pleasingly open-ended. The projects don't feel like step-by-step recipes, instead they are invitations to explore and idea and find out where it takes you.
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