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I'm geeking out over all the awesome open-ended and STEAM activities here!

TinkerLab: A Hands-On Guide for Little Inventors

Around here summer is the season for lots and lot of hands on play. This is partly to keep mom (that’s me) from going nuts, and partly to keep our littles’ brains stimulated and learning.

The only flaw with this summertime mantra of play?

It can be rather difficult to think of creative, open-ended ideas to fill our days! Which is why I’m so excited to tell you about the new book from one of my very favorite blogging friends, Rachelle over at TinkerLab.

TinkerLab Book - 55 Playful Experiments that Encourage Tinkering, Curiosity & Creative Thinking

TinkerLab: A Hands-On Guide for Little Inventors is packed with 55 engaging ideas for your kids.

Just browsing the section titles of this gorgeous new book gets me super excited. First Rachelle sets you up with step-by-step instructions on “Creating Your TinkerLab”, her recommended “Tools for Tinkering” and her “Ten Tinkering Habits of Mind”.

From there, she hits you with tons of projects falling into four main categories:

  • Design
  • Build
  • Concoct
  • Discover

If you’re at all interested in the growing STEM and STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math) movements – this is the book for you! The “Take Thinks Apart” activity we tried (pictured up top) is from the Build category.

What I love so much about Rachelle’s blog, and now her book!, is how her open-ended, “fail forward” play philosophy truly does help develop innovation and critical thinking skills in kids. And her ideas are seriously fun with a capital F too – kids absolutely adore digging into them.

It’s no wonder Rachelle has such a knack for play – she’s been impressively well-trained with a Masters in Arts Education from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. She oversaw school programs at the San Jose Museum of Art, lectures on Visual Thinking Strategies at Stanford University, designed a hands-on art curriculum for the San Francisco Children’s Creativity Museum and, in her former life, worked on films with Warner Brothers and Universal Pictures.

Are you as excited about this book as I am yet? If not, here are a few words straight from the about page on Rachelle’s Blog to consider…

Here’s why I think experiments and a fail-forward mindset are important in childhood (and grownup-hood, for that matter).

1. Experiments teach children that there are multiple ways to approach a problem.

2. When children solve self-designed problems, they think for themselves and  build confidence.

3. Experiments remind me, as a parent, that I’m a co-learner and that I don’t hold all the answers.

4. The spirit of experimentation, exploration, and boundary-pushing is at the root of innovative thinking.

4. Experiments are fun and playful.

This truly is the perfect book to work through from cover to cover with your kids this summer. Thanks so much to my friend Rachelle for allowing me to review an advanced copy (my kiddos are so grateful).

To get your own copy, simply visit your favorite book-seller:



Barnes & Noble

Roost Books

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